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Friday, Aug 19, 2022

Hotel Happy Rivals Checking in to Hollywood

Some new competitors are coming to the neighborhood of the W Hollywood, but the hotel’s general manager is welcoming them, their restaurants, and shops with open arms.

“It helps me sell because it’s very active and there are things to do,” said Leon Young, who manages the Hollywood branch of the W Hotels & Resorts chain owned by Marriott International Inc. “It helps combat the idea that Hollywood is unsafe. There’s a lot of natural surveillance because people are out walking.”

When the $600 million W Hollywood Hotel and Residences, at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue, opened in 2010 the area had little foot traffic, said Young. A new coffee shop was a cause for celebration.

“I’ve never seen people get so excited about a Starbucks opening,” said Young.

Now, two luxury boutique hotels, Dream Hollywood and the Argyle Hotel, are under construction within a few blocks of the W’s location, across the street from the Pantages Theatre.

“They’re going to activate the street much more,” said Leron Gubler, chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “You could say we already have a lot of pedestrians in Hollywood, but not on the side streets.”

Young said the restaurants and shops at Dream and Argyle will give his guests more to do. Dream, on Selma Avenue near Cahuenga Boulevard, is scheduled to open Feb. 1. The 178-room hotel will have five restaurants and nightclubs and an 11,000-square-foot rooftop with a pool and view of the Hollywood Hills. The 16-story, 225-room Argyle, which will be managed by InterContinental Hotels Group’s Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant unit, will have one restaurant.

In addition to the two luxury hotels, a Hampton Inn is already under construction on Vine Street, said Gubler. The new hotels are part of a wave of 15 projects that have been proposed in the neighborhood. The boom will provide some much needed accommodations.

“Hollywood has always been the top tourist destination, but it has almost no hotels,” said Gubler.

The number of hotels in Hollywood has remained stagnant over the years, with the area having around 3,000 rooms, he said. Gubler hopes that having a critical mass of hotels in the area will make it attractive for overflow from conventions in downtown.

“They can hop on the Metro and go downtown, which is 15 minutes away, and faster than driving or walking,” said Gubler.

Having some other hotels will also give the W’s staff a break, said Young. The hotel’s occupancy has been more than 85 percent since it opened, meaning little downtime to prepare for the next wave of guests and more wear and tear on the property.

Gubler credited the W, which has 305 rooms, more than 500 rental units, and 50,000 square feet of retail, with jump-starting the neighborhood’s renaissance. The hotel development was a joint project with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the land and whose Hollywood-Vine Red Line station sits below it. The hotel broke ground in 2007, although it had been in the works since at least 2002.

“The fact that it was above the Metro made it seem like a no-brainer, although it may have seemed risky to some people,” said Gubler.

Young, who arrived in New Orleans to open the W New Orleans just a month before Hurricane Katrina hit, said Hollywood’s revival made him think of all the construction that happened after the hurricane.

“It reminds me, on a less dramatic scale, of the rebuilding of New Orleans,” he said.

Staff reporter Caroline Anderson can be reached at canderson@labusinessjournal.com.


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