Business Looking Up

A report from three properties in California shows that group business is up, leisure stays are lengthier, revenues are higher, and business overall is better than expected a year following the terrorist attacks.

By: Robert Carlsen

A report from three properties in California shows that group business is up, leisure stays are lengthier, revenues are higher, and business overall is better than expected a year following the terrorist attacks.

At a Western regional meeting of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in Hawaii recently, properties within close driving distance to major metropolitan areas said they have fared better than properties in or very close to big cities.

The reasons? Prior to 9/11, many California companies had meetings and retreats planned outside the state. After 9/11, some of these companies brought them closer to home out of concern for their employees’ safety and for budget-cutting purposes.

At Rancho Valencia Resort in San Diego County, for example, group business is exceeding budget in 2002 by 4%; at Stonepine Estate Resort in Carmel Valley, group business from California represents 15% of its business, up from 9% prior to 9/11.

The same holds true for the leisure traveler, according to Blaise Bartell, general manager of Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach. Bartell said that after 9/11 leisure travelers chose resorts within driving distance. Some, Bartell said, who normally would have stayed at local resorts for only a weekend substituted their faraway vacations with extended local resort stays.

At Rancho Valencia Resort, Las Valencia Hotel and Surf & Sand Resort, executives used a personal touch with groups who wanted to cancel their bookings following 9/11. They negotiated fair cancellation policies and, as a result, rebooked the business in 2002, even for groups from the East Coast.

Hotel Packages

Many properties are offering deals to entice California travelers to hit the road.

Two hotels at Yosemite National Park are making it easier and affordable to visit this fall, winter and next spring. The Wawona Hotel’s Midweek Spectacular package offers a room without a private bath, plus a breakfast credit of $7.95 per person for two in the hotel dining room, at $69 per room, double. The rate, subject to availability, is good through Nov. 19. An extra charge of $16.50 applies for each additional adult per night; children under 12 stay free in a parent’s room.

At the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, an expanded romance package, offered seven days a week through April 15, 2003, is priced at $875 per room, double. The package includes deluxe accommodations for two nights, a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, dinner for two in the Ahwahnee dining room with a bottle of the property’s special 75th anniversary label wine, romantic gifts at turndown and late check-out at 1 p.m. Call 559-252-4848.

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel Santa Monica has a unique twist on a room-and-car package called the Room With a Vroom. Clients can receive oceanview accommodations for one night, a rental car (not a Chevy), valet parking and a copy of The California Coast: A Traveler’s Companion. The package, available through 2002, is priced at $419 per night for a Mercedes SLK or the BMW 323, $449 per night for a Porsche Boxster and $1,669 per night for a Bentley. Call 800-441-1414.

The Temecula Creek Inn in Temecula is running a Soft Adventure Adrenaline Group package that includes accommodations for one night with full American breakfast for groups of six or more, plus either a four-hour introductory recreational dirt bike course or a guided motorcycle adventure led by MotoVentures. The package, exclusive of holiday periods, is priced at $395 per person. Call 909-694-1000.

The Hotel Juliana in San Francisco is offering a Travel Agent Free Spree program until Dec. 30. Agents get the first night free and the second or more nights at $110. Call 415-392-2540.

The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club in Redondo Beach has launched a Dining and Dreams package that includes accommodations for one night in oceanview rooms and a $50 food- and-beverage credit redeemable for a dinner for two at Breakwater-Steak, Jazz and Seafood restaurant or room service for two. Available through Dec. 30, the package is priced at $199. Call 310-379-8481.

Travel agents can receive 20% commission through Dec. 30 at Personality Hotels on Union Square in San Francisco. Properties are the Hotel Diva, Hotel Metropolis, Hotel Union Square and the Kensington Park Hotel. Call 800-553-1900.

Tarsadia Hotels is building two new Residence Inns in Anaheim and Mission Valley, San Diego. The Residence Inn Anaheim is slated to open in summer 2003. The Residence Inn Mission Valley/SeaWorld is slated to open in early 2003.