California's Golden Meeting Opportunities

Looking back on the Summer of Love and ahead to the future

San Francisco Westin

San Francisco is honoring its past this season

This year, San Francisco is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moment when almost 100,000 young people descended on Haight-Ashbury, sparking a musical, artistic, and countercultural movement that left a permanent, flower-shaped imprint on American culture.

To celebrate the Summer of Love, San Francisco and the wider Bay Area are going all out, with more than 60 exhibitions and events honoring the culture and history of the late 1960s era. But as it looks at its past, this city, and the state in general, has plenty of new developments to observe, as well. Celebrating its own anniversary (30 years since it opened its doors), the Hotel Nikko San Francisco has recently wrapped a $60 million renovation. The new design of its lobby, public areas, ballroom, and 405 of its 533 guest rooms and suites draws on the property's Japanese heritage, echoing "the fluid lines of a traditional kimono" as the property phrases it. Just steps from Union Square, the Nikko also offers 20 flexible meeting rooms as well as the signature restaurant ANZU, serving California-inspired Japanese cuisine. The InterContinental San Francisco (which itself is turning 10 in 2018) last month began renovations of the lobby/concierge area, followed by its guest rooms later in the year.

Another Union Square gem, The Westin St. Francis, completed a $6 million renovation of 50,000 square feet of its meeting spaces. The historic Bently Reserve also completed renovation of its Banking Hall, two meeting rooms, and added a new meeting space, bringing the total to nine state-of-the-art spaces.

The wider Bay Area is seeing its share of developments. The 360-room Hilton Oakland Airport (which offers 16,000 square feet of meetings and events space) recently wrapped up a $7 million renovation. In the nearby city of Concord, the fall will see the unveiling of The Veranda -- an upscale, open-air shopping center, complete with a movie theater, restaurants, and retail shops. The area will offer lush landscaping as well as water features, creating a pedestrian-friendly gathering place for visitors and for holding special events.

But there's plenty happening beyond the Bay Area as well. All the way up and down the state there is reason for planners to celebrate.

EAT - Kimpton Solamar Hotel
Groups can take advantage of a teambuilding and drink-making activity with the property's new "Make Your Own Bloody Mary" experiences at its Upper East Bar, that opened in May. The 7,500-square-foot outdoor area features a menu of shareable plates along with plenty of rooftop games, such as shuffleboard, cornhole, and giant Connect Four.

MEET -     L'Auberge Del Mar, A Destination Hotel
Located in San Diego's coastal North County region, this 121-room property recently completed renovations of all its guest rooms, public areas, and 10,000 square feet of indoor meeting space. The refurbished event areas include two ballrooms with terraces and six meeting rooms, all enhanced with new light fixtures, pebble-motif carpeting, and custom wallcoverings.

STAY - Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
This 607-room resort in the coastal foothills of Carlsbad boasts two golf courses, the luxurious Spa at La Costa, a Chopra Center for Wellbeing, and no fewer than eight pools. It also offers 46 meeting rooms totaling 110,000 square feet of event space, including the 18,000-square-foot Costa del Sol Ballroom.

Beyond the Bay
San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, continues to see plenty of development itself. The 210-room AC Marriott Hotel has recently opened, offering groups three meeting rooms. It provides appealing details such as complimentary Wi-Fi, Netflix on each room's Smart TV, and close proximity to the San Jose Convention Center. The courtyards in the City National Civic and Montgomery Theater have recently been reimagined into an outdoor venue of more than 5,400 square feet. It includes custom-built benches, gas heaters, and a fire pit. At the beginning of May, the 505-room DoubleTree by Hilton San Jose completed a multimillion-dollar enhancement of its event space.

Half Moon Bay, set on the coastline of the state, should also not be overlooked by groups. It boasts a wealth of meeting-friendly venues, from The Ritz-Carlton to the beachside Sam's Chowder House and rustic Miramar Farms -- all just a little over half an hour south of San Francisco. The Oceano Hotel & Spa, in Half Moon Bay, added a new 3,000-square-foot meeting space.

Golfing groups looking for a coastal experience farther south can look forward to the exclusive new 38-room Fairway One at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. It includes two four-bedroom golf cottages fronting the first fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links, as well as a brand-new meeting room.

Santa Barbara's waterfront will soon be seeing the opening of the 121-room Hotel Californian in the center of the city's vibrant Funk Zone. It's composed of three buildings, including the Californian building, which preserves the façade of the original 1925 Hotel Californian, with a 1,300-square-foot rooftop pool and event deck; the Mason building, with five meeting and executive boardrooms; and the State building, with a 3,500-square-foot rooftop event deck.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles continues to buzz with a wealth of new development. Among the properties that opened or are slated to open this spring and summer: the 152-room Cambria El Segundo LAX, the 179-room Dream Hollywood Hotel (which includes an 11,000-square-foot rooftop lounge area), the 350-room Hotel Indigo Downtown Los Angeles, and the 889-room InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown (with 100,000 square feet of meeting and convention space).

The Hotel Palomar Los Angeles -- Beverly Hills has just wrapped up a $12 million property-wide renovation. The Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport recently opened, offering a 14,000-square-foot ballroom, and additional breakout rooms.

The city known for its dazzle continues to expand its non-hotel attractions. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is in the midst of building a new movie museum in the heart of the city. The newly opened 14th Factory has transformed an empty industrial warehouse near Chinatown into a multisensory art experience. For those looking for a more elevated outing, the OUE Skyspace LA, which opened last summer, has just announced private yoga classes that are bookable for meetings and groups -- 1,000 feet above Los Angeles.


 Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
 LA Inc., The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board
 Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau
 San Diego Tourism Authority
 San Francisco Travel Association
 Visit Newport Beach
 Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
 South San Francisco Conference Center
 Hyatt Regency San Francisco
 Pullman San Francisco Bay
 Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
 Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
Mission Inn Hotel & Spa Riverside
 Montage Laguna Beach
 The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Coast
 The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Long Beach and More
In nearby Long Beach, the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center will this month unveil an expansion of its turnkey meeting spaces with the launch of The Cove. The space, which occupies the area in front of the Seaside Meeting Rooms below the Terrace Theatre, will aim to serve as a colorful pre-function reception area, as well as a foyer to the Seaside Ballroom. Its concrete pillars and walls will be decorated with starfish and marine decorations, with LED crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and light fixtures designed to look like barnacles.

Anaheim has rapidly become one of the hottest areas in the state, with a vibrant downtown and burgeoning brewery scene joining its many other attractions (Disney and otherwise). The Anaheim Convention Center is undergoing a $190 million expansion, adding more than 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, as well as a new wing and 10,000-square-foot balcony. The wider area continues to expand with plans for a new 634-room property, with 42,000 square feet of meeting space, planned to replace the Anabella Hotel next to the convention center. A 466-room, $150 million JW Marriott is to be built adjacent to the Anaheim GardenWalk, and Disneyland Resort will be adding a 700-room luxury hotel to its offerings, with construction to begin next year.

Earlier this year, Disneyland opened up its exclusive 21 Royal space to those who are not members of its Club 33. This gives small groups a chance to experience an elegant meal prepared by top chefs, all enjoyed in an luxurious location originally built as the private living space of Walt and Lillian Disney.

A little less than 100 miles inland, the 153-room Rowan Palm Springs will be opening this fall, boasting the city's only rooftop pool, as well as a 2,900-square-foot ballroom, and 18,000-square-foot rooftop area. It will feature a regular program of classic 1960s films, and live music and DJs from the surrounding area, tapping into Palm Springs' popularity as a destination for festivals. The culture and energy of the state is clearly alive and well.  

Questions or comments? Email [email protected]

This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.