Corporate & Incentive Travel • TheMeetingMagazines.com
“San Diego gave us everything we needed. It has an environment of elegance and lots of activities such as golf”
Robert Sanders, General Manager, Meetings & Events, Ovation Corporate Travel, NY, NY
San Diego- Everybody loves San Diego and for good reason. The city offers a modern and historic downtown, cultural attractions, great dining, hip nightclubs and a complete meetings infrastructure, including the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC). The facility offers a 526,000-sf exhibit hall, 204,000 sf of ballroom and meeting space, and is located within walking distance of more than 11,000 hotel rooms.
The number of new and improved hotel rooms continues to grow. The Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa opened in June 2012 with 215 guest rooms and 23,300 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The San Diego Marriott Del Mar Hotel recently completed a $3.3 million renovation of its 284 guest rooms. The project also included upgraded event space, a new concierge lounge and a redesign of Arterra Restaurant. The hotel has more than 12,000 sf of meeting space, including a total of 13 meeting rooms.
In May 2012, the Holiday Inn Downtown San Diego hotel was rebranded as Four Points by Sheraton San Diego. The 220-room hotel is undergoing a $2 million renovation that includes the lobby and First Avenue Bar and Grill. More than 22,000 sf of meeting space is available.
Elsewhere, The Westin Gaslamp Quarter has finished a $25 million makeover of its 450 guest rooms and suites. The refurbishment also included 35,000 sf of meeting and event space and the Westin Workout fitness studio. The hotel offers 35,000 sf of meeting and event space. No group’s visit to San Diego is complete without a trip to SeaWorld San Diego. SeaWorld offers numerous venues for banquets and receptions. The dining with Shamu venue, for example, accommodates 200 for banquets and 300 for receptions. Only minutes from downtown, Balboa Park features 15 museums, award-winning gardens and several performing arts venues. The 1,200-acre park also includes the San Diego Zoo.
San Diego was just the right match for a meeting held last year by a large law firm based on the East Coast. The three-day annual meeting of 375 of the firm’s partners and employees took place at the 757-room Hotel del Coronado, a beach resort with 65,000 sf of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The firm chose San Diego and the Hotel del Coronado over competitors nationwide, says Robert Sanders, general manager of meetings and events at Ovation Corporate Travel, a New York City-based travel management company. “We did an extensive search. They wanted people to meet in elegant class to do productive business and celebrate a recent acquisition. San Diego gave us everything we needed. It has an environment of elegance and lots of activities such as golf. It gave us great options to fly in. From a budgetary standpoint, it’s not as expensive as some other top destinations and gave us good value compared to the other destinations we were looking at,” says Sanders. The meeting had extensive technology needs. Sanders and his team were onsite two days before the meeting started to work with hotel staff in setting up the technology. “We had a local audio-visual company help set up the AV we needed.
We brought in another company to help set up a room with 40 laptops, all with Internet and teleconferencing ability. We had speakers from around the world who spoke to the group live via videoconferencing during two sessions. We also had breakouts every day, and on the high day there were eight or nine running simultaneously. Everything went smoothly,” says Sanders. Most of the meeting was business-oriented, but attendees enjoyed a range of San Diego activities. “There was an outdoor cocktail party by the ocean. We had one day of recreation that included a choice of golf, fishing, wine tasting at a local vineyard and a spa. Everybody loved it. The hotel performed beautifully from a service, and food and beverage level,” says Sanders.