Author Archives: Singer Associates

San Diego Hotels Report Continued Recovery In 2023 And Project Optimism For 2024

Despite leisure travel spike, hospitality faces increased costs, recession fears

San Diego County hotels, bolstered by the continued strength of leisure travel in 2023, expressed optimism for 2024 despite increased operating costs and the uncertainty of a national recession, according to data released at the San Diego County Lodging Association’s annual Hotel Economic Forecast Luncheon today.

Leisure travel and increased group travel boosted hotel occupancy throughout 2023, according to economic research by the San Diego Tourism Authority presented at the luncheon at the Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego.

“Whether there’s a recession, San Diego hotels expect it to be a good year,” said Fred Tayco, SDCLA’s Executive Director. “San Diego continues to welcome a diversity of visitors – whether they come for leisure, business, their kid’s local sports tournament or a convention – the desire to travel and stay in our hotels remains strong. The challenge will be to foster and maintain an environment that supports rather than hinders hotels.”

Prominent industry experts, Nathan Kelley, Research Director for the Tourism Authority, and Bob Rauch, CEO of RAR Hospitality, outlined trends, and potential challenges facing San Diego’s hotel community, their keen insights included:

  • San Diego was first across all top 25 markets for hotel occupancy in July.
  • Group travel has returned since late 2022 and is expected to improve over the coming year.
  • Corporate travel is regaining momentum, a promising sign for 2024.
  • The city’s convention and meeting demand continues to recover following the disruption of the pandemic.
  • Hotels have incurred significantly higher operational costs – including labor and supply costs – that have driven rates.
  • Higher costs and regulations will drive hotels to consider and adopt new processes and programs that enhance and ensure the guest experiences while increasing efficiency.
  • New development will remain a challenge, largely due to difficulty with construction financing.

“Despite multiple calls for a recession, the economy shows no signs yet of actually slowing,” Kelley said. “Even if there were a recession, the San Diego market remains highly desirable, so we anticipate a lower impact on area hotels.”

Rauch delved into specific market segments, saying, “While some sectors still face headwinds, the overall trajectory is optimistic. San Diego’s hospitality market uniquely benefits from its position as a drive market to major cities, ensuring continued demand regardless of economic shifts.”

The economic performance of hotels affects the many businesses that rely on hospitality to thrive, including restaurants, entertainment venues and hospitality vendors. Hotels are essential to San Diego’s overall economy. In 2022, hotels generated $361 million in Transient Occupancy Taxes for municipalities throughout San Diego County. This revenue maintains the economic vitality of San Diego and supports thousands of jobs, driving billions of dollars in economic activity.

Click here to download the presentation.


Three new members and Board Chair celebrated at an installation ceremony on June 8

SAN DIEGO, CA. – (June 8, 2023) – The San Diego County Lodging Association (SDCLA) welcomed three new members to its Board of Directors during its Membership Luncheon on June 8 at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. The ceremony kicked off what the association anticipates will be an exciting and engaging year for San Diego County hotels.

The Board swore in Annie Fitzgerald (General Manager, The Westgate Hotel), John Ford (General Manager, The Westin Gaslamp Quarter) and April Shute (Vice President & Area Managing Director, Town and Country Resort). Robert Gleason (President & Chief Executive Officer, Evans Hotels) will remain the SDCLA Board Chair for 2023-24.

“Our new board members add to SCDLA’s enhanced advocacy programs and membership growth goals,” said Fred Tayco, SDCLA Executive Director. “I look forward to continuing our efforts in 2023 and finding new opportunities to add value with our incoming leadership.”

 SDCLA also took the opportunity to thank their three outgoing board members at the luncheon: Douglas Korn (General Manager, The US Grant Hotel), Steve Cowan (former General Manager of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront) and Anthony Palmieri (Yellow Radio Service). SDCLA is grateful for the outgoing members’ dedicated service to the Board and looks forward to the collective expertise and fresh perspectives that the new members bring to the association.

“I’d like to welcome the new board members and thank the officers for their dedication to our industry and their local communities,” said Gleason. “These new additions and changes further enhance the diversity of our board, which will give us a broader perspective as we move into the next year and continue to advocate for San Diego’s lodging industry.”

To see the full list of SDCLA’s 2023-24 Board of Directors, click here.

About the San Diego County Lodging Association

The San Diego County Lodging Association is dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of the San Diego lodging industry through legislative support, coalition building, lobbying and public advocacy. Its members represent a cross-section of the lodging industry, including owners, managers, suppliers and vendors. For more information, go to

SDCLA Honored Exceptional Hotel Industry Professionals at the 42nd Annual Gold Key Awards

Event Celebrated Rebounding Industry and Positive Outlook after Devastating Effects of Pandemic

The San Diego County Lodging Association (SDCLA) honored eight hospitality professionals that exemplify the very best of the San Diego hospitality industry at their annual Gold Key Awards Event last night.

The event was an opportunity to recognize the exceptional contributions of those who work in and support San Diego hotels and to celebrate the rebounding industry as they move towards recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our hotels are more than just a place for business and travel – they create thousands of jobs, contribute billions of dollars in economic activity and provide millions of dollars in hotel taxes that benefit our city in countless ways,” said Mayor Todd Gloria, who delivered opening remarks at last night’s event. “It’s essential that we continue to support the recovery of the industry so that San Diego remains a top travel destination we can all enjoy.”

The namesake Gold Key Award was taken home by Gary Johnston, Chief Resilience Officer for the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.  Johnston was recognized for his extraordinary support of the industry, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we was responsible for navigating the evolving public health guidance from state and local authorities and communicating those to local hotels so they could continue operations.

Hundreds of outstanding hotel employees were nominated by colleagues throughout San Diego County and SDCLA judges selected the winners based on outstanding and unusual service to the property, to the guests, and to the community. This year’s winners represent the region’s diverse range of individuals, properties and locations.

“Each winner has demonstrated sustained excellence and a passion for hospitality that inspires all of us, especially this year,” said SDCLA Board Vice President, Brad Baer. “Our heartfelt congratulations and thanks to every participant who helps make the San Diego lodging experience one of the best in the world.”

The awards ceremony, which was emceed by SDCLA Board Member and President of Ocean Park Inn Hotel, Elvin Lai, was held in-person for the first time since 2019.

“As our industry begins to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, we wanted to use these awards as an opportunity to celebrate the resilience and innovation of key players that truly exemplify what our industry has to offer,” Lai said.

The 42nd Annual Gold Key Award winners are:

Patti Roscoe – Allied Person of the Year Award: It takes a village for the hospitality and tourism industries to thrive but some of the people who make the biggest difference aren’t the ones we instantly think of. This award honors someone who isn’t directly employed by a lodging establishment but who makes a big difference in the industry and the lives of those around them!

  • Winner: Brian Hilemon, San Diego Tourism Authority

Food and Beverage Associate of the Year: What would hotels be without stellar Food & Beverage staff? High-quality food, beverages, and attitudes are essential to the success of the hospitality and tourism industry. This category honors someone who consistently goes above and beyond their day-to-day tasks and improve the lives of guests and all those around them.

  • Winner: Magdalena Trevizo, Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

Guest Service Associate of the Year: Guest Service associates are among the first people who can make guest experiences memorable, seamless and enjoyable. This award honors a superstar in the industry who always goes above and beyond when it comes to making guests feel special, welcomed and in help out their fellow employees.

  • Winner: Marco Vizcarra, The US Grant Hotel

Heart of the House Associate of the Year: Hotels are like stages: behind-the-scenes staff are crucial to putting on a successful production. Back-office employees are essential to the hospitality industry and their effort should not be overlooked. The Heart of the House award honors a non-management associate who has little or no guest contact.

  • Winner: Maria Zuniga Torres, Pendry San Diego

Hotel Manager of the Year: The finest managers see the big picture while also looking after all the small details that make their vision a reality. These individuals have risen through the ranks and come to exemplify all the best attributes of our industry. They are managers who reach out to guests, inspire employees and extend themselves to the broader community. This award honors a manager in a supervising position in a lodging establishment.

  • Winner: Laura Becerra, Grande Colonial Hotel

Sales Associate of the Year: This award honors the very best of the unsung heroes who go above and beyond to build relationships and drive revenue for our industry every single day.

  • Winner: Edward Kutch, The US Grant hotel

Hotel Executive of the Year: This category honors an executive who has shown excellence in leadership, service, and community affairs. The nominees were judged on outstanding performance that goes above and beyond normal job responsibilities, including providing excellent service to the property, guests, and community, as well as building strong teams and encouraging excellence at their property.

  • Winner: Ally Marion, Omni San Diego Hotel

Gold Key Award: First presented in 1982, the Gold Key Award is meant to honor an individual who does not work directly in hospitality or tourism but who truly embody the spirit of the industry and makes a difference every day. This individual goes above and beyond to find innovative ways to make outstanding contributions on a continuing basis to the betterment of the industry.

  • Winner: Gary Johnston, County of San Diego