Fresh from a multi-million dollar renovation of the guest rooms, public areas and lobby space, the stylish Renaissance Long Beach (111 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach) sits ready to become quite the hotspot in this fun destination. I stay at a lot of hotels and I’ve found great properties start at the top. Leaders who motivate their team members, from the front desk staff to the people who clean the rooms, ensuring they all focus on one thing, delivering a great guest experience. The management here at the Renaissance Long Beach “gets it” and that results in an enjoyable, comfortable visit for those who stay here.

 

Renaissance Long Beach
Great track view from my suite

A different experience
Long Beach has no lack of corporate, generic hotels. The question is, how does a property stand-out, or more so, rise above the competition. As the Renaissance does, it’s by really focusing on the guest experience, and personalizing and localizing the stay. The philosophy is echoed in the way the hotel (and the whole Renaissance chain) labels guests and staff. Hotel guests are “Explorers”, staff members are “Ambassadors” and concierges are “Navigators”. It means those Navigators and Ambassadors will try to give guests a taste of the local neighborhood and a more personal experience. If they have a few hours between meetings, it might mean recommending a local brew pub. If they have a few days, it might mean planning a whole itinerary based on a particular interest.

My suite
I’m staying at the property for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and my harborview suite has a perfect view of the track. In fact, I can sit in bed and watch the race. The hotel is perfectly located for the race and is an ideal place to stay if you’re planning on visiting for the Grand Prix. Like the other rooms at the hotel, my room is freshly renovated with brand-new everything. The design is contemporary and carries themes and colors from the ocean and Long Beach’s function as a huge container port. There’s a large living area with an LG flat-screen TV, couch, table and workdesk. Ample lighting throughout and a large bedroom and bathroom (with whirlpool bathtub) in the other part of the suite. There’s a powder room and a highlight for me are the padded window seats, along the large windows in both the living area and bedroom. The windows look out on the harbor, Shoreline Village, The Queen Mary and beyond. I also like how there are vent panels along the bottom of the windows which can be opened, letting in the refreshing sea air.

Janine Falvo
Breakfast served by the hotel’s amazing executive chef Janine Falvo

The hotel has also renovated the lobby and a lot of the public areas and is also in process of doing the same with the pool and outdoor deck area. The Club Lounge has been expanded as has the fitness center. I worked out in the gym (open 24 hours) and it’s quite huge. There’s even a full Starbucks just off the lobby.

Drinking and dining
Part of the newly renovated lobby space is dedicated to SIP Lounge, the hotel’s new upscale dining spot. I enjoyed an epic chef’s tasting menu personally prepared by the hotel’s new executive chef, Janine Falvo who sure can work some magic in the kitchen. If you go, ask her to make you the lamb sliders. Trust me. Lamb sliders aside, this is Long Beach and the focus here is on fresh seafood, served with an “ocean to fork” philosophy. Like farm to table, the idea is serve fresh, locally sourced products and that they do. The stylish, spacious and inviting lobby area also hosts the chain’s RLife LIVE events like live musical performances from local artists.

Sliders at SIP
Lamb sliders at SIP

Location
The hotel, right on Ocean Avenue, is central to everything in downtown Long Beach. The popular Aquarium of the Pacific is so close you can see it out the window, as are downtown’s entertainment and shopping areas like Pine Avenue, The Promenade and the area of 4th Street known as Retro Row. A very cool area of the city called Belmont Shores is a short ride on the city’s free The Passport bus.

Queen Mary
View of the Queen Mary from my suite