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12 ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL www.ocbj.com DECEMBER 18, 2017By PAUL HUGHESWhat have you done for me lately?Hospitality in recent years has seen itsshare of hype and change, from a hot hotelmarket to planned fantasies and tomorrowsat Orange County tourist meccas.2018 holds the latest takes on those, fromthe flip side of hotel building and buying tohints of what’s coming at Disneyland Resort. Hype will become realities—if at timesvirtual—as promised lands from the StarWars-themed one at Disney to the latest iterations of “technology saves the tourismworld” take shape.Stories to Watch■ Look for amped up teasing out of StarWars: Galaxy’s Edge, an increasing intensityof material from news to marginalia on Disney’s in-development attraction—and relatedofferings in the far-flung empire. A virtual reality experience—Star Wars: Secrets of theEmpire—is scheduled to open Jan. 5 atDowntown Disney to whet fan furor; note thenaming protocol—“Star Wars: [BlankBlank]”—and that the VR deal is global;other sites are Disney World and a Londonmall. The Star Wars planet that Galaxy’sEdge is ostensibly on got its name in midNovember—Batuu—and next year the project will get an opening date for 2019.■ Hotel renovations are rising as surely asthe tides: Markets heat up for acquisition andnew owners have to spruce up the place; thesector goes big on development, and existinghotels have to “take it up to 11” to keep pace.Sometimes it’s just time. Hotels refresh at theseven-year-itch: new linens, the trends andtimes are passing them by … they need achange.It’s not you. It’s them.Hyatt Regency Orange County—in Garden Grove on Harbor near Disney—got anew general manager who has helmed two,eight- to nine-figure renovations for highprofile Hyatts in Hawaii and San Francisco;a third is expected here.Mid-market product refresher ParkWestGeneral Contractors in Anaheim reports anuptick in business.And in the first finished project of 2018, a$30 million redo turns the former Fairmontinto Renaissance Newport Beach on Jan. 23.■ Excluding “lifestyle” hotels, new buildsand boutiques, hotels aren’t known for earlyadoption of coming-down-the-pike technologies. Twenty Four Seven Hotels in NewportBeach has done yeoman’s big-data work, andIrvine Marriott (see startups column, page22) is a test lab of innovation, but a chainmust wait—and wonder and worry—whether the next new new thing is gonnamake it. 2018 will see a wider adoption ofrecent hospitality electronica—from curatedcontent to guest- and employee-interactionsystems, to food, social and fitness apps.■ With a word so overused as branding,you’d think we can’t say there’ll be a “renewed focus”—but renewed focus can onlybe good for a cliché, and besides it’s happening. Witness this month’s renaming of IslandHotel to Fashion Island Hotel to tie ittighter to the high-end shopping centeracross the street. Following Irvine Co. is alocal pastime, so OC properties will look atways of pulling together diverse elements—geography, marketing, food. In on the branding renaissance: the Renaissance (seeabove), which has distinct and distinctiveideas about how it wants to see and be seenin OC.■ Here’s a wild card for you to play nextyear: some industry watchers see a Chinesefire sale in 2018. It’d be the flippest of flipsides—a total reverse of prior years’ go-gobuying spree by Middle Kingdom investors.“The money was here, but they’re alreadystarting to divest themselves,” said AlanReay of broker-consultant Atlas HospitalityGroup in Irvine.He said the sale of trophy properties willincrease.In November Beijing-based former buyerWanda Group put five global projects—including approved luxury hotels—up for salefor $5 billion. China government guidelineson overseas investment released in Augustput hotel-buying on the naughty list.Local hotels owned by China-based investors include Hilton Irvine and the formerFairmont, both near John Wayne Airport, andhigh-end coastal resorts Ritz-Carlton andMontage, both owned by Anbang Insurance Group Co. in Beijing.Last Year’s Stories■ Two last things to say that our hospitalitypredictive skill is kind of a big deal: Ourcompany to watch in 2017 was Pacific Hospitality Group, and our person to watch wasJay Burress, chief executive of Visit Anaheim.Hotel owner-operator PHG opened ACHotel Irvine, sold premier resort Bacaranear Santa Barbara, and bid adieu to President Steve Arnold, with founder and ChiefExecutive Tim Busch taking that role.Visit Anaheim expanded its sports eventswork, moved into new digs near AnaheimStadium, and began to see the fruits of itsselling into the 200,000-square-foot expansion of Anaheim Convention Center.Even a blind squirrel … ■Disneylandʼs Star Wars: Galaxyʼs Edge could lift a lot of hospitality boats when it opens in 2019.Itʼll serve up a virtual-reality appetizer next month in Downtown Disney2018 Preview: HOSPITALITY & TOURISMCopyright of Orange County Business Journal is the property of Orange County BusinessJournal and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listservwithout the copyright holder’s express written permission. 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