92101 Travel Guide
We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
Embassy Suites, known for its spacious rooms, free breakfasts and gratis happy hours, has overhauled its downtown San Diego property -- and it's looking quite spiffy. Above is a photo of the lobby before the renovation. Below is the lobby now:
In addition to the lobby enhancements, the restorations included work to the atrium, 341 two-room suites, fitness center, meeting spaces, business center, hallways and guest areas. The hotel now has new flooring, lounge décor and furniture. Catering to frequent business travelers, the property also improved its more than 5,000 square feet of meeting and event space and its technology.
Rates start at $197.
[Photos: Embassy Suites]
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Ron Burgundy may have taken New York in "Anchorman 2" but the Hard Rock San Dee-Ag-o is paying tribute to the original Anchorman movie (and obviously, the more superior one.)
The Gaslamp Quarter hotel's "Stay Classy San Diego" package includes a few of Ron Burgundy's favorite things like a 1.7oz bottle of Sex Panther Cologne Spray, two Scotch cocktails of your choices at the 207 bar, one pint of Ben & Jerry's Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream delivered in-room and two passes to the San Diego Zoo for some Panda Watch.
The package starts at $347 and is available through March 1st. Go here to book and use the promo code CLASSY. While we like the Hotel Helix's Anchorman package for offering tickets to the Anchorman exhibit at the Newseum and we dig the Kona Kai San Diego's offer of an "Anchorman" DVD, we'd book the Hard Rock package solely to spritz on Sex Panther cologne before the room service waiter comes up with our ice cream. Hey, we're just staying classy.
We like to keep it fun but informative here at HotelChatter so our series, What is This?, is devoted to odd-looking items in hotels that upon first glance look as if they serve only a decorative purpose. But everything happens for a reason, right? And we're here to tell you what these things really do.
We recently took a look around the recently renovated--and by golly, according to our 2011 stay, necessary overhauled-- mammoth-sized 1600-room Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. A place this size, we agreed with our guide, the hotel was indeed a "mini city".
Therefore it's natural there's two towers for the hundreds of guests, not to mention customers coming in and out of their in-house Convention Center. So, when we took an elevator ride to check out the new and improved rooms (more on that another day), all seemed normal until we looked in the corner and saw the little sign above.
Obviously it was a medical symbol, that much we knew, but why was it there?
Take a guess, then we'll reveal after the jump.
It's that time of year again: the 2012 HotelChatter Awards! Today and Monday, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
As if we didn’t have enough paranoia to occupy our everyday living, we learned that an employee at the Omni San Diego was caught planting a hidden camera inside one of the hotel's public bathrooms. Spies like us? We don’t think so!
The creep in question was the hotel’s Chief of Engineering, who'd been with them for five years and no doubt had studied the ins and outs the property before deciding that the free-for-all lav was the place to catch people off-guard and with their pants down. Literally.
When we see specials that tout room for $1 or anything in that realm, we react with a twinge of excitement followed by a healthy dose of skepticism. We know these things do happen (see the smidgen of folks who got in on Public Chicago’s $1 deal), but, well, we’re just getting a little tired of breaking our necks for a slim-to-none chance to score a room.
So, when we saw that San Diego’s historic US Grant Hotel (where Michelle Obama recently stayed), the Gaslamp institution we featured in our Presidential Suites story, was offering $1.02 suites in celebration of their 102 birthday, we had to know “what’s the catch?”
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So, by now we all know the deal with the Keating Hotel, right? San Diego's "all flash no cash" hotel whose owner was genuinely more interested in things like Bang & Olufsen flat screens and espresso makers than actual comfortable rooms.
Well, that all changed with Gordon Ramsay's highly-publicized visit back in December to shoot a recently-aired episode of Hotel Hell. Since then, the menu has been simplified, the GM is no longer doing laundry (hooray, Sandra!), and, most importantly, the room service has been tightened up.
But there's one other thing. Remember back when we heard about Gordon designing one of the suites at the Keating? Well, the 2-room Victory Suite is now available for booking—at a staggering $1,099/night. So is it worth the cash?
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Finally, months after learning that The Keating Hotel in San Diego has been selected to appear on Gordon Ramsay's hotel improvement show, Hotel Hell, we get to see at last what was so wrong with the hotel. And it can be summed up in one word--Eddie.
That would be Eddie Kaen (seen below with Gordon), the owner of the hotel who bought the building back in 2000 for $6 million. Eddie never owned or worked in a hotel before but he decided his hotel should be the hotel version of a Ferrari. That meant lots of blood red decor with rooms and furniture designed by Italian car designers.
When the hotel first opened in early 2007, we wrote then that the rooms promised "lux linens, an espresso machine, a giant plasma TV with DVD player and free wired and wireless internet." Not so shortly after, the reviews came in from travel publications and guests alike and they weren't good, essentially saying that the Keating favored design over substance and in many cases, a good night's sleep.
Fast forward five more years and nothing's changed. Guests continue to complain about the "style over substance" mentality and now even the staff is piling on. That is, when they aren't under piles of laundry. Yup, everyone at the Keating has to do laundry from the general manager to the concierges.
Gordon can't get here soon enough.
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Ramsay and The Keating's owner Edward Kaen look very happy indeed.
The hotel, which recently underwent an operational makeover from master chef turned hospitality consultant Gordon Ramsay, is now accepting dinner reservations in its newly redone MerK Bistro for a special live screening on August 27 of the episode that features the hotel. There will even be a special tasting menu on offer!
Word is the episode will focus on defining the hotel's design aesthetic and streamlining the "synergy between the hotel and its restaurant." Ramsay obviously puts his spin on the restaurant menu, adding a small selection of farm-to-table options.
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We're not sure how this one managed to fly under our radar, though this isn't exactly the kind of thing we receive media alerts about, either. Turns out an employee at Omni San Diego was recently caught planting a hidden camera inside one of the hotel's public bathrooms. Ick!
The good news? The camera was found within hours of being installed. The bad news? Well, we're not sure which is more troubling: the act itself, or the fact that, because of what happened, Omni staff had to conduct an "exhaustive search" throughout all the hotel's bathrooms looking for other possible hidden devices. Ick again!
The Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego has just completed a year-long property-wide renovation debuting the brand's new sleek look. And capping off the expensive revamp is the installation of the grand "Flame Flower" sculpture.
Westin's $250,000 40-foot sculpture Flame Flower, in artist-speak, evokes an organic floral utilizing woven stainless steel pieces. And it is large. Very large. The petals of Flame Flower range from eight to 40 feet. You can walk around it on the plaza or see it from the conference space and some of the 450 hotel rooms above.
In the daylight Flame Flower plays with the sun creating shadows. At night, expect colorful LED illumination to tickle the walls surrounding the sculpture.
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Though many of Kimpton's spaces have a sort of art-y feel, there hasn't in fact been a dedicated art gallery space in any Kimpton hotel until now, at Palomar San Diego. A small portion of the lobby (above) has been converted into Salazar Contemporary Art Exhibits, a cozy nook that will showcase the works of local, up-and-coming artists.
The display will rotate about once a month, and hotel profits will be donated to a local children's charity that supports the arts. We don't really know how Kimpton has found the time to organize any of this, as we know they've been busy over the last few months dominating one hotel after the other.
Have the son of megastar Tom Cruise at the opening party!
The trendy Katsuya sushi chain opened at Andaz San Diego on Thursday night with some minor celebs in tow but aside from skateboarder pro Tony Hawk, clearly the biggest star there was Connor Cruise.
According to the NY Post, 17-year-old was chatting up his DJing "career" telling friends, "It's something I plan on doing long-term." Since it's already making $10,000 per gig doing it, we guess he must be doing something good. And it doesn't hurt that he's got the right connections. But we still prefer Pauly D for our fave celeb DJ.
Meanwhile, the Katsuya at Andaz took over the hotel's old Quarter Kitchen restaurant and like all other Katsuyas before it, this one features interiors by Philippe Starck and traditional Japanese fare including sushi and robata.
While you can't get Katsuya room service, you can get it to go and bring up to your room. Those start at around $250 a night.
[Photo via Zimbio.com]