Prime Position

Pan Pacific San Francisco hopes culture mavens will help hotel maintain its occupancy momentum.

By: David Peterkofsky

SAN FRANCISCO With its location on Post Street near Union Square, the Pan Pacific San Francisco sits in prime position to attract leisure travelers seeking downtown San Francisco’s cosmopolitan pleasures. Now officials at the 330-room deluxe hotel hope the city’s expanding cultural attractions will provide even more of a draw to the hotel and the city, where hotel occupancy numbers continue to lag. The Pan Pacific finished 2002 with a 69 percent occupancy level, according to Geraldine Korss, the property’s director of sales and marketing. That actually compared favorably with a citywide average of 65.4 percent, according to statistics from PKF Consulting. Korss expects occupancy to remain flat in 2003, hoping like many other hotel executives in post-9/11 America that targeting regional drive-in business will keep things steady. After a dip in year-to-year numbers for February, occupancy rebounded in March, Korss noted, and hotel officials hope the uptick in visitors will continue through the summer. If it’s upscale, urbane travelers the Pan Pacific wants to attract, it certainly boasts the amenities to bring them in. Its elegant rooms feature two televisions (one in the bathroom), down comforters and pillows and a personal valet call button, and the public areas including the hotel’s 21-story-high atrium lobby feature marble foyers and Oriental-style carpets. The Pan Pacific clearly keeps the luxury traveler in mind with its other amenities, including on-site auto detailing; a “luxury locker,” long-term storage of clothing for repeat guests; complimentary car service; and “Airfare to Go,” a box lunch for departing guests. Of special note: The hotel fluffs its pillows to guests’ specifications with the help of an on-site pillow-fluffing machine (at check-in, the clerk asked if I’d prefer medium, firm or extra-firm.) “We discovered that many frequent travelers carry their own pillows to ensure sleeping comfort while on the road,” General Manager Jacques Villeneuve explained. On our recent visit, my wife and I appreciated the Pan Pacific’s location. It’s a block’s walk from the bustle of Union Square, yet the noise doesn’t reach the Pan Pacific. The hotel has a formidable restaurant in Pacific, which features a blend of French and California cuisines. And the subdued, elegant vibe of the adjacent Pacific Bar appeared to be drawing in plenty of guests during my stay. But at the end of the day quite literally the success of a hotel comes down to the comfort of its rooms. After taking in some of the city’s newest cultural attractions including a theater matinee and an art museum, plus dinner at Ghirardelli Square we returned to the hotel and comfortably ensconced ourselves in our room, a roomy deluxe unit that overlooked the city to the west with the Golden Gate Bridge peeking over the top of the skyline. Sadly, we never did find a reason to use the personal valet button in our room, though that’s probably a sign that the Pan Pacific deftly anticipates the needs of its guests. And the specially fluffed pillows didn’t hurt.