Petco Park-adjacent hotel gets a new baseball-themed look

Petco Park-adjacent hotel gets a new baseball-themed look

The Omni San Diego is close to completing its largest renovation ever that will include two new venues for dining and drinking

By LORI WEISBERG | The San Diego Union-Tribune

PUBLISHED: June 28, 2024 at 5:30 a.m. | UPDATED: June 28, 2024 at 5:31 a.m.

The 32-story Omni hotel next door to Petco Park is nearing the end of a major renovation that will bring two new drinking and dining venues to the downtown San Diego high-rise.

The $30 million hotel-wide makeover coincides with the 20th anniversary of the 511-room hotel, which was developed at the same time that the Padres ballpark made its debut in the once gritty warehouse district in East Village.

The extensive refresh of the property — the largest since it first opened — encompasses the lobby, guestrooms, meeting spaces, and the sixth-floor pool area and terrace that overlooks the water. While most of the renovation has been completed, work on the lobby is still ongoing, although the hotel general manager promises it will be open for next month’s Comic-Con, and the street-level restaurant known as Ace Porter isn’t expected to open until the middle of July.

In reimagining the hotel’s various spaces and guestrooms, the design team took into consideration nearby Petco Park and incorporated multiple details designed to evoke baseball, from stitched leather panels at the reception desk to a column in the lobby that will be partially clad in pinstriped wallpaper.

“Our theme used to be coastal nature, but the new design is entirely driven around America’s pastime, which is baseball,” said hotel General Manager Charles Cho. We’re the only hotel in the U.S. that connects directly to a major ballpark with a pedestrian bridge. So it’s fitting for us to put in the baseball-inspired design.”

Cho ticked off a number of examples of baseball-themed design details, including stadium-style light fixtures, a green and brown color palette meant to represent the grassy ballfield and dirt paths between the bases, diamond-shaped artwork on the guestroom walls that mimics the bases; and small tables with bases that resemble the barrel of a baseball bat.

And in the suites, Cho said, there are framed pieces of art fashioned from old leather gloves.

One of the bigger changes for the hotel, he noted, is the reimagined pool terrace now known as Tortuga (Spanish for turtle). Where before there was a small bar inside the hotel off the pool area that was only open during the summertime, there now is a larger bar area outside dedicated for the poolside terrace day and night.

“We’ve truly transformed that area,” Cho said. “During the day it’s a pool bar similar to what you’d see at a resort pool with cabanas and day beds. After sunset, it transforms to a rooftop bar with food service, bottle service, upscale food choices — a lot of Baja California seafood selections like seafood towers and shucked oysters, ceviche and fish tacos.”

Another key change for the hotel is its new signature restaurant that replaces the former West Coast Social venue that closed last November when the renovation was started, Cho said. But for 15 years before that, the hotel was known as the home of McCormick & Schmick’s, a high-end seafood restaurant that abruptly closed Jan. 1, 2020.

The Omni’s new restaurant, Ace Porter, will have both indoor and outdoor seating, and in a change from the past, will have its own entrance on L Street. Among the planned menu items will be blistered shishito peppers, a burger, stone and fruit pancetta panzanella, and a chicken sundae, made with a waffle cone, spicy crispy chicken, cinnamon ice cream and hot honey.

The Omni was at one time owned by JMI Realty, which developed the hotel in conjunction with Petco Park, but a few years ago, Trinity Fund Advisors acquired a 50 percent stake from JMI. Omni Hotels & Resorts now owns the remaining 50 percent interest. Trinity’s 2021 investment put the value of the hotel at that time at $243 million, according to Atlas Hospitality Group.

Cho believes the renovation will put the Omni on an even firmer financial footing than it is now.

“In terms of occupancy, I don’t know if there’s much more room to grow,” he said. “Can we get a little more in average daily rate? Possibly, but it’s not really about that. This is our 20th year, and when we have a lot of our repeat customers, nobody wants to stay in a hotel that never changes so I believe in constant changes to bring new excitement to repeat customers and strengthen the (lodging) options in San Diego.”

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