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Hyatt Regency Irvine Looks to Win Back Home Market

The Hyatt Regency Irvine is reentering the Orange County meetings sector with a new look for one of the area’s larger banquet and event spaces.

The 14-story property, located within the Jamboree Center office complex along the San Diego (405) Freeway, reopened some of its guest rooms last fall after an almost three-year closure due to the pandemic. Its event space also reopened late last year.

Irvine Co., which owns the towers at Jamboree Center, sold the new 516-room hotel to Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE: H) for $135 million in 2022.

The former Hotel Irvine took on the Hyatt name, and the new owners undertook a $50 million renovation that started last year and will wrap up come May. A fair amount of those funds went toward the hotel’s meeting space, officials said.

“We’re pleased that the Hyatt Regency Irvine reopened in the third quarter earlier than expected and on budget, and with a full grand opening expected in the first quarter of 2024,” Hyatt Hotel president and CEO Mark Hoplamazian said late last year.

2024 Plans

According to Director of Sales & Marketing Terrance Frederick, 2024 is all about getting people back into the building.

Hyatt has been focused on building the hotel’s customer base back up after its closure, with a large focus on the local clientele, including both residential families and companies with OC offices.

Hotel officials are not shying away from its preexisting strength in business and group travel. Currently, 70% of guests are business travelers. The hotel is a little more than a mile away from John Wayne Airport.

From financial seminars, and teaching sessions, to awards banquets and standard meetings, the newly returned Hyatt is open to hosting all kinds of businesses in its renovated spaces, officials said.

To prepare for returning and new clients, the hotel’s 50,000 square feet of meeting rooms and their features saw renovations.

The hotel’s main ballroom, the largest in Irvine spanning 14,660 square feet, had more rigging points added to the ceiling, which are used for additional lighting and speakers for more “creative” event planning.

Through a partnership with Encore, Hyatt also updated its Wi-Fi service to eliminate the dead spots formerly throughout the meeting halls to better serve large-scale events, presentations and galas.

The property also had LED walls installed throughout the lobby and meeting spaces to allow visual marketing for the visiting clients to use.

“We have some competitors that have probably taken a lot of business from central Irvine while we were closed. We have to capture them back, and then we’ll start to inch out as we get further along,” Frederick told the Business Journal.

Singing At Home

Since reopening last year, the hotel’s meeting rooms have been busy, officials said. Hyatt Regency Irvine ranks No. 12 among OC hotels with the largest amount of meeting space, according to Business Journal research.

“It was the opening piece for us,” Frederick said.

The first organization the hotel welcomed back was the University of California, Irvine putting on an alumni awards banquet. Reyes Bottling, a manufacturer headquartered in the same office park, was also one of the first companies to use the space in August.

The Hyatt has also seen Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN) and Kaiser Permanente pass through its doors for various events and meetings since last year.

“I think we’re doing a good job on homing in on our backyard,” Frederick added. “We have to get a grip on what’s here in the community first. Most true stars start singing at home.”

The hotel also hosted six weddings last year, with two more on the books for the beginning of 2024. Multiple politicians have used the space for fund-raisers.

Terrance said that the hotel’s sales team was currently bidding on a group to visit in July that had never hosted an event in Irvine but is a longtime Hyatt client.

This February, the UFC will host its fighters prepping for the upcoming pay-per-view fight in The area, with weigh-ins at the hotel.

“We’re now on everyone’s radar,” Frederick said.

Final Pieces

The last few touches of the renovation are still on the way with a new restaurant, operated by a third-party company, aiming to open in May.

The restaurant, named Warehouse 72, was founded in Texas.

The final piece of the Hyatt Regency will be the renovated pool and water slide. The hotel dedicated around $4 million to updating the outdoor pool and its surrounding lounge area in order to provide better amenities to help attract more leisure travelers to round out its demographics.

Hyatt’s goal is to have a 50-50 split between group and transient travel.

“We’re being thoughtful of the touch points,” General Manager Sid Ramani said, noting Hyatt aims to fill the need for a leisure hotel in Irvine.

A new coworking space and the hotel’s marketplace, featuring local goods and food options, will open on Feb. 1 along with the updated Regency Club on the fourth floor.

“We’re really excited to be back in the market,” Frederick said.

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