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by Kaylee Hultgren | April 01, 2010
L.A. Comes Alive
At long last, the hotels at AEG's $2.5 billion, 5.6 million-square-foot entertainment complex L.A. LIVE opened this past February in downtown Los Angeles. The 54-story tower features the 123-room, 224-residence Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Residences and the 878-room JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE. Notable highlights: an 80,000-square-foot conference center dubbed the Gallery Collection, which offers a 26,000-square-foot ballroom; an 8,000-square-foot spa; the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge; a rooftop pool and terrace; a signature restaurant, and a lobby lounge and wine bar. Venues on-site include the 7,100-seat Nokia Theatre; Club Nokia, which holds 2,200 guests; the 30,000-square-foot Grammy Museum, with a rooftop terrace and a 200-seat theater for hosting screenings, and the Lucky Strike Bowling Center. lalive.com

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San Diego

Local Update: The former Ivy Hotel is now the Andaz San Diego, as of February of this year. The property features 159 guest rooms, a rooftop bar, a restaurant, a wine bar and 20,000 square feet of function space.

The 240-room Residence Inn San Diego Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter opened last November with 1,304 square feet of meeting space, a rooftop pool, a fitness center and complimentary Internet access.

A $1 billion expansion of San Diego's Lindbergh Field Airport is under way. Plans call for an expansion of the existing Terminal 2 West with 10 new airplane gates, additional curbside check-in, a new parking facility, new shopping and dining options, improved security checkpoints and revamped access roads from the Pacific Highway to the airport's North area facilities. The project is seeking LEED Silver certification and aims to finish in early 2013.

Meeting Hotels:
 Among properties in downtown San Diego are the 1,625-room Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego; 1,362-room San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina; 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel; 511-room Omni San Diego Hotel; 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, 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; visitsandiego.com

Airport Transit:
San Diego International Airport, three miles northwest of downtown San Diego. Transfer cost by taxi, $10; via The Flyer metropolitan bus, $2.25

Taxes: 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%

Group Venue: This month, The Cosmopolitan Hotel reopened in its original 1827 building within San Diego's Old Town State Historic Park, following a multimillion-dollar restoration. The revamp has given the property 10 guest rooms, a home-style Mexican restaurant and several meeting spaces. Aspects of the original structure that remain include the vintage 1820s adobe brick walls and wood exterior, and a wraparound balcony from which former guests would watch local bullfights. fiestadereyes.com

CVB Services: San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, (619) 232-3101; sandiego.org