Site Visit: Andaz San Diego

By Kelsey Ogletree, August 10, 2015

When you think of Andaz, think of a valet stand full of Audi keys, women decked out in Lululemon and men suited up in Theory.

That’s how one in-the-know local described Andaz San Diego, one of 12 hotels in the boutique-inspired offshoot of Hyatt. With a lobby that feels more like a living room (complete with a complimentary glass of Champagne upon check-in with a mobile staffer armed with an iPad), a rooftop full of the see-and-be-seen set and uber-modern guest rooms in the center of “America’s Finest City’s” famous Gaslamp Quarter, Andaz San Diego is on par with the brand’s mission to appeal to Millennials and hone in on local culture in each of its locations.

However, the stylish property has many surprising spaces—appealing to all ages—that practically force planners to think outside the box when it comes to meetings, proving Andaz a viable option for both corporate and smaller association groups, from finance to tech industries.

Take the newly opened Rooftop600. The rooftop pool is surrounded by cabanas, the grandest of which is directly linked via private staircase to the luxe Cabana Suite—a smart option to house CEOs or VIPs, who can make an entrance there without taking the elevator. The rooftop recently began serving lunch and dinner (try the pepita-crusted chicken tostada salad) and happy hour specials, and can be rented out it its entirety for private events.

Downstairs, the hotel’s traditional meeting spaces, including the Studio Ballroom, have fun touches like orange lighting and nontraditional setups. Breaking away from the typical leather chair, the boardroom has brightly colored ergonomic seating and a huge 90-inch screen. Chris Wingerberg, director of sales and marketing, says groups have used the boardroom as a starting point before leading the C-suite or board members into the attached ballroom that’s set up to make a big impact, with textured panels, colorful lighting and more.

The 159-room hotel, opened in a century-old building in 2010, completed a renovation of its meeting spaces in June, and more updates coming soon will continue to increase its attractiveness to planners. The first step is eliminating the traditional front desk from the lobby, says Wingerberg, turning it into an open-concept area with lounge seating meant to be a hangout spot for guests and groups. Next, a $2 million renovation of the vacant restaurant space off the lobby will result in STK by Rebel (The One Group Hospitality), set to open in December 2015 with private dining space. The current lobby bar, Andaz Bar, will be transformed from a social gathering spot into a meeting space as well.

In 2013, Andaz closed its on-site nightclub, converting it into Studio Loft—now used for groups. It’s still fully outfitted with fog machines, lasers and the works, making for a dramatic event space. An in-house DJ and AV team adds to the package. “For a product launch meeting, imagine the CEO making an entrance with a cryo machine,” suggests Wingerberg.

It’s part of a trend echoed around San Diego’s hotel market (including Manchester Grand Hyatt) to convert spaces traditionally geared toward transient guests, such as in-house nightclubs, into a marketable option for groups. “It’s hard to find a balance among hotel guests, group and nightclub guests,” says Wingerberg, noting July and August are the only two heavy leisure months. The rest of the year, properties including Andaz need strong group business to be sustainable.

Insider Tip
Like each Andaz, the San Diego property has complimentary snacks available in the lobby. We bet you can’t eat just one of the signature granola-and-jam bites, but treats can also be customized—the hotel made custom car-shaped cookies for an automobile company that met there recently. If you need a handcrafted cappuccino or Vietnamese latte to wash it all down, head a block down to the streetside Simon Says Coffee, which opened this summer.

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