BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT:

The city’s newest offering to business travelers and tourists finally opened its doors with little fanfare last week, but with great expectations.

The Embassy Suites Los Angeles-Glendale hotel that debuted Nov. 25 features a one-of-a kind design unique to the 800 N. Central Ave. location that officials hope will attract visitors during a tough economic period.

Upon entering the wide, double-glass doors, visitors to the lobby are greeted by an atrium with a dancing water display that splashes down into a turtle and koi pond. The 7,000-gallon water pond feeds a waterfall that runs down a granite-boulder wall in front of three elevators.

The atrium anchors the 12-story, 272-suite hotel, which includes a retro-themed color scheme of browns, yellows and reds running through the site.

“We’re the only one that looks like this,” said Yolanda Bender, director of sales and marketing for the Embassy Suites in Glendale. “It has a very calming feel.”

The hotel includes a small business meeting room that can accommodate about a dozen and is replete with free wireless Internet; one conference room that can also be used as a theater that can hold up to 125 people; and a 5,000-square-foot ballroom.

Rooms range in prices from $279 to $409 on the weekdays and $199 to $309 on the weekends, Bender said.

The price difference reflects the hotel’s emphasis on attracting business workers during the week, which Bender expects will comprise about 40% of the hotel’s customer base, she said.

Each room includes two 32-inch plasma televisions, a granite countered mini-kitchen, a desk and views of either Glendale or the atrium.

An outdoor lap pool beneath a balcony, fitness center — with televisions affixed to treadmills that overlook downtown Glendale — and laundry room are available to guests, as is free breakfast in the morning and a nightly “manager’s reception” that includes an open bar.

“It’s the friendlier way to do things,” Bender said.

Officials at the $60-million complex said its stock of 272 rooms is less than half-filled now, but the hotel has already sold out its entire allotment for New Year’s holiday celebrations.

The long-delayed project was beset by a number of construction snags, which pushed back the hotel’s opening.

Originally designed in 2001, the hotel did not start construction until December 2005 after an environmental review called for a reduction in the project’s scope.

Earlier this year, a hitch in the design of the hotel’s helicopter landing pod, which sits atop the 47,243-square-foot building, further delayed the hotel’s opening.

Concerns included the weight of support elements around the landing pad and worries about wind resistance for the pad’s edges, which would jut out above Central Avenue.

In August, the city’s Redevelopment Agency asked developer Kam Sang Company Inc. to retool the landing pad and the surrounding structural elements, an issue hotel officials said has since been resolved.

But Bob Kadlec, a former Glendale city employee who oversaw the project’s development, said the finished project — both the interior and exterior — still represents a departure from what the City Council originally approved.

“It’s really an inferior design and product,” he said. “It has no identity and it doesn’t stand out. The lobby looks like a busy dim sum palace in Monterey Park.”

Others, however, noted that the addition of a hotel that caters to the business community, in a region dotted by high-profile companies, could be a boon for Glendale.

“Glendale needs an Embassy Suites,” said Jack Kyser, head of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “Businesspeople can come into town and conduct business out of their room or in the hotel. It’s a nice addition to [Glendale’s] hotel portfolio.”

Embassy Suites has already started marketing to big-name businesses around town, such as the Walt Disney Co. and NBC in Burbank, and smaller trade groups, like the Glendale Latino Chamber of Commerce and Glendale’s Downtown Merchant’s Assn., Bender said.

The hotel also said it will lift the local economy by providing as many as 120 jobs by the end of the first fiscal quarter.

So far, the hotel has hired up to 70 new employees — mostly service personnel from Glendale, Bender said.

Meanwhile, officials are planning to host the hotel’s official unveiling during a Jan. 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We really feel that Glendale, with all its growth, is a really good place to be,” Bender said. “The days of high-end luxury hotels are over. What [we] provide — privacy, and great suites at a great price — is what people want.”


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