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California Bound

Check out the hottest hotels, restaurants, venues, and group experiences in the Golden State.

By Kamala Kirk

As one of the most geographically diverse states, California has plenty to offer with its beaches, deserts, mountains, wine country, and bustling major cities—making it a premier destination for meetings and events. Last year, many of the region’s hotels and venues reopened and underwent extensive renovations due to the resurgence of travel and in-person meetings. The new year promises to be exciting for the Golden State with fresh hotels, conference centers, and event venues on the horizon.

Gather on Kimpton Canary Hotel’s rooftop for 36-degree views of Santa Barbara. CREDIT Kimpton Canary Hotel

Waterfront Destinations

Slated for summer 2025, Gaylord Pacific Resort and Convention Center will feature 418,746 square feet of indoor and outdoor convention space alongside 360-degree views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. marriott.com

The city of Marina in Monterey County welcomed the Hampton Inn & Suites in February.  Located near Marina State Beach and Gloria Jean Tate Park, the 90-room hotel features 1,200 square feet of meeting space, a fitness room, indoor pool, and outdoor patio. hilton.com

Santa Monica’s The Georgian Hotel relaunched  last January after restoration of the iconic 1930s property to its former glory. In addition to 84 rooms and 28 suites, it is also home to two private meeting and dining spaces, The Gallery and The Writer’s Room. “The story of Santa Monica’s First Lady is one filled with magic, intrigue, sophistication, and, quite certainly, a touch of debauchery,” says Nicolo Rusconi, co-founder and president of Los Angeles-based BLVD Companies, which acquired the landmark hotel. “Our vision is that each one of those elements will coalesce with contemporary California culture to once again make The Georgian California’s crown jewel.” thegeorgian.com

The Georgian Hotel’s Sunset Bar CREDIT The Georgian

Fairmont The Breakers, Long Beach will debut in 2023 as the city’s first luxury boutique hotel and will feature 12,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor function space alongside the rooftop lounge bar with unlimited ocean views, five innovative food and beverage venues, and a lavish two-story spa. fairmont.com

Santa Barbara 

Former “The Bachelor” star Andrew Firestone opened his first hotel, Courtyard Santa Barbara, last December, which is also the first Courtyard by Marriott in the area. Located in the heart of State Street, the 122-room modern hotel features several meeting and event spaces that accommodate 30 to 125 people. marriott.com

Unveiling a refreshed design in early 2023, Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara reflects its surroundings while showcasing a brightened version of its original Spanish architecture. “The hotel is great for meetings and events of all kinds, from intimate dinners in our Chapala Terrace room to important private business meetings in one of our five standalone meeting rooms or on our rooftop—the highest rooftop event space in the city, [with] sweeping views of the mountains and ocean,” says Debbie Osborne, sales and marketing director. “In addition, our proximity to State Street offers guests of meetings and events the best dining and entertainment that Santa Barbara has, including easy access to the popular Funk Zone where they can sample local wines and also check out an emerging list of craft breweries, bars, surf shops, art galleries, and more.” canarysantabarbara.com

Heart of the City

Opened this March, Moxy Downtown Los Angeles and AC Hotel Downtown Los Angeles is the city’s premiere two-in-one destination. The seventh floor of the dual-branded hotel boasts 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space with capacity for 600 people. The venue’s unique industrial design and proximity to the Los Angeles Convention Center and Crypto.com Arena makes it a distinguished venue for conferences, special celebrations, and weddings. marriott.com

Conrad Hotels & Resorts’ first California property, Conrad Los Angeles, opened its doors last July as part of The Grand LA, a collection of retailers and restaurants. Designed by Frank Gehry, the 305-room property offers an expansive, outdoor terrace overlooking the the city’s skyline. hilton.com

Downtown L.A. Proper, in Los Angeles’ South Park District, introduced an intimate cocktail lounge, Dahlia, this March. “In the spirit of our unique approach to luxury, Downtown L.A. Proper also has a distinct and nuanced approach to meetings and events,” says Maureen Leary, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “Anchored by our historic ballroom, the Cabrillo Club, meetings at Downtown L.A. Proper are not held in typical boxed spaces. By utilizing unexpected, tucked-away spaces and one-of-a-kind suites to reimagine a creative meeting, groups are folded into the design and soul of the property, sparking endless inspiration.” properhotel.com

The legendary Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, completed a multimillion-dollar renovation of all guest rooms and suites last year. Frequently used to host private events, the contemporary and fresh specialty suites were enhanced by a highly curated art program and collection of custom furniture to create an inviting and comfortable atmosphere. 

“We couldn’t be happier with our newly renovated guest rooms, suites, and specialty suites that were meticulously designed to represent Rodeo Drive luxury while still providing guests with a sanctuary of comfort,” says Melissa Sims, hotel manager. “And with the continued rising trend of throwing events in unique spaces, we saw a great opportunity to redesign our six bespoke specialty suites with this in mind. Take our Penthouse for instance: You can host an intimate dinner private party around the dining table with its adjoining show kitchen, entertain clients for a private film screening in the modern media room, or celebrate a company’s milestone with hors d’oeuvres and champagne out on the wraparound balcony.” fourseasons.com

The 805-room Signia by Hilton San Jose debuted early last year with over 65,000 square feet of event space, including the largest ballroom in Silicon Valley. The hotel is currently undergoing a modernization of its Main Tower, which is set for completion this summer. hilton.com

Orange County

Launching this summer, Pendry Newport Beach is a 295-room resort just steps away from Fashion Island, one of Orange County’s finest shopping destinations. The hotel will feature three signature dining destinations, a world-class Spa Pendry, an outdoor pool with sundeck, a fitness center, and more than 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space. pendry.com

The beautiful lakeside DoubleTree Santa Ana will complete a renovation of all guest rooms this summer, followed by updates to its public areas, including 8,000 square feet of meeting space, a lobby expansion, new in-room technology that includes smart TVs with access to guests’ personal streaming services, and “5 feet to fitness” rooms that feature the ability to work out in the privacy of your room. hilton.com

Desert Getaway

Open since last May, The Paloma Resort in Cathedral City features 66 modern bungalows and suites along with 360-degree mountain views and a spa.

“The Paloma Resort is an amazing place to host events of all types,” says Amy Brinkman, hotelier of The Paloma Resort. “The resort is the newest boutique property in the Palm Springs area, and our property is bright, colorful, fun, and open—much like the surrounding desert. We have an event space called Date Palm Room that’s great for hosting company retreats, small conferences, or parties for up to 100 people,” she continues. “Our on-site Spanish-influenced restaurant, Sol y Sombra, boasts a private dining patio featuring a gorgeous outdoor fireplace and can host 50 to 75 for a cocktail party or around 25 for a seated dinner.” thepalomaresort.com

Gather in Paloma’s Date Palm Room CREDIT The Paloma Resort

Wine Country

Opened this February in the Santa Ynez Valley, The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection is a draw for wine lovers and features 67 luxury guest rooms and cottages. Originally serving as a popular stagecoach stop, the property remains a lively local landmark and includes an outdoor pool and bar, signature spa, and modern indoor-
outdoor event spaces for gatherings in a sophisticated, country-inspired setting. aubergeresorts.com

Stay cozy in the guest rooms at The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern. CREDIT Auberge Resorts Collection

Wellness-Focused Experiences

Last year, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village saw major developments, including the renovation of its 40,000-square-foot spa, as well as the opening of the Center for Health & Wellbeing, which showcases corporate and group health-centric retreats and programs. The hotel features many choices for planners, from nutrition-driven culinary programs and wellness-themed team-building activities to leading health expert guest lectures, workshops, and one-on-one consultations. 

“Many of our corporate groups add a wellness component so that before and after meetings they’re energized, eating healthy, and have gained new knowledge that will help them in their lives,” says Akram Kawasmeh, executive director of health and well-being for the hotel. “We customize every corporate retreat and experience based on individual needs. Our interactive cooking classes [are] among our popular group activities where participants learn how to make healthier recipes they can enjoy at home while bonding with their colleagues.” fourseasons.com

The Farmhouse at Ojai Valley Inn is a culinary-inspired event venue. CREDIT Ojai Valley Inn

Just in time for its 100th anniversary, Ojai Valley Inn’s 10,147-square-foot villa, Casa Elar, completed a multimillion-dollar renovation in Ojai. With five suites, 12 fireplaces, a chef’s kitchen, an outdoor terrace, and a private pool, guests can enjoy a secluded villa retreat overlooking fields of fruit tree groves and wild herbs. The property also refreshed suites and villas surrounding the 31,000-square-foot Spa Ojai, providing a complete wellness escape. ojaivalleyinn.com 

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