Beyond the beaches, big ears, and booming economy, Southern California has amenities to offer corporate meetings executives that few other destinations can boast, and it is building more. The biggest? During the 45th anniversary of "the theme park that started it all," a $4.2 billion resort complex is growing around Disneyland, looking toward completion in mid-2001. In Los Angeles, the Hollywood & Highland development project is a $385-million undertaking to renovate Mann's Chinese Theater and create an extensive new entertainment complex in Hollywood that will be the new home for the Academy Awards by spring 2001. West of Los Angeles, a renovation of Palm Springs International Airport has spurred additional flights to desert resorts.
Anaheim/Orange County Hotel News * The 321-room Radisson Resort Knott's Berry Farm debuted in January as Knott's first on-site hotel, following a $28 million acquisition and renovation project. It includes 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space, as well as 16 Snoopy-themed family rooms and suites.
* By early 2001, the Anabelle, a Mission-style 360-room boutique hotel, will open next to the Anaheim Convention Center.
* Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, to be complete by Christmas, will have 750 rooms and 22,000 square feet of meeting space.
* In August, the Hilton Garden Inn opened in Garden Grove with 169 rooms and 1,287 square feet of meeting space.
* In October, a 384-room Crown Plaza Resort with 28,000 square feet of meeting space will open in Garden Grove.
* The Doubletree Hotel at the Irvine Spectrum opened in July with 252 rooms and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.
Important Info Anaheim/Orange County Visitors & Convention Bureau * (714) 765-8888
* Fax: (714) 991-8963
Total Hotel Tax: 22.75%
Long Beach/Huntington Beach/Newport Beach Hotel News * The nine-story D'Orsay Hotel breaks ground this summer and is anticipated to open in fall 2001. Named after one of Paris' best known museums, it will feature 162 suites, a health club, and an adjacent 35,000 square foot retail center. The $30 million hotel will be designed in an Art Deco style to recapture the 1940s.
* The renovation of the Queen Mary's public rooms and 365 hotel staterooms, as well as new heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems is currently under way.
* The Long Beach Marriott will add 105 rooms to its 311-room property adjacent to the Long Beach Airport. The expansion is scheduled for completion in fall 2001.
* In Huntington Beach, Hilton will open the Ocean Grand Resort & Conference Center in 2001, with 500 rooms and 5,200 square feet of meeting and event space.
* The 93-year-old Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel and Spa finished a soft-goods renovation of 294 rooms and installed high-speed Internet access ports in all 392 guest rooms. It has an 11,200-square-foot ballroom, two large meeting rooms, and three boardrooms.
* The Four Seasons Newport Beach purchased its next-door neighbor, the Twin Palms Restaurant, and will convert it into a special event and banquet venue by June. The 10,000 square feet of space will hold up to 450 persons.
Important Info Long Beach Area CVB * (800) 452-7829 Fax: (562) 435-5653
Total Hotel Tax: 20.25%
Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau * (949) 722-1611, (800) 94-COAST
* Fax: (949) 722-1612
Los Angeles Hotel News * The Old Bank District near 4th and Spring streets will include the 150-room El Dorado Hotel, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2001.
* The 900-room Wilshire Grand Hotel & Centre is undergoing a $10 million expansion of its fitness center and meeting space. New Korean and Japanese restaurants have opened: Seoul Jung and Kyoto.
* At the Regal Biltmore, a multimillion-dollar renovation of all guest rooms is under way.
* Westin Bonaventure Hotel recently completed a $12 million makeover of its restaurants, lounges, and all 1,354 guest rooms and lobby. It also added an inside running track and weight facility.
* In January, the 12-story Bank of California building was purchased by Standard Holdings, which plans to convert it into a 200-room hotel by July 2001.
* Starwood Hotels has opened W Los Angeles Westwood in the former Westwood Marquis Hotel and Gardens. The 258-suite hotel has seven meeting and banquet rooms totaling 6,500 square feet.
* To celebrate its 30th anniversary in 1999, Sheraton Universal Hotel completed a $3 million upgrade of its 436 guest rooms, including work desks, chairs, and lamps in each room.
* The Los Angeles Marriott Downtown has expanded its concierge level from one to three floors, added a health club and spa, and renovated its 469 guest rooms. The Marriott has more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space.
* The Four Points Hotel Los Angeles International Airport began operations at midnight New Year's Eve, after a $17 million renovation of the 573-room former Continental Plaza. The hotel is a quarter-mile from LAX and has 14,800 square feet of meeting space.
* The Le Montrose Suite Hotel in West Hollywood will complete a $3 million makeover in April of 60 of its 132 guest suites, its boardroom on the lobby level, and its Private Library Restaurant.
Important Info Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau * (213) 236-2357 Fax: (213) 236-2395
Total Hotel Tax : 22.25%
Palm Springs Hotel News * Marriott's Rancho Las Palmas Resort wrapped up a two-year, $32 million renovation this past October, adding a 20,000 square-foot health spa and 20,000 square feet of additional event space, as well as redesigning its 450 guest rooms and five restaurants and creating Tortuga Island, a pool and recreation complex.
* In June, the 512-room Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage will begin construction of a 35,000-square-foot conference center with completion slated for January 2001. Its 14,000-square-foot ballroom will bring total indoor function space to 65,000 square feet.
* The Palm Springs Marquis recently purchased more than 400 "eight-hour" chairs and had plans to install PCs in its 165 guest rooms by this month. The hotel has 12 meeting rooms that can handle up to 1,000 people, a photography studio, media suite, and videoconference room.
Important Info Palm Springs Desert Resorts CVB * (760) 770-9000; Fax: (760) 770-9001
Total Hotel Tax: varies by community from 16.75% to 18.75%
Pasadena Hotel News * A 314-room Courtyard by Marriott will debut this spring in Old Pasadena, the first hotel in the historic entertainment and shopping district. The hotel will include 6,000 square feet of meeting space.
* The 296-room Hilton Pasadena completed a $5 million renovation in October, including five additional guest rooms and the elegant San Marino room with 3,000 square feet of meeting space.
Important Info Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau * (626) 795-9311
* Fax: (626) 795-9656
Total Hotel Tax: 20%
San Diego Hotel News * Plans have been drawn for a 367-room Le Meridien Hotel in Gaslamp Square, and construction will begin this summer.
* In March, the Hyatt Regency San Diego began an 875-room tower expansion scheduled to open in 2001. In addition, the hotel renovated half of its existing 875 guest rooms in 1999 and will complete the rest by the middle of this year. The hotel has 45,500 square feet of conference space and 25,192 square feet of exhibit space.
* The San Diego Paradise Point Resort will complete renovation of 200 of its 462 bungalow-style guest rooms in April. A new restaurant, Baleen, featuring seafood, will open in June.
* The Doubletree Golf Resort San Diego (formerly the Doubletree Carmel Highland Golf & Tennis Resort) added two meeting rooms overlooking the golf course and completed a $5.2 million upgrade of its 174 guest rooms, restaurant, lobby, and golf course in November. A total of 15,000 square feet of meeting space can accommodate as many as 450 attendees.
* The 111-year-old Hotel del Coronado is in the midst of a multiyear, $50 million renovation. Its focus this year will be on restoring air-conditioning systems and adding it to rooms in its Victorian main building. An oval Windsor Lawn, suitable for special events and functions, will replace some of the oceanfront tennis courts and be accessible from the ballroom and terraces. Hotel del Coronado offers 692 guest rooms and 42 meeting and function rooms.
Important Info San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau * (619) 232-3101; Fax: (619) 232-1707
Total Hotel Tax 18.25%
Santa Monica An $8 million coastline project has restored Santa Monica's beaches with new designer walls and abalone shell walks, increased Chess Park's five tables to 40, restored Palisades Park, and refurnished Muscle Beach with new fitness equipment tailored to all ages.
Hotel News * Just south of Santa Monica Pier, Le Merigot Santa Monica Beach Hotel opened in August with 175 guest rooms, 12,000 square feet of meeting space, and the luxurious Spa Le Merigot. Two restaurants offer fine and casual dining.
* In late summer, the 129-room Casa Del Mar opened to recreate the 1920s opulence of its heyday as Club Casa Del Mar, when Los Angeles' gentry cavorted at the club. At that time, the club was reputed to have the wildest nightlife on the beach.
* Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, which assumed management of the Miramar Hotel in November, will carry out a multimillion-dollar renovation to include the hotel's 302 guest rooms, its two restaurants, and its 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space beginning midyear. The Miramar was built in 1921 as the 40-room mansion of King Gillette, who is known as the inventor of the safety razor.
* Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel is undergoing an $18 million renovation of its exterior and all 340 guest rooms, including reconstruction of the hotel's entrance and lobby. The hotel's Lavande restaurant and newly opened Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa will remain unchanged during the renovation, to be completed this fall.
* The Art Deco Georgian Hotel in September began a $2 million refurbishment with hard and soft goods custom- designed to recreate the hotel's 1930s style.
Important Info Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau
* (310) 319-6263
* Fax: (310) 319-6273
Total HotelTax: 20.25%
Corporate Meeting Executives Say: Mardean Pieczynski, senior manager of customer support at Boeing, was lead meetings executive for the Boeing Delta and Sea Launch 1999 Commercial Users Conference held October 26 through 29 at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Beach. "In keeping with the atmosphere of the historic hotel, we had a Great Gatsby themed welcome reception, with costumed characters and a vintage car," Pieczynski says. "It was held on the lawn with photographers taking keepsake pictures of the guests in the antique car. We also had a harbor cruise from the Sea Launch port, but that reception was a challenge because we had children aboard, and it's difficult to keep them from getting restless in a contained setting like that." Pieczynski cut the cruise reception from the usual two-plus hours to an hour and a half. "That was long enough." 1999 was the fourth year for the conference, which also featured a golfand a tour of the Boeing plant so potential customers could see new developments in satellite launch technology.
Venue Menu * A jungle fantasy can be set in the famed San Diego Zoo with an animal handler and animal guests appearing in group picnic areas or in the zoo's four-story Treetops meeting and banquet facility, which can seat groups up to 250. Contact the San Diego CVB.
* In Palm Springs, the Uprising Outdoor Adventure Center has partnered with Aquarius Training and Development to construct a High Adventure Ropes Course Team Building facility, where groups of five to 5,000 can participate in programs that can extend from a half day to three days. (888) 254-6266
* Los Angeles Center Studios, the largest independent film studio to be developed since the 1920s, is slated to debut six sound stages, with 72 attached dressing rooms, this year. By 2001, the $105-million project will expand to encompass more than 900,000 square feet, including a full-service commissary, a 550-seat theatre, screening and meeting rooms, a film storage vault, and eight additional stages. (323) 966-2001
* The LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) Historic Museum and Community Education Center is scheduled to open this year with thousands of items of police memorabilia on display. In addition to recreating the history of the LAPD, the facility will house a substation, an education center, and rooms suitable for meetings in the now-vacant Highland Park station house. The project is designed by Houston Tyler, creator of the Autry Museum, as well as volunteers from Disney Imagineering. (323) 344-9445