California Guide

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.

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;

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.

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

Other Cities, Other Sites
Sacramento This October, the Crocker Art Museum will unveil its 125,000-square-foot expansion, featuring an indoor/outdoor event space for 1,200 guests, a 300-seat auditorium and a new café...In February, the 198-room Citizen Hotel opened with a 3,000-square-foot rooftop tented terrace with views of the Capitol.
Contact: San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, (916) 808-5553;

San Jose The San Jose Marriott opened TANQ, an underwater-themed bar and lounge serving small plated dishes...The 212-room Hotel Valencia on Santana Row revamped its Citris Restaurant and Vbar lounge...The San Jose Civic Center received an $11 million facelift and new LED lighting.
Contact: San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 726-5673;

San Francisco
Local Update:
The 277-room Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco wrapped up a $7 million renovation of its guest rooms last year. New amenities include custom sofas and 42-inch LCD TVs.

Club Lounge at the Parc 55 HotelThe Parc 55 Hotel underwent an extensive $32 million renovation over the past year. All 1,010 guest rooms were remodeled, the lobby and Club Level were upgraded, and meeting and event space at the property was increased to about 30,000 square feet.

Meeting Hotels: The City by the Bay offers a total of 33,372 hotel rooms, about two-thirds of which are within convenient walking distance of Moscone Center. Properties in the Union Square district include the 1,908-room Hilton San Francisco, 1,496-room San Francisco Marriott, 1,195-room Westin St. Francis, 1,010-room Parc 55 Hotel San Francisco, 685-room Grand Hyatt San Francisco, 676-room Westin San Francisco Market Street, 552-room Palace Hotel, 550-room InterContinental San Francisco and 533-room Hotel Nikko San Francisco.

Properties in some of city's other vibrant neighborhoods include the 802-room Hyatt Regency San Francisco, 591-room Fairmont San Francisco, 549-room Hilton San Francisco Financial District and 529-room Sheraton at Fisherman's Wharf.

Convention Center: Mos­cone Center; exhibit space, approximately 442,000 square feet in Moscone North and South; number of meeting rooms, 68. Moscone West; exhibit space, 300,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 38. (415) 974-4000;

Concourse Exhibition Center at the San Francisco Design Center; exhibit space, 120,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, none. (415) 490-5800;

Fort Mason Center; exhibit space, approximately 80,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 11. (415) 441-3400;

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium San Francisco; exhibit space, 31,140 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 36. (415) 978-5917;

South San Francisco Conference Center; exhibit space, 13,500 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 12. (650) 877-8787;

Airport Transit:
San Fran­cisco International Airport, 14 miles from downtown. Transfer cost by taxi, $45; via Bay Area Rapid Transit rail service, $8.10 (one way)

Taxes: Room tax, 14%; sales tax, 9.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 14%, plus a 1 to 1.5 percent Tourism Improvement District assessment

Group Venue: In San Francisco's colorful Union Square neighborhood is Infusion Lounge, a new upscale nightclub that doubles as an ultracool event space. The venue, decked out in a plush, Asian-inspired décor, features two bars, a dance floor, two deejay booths and a private VIP room. Available for use is a full array of audiovisual equipment and high-tech lighting, along with an experienced event production and culinary staff ready to help serve a meeting of up to 80 attendees, a banquet seating 100 or a reception for 500. (415) 421-8700;

CVB Services: San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, (415) 974-6900;