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Hotel Industry Covid Bounce Back a San Diego Success Story

The Covid-19 pandemic kept travelers close to home and greatly impacted the hospitality industry, with staffing cuts and hotel closures not uncommon.

But with the health emergency more in the rearview mirror, protocols less restricted and visitors’ minds more at ease, travel picked up, optimism returned and local hotels bounced back in 2022, with numbers of visitors expected to continue to rise.

The San Diego Tourism Authority recently released a report that said that last year, $13.6 billion of visitor spending generated by 28.8 million visitors to San Diego eclipsed the $11.6 billion spent locally in 2019. While SDTA said there were six million fewer visitors in 2019, visitors last year spent more time in San Diego than pre-pandemic (4.2 nights vs. 3.7 nights).

Local hotels sold 17 million room nights last year, just shy of the 17.7 million sold in 2019.

So the hotel industry is feeling optimistic as travel demand grows, with leisure and group business travel remaining strong and the trend for workplaces to allow employees to travel and work remotely.

Tourism, Staycation Dollars Spur Remodels, Development

Evans Hotel Group – overseeing the Bahia Resort Hotel, Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa and The Lodge at Torrey Pines – have with confidence moving forward refreshed and renewed their properties.

A portion of the hotel rooms at 314-room The Bahia were renovated last year and just added a 3,600-square foot outdoor space called The Palm Terrace for weddings and other events.

Matt Adams, executive vice president and COO of Evans Hotels, said the Bahia’s pool area was also just renovated. Coming soon, Bahia’s rescued harbor seals, Billy and Gracie, will be taking a vacation at SeaWorld, Adams said, while their pool digs are revamped.

“We resort hotels during Covid, we learned a lot,” Adams said. “We are now seeing more people coming with their families and working remotely. We also opened Dockside 1953 at the Bahia in the summer of 2022, a seafood restaurant, and it’s doing well.”

Also since 2022, improvements have been and are still being made to the 310-room Catamaran, built by the Evans family in 1958 in Pacific Beach, and to the 170-room Lodge, built in 1961 (and purchased by the Evans family in 1995 and redeveloped in 2002) in La Jolla.

About 80 rooms were renovated at the Catamaran last year, with another 80 to be renovated this year, as well as “a refreshing of the hotel’s tower area,” Adams said. At The Lodge, the Evans group opened an outdoor food and beverage venue called Judson’s and this year did “a complete renovation of our fitness center, a techno gym with state-of-the-art equipment.”

Other hotels have also shown confidence moving forward.

At the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, the hotel renovated rooms and invested in various technologies to support staffing shortages with guests using QR codes to access information.

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