The convention is dropping an avalanche of media attention and thousands of visitors into the heart of Los Angeles this week. But many restaurants and shops outside the downtown area are too busy to notice. While Los Angeles is expected to get a $135 million economic boost from the convention, that windfall will be largely concentrated in downtown.
Businesses that aren't in the heart of the action aren't exactly wringing their hands, though. Many of them are already booked solid, with nary a conventioneer in sight. "August is the biggest month in L.A. for tourism," said Carol Martinez, director of media relations for the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau. "If this convention came to town in December, it would be a huge blip for some of the businesses. Because (the convention-goers) are here during the busy season, they're going to be part of the crowd." Summer always busy
In the summer, conventions are hardly rare and popular tourist destinations are packed with camera-toting visitors speaking dozens of languages. Aside from VIP dinners, the Democrats' convention is just another event for some hotels outside the downtown area. Reporters and convention-watchers had the 179-room Courtyard by Marriott in Marina del Rey booked up about a week sooner than it otherwise would have been. But it still would have been booked up, hotel officials said. Popular restaurants such as the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey are packed this time of year, no matter what. "We're pretty darn busy at this time of the year anyway," said Manager Mark Hunter. Farther inland in the San Gabriel Valley, restaurants and businesses aren't banking on unexpected delegates showing up in search of a taste of Los Angeles. "The hotels are sold out and very busy," said Leann Lampe, director of public relations for the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau. "But we also know (convention-goers) are going to be coming and going, basically. The delegates are going to be so busy in downtown L.A., they're not going to be up here (spending money) too much. There's such a jam-packed schedule." In Pasadena, where 1,000 of 2,500 hotel rooms will be booked by people in town for the convention, the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa is popular among members of the media and foreign observers of the convention, though no delegates are staying there. The hotel plans to put Al Gore-themed candies on pillows every night such as Alphabet Cookies, Almond Joys and Altoids. Tennessee moon pies will be available at the front desk, along with Tipper Gore Gingersnap Cookies.Heading for Universal
Marketers for Universal CityWalk think they'll get an influx of business as thousands of conventioneers minus reporters on deadline look for something to do after the convention sessions end at 8 p.m. The L.A. Convention & Visitors Bureau is encouraging delegates to use the subway to commute to Universal CityWalk, a 17-minute ride from Staples Center.
"We think CityWalk is a natural place for delegates to wind up after a long day of conventioneering," said Ron Herman, vice president of marketing and sales for the entertainment mall.
Five delegations have parties planned at CityWalk restaurants, including B.B. King's and Camacho's Cantina. CityWalk's Howl at the Moon, a rock 'n' roll piano bar, is closing its doors to the public one night this week so 350 people from the Florida delegation can party. "People from Florida do know us because we have three locations in Florida," said General Manager Scott Lamb.
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