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Marriott to Manage Resort at Pelican Hill

Irvine Co.’s last hotel property in Orange County, The Resort at Pelican Hill, is bringing on Marriott International Inc. as the new management company this summer, and Orange County’s most valuable resort property is expected to transition to the St. Regis brand as part of that move.

Marriott will take over as the managing firm effective July 1. Irvine Co. will remain as owner of the Newport Coast hotel.

Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott (Nasdaq: MAR) said it aims to retain a majority of the resort’s employees through the transition. As of 2023, the resort had an estimate of 100 employees with Gerard Widder as general manager.

The Irvine Co. development, widely considered one of the most valuable assets in Donald Bren’s portfolio, broke ground in 2005 and opened in late 2008. The 332-key resort spans 504 acres and includes the Pelican Hill Golf Club, a 23,000-square-foot spa and Italian restaurant Andrea.

The resort gained a five-diamond rating in 2009 and is one of four in OC, along with the Montage Laguna Beach, Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach in Dana Point and the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.

The five-star resort in Newport Coast will operate under Marriott’s luxury division with the same name and is set to join the hotel firm’s St. Regis brand portfolio later.

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, headquartered in New York, was founded in 1904. Marriott gained the company when it acquired previously known Starwood Hotels & Resorts and its assets in 2016. The luxury brand, now one of six managed by Marriott, has almost 60 hotels in operation worldwide.

No other renovations or updates to the Newport Coast property have been announced.

Last Hotel Standing

Marriott is currently valued at $66 billion and counts almost 8,900 properties globally.
Irvine Co. said the management shift comes after a year-long strategic review of the 504-acre property and its operations.

Company executives met “with hospitality experts from around the world to explore how to further enhance the five-star experience that makes the resort a sought-after destination for our guests and our local community,” the company said in a statement.

Irvine Co. previously managed three hotels in Orange County until the pandemic. The real estate owner and developer shuttered two of its properties in March 2020—the former Hotel Irvine and Fashion Island Hotel.

The company in 2021 said it was seeking new operators for both hotels.

Irvine Co. in 2022 traded the 295-room Fashion Island Hotel to Newport Beach-based hospitality firm Montage International and Eagle Four Partners in a $145 million ground lease transaction. The property made its debut as the Pendry Newport Beach in 2023.

Irvine Co. in 2022 sold the 536-room Hotel Irvine for $135 million to Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE: H). The new owners undertook a $55 million renovation and renamed the former Hotel Irvine to Hyatt Regency Irvine.

The 14-story hotel reopened for the first time last year and has a new pool area and restaurant set to open in the next month or so as its finishing pieces.

The Resort at Pelican Hill was the only Irvine Co. hotel to remain open throughout the pandemic and was the last local property under Irvine Co. management until now.