Take Me Out to the Omni San Diego

By virtue of its location next to Petco Park, the Omni San Diego is a hit with baseball fans.

By: Kenneth Shapiro

When a hotel is next door to a baseball stadium, of course everyone associated with the hotel is going to claim to be big fans. So when I checked into the Omni San Diego, which is attached by sky bridge to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, I decided to test the guy at the front desk.

“So who’s playing tonight?” I asked, setting him up with an easy question.


“And who’s pitching?” I asked with a sly smile, thinking I had stumped him.

“Last night it was Peavy, so it’s Wells tonight,” he said, barely looking up from what he was doing. “And Gonzalez is taking the night off.”

I was impressed.

When I mentioned this conversation to Ed Netzhammer, regional vice president of Omni Hotels, later that night, he said that level of fan-dom was common at the hotel.

“We have lots of baseball fans working at the hotel,” he said. “Many start out that way, but others can’t help it when they are around it all the time. It’s infectious.”

Indeed the baseball ambiance at the Omni is hard to resist. The 511-room hotel is the only U.S. hotel connected to a Major League ballpark. Not only do some of rooms feature a view of the field, but my baseball-loving son and I were happy to discover that you can see into the stadium from the windows at the end of some of the hallways. The look of awe on my son’s face at this was well worth the cost of the weekend.

Our weekend at the Omni continued to offer pleasant surprises for our family. Opened in 2004, Petco Park was designed with kids in mind. For instance, the stadium features an area called “Park at the Park” a big grassy lawn complete with a Wiffle Ball field located inside the gates of the stadium behind the outfield bleachers. Before, and even during games, this area is teeming with families having picnics, kids playing on the ballfield and young and old enjoying a game of catch. While a game ticket is required to enter the Park at the Park on game days, on off days it serves as a free neighborhood park. In addition, Petco has an area behind the wall in right field that is a basically a giant sandbox, so kids can play in the sand and watch the game through the clear outfield wall at the same time. (Adults are not allowed in the sand.)

There are plenty of other reasons besides baseball, however, to book clients at the Omni. The hotel features stylish, modern rooms, some with either ballfield or bay views. All the rooms feature free wireless Internet too. The hotel features an 8,000-square-foot outdoor terrace with a year-round heated pool, a stone fireplace and tanning deck. Tell clients to be sure to check out the speakers playing music under water in the pool this was a big hit with my son as well.

One of the main benefits of the hotel is its location. Not only is it next door to Petco, but it’s at the entrance to San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, center of the city’s burgeoning restaurant and nightclub scene. It is also steps from the trolley that runs to the Mexican-U.S. border at Tijuana, among other attractions.

“Many of our guests park their car on a Friday and forget about it until they leave on Sunday,” said Netzhammer. “That’s a real luxury in Southern California.”

A downside to this location, however, and something to warn clients about, is that because of its proximity to the trolley line, we could hear train whistles and trolley announcements until fairly late at night from our room. It was not overwhelming, but I could see how some light sleepers could be annoyed.
Regardless of all the other benefits of the Omni, in summer the hotel is really all about baseball. Warn your clients that they had better book early, however.

“On a weekend when the Dodgers are in town, for instance, we’ll be booked months in advance,” said Netzhammer. “Groups of fans will make the ride down and go to games all weekend.”

The Omni also offers several baseball-themed packages. For the 2007 season (April 1-Sept. 23), the hotel has three packages that include accommodations, two game tickets, parking and breakfast. The packages run $289-$509 per room, per night, depending on level of accommodations and quality of the seats for the game. Packages are based on double occupancy and must have an advance purchase of 14 days prior to arrival. Additional tickets can be purchased when making room reservations, and all tickets can be picked up at the front desk on arrival.

“We sold twice as many of these packages in 2006 as we did in 2005,” said Netzhammer. “So that bodes well for this year. Guests definitely want to buy early.”

For our son at least, it will be hard not to make this a summer tradition.


Omni San Diego

Commission: 10 percent