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Golden Triangle a Treasure for Hotel Builders : Booming Area to Gain 2,200 Rooms by 1990s

November 18, 1986|GREG JOHNSON | Times Staff Writer

LA JOLLA — What's in a name?

Plenty, for guests checking into La Jolla hotels in order to enjoy the fabled cove, beautiful beaches, upscale shopping and some exceptionally good places to eat.

Consequently, a few guests at the La Jolla Marriott have been disappointed to learn that Pacific Ocean sunsets, elegant eateries and Prospect Avenue's posh shops are, at best, a 10-minute drive away.

"Some people do get confused and wonder why we aren't at the corner of Wall and Girard," acknowledged Reint Reinders, general manager of the Marriott on La Jolla Village Drive near University Towne Centre.

Guests can't see the ocean from the La Jolla Marriott, but from the hotel's perch at the bottom of the Golden Triangle they have ready access to the burgeoning industrial and commercial zone that has hotel executives drooling.

The La Jolla designation "gave us some additional benefits, but the decision to build was based on the tremendous growth in the Golden Triangle," said Reinders, who quickly added that the Marriott falls within the La Jolla ZIP code.

By the early 1990s, Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton and Hyatt hotels will operate in the La Jolla/Golden Triangle area. That quartet and a handful of other developers will spend more than $250 million to build 2,200 upscale hotel rooms and affiliated restaurants and meeting facilities.

Hotels near the Golden Triangle that can feature La Jolla in their name are destined to enjoy the best of both worlds.

"You're looking at the magic of La Jolla's name, and it's a worldwide name, right up there at the top of the scale," according to Joseph Kordsmeier, a Carmel-based hotel consultant. "It does have magic, especially to outsiders, and it's a very big magic that can add an extra $5 or $10 to a room rate."

"During the next 10 years, every major (hotel) company in the country is going to come to San Diego," said Howard James, a former Sheraton Corp. executive vice president who now operates a hotel management consulting firm in San Diego. "And La Jolla is going to be very hot."

Temperatures already are rising, according to the San Diego office of Pannell Kerr Forster, an accounting firm that tracks hotel construction. It says these hotels are likely to be built:

- Marriott, which earlier this year opened its $40-million, 360-room hotel in La Jolla near University Towne Centre, plans to open a 150-unit, all-suite hotel near Mira Mesa Boulevard and Scranton Road.

- Holiday Inn recently opened a 144-unit, all-suite Residence Inn on Gilman Drive in La Jolla.

Another Holiday Inn subsidiary recently finished structural work on an Embassy Suites Hotel on La Jolla Village Drive at Towne Centre Drive. The 330-unit hotel is scheduled to open in June.

- Hyatt plans to build a 400-room hotel and meeting center at Naiman Corp.'s "Aventine" development on La Jolla Village Drive, east of Interstate 5.

- Sheraton, which has been in negotiations since 1983 on a proposed hotel at the Torrey Pines Golf Course, now hopes to open the 400-room hotel by early 1989.

- A 120-room Ramada Inn is planned at Mira Mesa Boulevard and Scranton Road.

- Additionally, four other hotel developments and two additions at existing La Jolla hotels are proposed during the next few years. Those proposals include a 210-room hotel and conference facility near UCSD, an 86-room addition to the Torrey Pines Inn on North Torrey Pines Road, and a 31-room addition to the La Valencia in downtown La Jolla.

The La Jolla/Golden Triangle room boom will burst the high-occupancy-rate bubble enjoyed by hotels elsewhere in San Diego County, especially if the downtown convention center opening is delayed beyond 1989.

But rather than simply swiping business from Hotel Circle, downtown and Mission Bay, the new hotels will cater to "a whole new marketplace that wasn't there in 1985 or 1986," according to Kordsmeier.

"I've never seen so much construction as along I-5 and I-805," Kordsmeier said. "Those new commercial office buildings and new residential neighborhoods are tremendous demand generators."

Unlike downtown, Mission Bay and Hotel Circle, however, La Jolla/Golden Triangle isn't relying on the proposed convention center, the San Diego Zoo or Sea World's Shamu to generate business. Rather, the area depends on one whale of an industrial base that already provides 35,000 jobs. That base probably will swell to as many as 70,000 jobs by 1990, according to Ted Owen, a vice president and director of the North City office of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.

"As long as the commercial growth that is forecast for the area continues, there won't be a glut," according to Ron Watanabe, who tracks hotel growth for Pannell Kerr Forster in San Diego. "La Jolla and the Golden Triangle are coming into their own as a business area, and as a result, hotels are popping up left and right."

As the number of biomedical, high-technology, industrial and medical companies increases, the area will need classy and convenient lodgings for an increasing number of business travelers.

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