Greater Los Angeles - A Successful Meetings Destination - 2006-10-20

Successful Meetings SEPTEMBER 2006 A sprawling metropolis, with a legendary coastline and a dream factory-that's L.A. for you. But while no other place in the U.S. comes closer to fulfilling expectations of perfect weather, it was looking as though downtown never would dispel the dark cloud hanging over its convention center. Surprisingly, with not one but two convention center hotels in the hopper, it looks like that situation is heading toward a hollywood-style happy ending.

Essential Tool Box
Convention Centers: Los Angeles Convention Center, 800,000 sf of dedicated space; 54 meeting rooms, largest holds 22,870
Long Beach Convention Center, 223,979 sf of dedicated space; 47 meeting rooms, largest holds 12,500 theater-style.
Santa Monica Civic Center, 27, 168 sf of dedicated space, converts to a 3,000-seat arena.
For complete listings, visit Quick Facility Search at
Daily Business Costs, Los Angeles*:
Hotel $184.67 F&B $70.15 Car Rental $79.81
For More Info:
Pasadena CVB
Long Beach Area CVB
Beverly Hills CVB
West Hollywood CVB
Santa Monica CVB
*Business Travel News 2006 Corporate Travel Index

The Big News

LOS ANGELES In June, the saga of the headquarters hotel for Los Angeles Convention Center took a turn for the better when it was announced that a new 54-story tower would rise from the new downtown L.A. Live entertainment complex. The tower, which is expected to be completed in 2010, will comprise both a 876-room Los Angeles Marriott Marquis (which will serve as the center's headquarters hotel) and a 124-room boutique Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, and 216 residential condos. The Marquis will feature the largest ballroom in the city, with banquet capacity for up to 3,000 guests; the Ritz will have an outdoor rooftop swimming pool and terrace above a two-story lobby on the tower's 24th floor.

* The Griffith Observatory will reopen this fall with a 35,000-sf (mostly underground) addition that will feature new exhibit areas, a multimedia auditorium, a gift shop, classrooms, and a food service area.

SANTA MONICA Earlier this year, the city of Santa Monica instituted the first "brand promise" of a city: According to Mayor Robert Holbrook, "What we stand for and what people can expect when they visit-is of critical importance for us as a city and a tourist destination." Coincidentally, Santa Monica experienced the highest occupancy rate and RevPar of the region.

century city The 726-room Hyatt Regency Century Plaza will complete refurbishment of all guest rooms and Century Suites by the end of the year; two Regency Club floors, a private entrance, and VIP lounge will be available in Jan.

WEST HOLLYWOOD The 264-room Hyatt West Hollywood expects to begin a complete hotel renovation this fall.

* The 40-unit Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas debuted six new villas this year.

* The 200-room Bel Age is undergoing a renovation that will transform it into the London LA next year.
PASADENA This summer, the 60,000-sf Pasadena Conference Center breaks ground on a $121.6-million expansion that will increase the venue to 110,000 sf and add a 25,000-sf ballroom, and restore the 17,000-sf historic civic auditorium. The project is expected to be completed in 2009.

* Last year, the historic 392-room Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa completed a $19-million renovation that refurbished all guest rooms in the main building, restored all meeting space (included the historic ballroom), and gave the lobby lounge a makeover.

* The 296-room Hilton Pasadena completed a $5-million renovation in Aug 2005 that remodeled the lobby and some meeting space, and added Hilton's signature beds to all guest rooms.

* Last year, the 350-room Westin Pasadena completed an $11-million renovation that renovated the ballroom and meeting rooms, adding a 2,200-sf meeting room.
long beach The 522-room Hyatt Regency Long Beach will add a 6,000-sf ballroom and a 2,000-sf foyer by Apr 2007.

Recommended for group dining These restaurants have group facilities and were selected from the Zagat Survey ( Grace (L.A.); La Cachette (Century City); Josie, Valentino, and JiRaffe (Santa Monica); and Derek's, Maison Akira, and Parkway Grill (Pasadena).

Groups Should Consider these recommendations from Successful Meetings' Home
Team* experts. Top choices include the 900-room Wilshire Grand, the 303-room Hollywood Roosevelt, the 580-room Radisson Hotel at LAX, and the 392-room Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel.

*Home Team contributors who informed this section include Maureen Beck; Sally A. Karwowski; and Deborah Shadovitz. Contact them at sites

Planners to the Stars Reveal Hollywood Secrets
Imagine a guest list of thousands, many of whom are as high-maintenance as the nitpickiest of CEOs. Now, imagine the whole thing's being broadcast live.
Such is the world of Emmy event planners, who organize both the show and the after-parties like the formal Governors Ball and the highly sought-after HBO gala. "It's a constant change of material and manpower," says Renato Basile, a producer with Ken Ehrlich Productions, which organized the Emmys in 2005 and 2006.

Cheryl Cecchetto, president and owner of Sequoia Productions, which produces the Governor's Ball, starts six months out from the show to coordinate the 1,200 staff who will feed, entertain, and liquor up 3,000 guests-around 50 percent of whom are returnees. It helps to play down the scale, she says: "You can't think of it as one event, even though there are 3,000 people. You must think of it as 30 events for 100."

With a guest list of 1,200, HBO's party is one of the more lavish after-events, providing a full buffet dinner at the Pacific Design Center. This year's Cote d'Azur theme included a 15,000-sf tent in the Center, 24-foot-high gold fountains, a water garden, and cabanas. Eileen Rivard, HBO's vice president of special events, organized it all from the East Coast. "You want to keep it as comfortable as possible for the people we are trying to entertain, which is our talent," says Rivard.

And, when necessary, treat your guests kindly, but firmly-as cattle. Basile planned on getting his schmoozing, drinking, dallying nominees from the lobby bar to their seats with a little trick. "Fifteen minutes before showtime, we play static through the PA speakers in the lobby," he grins. "I guarantee, they'll want to leave." - Randee Dawn