Hotel Online  Special Report


No Debuts and a Few Less Rooms Mark
Hotel Scene in Orange Country, California


By Sandi Cain, May 2005
Orange County Business Journal Staff

It’s the same story on the hotel scene for a second year in a row: No new hotels on the list of Orange County’s 50 biggest.

Total employment at the top 50 hotels was flat in the past year at 14,421, just 11 fewer workers than a year earlier. Total rooms on this week’s Business Journal ranking was 20,849, down slightly from 20,914 in 2004.

Hotel renovations cut slightly into this year’s room count.

The consistency reflects the uncertainty that’s gripped the hotel industry since tourism fell off after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The good news for the industry is that it’s turned around from the three-year slump.

Many hoteliers have been in a holding pattern, waiting for visitor numbers to head north before making changes. Now there are several hotels that are under way with big renovations. And there’s one sizeable hotel in the works, too.

The list, which ranks the county’s largest hotels by number of rooms, last was published in August 2004, so year to year comparisons reflect only a nine-month period.

One of the few changes in ranking on this year’s list dropped the Newport Beach Marriott a spot to No. 7. The Marriott is in the midst of a $60 million renovation that will reduce its room count by 9% to 532 by the end of the year.

Of the 46 hotels that provided employment figures, eight reported an increase, eight a decrease and 30 no change.

Of those that increased their employee count, two—No. 5 Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove and No. 33 Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach—did so by a double-digit percentage.

“Business definitely improved in 2004,” said Hyatt general manager Allan Farwell.

He said summer business looks very good and the hotel still is hiring.

“We’re always looking for more people,” he said.

Hotels with double-digit percentage declines were No. 42 Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Anaheim, down 20%; No. 16 Sutton Place Hotel in Newport Beach and No. 24 Anaheim Marriott Suites in Garden Grove, down 14% each; No. 34 Embassy Suites Irvine, down 11%; and No. 1 Hilton Anaheim, down 10%.

In all, the largest 50 hotels accounted for 20,849 hotel rooms—37% of the 55,734 total hotel and motel rooms in the county. Anaheim has 41% of the total rooms on the list and 37% of all available rooms in OC.

The 16 hotels in Anaheim alone accounted for 5,130 jobs—36% of the total—including Business Journal estimates for three Anaheim hotels.

Newport Beach ranks second in market share with six hotels on the list and 2,254 rooms. Irvine also has six hotels on the list, but it has fewer rooms, at 2,190.

Garden Grove holds the No. 4 spot in market share with 1,784 rooms. Costa Mesa ranks fifth with 1,649.

Occupancy at the largest hotels averaged 70%, up from 68% a year ago. The average starting nightly rate was stuck at $159. That’s higher than the countywide average of $115 as reported by PKF Consulting.

Hoteliers believe rates will improve this year, based on increasing consumer confidence concerning travel and Disneyland’s 50th birthday, which already has generated a bump in room demand.

“Bookings are very strong for summer,” said Jeff Protzman, general manager of No. 15 Doubletree Hotel Anaheim/Orange County. “We’re seeing Disney’s marketing come to fruition. We’ve got a double-digit increase over last summer.”

Starting nightly rates for the 47 hotels that provided prices range from a low of $54 at No. 31 Anaheim Plaza Hotel & Suites in Anaheim to $495 at No. 41 Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach. Sixteen hotels have starting rates under $100, with 10 of them in Anaheim.

Of the 29 hotels that reported occupancy rates, 13 reported rates at or above the countywide average of 71.1%, while 16 reported lower occupancy.

Two hotels changed hands in recent months: the Hyatt Regency Orange County, which was sold to Ashford Hospitality Trust by Newport Beach-based Tarsadia Hotels; and the Sutton Place Hotel, set to be bought by San Clemente-based Sunstone Hotel Investors, also from Tarsadia.

Sunstone plans to hire Canada’s Fairmont Hotels & Resorts to manage the hotel, which will change names to Fairmont Newport Beach.

There will be at least one new hotel on next year’s list.

The 252-room Doubletree Guest Suites in Anaheim is set to finish construction by the end of the year. It would debut tied at No. 47 if it already were open, bumping No. 50 Wyndham Hotel Orange County Airport in Costa Mesa off the list.

One industry trend reflected in this year’s list shows the rapid pace of technology changes.

Only 21 hotels on the list offered high-speed Internet access to guests in 2001. This year, 46 offer wireless Internet access, up from 38 a year earlier.

We again asked hotels if they charge a resort fee—a charge found at an increasing number of full-service and resort hotels. The fees are said to cover business improvement district charges, access to special amenities such as spas or fitness gyms, or flat fees for long-distance and Internet access.

The resort fees are controversial in some sectors of the hotel industry. Nevertheless, 12 of OC’s largest hotels charge a resort fee, up from nine a year ago.

The Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau is working to create a new Business Improvement District to help fund meeting space renovations at the Anaheim Convention Center. The improvements could mean more special fees at area hotels.

Other notable trends: Ten hotels have full-service spas. And 18 will let you bring Fido along if you must have your pets when you travel.


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 All Grown Up in Anaheim; Tourism’s Come a Long Way Since Disneyland Opened in the 1950s / Sandi Cain / May 2005
Vying for Visitors; To Outsiders, Southern California is One Big Tourist Playground / Sandi Cain / April 2005
California Hotel Buying Seen Keeping Pace With 2004’s Record; The Hotel Market is Sizzling Again / Sandi Cain / April 2005
California's Orange County 50 Largest Hotels Report a 2% Growth in Meeting Space in 2004, Mainly a Result of Renovations, No New Hotels / Sandi Cain / January 2005
Anaheim Considers Business Improvement District to Fund Convention Center Growth / Sandi Cain / January 2005
Opened in 1962, the Hyatt Newporter Receives $13 million Remodel; Owner Sunstone Gives the 403 room Hotel New Name - Hyatt Regency Newport Beach / Sandi Cain / November 2004
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 


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