Meeting spaces across Orange County hotels are in a state of transition, finding new ways to cater to the rise in business travel and events.
As of January, there was 1.9 million square feet of total meeting space among the 35 OC hotels with the most space that caters to larger events, according to this week’s Business Journal list. That’s up 6.2% from last year’s totals, with two local properties coming back online and multiple renovations and expansions to area hotel interiors.
The opening of Pendry Newport Beach and the return of the Hyatt Regency Irvine last year brought back 108,000 square feet of ballrooms, conference rooms and outdoor patios.
The openings come amid a strong market for the sector.
“There’s consumer optimism,” Visit Newport Beach told the Business Journal.
The nonprofit organization is one of several area marketing groups focused on promoting tourism across OC, and is involved in marketing Newport Beach hotels to interested meeting planners.
“We’re noticing an uptick in meeting commitments, and room nights that the clients are signing right now,” the organization said.
Pendry debuts on this year’s list with 58,000 square feet of meeting space and ranks No. 9 on the list.
For the Hyatt Regency team, the hotel’s meeting rooms reopened alongside the first batch of guest rooms in August as a key piece to reintroducing the property to the business market.
“It’s all about getting people back into the building,” Director of Sales & Marketing Terrance Frederick told the Business Journal.
With the Hyatt’s return to the list, it becomes the hotel with the largest amount of meeting space in Irvine and ranks No. 12 among all OC hotels. It was previously known as Hotel Irvine, prior to its pandemic closure.
The Disneyland Hotel remains at the top of the list with 215,796 square feet of meeting space.
Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club moved up to No. 4 with an increase of around 9,000 square feet, moving Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa to No. 5.
The Dana Point hotel renovated its former Athletic Club space into a new meeting room and terrace named Avalon., which opened in March last year.
Other changes from last year include the renaming of DoubleTree by Hilton Anaheim-Orange County to Hotel Fera, a DoubleTree by Hilton, which maintained its 40,000 square feet of meeting space.
Disney’s Pixar Place Hotel was removed from the list this year due to current renovations making its meeting rooms unavailable for booking.
With two new luxury hotels opening in the last couple of years in Newport Center, the city of Newport Beach has experienced a back-to-back resurgence in activity.
“It’s created a wonderful buzz in the local client community,” Visit Newport Beach said.
The organization noted that the city’s variety of hotels with different price points and amenities allow for a good mix of client bases.
A business favorite would be the Renaissance Newport Beach Hotel, used regularly by association groups and praised for its “function flow” from room to room.
The upscale, luxury properties aim to pull business from industry sectors such as health and insurance groups, according to the marketing organization.
Other cities have also benefitted from new openings to recapture its meeting and events business.
For Costa Mesa, the Orange County Museum of Art has not only brought an increase of visitors to the city but offers a new venue close to its base of hotels.
“This event space has allowed us to provide impactful, stunning venue options when booking off-site group business,” Travel Costa Mesa said.
Hoteliers saw group business increase by over 23% in revenue per available room year-over-year in 2023 while transient business increased 5%.
Travel Santa Ana has also looked to its local art scene, with the marketing organization developing a partnership with the Bowers Museum to promote the institution as a space for off-site meetings and events.