Sense of Place Hugely Important for Hotels
March 9, 2016 – Globe St. - Carrie Rossenfeld
IRVINE, CA—Three current and upcoming R.D. Olson Orange County hotel projects—the Irvine Spectrum Marriott (which recently broke ground), the nearly complete Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach and the approved Lido House Hotel in Newport Beach, which will begin construction in Q1—are very different, but each will be successful because they reflect the regions they serve and provide something those markets are lacking, company executives tell GlobeSt.com. We spoke exclusively with Bob Olson, founder and CEO of R.D. Olson Development, and Bill Wilhelm, president of R.D. Olson Construction, to get their take on the projects, how they are alike and how they differ, as well as their thoughts on how the hotel industry is changing.
GlobeSt.com: How are these three current and upcoming hotel projects integral parts of three evolving areas in Orange County?
Olson: Each of these hotels is unique to what the market demand is. Our focus isn’t to bring a pre-set idea to a market, but to bring what the market is lacking. For example, in Huntington Beach, there was no truly lifestyle hotel that actually had the ability to hold large weddings, meetings and outdoor events in an oceanfront setting. That’s a category we felt was lacking, so that’s where Paséa Hotel & Spa comes in. We liked what Shorebreak has done, and it actually gave us some confidence that the demand was there, but the market needed much more meeting space and ocean views. Shorebreak was successful, but this piece was missing.
For the Irvine Spectrum Marriott, we had developed a Courtyard there, and it was very well received by the business and leisure community, but what was missing was the full-service category—this market hasn’t had a new one in 10 years. We saw the demand for that through the hotel we have there. Marriott has recreated the Marriott brand—the mothership brand for Marriott—and they’ve made a big push to reinvent the brand to today’s travelers. We are the first rebuild of this new brand. It incorporates new rooms with wood flooring (no carpet), open closets, everything that appeals to today’s traveler. Marriott is the best in the business when it comes to understanding today’s travelers and keeping up with their demands. They have great research teams for every brand. We’re the first new build of that new brand, and combined with the shortage of full-service hotels in the market and what we knew from Courtyard, it gave the market what it was missing.
In Newport Beach, no new hotel had been built in 50 years. What we felt was missing there was a destination brand hotel where people go to really experience Newport Beach, what it has to offer, and to feel like they’re really in the fabric of Newport Beach. Many people think of Newport Beach as Fashion Island, but the reason people came was right here, on the peninsula—Lido Village and out to the Balboa Pavilion. People took the Red Car Trolley down from L.A., and the Pavilion was built in 1906. There really had been nothing to accommodate guests of a high quality in this area. We felt this was a great opportunity to do a destination brand that brought Newport Beach to Newport Beach, if you will. This hotel will celebrate its history, but also today’s fabric of Newport Beach, which makes up everybody from the surf crowd to the yachting group and even skateboarding. There’s a tremendous eclectic mix of so many culture, and this is a great way to bring that together.
Wilhelm: Each of these hotels is in a very unique community that is thriving and working together to enhance the community experience. The Irvine Spectrum area has developed and will continue to develop a great community—a live/work/all-around experience. You’ve now got a full-service hotel that will really enhance the experience of holding the community together: you’ve got the live/work aspect and part of the white-collar experience of Irvine Spectrum; the tech industry is also starting to expand its horizons in that area. I believe that having a full-service hotel brings things to full circle there and takes the game up a notch or two.
With the Paséa Hotel—Huntington Beach has always been a very cool surf city. Over the last several years, it has grown a number of residential single-family communities and condos in the area. The city has always done a great job at trying to enhance the experience in Surf City—people use dot go there to surf, play volleyball and grab a burger. Today, there are hotels and condos and also a great retail experience with Pacific City. Paséa will be one of the top-rated hotels in Southern California, and there are a Hyatt and a Hilton next door to each other, which is enhancing the hospitality experience. The Paséa is looking to capture individuals who want to stay a number of nights.
As for Lido Village, the peninsula is a great place to hang out, but it has struggled with having a new identity. It had been kind of a sleepy town, but there have recently been some very impressive movements form the development side. They’re expanding and bringing to the forefront what Newport Beach is all about. There are lots of areas like Newport Coast that have been experiencing liveliness, but the peninsula has lagged. Lido Village will really help; it’s the gateway to the peninsula, and Lido House will really help launch that gateway. It’s a beach community property where you’ll know you’re in Newport Beach because the designers are focused on making the community a part of the design. They have really pulled the community into the project. Read the entire story at Globe St.com