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Sunday, Aug 7, 2022
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OC Hotels Booked for the Summer

Local Properties Report 70% Employment Jump

Tourism is back, and Orange County hotels are reaping the rewards.

“Most hotels in Orange County have seen a big increase in business post-COVID, and are enjoying record revenues, especially along the coast,” Alan Reay, president of Irvine-based consultancy and brokerage Atlas Hospitality Group, told the Business Journal.

The 52 properties on the Business Journal’s list of the largest hotels in the county reported an average weekend rate of $349, up 20% from a year ago.

Employees are returning along with that demand.

Hotels on the list had 12,016 OC employees as of May, a 70% boost from the year prior.

OC occupancy levels have more than tripled since the lows seen in 2020, according to data from STR Inc.

“Overall, everything is very positive,” Reay said.

 

Anaheim on Top

Anaheim counts the four largest hotels in the county, led by the 1,574-room Hilton Anaheim.

The city is enjoying a strong rebound this year, specifically in the hardest-hit conventions and meetings sector.

The Anaheim Convention Center’s five main fan conventions for the year are projected to bring 57,000 room nights to local hotels.

Revenue per available room, or RevPAR, has jumped 307% year-to-date in Anaheim over the same period in 2021, according to STR data.

That is far ahead of the next largest increases of 138% seen in San Francisco and 121% seen in Los Angeles.

“Anaheim is leading the state in terms of percentage increase in RevPAR, both in May and year-to-date,” Reay said.

Anaheim hotels reported 78% occupancy as of April, according to destination marketing organization Visit Anaheim.

While the leisure market appears to be back in full swing, OC hotels are awaiting the full return of the business sector and international visitors.

Climbing interest rates and concern over new COVID-19 variants pose as industry headwinds.

“Prices on hotel sales continue to climb but we expect this to start to taper off with the increase in interest rates,” Reay said.

 

Doubling Up

The 618-room Westin Anaheim Resort celebrated its first anniversary this month. The luxury hotel now counts 400 employees, up 60% over last year.

It wasn’t the only hotel on the list reporting increased employee counts.

Resorts, such as No. 34 Hotel Lulu, attributed the employment increase to rising demand from citywide events and local attractions as the tourism market returns.

The Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa saw the greatest headcount jump, up 230% to 330 employees.

Best Western’s Stovall Inn, Hotel Lulu, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort-Convention Center, Holiday Inn & Suites Anaheim and Hilton Anaheim each saw their headcount more than double over the past year.

Among local leadership changes, the 466-room JW Marriott Anaheim Resort named Rhanda Richardson as its new general manager. Near the Anaheim GardenWalk, the hotel opened in August 2020 as the first four diamond-level property in the city since 2001, ranking No. 15 on this year’s list.

 

Season of Changes

Many area properties have been undergoing physical changes this year, from renovations to complete overhauls.

The former Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa has transformed into the new Vea Newport Beach, a Marriott Resort & Spa with a grand reveal held last week (see story, page 20). The Newport Beach resort went from 532 rooms to 400, moving down to No. 20 on the list.

Those nixed rooms are slated to become Ritz-Carlton residences in a new development led by Lyon Living.

The Sonesta Irvine added a handful of rooms as part of a renovation to its meeting space, guest rooms and social areas. A new restaurant, Haven Point, will open in July.

The Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort wrapped a $33 million renovation in April.

The overhaul included changes in the hotel’s public and private spaces, food and beverage options and meeting space.

“The hotel has been an integral part of the Anaheim landscape for many years and the current ownership recognized the tremendous potential of the hotel,” General Manager Ian Gee told the Business Journal in April.

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