WHAT'S NEW Long a mecca for corporate meeting executives because of its welcoming beaches, world-class golf courses, and seemingly unlimited entertainment possibilities, Southern California is in the midst of a building expansion that's adding new gloss to this trendy destination. Topping the list is Anaheim's $4.2 billion resort complex, featuring Disney's new theme park, Disney's California Adventure, and a massive expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center. Not to be left behind, Los Angeles is building a feast of museums and entertainment centers, perhaps the most anticipated of which is a $567 million entertainment complex embracing Hollywood Boulevard and the historic Mann's Chinese Theatre. Beginning in 2002, the project's 3,500-seat Kodak Theatre will house the Academy Awards.
Meeting executives looking for venues may want to inquire about a pair of new museums: the Los Angeles Police Department Historic Museum and Community Education Center (opening this year) and the Hollywood History Museum (opening in 2002). Farther down the coast, San Diego — which boasts some 90 museums, historic sites, and monuments — is adding dozens of meeting rooms to its convention center. Pasadena has finished renovating the Pasadena Conference Center.
On the transportation front, American Airlines is renovating its facilities at Los Angeles International Airport this year. Officials are beginning to weigh a major modernization of the entire airport and the Port of Los Angeles. Long Beach is completing construction of a cruise ship terminal.
I WAS THERE Los Angeles proved an ideal destination when Adela Soriano, AMCS Productions, a full-service event management company based outside San Francisco, organized a two-day expo in September for top executives as part of the Latin Business Association. “There are a lot of options in L.A.,” she says. “You have top catering companies, top AV companies, a lot of hotels.” She also noted that Los Angeles has almost unlimited venue possibilities because of its many movie studios, theaters, and museums.
Soriano housed her executives at the Wilshire Grand Hotel and planned a VIP reception for 200 attendees at the Los Angeles County Museum. A veteran of Los Angeles meetings, she took care to avoid transporting her group on roads that are prone to congestion at any time. “Traffic's always a factor in L.A.,” she cautions. “You just factor that into your travel time.”
MY FAVORITE EVENT Carolyn Davis of PGI-San Diego likes to take groups south of the border for a day of relaxation along the coast, followed by bargain shopping. The drive through Rosarito, Mexico, takes visitors along beautiful coastline. “All you see is the ocean.” Lunch is at Calafia Point, overlooking the ocean. The afternoon includes a shopping expedition in Tijuana.
In the evening, she recommends a hangar party at the Marine Corps' Air Station Miramar, where scenes of the movie Top Gun were filmed. “It's just gorgeous under the night sky,” Davis says.
Farther up the coast, Ken Smith of PGI-Palm Springs suggests off-roading in four-wheel-drive vehicles or hot-air ballooning outside that desert city. On hot days, he likes to take guests on an aerial tram to the summit of San Jacinto. A favorite evening venue is the Palm Springs Air Museum, which can hold more than 1,000 people for a USO show.
CONTACT THE CVB
Visitors and Convention Bureau (714) 765-8888 · Fax: (714) 991-8963
Total Hotel Tax: 22.75%
Santa Monica CVB (310) 319-6263 · Fax: (310) 319-6273
Total Hotel Tax: 20.25%
Pasadena CVB (626) 795-9311 · Fax: (626) 795-9656
www.pasadenacal.com; Total Hotel Tax: 20%
Long Beach Area CVB (800) 452-7829 · Fax: (562) 435-5653
Total Hotel Tax: 20.25%
Newport Beach CVB (949) 722-1611 · Fax: (949) 722-1612
Los Angeles CVB (713) 624-7300 · Fax: (703) 624-9746 www.lacvb.com
Total Hotel Tax: 22.25%
Palm Springs Desert Resorts CVB (760) 770-9000 · Fax: (760) 770-9001
www.desert-resorts.com Total Hotel Tax: 16.75% to 18.75%
San Diego CVB (619) 232-3101 · Fax: (619) 232-1707
Total Hotel Tax: 18.25%
San Diego bills itself as the birthplace of California. Explorer Juan Rogriguez Cabrillo landed in what is now San Diego Bay and claimed the region for Spain in 1542. The 1874 Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro is said to be the world's only remaining wooden lighthouse.
Pasadena's century-old mansions, built as winter retreats by such wealthy easterners as chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, have become favorite shooting locations for film and television producers. The city of Pasadena issues more than 550 film permits each year.
Newport Beach has an average summer temperature of 75 degrees and an average winter temperature of 65 degrees, with little rain. Los Angeles is the only city in the world that has hosted the Summer Olympics twice.