Wilshire Grand Week: The 889-Room Hotel Is a Game Changer

The InterContinental Los Angeles has rooms starting at $295 per night.

DTLA - The Wilshire Grand hotel that closed on Dec. 23, 2011, had 896 rooms. The InterContinental Los Angeles, part of the Wilshire Grand Center that will be dedicated on the same site on Friday, June 23, contains 889 guest rooms. That numerical proximity is about the only similarity between the new and old hotels.

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Just about everything else has changed in six years, both for the hotel, and for the Downtown Los Angeles hospitality market.

In September 2014, project owner Korean Air announced that InterContinental would operate the hotel that fills much of the $1.2 billion-plus, 73-story tower at 900 W. Wilshire Blvd. The hotel’s amenities and restaurant options will make it a draw for business and leisure travelers, General Manager Jean-Jacques Reibel told Los Angeles Downtown News last week. He noted that the proximity to Staples Center, L.A. Live and the Los Angeles Convention Center add to its appeal.

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Reibel said the hotel is undergoing its last round of inspections. The goal is to open June 23, although a project spokesperson said it could be delayed by a couple weeks.

The four-star hotel has a mix of standard rooms starting at 385 square feet, along with a range of suites. Rates for a two-person room begin at $289 per night, while a one-bedroom suite is $495. The top-shelf 1,260-square-foot suite costs around $2,975 per night.

The hotel will employ roughly 600 people, Reibel said.

The InterContinental is on the high end of Downtown hotels, said Bruce Baltin, a longtime hospitality industry tracker and managing director with the brokerage firm CBRE. He expects the InterContinental to appeal to business travelers in part because of its location in the Financial District.

The additional room inventory is “critically important to Downtown,” according to Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board CEO and Chairman Ernest Wooden Jr. He said that the hotel enhances the city’s ability to bring larger business meetings and trade shows to the nearby Convention Center. The InterContinental, he added, will help L.A. compete against regional rivals.

“With this major boost in hotel inventory, we can continue to remain competitive in the meetings and conventions sector — especially with our West Coast neighbors — as well as meet rising leisure demand,” Wooden said. “The city of L.A.’s goal of reaching 8,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Los Angeles Convention Center is now more attainable than ever.”

In the effort to attract meeting planners, the hotel contains roughly 94,000 square feet of event space, including a 20,988-square-foot ballroom. There are six meeting rooms, a boardroom, and a smaller, 4,500-square-foot ballroom.

The hotel will have five restaurants and bars, ranging from the French steakhouse La Boucherie on 71 to the open-air bar Spire 73 at the top of the building. Guests check in at a 70th-floor “sky lobby” and rooms are on levels 31-68.

Amenities include a rooftop pool with cabanas and fire pits and a fitness center. There is also a business center and valet parking.

The Intercontinental comes as the Downtown hotel scene is expanding. In March, the Hotel Indigo at Greenland USA’s Metropolis development opened (that brand is also part of the InterContinental Hotels Group). Nearby, the $1 billion Oceanwide Plaza, in construction across the street from Staples Center, will house a Park Hyatt hotel. A W Hotel will be built on the site of the Luxe City Center Hotel.

Baltin said the InterContinental will also compete with hotels on Los Angeles’ Westside. He noted that Downtown is already starting to draw visitors away from other parts of the city. He expects the new establishment will bolster the entire Downtown lodging market.

“The impact will probably be felt pretty quickly,” Baltin said. “The number of rooms we have coming in with this, plus at the Hotel Indigo that opened earlier this year, has a serious impact.”

There are still challenges in filling the gap, Wooden added, as demand continues to grow each year. He said that new lodging projects are quickly absorbed in the market because of rising demand.

nicholas@downtownnews.com

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2017