Prevue July/August 2013 - (Page 68)
[ON LOCATION] GIANNA WYATT
he downtown Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego is a
lively entertainment district that covers 16 walkable
blocks of Victorian-era buildings, modern skyscrapers,
entertainment venues and over 100 restaurants, nightclubs
and retail shops. Located only 15 minutes from San Diego
International Airport and San Diego Convention Center, the
area is extremely convenient logistically.
Within the Gaslamp, four different Starwood Hotels cater
to every imaginable style of group program, from small board
retreats to national conventions.
THE U.S. GRANT
The 270-room U.S. Grant is a Starwood Luxury Collection
hotel and one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. Since
1910, endless celebrities, presidents and social swans have
arrived in the grand lobby adorned with sparkling crystal
chandeliers, silk carpets and primrose accents.
Nathan Davis, director of operations, showed our group the
6,000-sf Celestial Ballroom, which in previous incarnations was
used as both a secret speakeasy and Turkish bath. Davis says
a lot of Titanic-themed events have been hosted here below
the barrel ceiling with uplit fluted columns.
The 2,700-sf Crystal Ballroom is the glitteriest meeting spot
at The U.S. Grant. The elegant event space is lined with original
moldings, floors and turquoise pillars. The ballroom was added
in the late 1920s for the social elite of San Diego, with gold and
black tiles that reflect light from the Czech chandeliers.
The Chairman’s Court prefunction space is ideal for groups
to withdraw and bond over drinks and light bites between
events. The halls have the Moroccan tiles from the Turkish
baths still intact.
“I try not to sound like a museum curator,” says Davis. “But
there’s an insane amount of American history here.”
During our stroll through the echoing halls, we sampled
some of the hotel’s award-winning cocktails. Bartender Jeff
Josenhans has created fun group mixology events based on
his “farm-to-bar” philosophy. I sip on a Sentential Manhattan
made from the hotel’s signature barrel of aged whiskey. Also try
the Baja Betty, created with muddled blood oranges.
“I like to combine the knowledge of food, wine, beer and
liquor into my group programs,” says Josenhans. “Sometimes
I’m inspired by an item I see in the kitchen and end up building
an entire cocktail event around it.” Josenhans won the 2011
Nightclub & Bar ”Shake It Up” cocktail competition in Las
Vegas. The following year the Grant Grill won the award for
“Best Hotel Bar” in the same publication.
The 85-seat grill opened in 1951 when it was a men’s club
after 3 p.m. That all changed during a famous protest in 1969
when six women stayed past the allotted time. The “Men Only”
signs still remain on the exterior, but the bar was filled with
female executives while we were there. In that sense, I valued
my presence in the lounge even more.
At dinner, the most memorable course was the chef’s fried
poached egg. The crunchy exterior combined with the gooey
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7/3/13 9:58 AM
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue July/August 2013
Planner's Pick: New Zealand
Fresh Meets: Autograph Collection
Bureau Buzz: Monterey County
Good Business: South Africa
sea Shores: Small Ship cruising
The Local Kitchen
Special Section: Caribbean
On Location: Hilton/LXR, Puerto Rico
On Location: The Broadmoor
The South, Florida & Las Vegas
On Location: Starwood Resorts, San Diego
On Location: Travaasa Austin
On Location: Moon Palace Cancun
On Location: IRF Cancun
Check Out: Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana
Prevue July/August 2013