By Ken Williams | Editor
The Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley will undergo an $80 million renovation, with the massive overhaul expected to start in January.
The 62-year-old landmark resort, which at 500 Hotel Circle North, sprawls over 43 acres between Interstate 8 and the San Diego River, comes from humble roots. Charles H. Brown, a pioneering developer of Mission Valley, in 1953 built a 46-room motor inn in the middle of farmland. Over the years, under the Brown family’s ownership of the Atlas Hotels, the Town and Country Resort grew in leaps and bounds to become a destination hotel for San Diego visitors.
Doug Phillips, the director of sales and marketing, told Mission Valley News more details about which buildings will be demolished during the extensive renovation.
“Most of the older buildings will be demolished including one- and two-story ranch-style/motel rooms, the Meeting House, Regency Ballroom, Garden Ballroom, the existing restaurants, lobby and Bella Tosca Spa,” Phillips said.
“The Convention Center will remain as is and will be completely refurbished,” he added.
In recent years, luxury hotels built in Downtown and Del Mar have eclipsed the glamour that once belonged to the Town and Country.
Last year, Atlas Hotels formed a joint venture with Lowe Enterprises and AECOM Capital to take over the aging property. Soon after, Destination Hotels — the hospitality management subsidiary of Lowe Enterprises — assumed operation of Town and Country, and Michael Slosser was named vice president and managing director of the 935-room resort. Slosser also oversees Paradise Point Resort & Spa and L’Auberge Del Mar.
Slosser and well-known chef Paul McCabe were behind the $27 million renovation of L’Auberge Del Mar in 2008. Slosser directed the transformation from a dated inn into a contemporary coastal retreat while McCabe launched Kitchen 1540 restaurant, which has earned critical acclaim.
The two men will be charged with transforming the Town and Country property into an “urban oasis” resort and meeting place, according to a news release.
Phillips described the architectural theme will be “midcentury modern with a casual, San Diego style.”
With a target of early 2018 for the project’s completion, the reimagined hotel will have 688 rooms, nearly 200,000 square feet of meeting space, three new restaurants in a 10,000-square-foot food and beverage facility, a 5,000-square-foot spa and an 11,000-square-foot lobby with an arrival bar overlooking a new 2-acre water attraction.
“We plan to create something much different than a typical branded hotel — this will be an urban, campus environment designed to attract sophisticated meeting planners and discerning leisure travelers,” Slosser said in a statement.
“This is the biggest venture I have ever taken on,” added McCabe, who has reinvented San Diego eateries such as Delicias, Top O’ the Cove and Anthony’s Star of the Sea. “I will be using everything I‘ve learned to-date to make this happen.”
In his role as executive chef, McCabe will reconceive the resort’s food and beverage operations — developing menus and concepts for the new restaurants.
McCabe’s kitchen apprenticeship started in 1984 under Michel Banchet at Jean Bertranow’s L’Ermitage, known as the genesis of French fine dining in Los Angeles. His resume includes serving as executive chef at five-star L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Before that, he spent three years at the award-winning Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, where he worked his way up to executive chef at the fine dining Yavapai Restaurant.
For the past six decades, the Town and Country Resort has anchored Mission Valley’s hotel row and grown into the largest privately owned convention and meeting hotel on the West Coast. But the future will see additional growth.
In January, the Mission Valley Planning Group voted 13-4 to remove the Town and Country site from the Atlas Specific Plan [bit.ly/1JAafS5] — which was approved in 1988 and is grandfathered in — and initiate a new Multi-Use Transit Oriented Development Plan. In addition to the massive renovation of the resort and convention center, the property owners intend to eventually build 840 multi-family residential units close to the Fashion Valley Transit Center, which includes bus transfer and trolley Green Line services. Those plans, which appear to be in limbo, require the developer to incorporate San Diego River Park Master Plan elements into the housing project.
“A significant amount of resources will be provided to embrace the San Diego Riverpark Master Plan,” Phillips said.
—Ken Williams is editor of Mission Valley News and San Diego Uptown News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952.