Southern California is well-known for its beaches, great weather and hard-to-beat Mexican food. But it's also an area rich with history, especially at its hotels, many of which have welcomed famous guests or served as the setting of major moments. But like any aged icon, these historic properties sometimes need a facelift — or more substantial work — to better present their best selves to the world. Here are five such properties, all of which have recently revamped or enhanced their offerings while paying tribute to their impressive history.
Hotel del Coronado (San Diego)
Built in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado, a beachside National Historic Landmark, has hosted celebrities, royals and presidents including Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. The 28-acre resort also was the backdrop of the movie comedy classic, Some Like It Hot (1959). But today the vast property is undergoing a four-year renovation, including the addition of 29,000 square feet of meeting and event space, new guest rooms and an expansion of the Event Center. Phase one recently wrapped with the relaunch of the elevated outdoor event space Vista Walk (so-called thanks to its impressive ocean views), which can accommodate up to 900 guests. Renovations of 97 guest and meeting rooms in the property's California Cabana are scheduled to be completed by 2020, while the new Event Center is scheduled to debut in 2022, complete with a 15,000-square-foot ballroom with a 10,000-square-foot prefunction space, opening out onto the 14,000-square-foot Great Lawn.
Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel (Los Angeles)
First opened in 1928, the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, in the center of one of L.A.'s swankiest neighborhoods, has welcomed celebrities, royalty and business elite to its location at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. But to keep things fresh, this 395-room hotel recently revamped its event spaces and made a number of other upgrades. The almost 4,000-square-foot Le Grand Trianon and 1,450-square-foot Petit Trianon spaces now sport new fixtures and a remodeled stage green room with new lighting and furniture. Le Grand includes a large built-in sunken dance floor and easy access to Rodeo Drive. Its 14,300-square-foot ballroom received new carpeting, new chandeliers, sconces and more. It also offers a number of breakout spaces.
Ingleside Inn & Melvyn's Restaurant (Palm Springs)
For decades, Palm Springs served as a desert hideaway for movie stars and singers looking for a break from the hustle of Hollywood — and the Ingleside Inn was one of the places where they would be most likely to visit or have a meal. Last year, the property wrapped up a comprehensive renovation of its 30 luxurious rooms and suites with new custom furnishings, bedding and a revised color palette. The adjacent Melvyn's Restaurant received new carpeting, paint and an awning as well as a reupholstering of its furnishings, all while maintaining the classic steakhouse atmosphere (and menu items like Steak Diane and Oysters Rockefeller) that luminries such as Clark Gable, Salvador Dali and Elizabeth Taylor once enjoyed.
Hotel Figueroa (Los Angeles)
First opened in 1926, the 268-room Hotel Figueroa, in Downtown L.A., has undergone a $55 million update. It now features more current Spanish-accented interiors while maintaining details that have made it a local icon (such as a coffin-shaped pool). It also offers 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the Gran Sala, offering arched windows, ironwork chandeliers and an original 1920s limestone fireplace, plus the outdoor Terrazza, which can accommodate up to 100 guests.
Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
The 358-room oceanfront Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, set on 78 acres, has long served as a luxurious escape for visitors to the area (though it didn't enter the Ritz-Carlton portfolio until September 2017). At the end of May, the property completed a series of significant enhancements, many of which showcase the destination's rich cultural history, including Spanish- and Chumash-inspired details. The lobby's Old World elegance has been restored with natural wood and leather furnishings. Views of the Pacific Ocean can now be enjoyed, unobstructed, from the Bacara Bar and its adjacent Ocean Terrace. The 42,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa has been refreshed with a palette of grays, blues and silver inspired by the ocean. And all 70,000 square feet of meeting space (including seven indoor areas that can accommodate groups of 20 to 1,050) have been enhanced with earth tones, wood elements and contemporary lighting.