San Diego Resort Goes the Brand Route

Independent luxury hotels and resorts pride themselves on offering individual experiences. Branded properties, on the other hand, are more likely to prize consistency and, therefore, be more standardized. This would seem inevitable, considering they’re obligated to adopt the brand’s at-times detailed policies and procedures.

Planners who already know the highly regarded Grand Del Mar resort near the coast in Northern San Diego are about to put this hypothesis to the test.

granddelmar2The 249-room resort, named TripAdvisor’s No. 1 luxury California hotel in 2014, was sold in late-March and this week (May 4) became part of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Fairmont, in turn, is part of FRHI, a global lodging enterprise whose other brands are Raffles and Swissotel.

The group market is a big piece of the resort’s business plan. The picturesque property, which sits on 400 acres adjoining a canyon preserve, offers planners 27,000 sq. ft. of event space, including a 10,000 sq. ft. ballroom, other traditional meeting rooms, plus for additional privacy eight spacious villas and a range of suites, some as large as 2,800 sq. ft.

Fairmont is certainly a well-known owner and luxury operator in California. The brand’s flagship remains the Fairmont San Francisco, but the brand also has the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square (also in San Francisco) as well as branded hotels in Newport Beach, Santa Monica, Sonoma and San Jose.

granddelmar3Planners who already have events on the books at the Grand Del Mar will know in a matter of weeks (or at the latest a few months) whether changes are afoot at the newly minted Fairmont. Likewise, planners who are in discussion about signing on for future events at the property will know sooner rather than later what changes they can expect.

One hopeful sign in terms of continuity of service levels: while the resort’s general manager has moved on (not unusual when a change of management occurs, no less a change in ownership), the rest of the hotel’s roughly 400 employees are reported to be staying put.

Bruce Serlen

Bruce Serlen

Bruce Serlen is a veteran travel writer, based in New Jersey, who has written extensively on meetings management and hotel operations. Most recently, he was executive editor at Hotel Business.

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