Courtyard Marriott Santa Monica



The complete makeover of Colorado Avenue between 5th Street and the Pier will hit another milestone on Friday when the first guests check into the Courtyard Marriot Hotel.

The six-story modern building punctuates the Expo Line’s final stop in Santa Monica. The three-star hotel signals the beginning of the Colorado Esplanade, where visitors commuting from all over Los Angeles exit the train and head to the Pier and the Promenade.

From the outside in, it’s not your typical Courtyard – the orange behemoth features a swanky mid-century lobby with an eclectic book collection and carrot-colored seating meant to inspire mingling between meetings.

“It’s going to become an icon in Santa Monica soon enough,” sales manager Sergio Marquez said while giving a tour earlier this week. Nearby, soon-to-be-baristas tasted their Starbucks espresso creations at the hotel’s small cafe and managers huddled in conference rooms preparing for the first guests after nearly three years of construction.

But while the lobby appears open and inviting to guests, the automatic glass doors on Colorado Avenue will remain locked to anyone without a keycard. Locals and commuters hoping for a coffee spot right across from the busy Expo Line are out of luck with this project.

“We’re really serving the guests,” Karen Finerman said. She is area director of sales for both the Courtyard and the new Hampton Inn across the street. Anyone can walk in through an unmarked and unlocked entrance hidden near the valet parking stand on 5th Street, but all the amenities at the Courtyard are geared for guests and corporate clients renting out meeting space.

The architect behind the Courtyard and its sister project across the street, the Hampton Inn and Suites, made an effort to blend the buildings into Santa Monica’s changing skyline.  The buildings were designed by local firm Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio with Gene Fong & Associates serving as the Executive Architects.

. The Hampton Inn is scheduled to open next month and will incorporate a nautical theme into midcentury inspired furniture and art inside the hotel.

“You have two great brands with the Marriot and the Hilton but it’s almost like a boutique property with what they’ve done with the design elements,” Finerman said.

The Courtyard has 136 rooms featuring beachscapes and Andy Warhol prints, 9-foot high ceilings and hardwood floors that will book for around $400 a night during the summer season, according to Marriott’s booking website. An upgrade gets you a suite with a small balcony overlooking the Colorado Esplanade – on a clear day you can see clear down to the Pier.

Finerman estimates half the guests on a typical night will be international visitors, many of them cashing in on Marriot’s extensive loyalty program. The hotel’s designers sought to please two distinct client groups who frequent Santa Monica: vacationers and business travelers.

The City estimates the hotels will bring in around $3 million in annual hotel tax and provide 104 jobs.

After a lengthy and sometimes contentious battle through the Planning Commission, the City Council signed off on the development agreements for the two hotels with little opposition in Nov. 2013, despite slow-growth activists’ disdain for other hotel projects in the downtown area. The City Council and public testimony at the meeting applauded the hotel developer’s support for a living wage and contract with Unite Here Local 11 at both hotels. At the time, then-Mayor Pam O’Connor called it a “Kumbaya moment.”

On Friday, guests sing Kumbaya for themselves on the Courtyard’s second-story deck which features a fireplace, pool and hot tub. As they sit on the patio overlooking the Expo station and the Edison-style lights along the Colorado Esplanade, they’ll have one of the best views in the City.