HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA—The resurgence of hotel development indicates that people are traveling again, and they want their amenities, Bob Olson, founder and CEO of R.D. Olson Development tells GlobeSt.com. As GlobeSt.com reported last week, Pacific Hospitality Group and R.D. Olson have broken ground on Paséa Hotel & Spa, an eight-story, 250-room luxury hotel to be integrated with the 191,000-square-foot Pacific City retail and entertainment center also under development here by DJM Capital Partners. We caught up with Olson to discuss the new hotel, what makes it special and what’s happening in the hotel development arena.
GlobeSt.com: What makes Paséa Hotel & Spa unique?
Olson: It’s an oceanfront hotel, and it’s one of the last remaining oceanfront sites in California. It’s also on the most famous surf beach in the US and possibly in the world. It will have tremendous ocean views—the rooms are 100% ocean view, looking up and down the coast and straight out. It’s really a lifestyle boutique hotel. I know that term is probably overused and questionable here since it’s a 250-room hotel, but it feels like you’re truly at the beach. It’s a beach atmosphere with a surf culture—not a dominant surf culture, but a playful one.
The oceanfront meeting rooms will be used for a multitude of purposes. One will be a sports bar and another will be a club atmosphere for after the main ballroom breaks up for a nighttime lounge-club event, a private-party music event or a celebrity-chef dinner. All the meeting rooms have fire pits out on the veranda with an ocean backdrop. It’s an unbelievably beautiful spot, unlike any other meeting room space available.
The restaurant will be a single-floor space designed in New York meat-packing-district style, but we’re going to bring it to human scale, so the entry exterior will carry that theme, but as you come to the restaurant from the outside, it appears as its own building. It will have its own chef, food-and-beverage and it will be its own stand-alone restaurant. We’re breaking the idea that the restaurant is connected to the hotel. It will have its own name that’s unique and celebrates the theme. There will also be an incredible rooftop bar and lounge. Room service and banquet service will be handled form a separate kitchen, so the creativity can really flow regarding the food for our guests and the public.
GlobeSt.com: This is your first joint venture with Pacific Hospitality Group. How did that come about, and how is it working out?
Olson: We’d always talked about doing something together. About 15 years ago, Tim Busch and I were close to doing a joint venture, but it didn’t come together. When this opportunity came up, given the location and the unique opportunity, we felt it was important to have a group that could think outside the box, be creative and deliver a guest experience unlike any other in Southern California. PHG has a good track record, and they’re ramping up. They have good people in the organization, they’ve honed their skill set and proven themselves able to go with an unbranded hotel and succeed customers’ expectations. It’s the perfect project.
GlobeSt.com: Hotel development in Orange County is hot right now. What’s next for this market?
Olson: We’re seeing, not just in Orange County, but in the whole industry, that there’s more focus on customization and what the guest really needs and wants. When we develop hotels, we try to anticipate what they want that they may not be telling us. This is the challenge of being a hotel developer: to be the most unique lodging choice that delivers what they want.
The consumer is done being in a recession. We read so many studies about what Millennials want, but that’s really what all travelers want. I think it’s a recognition of design trends. We look at how we are enabling our customers technologically via smart TVs and heavy bandwidth on our WiFi. They want what’s current today that’s also timeless. For example, this New York meat-packing-district architecture is 150 years old. It’s going back to what is timeless, but it gives us a sense of creativity.