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San Diego Shines with New and Improved Meeting Hotels and Venues

For 250 years old, San Diego is looking pretty good. In 2019, the city celebrated the 250th commemoration of its founding, growing to the eighth-largest city in the nation best-known for its beaches, active lifestyle and pleasant year-round weather. These attributes and more make it a great place for a meeting.

“This community loves group business,” said Margie Sitton, senior vice president of sales and services for the San Diego Tourism Authority. “We love lanyards and name tags! We are a group business destination.”

Equipped to hold large citywide conventions—does Comic-Con sound familiar?—San Diego County’s properties are adding even more meeting space, accommodations and world-class food and beverage.

“I don’t think we have a ‘sad’ hotel in the group,” Sitton said. “Almost everything has been refreshed or rebuilt in the past several years.”

Here’s a look at some of the biggest projects that were unveiled in the past year or are nearing completion for 2020.

Downtown San Diego

Hilton San Diego Bayfront

In mid-2019, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront completed a $23 million renovation to its 1,190 guest rooms and corridors. The waterfront property is adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center, and just steps from Petco Park and the downtown Gaslamp District.

The redesigned accommodations feature a nautical, contemporary design and are equipped with windows overlooking the city and bay. In conjunction with the renovation, the property became the first Hilton in California to offer Connected Room technology, which enables guests to control their hotel stay from their mobile device. The Hilton Honors app allows guests to manage temperature control, lighting and window coverings as well as the ability to load streaming media to in-room TVs.

In addition to being steps away from the convention center, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront gives groups plenty of options for meetings and events onsite. There is 165,000 square feet of function space, both indoor and outdoor.

The 34,000-square-foot Sapphire Ballroom is considered the largest pillar-free ballroom in the city, according to the hotel. And the 4.3-acre Bayfront Park can be used almost any day of the year with San Diego’s temperate weather.

Photo: The Guild Hotel, San Diego, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel; Credit: Oram Hotels

The Guild Hotel

Also mid-year, The Guild Hotel, a Marriott Tribute Portfolio property, opened in a historic landmark, 1920s-era Army-Navy YMCA building. The property’s exterior Italian Renaissance-style facade and staircase is true to its original design while the lobby and full-service bar feature a contemporary look.

The 162-room hotel’s Luca restaurant, helmed by executive chef Justin Vaiciunas, features a main room centered around an outdoor courtyard.

The YMCA’s former basketball court with an elevated running track was transformed into the 4,000-square-foot Grace Ballroom. It features the court’s original brick wall inlays and hardwood floors. The former underground pool on the basement level is now an additional event space, with some original design elements intact as well. There are several other private spaces throughout the property included in the 18,000 square feet of meeting and event space in total.

[Related: San Diego Food Scene Inspires Meeting Attendees]

(Photo: Lobby, Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton; Credit: Carte Hotel)

Carte Hotel

Carte Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton opened in downtown’s Little Italy neighborhood. The property’s design—which includes 246 guest rooms—pays tribute to the neighborhood’s nautical roots as well as San Diego’s various historic piers, including Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier and La Jolla’s Scripps Pier.

Copper accents are also featured throughout, reflective of the city’s famed sunsets. One of the most notable copper accents is on the exterior of the hotel, where it contrasts with the ocean-inspired blue and green glass panels. Copper is also incorporated on the rooftop, home to Above Ash Social lounge and bar.

Other food and beverage destinations onsite include Watercolors, serving sea-to-table cuisine, and Fonte di Vino, a wine and spirits tasting room.

Carte Hotel offers more than 8,500 square feet of event space, with seven private event options. The hotel is also home to Fit Athletic Club, providing guests access to 28,000-square-foot full-service fitness club.

Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island

Minutes from San Diego International Airport, the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island gives groups a convenient location as well as one of the more scenic views of the San Diego Bay and downtown.

In April 2019, the property unveiled 211 updated guest rooms, following a multimillion-dollar renovation. Along with interior upgrades, the accommodations all feature waterfront views, offering a balcony or patio with outdoor seating.

The hotel’s meeting and event space also offers attendees marina and skyline views. There is over 8,000 square feet of space, including the Marina Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 300 guests.

San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina

The San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina underwent a major renovation and expansion a few years back that included the property’s nearly 2,000 guest rooms and expanded the function space to now total nearly 280,000 square feet across 81 meeting rooms.

The property is adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center and offers views of Coronado Island, the bay and the marina from guest rooms, meeting venues and public spaces.

January kicked off the hotel’s Cellar Dinner Series at onsite Marina Kitchen. Each dinner features a themed five-course menu from executive chef Aron Schwartz, along with expert beverage pairings serviced by in-house sommelier Patrick Murphy.

Groups can also take advantage of the expertise of the chef and sommelier and arrange for private dining or tastings. The restaurant’s own wine cellar provides an especially unique setting for smaller groups.

In January 2020, the property also debuted its “Meet Me at the Midway” program for groups. Inspired by the hotel’s proximity to the USS Midway, the U.S.’s longest serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, this option allows for planners to integrate unique programming abroad this iconic vessel.

Planners can choose from several packages for events on the nearby USS Midway Aircraft Carrier and Museum with catering services through the Marriott Marquis.

[Related: Marriott Marquis San Diego’s New F&B Program Gives Groups a Taste of the City]

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

The Marriott’s next-door neighbor, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, finalized a multimillion-dollar hotel transformation, with the completion of enhancements to the lobby, arrival experience and signature lobby bar and lounge, The Landing.

This project marks the finalization of a property-wide renewal that saw updates to all 1,628 guest rooms, Top of the Hyatt bar and lounge, Sally’s Fish House & Bar, Brew30 California Taps, 32nd and 33rd floor meeting space, ballrooms, fitness center, and Grand Club.

San Diego Symphony

Planners looking for a spectacular, truly San Diego offsite venue will have one more option starting in summer this year.

The San Diego Symphony’s permanent bayside concert venue located in the Port of San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park South will feature a permanent, acoustically superior outdoor stage. The Symphony will be able to offer a wider variety of musical presentations as well as an expanded concession area and permanent bathrooms.

This transformed public park space on San Diego Bay will be able to host approximately 3,100 concertgoers per event with the flexibility to accommodate a maximum capacity of 10,000 attendees for other private functions.

Beyond Downtown

Photo: Hotel Del Coronado; Credit: Joanne DiBona,

Hotel del Coronado

One of San Diego’s most iconic properties, the Hotel del Coronado, on Coronado Island, just across the bay from downtown, is in the midst of its first phase renovation.

The project includes the development of the north underground parking structures and restoration of the industrial buildings as well as the Vista Walk. New onsite seafood-focused restaurant Serẽa, led by chef JoJo Ruiz, debuted in late 2019.

In June 2020 the property will be unveil a new “neighborhood” dubbed The Cabanas, complete with refurbished oceanfront guest rooms featuring a driftwood-like backdrop, nautical and bespoke furnishings, private patios and expanded bathrooms.

There will also be a new main resort pool with cabana service just steps from the beach alongside several new culinary outlets coming in 2020.

Town and Country San Diego

Another iconic property in the city is the Town and Country San Diego. The resort opened in 1953 and was the first hotel in Mission Valley. The resort expanded to add more guest rooms and a convention center.

The property’s $90 million renovation is underway, scheduled to be complete mid-2020. The hotel has been open and operational throughout the project.

With nods to its 50-year history, the hotel will unveil a midcentury modern look across the property. The project includes a new open-air lobby, the renovation of 675 guest rooms and 258,100 square feet of meeting space—which includes a 41,000-square-foot Exhibit Hall—as well as two new pools with waterslides and three new restaurants and lounges led by executive chef John Shelton.

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Just a few miles north of downtown, the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa completed a $21 million renovation in late 2019. The resort overlooks Mission Bay and offers 357 guest rooms and suites, a waterfront restaurant, poolside lounge, a full-service spa and 26,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

The renovation encompasses all guest rooms, the hotel's conference center, the executive board rooms and all common areas and lobbies. 

Margaritaville Island Resort San Diego

Also on Mission Bay, the Paradise Point Resort & Spa will become the Margaritaville Island Resort San Diego in 2020. 

The resort is set on 44 acres, just 10 minutes from downtown San Diego, with a mile of beachfront overlooking the marina and Mission Bay. Following extensive renovations and conversion of the existing property, the Margaritaville Island Resort San Diego will feature 462 casita-style guest rooms, signature Margaritaville food and beverage concepts and new recreational activities.

The property’s 80,000 square feet of meeting space, marina, spa, tennis courts, five pools and public spaces will be updated to reflect the Margaritaville brand, look and vibe.

Grande Colonial

Heading north up the coast, the historic Grande Colonial hotel completed its renovation of the 97 guest rooms and suites. The hotel originally opened in 1913 and the redesign includes elements of the property’s storied past that infuses a classic European vibe with contemporary touches.

The Grande Colonial’s more than 5,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space feature ocean views.

San Diego Marriott Del Mar

In North County, San Diego Marriott Del Mar completed a multimillion-dollar renovation to its 284 guest rooms, lobby and outdoor space. Restaurant and bar Arterra was also redesigned. The lobby was expanded with open front desk pods, and new seating was added. A new coffee shop, Terra Café, also debuted.

The Cordero Executive Boardroom was updated with a new conference table that includes easily accessible USB ports and outlets and new furniture. In total, the property offers nearly 23,000 square feet of function space across 14 meeting rooms.

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Also in San Diego’s North County, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa will reveal the new La Luna ballroom in 2020. This new event space’s look is inspired by the architecture of Spanish missions native to Southern California and will add 30,000 square feet to its 110,000 square feet of function space and collection of 46 meeting rooms. 

Photo: Bull and Bourbon Steakhouse, Sycuan Casino Resort; Credit: Sycuan Casino Resort

Sycuan Casino Resort

Sycuan Casino Resort in San Diego’s East County completed a $260 million expansion in March 2019. The project included the 12-story hotel tower, a variety of new restaurants from fast-casual to fine dining, meetings and event space, a full-service spa, fitness center and a pool and gardens area with a lazy river and swim-up bar.

[Related: Sycuan Casino Resort Unveils Expansion]

The casino floor space was also expanded to include a total of 2,800 slot machines and 54 table games. The resort offers over 35,000 square feet of indoor meeting spaces, including an 11,200-square-foot event center with a stage and more than 20,000 square feet of outdoor function space.

CVB Contact:

San Diego Tourism Authority | 877.973.6338


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About the author
Kate Cripe | Former Content Developer, Departments/Features

Kate Cripe worked with Meetings Today for over eight years as a Sales, Marketing and Content Coordinator. She then moved to the editorial team where she writes and edits feature, destination and news articles.