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Following a star-studded City of Hope gala and fundraiser at the soon-to-open JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. Live, Marriott International president and COO Arne Sorenson, AEG Worldwide chief marketing officer Sean Dee and LA Inc. president Mark Lieberman gathered at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Jan. 14 to talk with members of the press about the upcoming openings of the new JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. Live and The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles.
A rendering of the L.A. Live hotel complex at night // © AEG Worldwide/Marriott International 2010
All three expressed their enthusiasm for the openings of the hotels — Feb. 15 for the JW Marriott and March 15 for The Ritz-Carlton — despite the economic downturn.
For AEG Worldwide, the developer of the L.A. Live, the entire entertainment complex located in downtown Los Angeles represents an investment of some $2.5 billion — the largest in the company’s history. The company partnered with Marriott International to develop the two hotels, as well as The Ritz-Carlton Residences, all of which will be comprised in a single building structure of two towers — a first for Marriott. “The economy has been interesting … maybe even the worst ever,” said Sorenson. “Having said that, for a project that takes years to build and develop and with more than 1,000 rooms, it could be much worse. We could have opened in October 2008.”
Sorenson noted, however, that “in 2010, we’re likely to see growth, and this hotel will be opening up in an environment where people will be waiting to get back to business. There is momentum around this place and these hotels.”
That momentum, all three agreed, has much to do with the recent revitalization of downtown Los Angeles among local Angelinos as well as tourists. Dee and Sorenson remarked on the reverse parallels between the L.A. Live hotel project and the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square: While the New York Marriott Marquis played an important role in revitalizing Times Square, they said that the L.A. Live hotels will be at the “tail end” of a downtown Los Angeles renaissance that initially began with the opening of the Staples Center (another AEG property) in 1999.
LA Inc.’s Lieberman noted that while tourism numbers for Los Angeles were down approximately 6 to 7 percent last year, the numbers are looking up for this year and the convention and visitors bureau is actively courting the conventions and events business more aggressively, now that the two hotels will serve as convention headquarter properties.
“With these new headquarter hotels and the convention center, there will be tremendous synergy,” said Lieberman.
Dee also noted that future hotel guests can expect to see unique accommodation packages combined with L.A. Live and Staples Center offerings, such as tickets to the Nokia Theatre or a hockey game with the Los Angeles Kings, for example.
Karen Englund, director of sales and marketing for both L.A. Live properties, who was also in attendance, said she has already begun booking individual packages and rooms. Published rack rates for the JW Marriott begin at $269 per night; rates for The Ritz-Carlton begin at $369 per night.
While some details about the two properties have yet to be announced, including the head celebrity chef of the signature restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Sorenson and Dee expressed hopes that the building would be granted Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) certification status in the near future. Chef Kerry Simon will head the signature restaurant at the JW Marriott, called L.A. Market.
Going forward, AEG’s Dee hinted that future hotel partnerships with Marriott International may also take place in London and Shanghai.
“I would expect us to continue with this model in the future but nothing is set in stone yet,” said Dee.
JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. Livewww.lalivemarriott.com
The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeleswww.ritzcarlton.com
To find out more about downtown Los Angeles’ revitalization and the L.A. Live hotels, read our Nov. 9, 2009, cover story, Reinventing Los Angeles