Hotel closure: The Loews will close in March. Scott Snowden

Overview:

Santa Monica City favorite, Loews Hotel set to change ownership, future uncertain

Loews luxury beachfront hotel on Ocean Ave. has announced a temporary closure and is set to lay off 320 employees according to a recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) filing.

The layoffs will take effect March 4, 2023.

The California WARN Act requires covered employers to provide advance notice to employees affected by plant closings and mass layoffs. Loews posted the notification at the end of last year.

The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel opened in 1989 at 1700 Ocean Ave. It’s known for an impressive outdoor dining area with 13 fire pits, a pool deck that looks directly out over the beach to the Pacific Ocean and has been a popular spot for locals over the years taking advantage of its restaurant, gym and spa. The 347-room hotel completed a $4.5 million renovation in 2021 and has been featured on national commercials for Los Angeles tourism.

In 2002, workers at the hotel successfully unionized, but that only came about after an aggressive two-and-a-half year campaign launched by the national hotel workers union on the Santa Monica beachfront. The chain made news again in 2017 when union representatives raised concerns about potential residential development at the site during renegotiation of their agreement with the hotel ownership. No change in use was ever announced and city officials reiterated their opposition to any residential use at that time.

The Santa Monica Daily Press reached out to the Loews Hotel Group for comment to which they replied with the following statement:

“The owners of Loews Santa Monica Beach did not renew Loews Hotels & Co’s management agreement, and as March 4, 2023, the hotel will no longer be operated by Loews. Ownership has advised Loews that operation of the hotel will be temporarily suspended starting March 4th.”

Loews currently operates 26 hotels across the U.S. and Canada but the ownership of the Santa Monica property is more complicated.

The Chinese insurance company Anbang purchased Strategic Hotels & Resorts in 2016 for $6.5 billion including the Loews in Santa Monica. Anbang subsequently purchased the Waldorf Astoria for an additional $2 billion in 2018 and the Chinese government seized control of the company shortly thereafter following a series of scandals involving the company’s founder.

Ownership of the entire 15-hotel portfolio was then transferred to Dajia insurance as the Chinese government looked to restructure assets. Dajia attempted to sell the package in 2020 to a Korean company but that sale fell through. Dajia did eventually sell three of the hotels in the group for $1.2 billion and they company took a $1.8 million loan to refinance the remaining hotels. The Santa Monica property still resides inside the Strategic Hotels & Resorts portfolio owned by Dajia but the Chinese government is actively selling its stake in Dajia.

scott.snowden@smdp.com

Scott Snowden

Scott Snowden started with the SMDP in 2023 with a long list of journalistic experience. He has written local and international investigative work in Forbes, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The...