by Michael C. Lowe | October 01, 2011

San Diego
The 1,625-room Manchester Grand Hyatt, which was purchased by Host Hotels & Resorts in March for $570 million, is planning an extensive renovation. The work, which will cover guest rooms, meeting facilities, lounges, restaurants and public space, begins in spring 2012.

The Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego, recently revamped its 450 guest rooms and suites, part of a $25 million propertywide revamp that includes an upgrade to the ballroom and meeting space. The project incorporates eco-friendly features such as energy-saving light fixtures. Work should wrap up in 2012, after a redesign of the lobby and food and beverage outlets.

The 1,360-room San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, formerly known as the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, is one of just four Marquis-designated properties in the country. Next to the San Diego Convention Center, the hotel is undergoing a $195 million renovation that will be completed in stages over the next three years. By 2014, the property will have added $100 million worth of meeting and event space for a new total of 130,000 square feet.

The 75-suite Park Manor Suites in San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood is now the Inn at the Park Hotel after being acquired by Shell Vacations. The vintage 1926 property features neo-renaissance architecture and European décor and offers approximately 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Del Mar Highlands Town Center upscale mall complex celebrated a grand reopening in September after welcoming seven new restaurants. Among them are Davanti Enoteca, the wine and tapas bar from famed Chicago chef Scott Harris, and Burlap, former Top Chef contestant Brian Malarkey's second San Diego eatery featuring "Asian cowboy" cuisine.

Meeting Hotels
Properties in downtown include the 1,625-room Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego; 1,360-room San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina; 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel; 511-room Omni San Diego Hotel; 462-room Paradise Point Resort & Spa; 450-room Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego; 420-room Hard Rock Hotel San Diego; 337-room Embassy Suites Hotel San Diego Bay-Downtown; 306-room San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter; 283-room Hilton San Diego/Gaslamp Quar­ter; 270-room The US Grant-A Luxury Collection Hotel San Diego; 240-room Residence Inn San Diego Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter; 222-room Best West­ern Island Palms Hotel & Marina, and 159-room Andaz San Diego.

Convention Center
San Diego Convention Center; exhibit space, 615,701 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 72; (619) 525-5000

Airport Transit
San Diego Interna­tional Airport, about three miles northwest of San Die­go's downtown neighborhood. Transfer cost by taxi, $12.50; via The Flyer metropolitan bus, $2.25

Room tax (city of San Diego), 12.5% (10.5%, plus tourism marketing fee of 2%); sales tax, 8.75%; total taxes and fees on hotel rooms, 12.5%

Looking to add a little spice to a busy agenda? So Diego Tours is offering a new walking excursion called the Brothels, Bites and Booze Tour. Groups head to the city's historic Gaslamp Quarter, where they sample food, craft beer and signature cocktails at five restaurant stops. Throughout, guides share colorful stories about San Diego during the late 19th century, when the streets were filled with thriving gambling halls and brothels. Private group tours can be arranged. (619) 233-8687

Dining Out
Rei Do Gado in downtown San Diego serves up traditional, delicious Brazilian barbecue, such as linguica (aka Portuguese sausage), filet mignon wrapped in bacon, leg of lamb and more. The venue is available for private events of up to about 300 people. (619) 702-8464

San Diego Convention & Visitors Bu­reau, (619) 232-3101