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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023

Taking Heart

No one has bought the proposal package yet, and that’s OK with the hotel.

Kathy Van Vechten, Langham director of marketing and sales, said offerings like these mainly help generate talk about the hotel.

“I don’t believe anyone has shown any interest yet,” Van Vechten said. “The idea was a bit tongue in cheek and fun. The pickup on the package has been tremendous, so it’s been a great success for us.”

Still, the Symphony, which has a concert scheduled for Feb. 15, confirmed it would be available for the proposal should someone pony up. It would bring in extra musicians to try and make it work.

Bruce Baltin, senior vice president of hotel consultancy PKF Consulting USA’s L.A. office, said hotels are doing creative promotions like these because it catches attention on social media, increasing brand awareness at a time when the business is recovering.

Returning opulence

Aside from the marketing exposure, Steve Choe, InterContinental’s general manager, said the hotel is offering the $11,000 promotion for the first time because the hospitality industry in Los Angeles has been improving over the past three years.

“The super-luxury clientele has always been there, downturn economy or not,” Choe said, but he added that hotel operators were skittish about offering such packages. There was a several-year span when conspicuous consumption was not cool.

“We didn’t have the confidence in 2008 to put a package out like this. There’s a confidence level that the opulence is coming back,” he said.

The confidence has returned in part because the market has rebounded.

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board reported that the 77 percent countywide hotel occupancy rate last year was 15 percent higher than in 2009. The average daily room rate has risen to $136.55 from $114.93 in the same period.

Baltin said the industry was willing to try almost anything to fill rooms four years ago.

“In 2009, we were looking for any way at all to distribute. It was the bottom of the market,” he said. “There would have been more value-based promotions at the time.”

Among those value-based promotions, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown Los Angeles gave away 50 rooms for free in spring 2009. For several months that year, the W Hotel in Westwood was offering 50 percent off on a second night’s stay.

Choe declined to disclose his hotel’s current performance but did say its occupancy was back close to prerecession 2006 levels.

“Hotels are feeling good about where the market is,” Baltin said. “Now they’re doing things to increase their value so they can charge higher prices. Valentine’s Day also falls over Presidents Day weekend, so it’s a good time for leisure.”

For those that can’t afford some of the more lavish options this year, Langham, InterContinental and other hotels are offering packages that are less expensive. InterContinental has a cheaper option for $699 that includes a one-night stay in a room with a sundeck, dinner on the sundeck and breakfast in bed. The Langham is offering one for $339 that features a rose-petal turndown service and breakfast in bed.

Rancho Palos Verde’s Terranea Resort’s Romantic Rendezvous package starts at $1,910 per night and includes an 1,800-square-foot suite, access to a rented Lexus with romantic spots preloaded in its GPS and a picnic kit with chocolate truffles.

The Hotel Bel-Air doesn’t have special room packages for Valentine’s Day, but in addition to its $1,500 dinner is offering a $5,000 spa bundle that includes luxury car pickup and lunch from Wolfgang Puck to name a few highlights.

For the person willing to spend $100,000 upfront for Langham’s proposal package, Van Vechten has one bit of advice.

“I hope they’re pretty sure their partner will say yes. Otherwise it would be very embarrassing,” she said. “Some of the charges are taken care of already like the Rose Bowl and the Pasadena Symphony, but we would give some kind of discount if someone is rejected. We have a heart.”

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