Hotels are closing in the north as Silicon Valley downsizes, but Southern California is faring well. Unemployment is below the national average, income growth is outpacing the nation, military contractors are riding a wave of Pentagon spending, and freezing temperatures across the nation are filling hotels in the desert and on sunny beaches. At the 2002 half-year, Anaheim/Orange County meeting and convention figures were up significantly compared to 2001: 300 groups met there from January through June 2002 compared to 290 in 2001. Convention attendance was 626,000, compared to 588,000 delegates in 2001.

Meeting planners should know that it's getting easier to use the beaches for group extravaganzas, according to Christopher H. Lee, president, ACCESS California, a destination management company. “For years, groups have begged to be able to make greater use of Southern California's beaches for theme events, but most groups have been turned down because of excessive regulations. But that is easing up,” says Lee. “Being able to create a Margaritaville for Matrix on Laguna Beach is a case in point. That would have been impossible a few years ago, but communities are loosening their regulations a little.”

In Long Beach, Jet Blue has made the city its West Coast hub, the Aquarium of the Pacific is drawing raves, and Long Beach will host the 2004 Olympic Swim Trials. Now comes the announcement that Long Beach is offering free wireless Internet access in four blocks of its downtown core of restaurants, shops, and boutiques. Next step: extending the wireless network to the convention center, marina, and Long Beach airport.

Garden Walk is the first phase of a 20-acre outdoor plaza of shopping, dining, and entertainment in the Anaheim Resort District, within walking distance of Disneyland and the convention center. Phase I is scheduled to be complete in 2004. Plans for the final project, slated for a 2010 completion, include an aquarium and four on-site hotels.


“The latest trend in California theme events,” says Christopher H. Lee, “is lighting. There is only so far we can go with props — and this is the kingdom of props! The most sophisticated events are being brought to life with color and lights. We carried that out in our Club M event for Matrix, a cosmetics division of Bristol-Myers Squibb.”

Access held Club M at Seven Degrees, a new art gallery in Orange County. Its 25,000-square-foot space mixes traditional arts with high-tech media. Built with steel, bronze, granite, glass, and wood, Seven Degrees is an impressive place for the upscale, high-powered techno-music party Lee envisioned. The facility gets its name from the repetitive use of 7-degree angles.

“Every Club has a VIP lounge,” Lee says. On this night, the terrace on the roof was transformed. Guests wandered through the rooftop sculpture garden and multilevel walkway overlooking Laguna Canyon Road.

The guests had a terrific evening, and Access California has earned an enduring run of the company's business. Contact Lee at (619) 237-4300, ext. 16.


  • Want a treat for a special guest? The Regent Beverly Wilshire, coming up on its 75th anniversary, has a Rolls Royce standing by for transporting guests within a three-mile radius of the legendary hotel

  • Deep-fried Snickers and deep-fried Twinkies are the latest California snack sensations; this PP suggests ignoring that tidbit unless attendees are under age 15.

  • Southern California hotel shops are particularly expensive for the toothpaste or aspirin that guests forget to pack; groceries and drugstores are at diabolical distances. Think about a trip for guest necessities the morning after arrival.

  • Take guests on a rigorous urban trekking adventure … past the storefronts on Rodeo Drive. It's just what Spa Mystique at the Century Plaza hotel orders for work-stultified attendees in Los Angeles.

  • The Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) service in 2002 launched 37 clean-fuel (no gasoline or diesel) vehicles on eight routes among the resort's attractions — beginning before event centers (Anaheim Convention Center, Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure) open and transporting attendees until they close. Compare the $2 pass against the cost of hiring shuttles.


Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau
(714) 765-8888
Total Hotel Tax: 22.75%

LA Inc. The CVB
(213) 624-7300 • Fax: (213) 624-9746
Total Hotel Tax: Varies by hotel location, from 18.75% to 22.25%

Santa Monica CVB
(800) 544 5319
www.santamonica.com, www.santamonicameetings.com
Total Hotel Tax: 20%

Newport Beach CVB
(800) 94-COAST • Fax: (949) 722-1612
Total Hotel Tax: 15.75%

Palm Springs/Desert Resorts CVA
(760) 770-9000 • Fax: (760) 770-9001
Total Hotel Tax: Varies by community, from 16.75% to 20%

Pasadena CVB
(626) 795-9311 • Fax: (626) 795-9656
Total Hotel Tax: 20.11%

San Diego CVB
(619) 232-3101 • Fax: (619) 231-9783
Total Hotel Tax: 20%

Long Beach Area CVB
(800) 452-7829 • Fax: (562) 435-5653
Total Hotel Tax: 20.25%

Santa Barbara CVB
(805) 966-9222 • Fax: (805) 966-1728
Total Hotel Tax: 20%


HOLLYWOOD — Renovation

  • Beverly Garland's 255-room Holiday Inn Universal Studios has completed a $2 million renovation to its Portola Tower. Renovation of the Eldorado Tower is expected to be complete by November. The Beverly Garland Conference Center has 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.


  • The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa opened in January with 517 guest rooms and suites, a spa, and more than 110,000 square feet of meeting and function space. The 20,000-square-foot ballroom accommodates up to 2,000 people. Additional facilities include two ballrooms of 6,300 and 3,300 square feet, 29 meeting rooms, and the 10,700-square-foot Mariners exhibit hall.

INDIAN WELLS — Renovation

  • A new pool, lagoon, and 16 private cabanas highlight the $65 million expansion of the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa. The project added guest rooms for a total of 479, a 30,000-square-foot spa, and three tennis courts. Complementing the 8,000-square-foot ballroom is a new 50,000-square-foot conference facility, a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, and a pre-function area, for a total of 88,000 square feet of meeting space.

LA COSTA Renovation

  • La Costa Resort and Spa is undergoing major renovations to its 479 guest rooms and upgrades to grounds and golf courses. In the fall, a 42,000-square-foot conference center with an 18,000-square-foot ballroom will be added.


  • Opened in April 2002, the Lodge at Torrey Pines has 175 guest rooms on the 18th green of the Torrey Pines Golf Course. Amenities include a 9,500 square-foot spa, two restaurants, and more than 13,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

LOS ANGELES — Renovation

  • The 485-room Hyatt Regency Los Angeles in October completed a $2.5 million renovation of its Regency Ballroom, adding airwalls to make it divisible into six breakouts.

PALM SPRINGS — Renovation

  • Givenchy Resort & Spa reopened in January. Now owned and managed by Costa Mesa-based Tarsadia Hotels, the resort has 104 rooms, 33 of which are suites, and 10,560 square feet of meeting space.

PASADENA — Renovation

  • On December 20, the Doubletree Hotel became The Westin Pasadena. The 350 rooms and suites have been upgraded with Westin's Heavenly Beds and Baths. It is the first phase of a $9 million makeover.


  • Salus Heart and Wellness Spa opened at Rancho Bernardo Inn in July. Salus offers programs at the Ranch Bernardo Inn, as well as customized wellness programs at corporate and educational facilities. The 287-room Rancho Bernardo Inn has 15 meeting rooms.


  • Construction continues on the Diegan Hotel/House of Blues downtown. The 180-room hotel will incorporate a House of Blues nightclub and restaurant, while preserving the façade of the historic Jessop building. Completion is slated for spring 2004.

  • The $124 million, 512-room Omni Hotel, the key hotel in the Ballpark District redevelopment, is under construction across from the San Diego Convention Center. The 32-story hotel is slated for completion by the spring 2004 and will connect to the ballpark by sky bridge.

  • An 18-story, W Hotel opened downtown in December. The luxury hotel offers 261 guest rooms, five meeting rooms, and a boardroom.

  • The 400 rooms of the Barona Valley Ranch Resort Hotel, slated for completion in February in East County on Barona Indian Reservation, will have stunning views of the Valley and the Barona Creek Golf Club. The property will feature a 900-square-foot fitness center, swimming pools, and 18,000 square feet of function space.


  • This summer, an expansion of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego (formerly the Hyatt Regency) on San Diego Bay should be complete. A 33-story, 750-room tower will add 86,000 square feet of meeting space and bring guest rooms to 1,625 and function space to 120,000 square feet near San Diego Convention Center.

SANTA BARBARA — Renovation

  • A 10,000-square-foot spa at Four Seasons Biltmore debuts for the property's 75th anniversary.


  • The Ambrose Hotel opened its 77 rooms this past summer. It features 3,352 square feet of reception and meeting space.

  • The Santa Monica Viceroy Hotel (formerly the Pacific Shore Hotel) opened this past summer near the Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier with 170 rooms and three meeting rooms.


  • Temecula Creek Inn, 90 miles south of Los Angeles and 50 miles north of San Diego, added 50 guest rooms, bringing the total to 130. The Kiva and Yula ballrooms, parlor rooms, and Stone House provide space for 10 to 300 attendees.