Hotel Online  Special Report

 Opened in 1962, the Hyatt Newporter Receives $13 million Remodel; 
Owner Sunstone Gives the 403 room Hotel New Name -
 Hyatt Regency Newport Beach


By Sherri Cruz

November, 2004 - The lush 26-acre resort’s $13 million renovation is set for completion this month. The Hyatt has been working on the makeover since last November.

Changes at the AAA-rated three-diamond hotel include a new name—Hyatt Regency Newport Beach—and the remodeling of its 403 guest rooms and 6,700-square-foot ballroom.

Other additions include a lobby bar and Sandbar Lounge with fire pit-lined outdoor seating in a bid to draw more locals.

The hotel opened in 1962 as the Newporter Inn on the site of the original Boy Scout Jamboree.

The resort once was a hotspot for Hollywood celebrities and a hangout for John Wayne.

But years of wear took a toll on the resort.

“The hotel was tired,” said Bruce Brainerd, general manager. “Everyone knew it. We just needed money.”

Brainerd said the hotel’s revolving ownership limited money for improvements.

Following a strong 2000—one of the best ever in the hotel industry, Brainerd said—the terrorist attacks hit tourism hard. Meanwhile, competition flowered with new high-end coastal resorts opening, including the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, Balboa Bay Club & Resort and Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa angling for vacation business.

Two years ago, San Clemente-based Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. stepped in and bought the hotel for $35 million from Dallas-based Wyndham Hotels as part of a multi-hotel buy with partner Westbrook Hotel Partners IV LLC.

Sunstone came in with plans to renovate, Brainerd said.

The company, which raised $359 million in an initial public offering last month, buys and renovates upscale hotels. It owns 54 hotels, including some under the Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Wyndham names.

Hyatt and Sunstone worked together to come up with a makeover plan that would match Hyatt’s “Regency” quality standards, Brainerd said. Hyatt has managed the hotel since 1989.

Brainerd calls the hotel’s layout and look “classic early California, low-profile building architecture.” The resort’s guests want the lush tropical feeling, he said.

The hotel boasts more than 75 types of palms.

Each room has been completely redone with a simple, classic look.

Sol restaurant, formerly Jamboree Grill, was gutted and remodeled. It now serves world island cuisine.

The Sandbar lounge, formerly a bar called Knuckles, has Adirondack chairs surrounding a fire pit.

The Sandbar is for the vacationer, while the lobby lounge is for the corporate customer, Brainerd said.

One of the last things to be changed is the green street sign that marks the entrance to the hotel on Jamboree Road near Pacific Coast Highway.

It will be changed to reflect the new name.

Future plans under consideration include replacing a 5-acre, par-3 golf course with timeshare units, and building a new 12,000-square-foot meeting room.

Brainerd said most Newport Beach hotels were built 20 to 30 years ago and lack ballroom or meeting space equipped with modern sound and visual gear.

“We’ve been watching many groups move outside of Newport,” he said.

The Hyatt spends about $1.3 million annually in renovation projects, Brainerd said. It’s permitted for up to 85 more units, he said.


Sandi Cain is a freelance writer and contributor to the Orange County Business Journal and meetings industry publications. She specializes in hospitality, tourism and travel. Cain holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Kent State University in Ohio, where she majored in social studies. A former high school teacher, she has written for niche-market sports publications in the U.S., England and Australia and formerly worked in both the printing and high-tech industries. A Cleveland, Ohio native, Cain hasbeen a resident of Laguna Beach since the late ’70s. She enjoys travel, gardening, reading and spoiling her three cats.


Sandi Cain
Laguna Beach CA

Also See Orange County California Hotels See Little Impact — Good or Bad — from Labor Turmoil in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlantic City, N.J. / Sandi Cain / November 2004
Sunstone Hotel Investors, Which Owns 77 Hotels, Files Plans for $400 Million; IPO Will Pay Off $80 million of its Debt with Part of Proceeds / Sandi Cain / October 2004
Anaheim City Officials Lobby Republicans and Democrats for a 2008 Convention; But Whether it’s Worth the Effort is a Matter of Debate / Sandi Cain / September 2004
Tarsadia Boosting Upscale Hotel Holdings With Sutton Place Hotel in Newport Beach Buy / Sandi Cain / August 2004
Anaheim Convention Center Occupancy at Post-renovation High of 81.8%, Future Bookings Solid / Sandi Cain / August 2004
Hotel, Upscale Gym Planned at Summit Complex in Aliso Viejo, California; a 175-room Renaissance ClubSport / Sandi Cain / July 2004
Hotel Design Has Come a Long Way from the Cookie-cutter Days of the 1980s; Designers Aim for Warm, Nurturing Feel Post-Sept. 11 / Sandi Cain / July 2004
Hotel Development in Orange County, California All But Dries Up; Handful of Small Hotels Opens, Little Construction Under Way / Sandi Cain / June 2004
The 6-year-old Orange County (California) Tourism Council May be Victim of Budget Cutbacks / Sandi Cain / June 2004
Long before Walt Disney Bought Land for Disneyland Park in the Early 1950s, Walter Knott Planted the Seeds of the Amusement Industry in Orange County, California / Sandi Cain / May 2004
Cities from Anaheim to Laguna Beach, Rife with New Resorts, Look to Grab Summer Business; Sunnier Outlook Ahead for Summer Travel Season / Sandi Cain / May 2004
Tony Bruno, VP and General Manager of Disneyland Resort Hotels, Maps Out 2004 Changes / Sandi Cain / March 2004
Disney Planning for Big Year in Anaheim Amid Board Drama / Sandi Cain / March 2004
Tourism Industry Rethinks Promotion on Security Issues Data / Sandi Cain / February 2004
Orange County’s 50 Largest Hotels with Meeting Rooms Report 3% Jump in Space in 2003 / Sandi Cain / January 2004
Tale of Two Converntions; Las Vegas Versus Anaheim: Trade Groups Take Opposite Tack in Convention Plans / Sandi Cain / January 2004
Meeting Bookers Optimistic 2004 Will Mark Rebound Despite Potential Hurdles; Attendance Boosts at Recent Conventions Have Made Orange County California Hoteliers Hopeful / Sandi Cain / January 2004
Hotels, Theme Parks in Orange County, California Start Aggressive Push for In-State Visitors During Holidays / Sandi Cain / November 2003
An Oranges to Oranges Comparison; Anaheim and Orlando Share Tourism and Meeting Destination Bent, Differ in Some Areas / Sandi Cain / August 2003
New Coastal Resorts Helped Orange County, California Post Gain in Hotel Rooms / Sandi Cain / August 2003
Orange County California Hotel Building Remains Sluggish; Bright Spot: the Burgeoning Resort Market along OC’s Pacific Coast / Sandi Cain / July 2003
Sunstone Hotel Investors LLC and Tarsadia Hotels Expanding by Going After Weaker Hotels in Key Markets / Sandi Cain / June 2003
Orange County's Travel Agencies Continue to Suffer from a Downturn in Travel / Sandi Cain / May 2003
Hoteliers Worry as War, Economy Hit Bookings; A Weak Tourism Industry Threatens to Get Weaker / Sandi Cain / April 2003
Budget Ax Threatens Orange County's Tourism Comeback / Sandi Cain / February 2003
Pacific Islandia California Inc., Owner of the 489-room Sheraton Anaheim Hotel, Files for Bankruptcy Protection; Bankruptcy Over Dispute, Not Results / Sandi Cain / February 2003
Security Detail; High-Profile Meetings Have Police on Special Alert / Sandi Cain / January 2003
New Hotels, Remodelings Spur Growth in Orange County Meeting Space Amid Slow Recovery / Sandi Cain / January 2003
Security Detail; High-Profile Meetings Have Police on Special Alert / Sandi Cain - January 2003
Tarsadia Hotels Building Residence Inns in Garden Grove, San Diego, Buys the 201-room Crowne Plaza in Las Vegas / Sandi Cain / Dec 2002
Bucking Convention - Anaheim Center Expansion Seems to Pay Off as Other Cities Struggle / Sandi Cain / Nov 2002
Ayres Breaks Ground on L.A. Hotel, Expanding Two Others / Sandi Cain / Oct 2002
Orange County California's Hotels, Convention Center Upbeat Despite New Competition and Weak Economy / Sandi Cain / Aug 2002
Ritz, Surf & Sand, Vie With Beach Resort Newcomers Along California's Orange County Coast; Almost 1,000 rooms Set to be Added / Sandi Cain / Aug 2002
Orange County California's Hotels, Convention Center Upbeat Despite New Competition and Weak Economy / Sandi Cain / Aug 2002
Montage Founder, Alan J. Fuerstman Sees Big Things for Laguna Colony Luxury Hotel, Acquired from Marriott International for $190 million / Sandi Cain / July 2002
Orange County’s $6 billion Annual Tourism Industry Shaking off the Downturn / Sandi Cain / May 2002
The Orange Riviera - New Luxury Hotels and Renovation Projects Transforming OC’s Coast / Sandi Cain / May 2001 
Orange County Hoteliers Hope for a Solid Summer Season to Regain Momentum / May 2002 / Sandi Cain
Hotel Brokers: From Sales to Consultants / Sandi Cain / Jan 2002 
Tourism Officials Focus on Security of Events and Sites as Key to Attracting Visitors / Sandi Cain / Jan 2002 
Orange County Travel Agencies Bear Brunt Last Week, Waiting For Fallout / Sandi Cain / Sept 2001 
St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa Opening Adds to Competition in South Orange County California / Sandi Cain / Aug 2001 
The Orange Riviera - New Luxury Hotels and Renovation Projects Transforming OC’s Coast / Sandi Cain / May 2001 
Ayres Hotel Group Expands, Rebrands / Sandi Cain / March 2001
Orange County’s Hoteliers Relieved as Anaheim Convention Center Expansion Boosted Occupancy and Rates During Past Year / Sandi Cain / May 2001
Indomitable Disney / Bad News Doesn’t Tarnish the Mouse; Slowing Economy Another Matter /  / Feb 2001 
Orange County Hotels Poised for Meetings Growth; Newcomers Help Bolster Total Space; Disneyland Hotel Still No. 1 / Sandi Cain / Jan 2001 


To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.