You might have noticed a few little changes along Ocean Ave of late and in particular to some of the spectacular hotels that sunny Santa Monica has to offer. We’ve already reported on the changes taking place at Loews as it prepares to rebrand as the Regent Santa Monica Beach and in addition, this summer will see significant changes also made to the hotel formerly known as the Shangri-La, which is now the Beacon, plus a radical overhaul of what was once the the Wyndham and is now the Pierside, but more on that tomorrow.

The new operator of the Shangri-La is a San Francisco-based hospitality company called Sonder Holdings Inc, which despite owning several significant properties across Europe and North America, has only recently begun to trade on the stock exchange.

According to Tom Badey, Senior Operations Manager at the Beacon, a number of other hotel groups were vying for management of the property, but it was, among a few other things, Sonder’s proposal to retain the gorgeous Art Deco aesthetic that helped them seal the deal.

The building’s aesthetic is actually a combination of both Art Deco and Streamline Moderne and the architect was a gentleman named William E Foster. Evoking the form of a grand ocean liner, construction was completed in 1939 and the structure was designated a listed building in November 2009.

Before being leased by Sonder, the hotel was solely operated by a Pakistani-American businesswoman Tehmina Adaya, who took over in 2004. Her late father, business and real estate tycoon Ahmad Adaya, purchased it 40 years ago in 1983. The Shangri-La underwent a $30 million renovation in 2008 and has become known in the city of Santa Monica for offering spectacular views over the beach and pier, made even more incredible by the beautiful sunsets we regularly get to enjoy.

Photographs: Sonder/The Beacon

And it’s this unique rooftop space that Badey says is really going to make the experience memorable. The potential is obvious even now, before work has been finalized. “I know they’ve brought together a few pretty big and very cool names, but I can’t tell you who just said,” Badey teased. “But this is a very big and very important part of the project for us. There’s been a couple of high profile, celebrity chef names thrown out there that I know that they’re in talks with.”

Without a doubt, cocktail bars have gone through a massive resurgence in the last 20 years, with greater focus being placed on bars within hotels and quite rightly too. With more emphasis placed on drinks menus, different flavor pairings and an ever-changing mix of both old and new. Of course being able to make a decent gin and tonic goes a long way as well.

“We have three incredible opportunities to play with here between the pool, the restaurant and the roof. So I believe they’re going to have three entirely separate concepts to draw three separate crowds there.”

Santa Monica residents will almost certainly be excited once the rain stops and we can enjoy our summer evenings again without freezing, so we’re all eagerly awaiting to see how this space is developed. The interior decor of the rooms themselves has been simplified and offers a return to the building’s original style, incorporating emphasis on curvilinear walls, casement windows, restrained detailing and horizontal accents.

The hotel is more or less fully operational, but will have an official opening when absolutely everything is completed sometime in mid-summer.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.