It’s hard to not think back on this press trip as a foodie’s three-day ultimate adventure. The trip that took us to three of Marriott’s Convention and Resort Network (CRN) properties in San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles, was filled with over-indulgent meals, from breakfast aboard a yacht on San Diego Bay, to a food and drink crawl in Anaheim, to dinner at an L.A. hot spot. Grubbing aside, it was how each hotel is committed to providing meetings that impressed, both in ballrooms and outside the hotel doors. One-hundred of the brand’s largest convention and resort hotels in the Americas make up the Marriott’s CRN and these three are all in my Southern California backyard.
The trip started at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The hotel, which completed an over $100 million renovation of its meetings and events space last year, sits adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center and on San Diego Bay. With the Embarcadero, Gaslamp Quarter and East Village all within walking distance, this property’s location can’t be beat. Our first evening began at Marina Kitchen Restaurant & Bar’s Marina Cellar, a 2,300-bottle capacity wine room that can be used for intimate receptions or wine and dining experiences. After a toast to kick off the trip and hors d’oeuvres galore, we headed out to The Kitchen Porch, where Executive Chef Aron Schwartz wowed us with five wine-parried courses.
Our first full day began with breakfast and libations abroad a yacht while we sailed around San Diego Bay before heading back for a tour of the revamped meeting space. The 1,300-room hotel now offers over 280,000 square feet of function space, including a two-level stacked ballroom along with Marina Terrace, an outdoor space on the bay. We left the hotel with our new yoga mats tucked under our arms—the hotel features an in-room yoga program—and headed to Amtrak’s Santa Fe Depot to board the train for Orange County.
We arrived at the ARTIC Station in Anaheim and were chauffeured to the nearly 1,000-room Anaheim Marriott, a neighbor of the Anaheim Convention Center. Growing up in Southern California, I have visited Anaheim many times, but always to spend the day at Disneyland, so I was looking forward to seeing the other treasures of the Orange County city. After checking in, our group met for an afternoon tour that included beers at Unsung Brewing Co., cheese and wine tasting at Center Street Cheese Shop, a sneak peek at the House of Blues’ new Anaheim GardenWalk location (It has since opened.) and a drive through Old Towne Orange.
As if we needed dinner, that evening we headed to The Packing House. A landmark building, the facility was once the Anaheim Citrus Packing House, where local produce was washed, packed into crates and loaded onto rail cars to be shipped across the country. Today, the restored venue houses restaurants, shops, bars, kiosks and a central communal space that featured live entertainment that night. We sampled dishes and sipped drinks from different outlets—from Mexican to Indian—as it was hard to pick just one or two spots. Back at the Anaheim Marriott, house Sommelier Chris Yee treated us to a private tasting at the hotel’s inviting NFuse Restaurant, Bar and Lounge.
The next morning featured an impressive breakfast with a pour over coffee station, all right on-property. We then walked through much of the hotel’s 100,000 square feet of meeting space, which impressed not just in size, but with its creative set-ups. One room we peeked into even had a conference table and large chair constructed out of Lego blocks.
Just north a bit, we arrived at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live. Our Los Angeles experience started with lunch at the Mixing Room’s patio. Our outdoor lunch was set up as a pop-up taco bar and we were treated to Liquid Intelligence, a tequila mixology demonstration. The family-style meal could have fed a party three times our size, but we had no problem devouring it all! Ready to do some walking, we toured the hotel, which offers 76,700 square feet of meeting space and 800 guest rooms, and then checked out L.A. Live.
The downtown sports and entertainment district includes the Staples Center, Microsoft Theater and Grammy Museum. The highlight was definitely walking into the Staples Center and seeing my name on the center court scoreboard and then finding my own personalized hockey jersey in the L.A. Kings’ locker room!
Our trip winded down with a very “L.A.” night, including a tour of The Broad, downtown’s contemporary art museum, and a decadent dinner at rustic-chic Otium. We capped off the night with drinks at The Edison, a lounge located in a restored power plant.
Marriott’s Convention Resort Network