Portofino Hotel picks up style points with $11M refurbishment

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The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club in Redondo Beach, Calif., has undergone an $11 million overhaul that has moved it up a notch in levels of luxury. "Everything we did was with the goal of becoming a four-star property while keeping the feel of an independent boutique hotel," said Kelly Fogarty, director of sales and marketing.

The new decor, she said, is elegant and relaxed, while taking advantage of the property's oceanfront position. The 161-room Portofino claims to be the only hotel in the Los Angeles area that actually sits on the water's edge.

There are plenty of hotels in the area that are on the beach but the Portofino boasts that its guests look out directly on the Pacific Ocean. Half of the rooms face the ocean; the rest face the hotel's private marina.

The hotel also is known as the final destination of the Cannonball, a car race that took place from New York to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Finishing drivers rang a bell at the check-in desk to complete the race.

In fact, some scenes in the 1981 movie "Cannonball Run" were filmed at the Portofino.

The owner of the hotel at the time was a racing enthusiast, Mary Davis, and Grand Prix race winner Peter Revson once had a condominium at the property.

The renovation of the lobby made sure to underscore the hotel's oceanfront location. The centerpieces are two-story-high windows with the Pacific just beyond. A large fireplace is surrounded by new furnishings that include seven chandeliers; cream-colored, leather couches; and glass tables.

The renovation theme was eclectic, with lots of stripes and chintz used, said Fogarty. "It's like your rich, eccentric grandmother's living room -- on the Pacific Ocean."

The hotel clientele is a mix of business and leisure clients. Business travelers fill rooms during the week; the hotel is close to the Torrance and South Bay areas of Los Angeles, where several large corporations are based. Leisure travelers dominate on weekends, according to Fogarty.

Guest rooms have new decor that matches the look and feel of the lobby.

New paint, carpet, furniture and soft goods are in hues of blue, green and bright white with a subtle nautical theme.

All have flat-screen TVs and dark wood furnishings and nautical artwork.

The bathrooms were redone with marble floors, black granite counters and new tiling.

Five one-bedroom, oceanside suites, averaging 700 square feet each, were added during the renovation. They have balconies the length of the bedroom and living room, two 44-inch plasma screen TVs, four-poster beds and a double-sided fireplace opening onto the living room and bedroom.

The bathrooms have claw-foot bathtubs and alabaster-colored marble floors.

The dining scene

Baleen, the hotel's restaurant, was redone with a new concept, called Baleen Los Angeles, specializing in "new American" comfort food with an emphasis on seafood.

The hotel is part of Seattle-based Noble House Hotels & Resorts, which owns and manages properties in six states. Baleen Los Angeles is a signature restaurant for Noble House's properties.

Baleen Los Angeles serves breakfast and lunch in the restaurant's rooms on the first floor, where boats bob on the water in the marina, which is also being renovated.

Dinner is served upstairs in the dining room overlooking the marina.

The renovation also involved the Portofino's pool area, which sports new teak furniture. A new fitness center features workout equipment. The hotel also has 8,000 square feet of meetings and banquet space, which was also redone.

The Portofino, which is seven miles south of Los Angeles Airport, has set a Mid-Life Makeover package for March and April with room rates of $199 per night, single or double occupancy, for two or more nights and a $100 food credit for the hotel restaurant.

Rack rates start at $279 for marina rooms, $349 for oceanfront rooms and $1,200 for suites.

The hotel also has a weekend plan that includes a complimentary Thursday or Sunday night stay for guests who stay Friday and Saturday nights. That plan is valid through May 15.

Noble House bought the 45-year-old Portofino in 1986 and renovated the hotel after a major storm damaged a part of the property in 1988.

Noble House owns and manages 14 other hotels, including the Adolphus in Dallas, Little Palm Island Resort in the Florida Keys and the Edgewater in Seattle.

For more information, call (800) 468-4292 or visit www.hotelportofino.com.

To contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].

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