San Diego emerges as a hot incentive destination

With the Aussie dollar in the early 90c range and airfares hovering under the $1500 mark, it's no surprise that conference and incentive planners are looking to United States cities such as San Diego for unique trips in the next six months.

By James Wilkinson in San Diego

With the Aussie dollar in the early 90c range and airfares hovering under the $1500 mark, it’s no surprise that conference and incentive planners are looking to the United States for unique trips in the next six months.

The rooftop pool at Andaz San Diego

Planners are also looking outside the major cities for unique experiences – places such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, Chicago and San Diego are several hot destinations right now that can provide something new and exciting as opposed to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

One city capturing attention of planners at present is San Diego, a short half hour flight or 1.5-hour drive down the coast from Los Angeles, once home to the America’s Cup (where oneAustralia famously sank during the Louis Vuitton challenger cup), America’s best zoo and the infamous Sea World.

A good break from the hustle and bustle of LA, San Diego is a quaint city with an array of leisure attractions, along with great beaches, world-class sailing, fine dining and a number of America’s best boutique hotels.

“San Diego is a great location with amenities for all visitors,” says Andaz San Diego general manager Rusty Middleton. “Guests can combine a business experience in a destination known for its leisure activities and attractions.

Located in the heart of the city’s buzzing Gaslamp District, the Andaz is the new kid on the block. Formerly the recently renovated Ivy Hotel, the property is the newest member of Hyatt’s fast-growing and uber hip Andaz brand – a cluster of hotels that’s starting to give Starwood’s W a serious run for its money.

“The concept behind Andaz was born out of the belief that today’s travellers are in search of hotels that offer warm and friendly service and have a unique design aesthetic,” Middleton told SpiceNews.

“We are excited to offer them that experience here in San Diego, one of the most appealing destinations in Southern California,” he says.

What the hotel also offers is the city’s best rooftop pool and bar, along with a wine bar in the lobby and nightclub underneath. Lobby restaurant Quarter Kitchen also offers good Californian fare.

The rooftop is extremely popular events, while cabanas can also be roped off during busy nights for parties and visiting incentive groups. Downstairs, the hotel also has dedicated meeting space for up to 50 delegates before the party gets going atop the property.

Middleton says for visiting incentive and conference groups, it’s more than just bars, meeting space and rooms.

“Simplicity and personal service and style are just a few of our Andaz brand values,” he says. “We try to infuse these qualities into everything we do – from our check-in process to our guestrooms amenities.

“At check-in for example, an Andaz ‘host’ combines the roles of front office, concierge and bell attendant and uses handheld technology to check guests into the hotel. And, for guests who feel like lingering in the hotel lobby, complimentary welcome beverages are available (including wine).

“Our hosts are unconventional, unpretentious and extremely knowledgeable about the hotel and local happenings. Our goal is to make our guests feel like they are being welcomed into a friend’s home,” he says.

More than just the service, Middleton says the Andaz brand values are also embodied in the hotel’s guestroom design and amenities.

“Each of our 159 rooms at the Andaz feature custom fixtures, flat panel televisions and generously sized glass-enclosed bathroom,” he says.

“Complimentary amenities include a mini-bar stocked with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, as well as wireless internet, unlimited local phone calls and home-away-from-home comforts to help our guests have a good night’s sleep.”

Getting to San Diego is also far from a chore. SpiceNews recommends one of two options: fly to Los Angeles or San Francisco on V Australia or United Airlines and get a flight down to San Diego; or fly via Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines, which offers a one-stop service to San Diego and very convenient connection times.

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