‘New’ Inn to stay LGBT, but …Around the City Friday, November 25th, 2011
Although construction has been down considerably for most of the Great Recession, this month has seen more than $200 million of commercial and government projects in the planning and post-bid phase of development, according to Reed Construction Data. Most projects are “ground-up,” but because preserving San Diego’ historic and culturally meaningful structures continues to gain importance, fresh environments are being created within the walls of older buildings.
Major remodels and renovations are also up. One such beneficiary of this development is a historic boutique hotel just north of the old Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park. The Inn at the Park, recently acquired by Shell Vacations Hospitality – a timeshare and traditional hotel operator – for $11.5 million, will undergo a $6 million renovation Nov. 28, with completion scheduled for June 2012.
A preview of some of the improvements reveal new rooms designed by Merilee Elliot, inspired by Hollywood’s golden age circa 1920s and ‘30s with faux chinchilla throws adorning the sage sofa’s in the king studios, and royal purple headboards a feature in the queen studios. Each room will also benefit from new kitchens and bathrooms.
“While the hotel has been known for interestingly unique rooms with individual motifs, there will now be a consistency of quality and design that we hope new guests will approve of,” General Manager Blaine Redfern said. Redfern has been at the helm of the hotel for about nine months.
“The goal of Shell Vacations Hospitality is not only to become the most sought after timeshare in San Diego but to be the preferred hotel for those seeking modern accommodations with an old world charm.”
Once the redo is complete, The Inn will be competing with 80,000 destination resorts worldwide, says Redfern.
“The hotel, which for years has catered to the LGBT market, will now have a timeshare-plus-hotel business model. That means the Inn at the Park will attract more guests from the Midwest and the South. Given those regions’ reputation as generally more religious and conservative than Southern California, there has been concern from some that the LGBT community may find a hostile environment at the hotel and its restaurants and bar.
“It’s important to us to dispel any rumors like that,” Redfern told San Diego LGBT Weekly. “Friday night happy hour which has traditionally been a gay night will stay that way,” he said.
But there will be changes. “What was a predominately gay hotel will be more mixed, and there will be a transition period,” said Redfern.
The hotel’s staff is being trained how to handle the likely occurrence of conflict between a guest from the LGBT community and a religious, conservative parent whose child saw a public display of affection between two members of the same sex.
“It’s already happened,” he said. “The response to the complaining party was that this is the year 2012 (sic), and we welcome all people with open arms. This is the hotel that we are.”
In addition to the changes in décor, fixtures and fittings changes in food and beverage offerings are also planned. Wine expert, Bobby Fader, has been appointed food and beverage director for the hotel and Executive Chef Tony Wilhelm has made changes to the menus of the hotel’s two restaurants, the Inn at the Park Restaurant and Piano Bar and the Top of the Park Penthouse Restaurant.
Made a historic site in 1991, and created by Frank P. Allen, Jr., the Inn at the Park opened as the Park Manor Suites apartment building in 1926.
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