by Michael C. Lowe | June 01, 2014
Why here?
Sunny San Diego continues to entice groups with new event spaces, innovative restaurants and major hotel renovations. Case in point: The regal Manchester Grand Hyatt is wrapping up a whopping $100 million upgrade to its guest rooms and meeting space.

Food Scene 
Top Chef winner Richard Blais opened Juniper & Ivy in March, serving innovative dishes like vegetable chicharrón, dungeness crab beignets and chicken with pea gnocchi.

In April, Ironside Fish & Oyster opened in the city's Little Italy neighborhood. The eatery's seafood-heavy menu includes tasty delights such as oyster flights, beer-braised mussels and lobster rolls.

High Times 
The Altitude Sky Lounge on the 22nd story of the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter recently added a new indoor area with 360-degree views of downtown San Diego. The venue is available for events of up to 300 guests.

Birthday Party 
San Diego's famed surfside community of Mission Beach is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with a lively roster of surf contests, outdoor movies, beach volleyball tournaments and more. For a full list of related events, visit

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Local Update 

 The Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is in the midst of a $100 million renovation. Already finished are upgrades to the hotel's 1,628 guest rooms plus the new club-level lounge. This year, 50,000 of the hotel's more that 125,000 square feet of meeting space is being enhanced with new décor, technology and more.

 Starwood's Aloft hotel brand is set to debut in San Diego in mid-2016. Plans call for a property with 140 guest rooms, more than 3,000 square feet of meeting space, a rooftop pool and a fitness center.  

 In March, the San Diego Marriott Del Mar completed renovations of its 12,078 square feet of meeting space. New features include wall-to-wall murals of beach scenes and the ability to change meeting rooms into multiple configurations. The 284-room hotel features several dining options, an outdoor pool and a fitness center.

 The 159-room Andaz San Diego recently opened a new rooftop lounge and meeting area called RoofTop600. The 6,500-square-foot space has a pool, private cabanas and two full-service bars. In all, the hotel offers 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

 This past March, the 440-room Loews Coronado Bay Resort completed a $4.2 million renovation that gave guest rooms new décor and upgraded technology. The project is the culmination of a two-year resortwide revamp. For groups, the property has 65,000 square feet of function space.
 A multimillion-dollar renovation at the Westgate Hotel has added a 10,000-square-foot rooftop space that can accommodate up to 340 guests for private events. Rooftop features include a lap pool and a running track, along with 360-degree views of San Diego's downtown skyline. The 223-room property includes nearly 35,000 square feet of meeting space.

 Just outside of San Diego in Valley Center, Calif., Harrah's Resort Southern California (formerly known as Harrah's Rincon) recently completed a $160 million renovation and expansion. The property now sports a new 403-room tower, bringing the total guest room count to 1,065, as well as a new lobby.

 The Westin San Diego has finished a $15 million renovation that includes upgrades to all 436 guest rooms, the lobby, dining outlets, meeting spaces and the fitness center. The property has a total of 27,000 square feet of function space.

 The newly renovated JSIX restaurant debuted in February inside Kimpton's Hotel Solamar. Features include an overhauled interior and refocused food and beverage programs. The eatery, which can accommodate up to 80 people for private events, serves modern American cuisine and cocktails that focus on flavors from different regions of the country. In all, the hotel has more than 8,800 square feet of meeting space and 235 guest rooms.

• The Horton Grand Hotel currently is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation of all 132 guest rooms, the restaurant, bar and more than 23,500 square feet of function space. The project is scheduled to be completed later this year.

Meeting Hotels: Downtown properties include the 1,628-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; 436-room Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego; 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, and 159-room Andaz San Diego. To find and compare hotels, and to send RFPs, go to

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. Transfer cost by taxi, $12.50; via city bus, $2.25

Taxes: Room tax (city of San Diego), 12.5% (10.5%, plus tourism marketing assessment of 2%); sales tax, 8%; total tax and assessments on hotel rooms, 12.5%

Group Venue: Following a $2.5 million investment, the Rancho Bernardo Inn has opened its new dining concept called Avant. Dishes take inspiration from California's thriving wine country and include dungeness crab and pear salad, Sonoma duck breast, and strip steak served with truffle cheese bread pudding. The 2,500-square-foot restaurant offers several private dining options, including a 1,009-square-foot room overlooking the property's golf courses and a 12-seat chef's table in the kitchen. Also available are chef-led cooking demonstrations, wine tastings in the wine room, and a charcuterie- and cheese-tasting class. (877) 517-9340;

Contact: San Diego Tourism Authority, (619) 232-3103 or (877) 973-6338;