A Step up for Downtown L.A.

L.A. Live, Downtown Los Angeles’ daring endeavor to put high-profile dining, clubbing, sports, entertainment and hospitality into a tight and electrifying convention center campus, came to life recently in a sneak-peek debut of the Marriott/Ritz-Carton hotel complex.

The 878-room JW Marriott is a tower of steel and glass that prints a significant profile on the L.A. skyline with the added 123-room Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, and 224 Ritz-Carlton Residences rising through the 54-story tower. This is the first tower in the company’s portfolio that houses the two powerful brands in one tall structure—one that is well on its way to LEED certification.

“L.A. has already created a sensational destination, but now [by] adding 1,200 hotel rooms and residents to Downtown L.A., it will bring that much more synergy and energy to Los Angeles,” said Arne Sorenson , president and COO of Marriott International. “The effect on the [Los Angeles] Convention Center is going to be enormous. The momentum has been building with AEG and Nokia and we are excited to be a part of it. The JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton L.A. Live are flagship hotels in our portfolio and we will attract travelers from all around the world.”

When the new JW Marriott opens February 15 followed by the new Ritz-Carlton a month later, they will bring the crowning moment to L.A. Live, a 4 million-square-foot, $2.5 billion mega-development project that began five years ago. The project was conceived as a way of making Downtown L.A. a convention magnet, complementing the 867,000-square-foot Los Angeles Convention Center and 20,000-seat Staples Center Sports Arena (home of the NBA Lakers and NHL Kings) with a swirl of major entertainment, real estate and attractions that would make the meetings in L.A. as competitive as any other venue in the nation.

“L.A. gets around 26 million visitors a year and many of [them] come downtown and want to stay there because they are more comfortable there. We know all this is really going to change the profile of downtown. In the past there were no large hotels near the convention center. Now L.A. is really in the game,” said Mark Liberman,pPresident and CEO of LA Inc., The Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Visitors can now go to a game at Staples Center or a concert at the new 7,000-seat Nokia Theater (home to the Grammy Awards and the nation’s only Grammy Museum) and top off the evening with clubbing at the Conga Room or dinner at Trader Vic’s, The Farm of Beverly Hills, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant or another by Kerry Simon. In addition to what the new Marriott and Ritz-Carlton bring in, there are about a dozen dining, drinking and lounging venues around the campus, as well as a 14-screen cinemaplex, an ESPN Zone, a Lucky Strike Bowling room and the more intimate Club Nokia amid the six city blocks that make up L.A. Live.

Groups heading for the convention center need not grab a cab or hop on a bus and get stuck in L.A. traffic. The new hotel complex is an easy, five-minute walk from the L.A. Convention Center. Although most of the business is expected to come from the corporate sector, Ritz-Carlton is banking on a market for leisure travelers who want to enjoy the property’s intimate and exclusive rooftop pool with astounding views. A sprawling roof pool area on the fourth floor of the JW Marriott is available for all hotel guests, and has dining and cabanas as well. The property has its own meeting venues with 100,000 square feet of convention space and a Gallery Collection of three ballrooms, nine ancillary meeting rooms and three boardrooms.

Each property has its own entrance and check-in procedures, and present services and amenities consistent with the brand. A 12,000-square-foot, Ritz-Carlton branded spa and fitness club is available to all tower guests; a Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, and several comely bars and relaxation lounges provide more respite from the day’s business.

The hotels expect to sell packages that club accommodations with the lively dining, major music and sports events and the dynamism of new downtown LA once they open. For now, rates start at $269 for JW Marriott and $369 for Ritz-Carlton. Contact General Manager Javier Cano at 213-742-6855 or 800- 241-3333 or visit the hotel websites for more information.