Many of you know that I’ve been to Los Angeles for as many years as I’ve lived, plus a few additional times. I lived there for six years, ten if you count my college time at Pomona (still part of the LA metro area).
But in all that time I can count the times I’ve been to San Diego, just a little over two hours south and far more scenic, on one hand, plus one more. That includes once as a grade-school kid, twice when I was college, ten years ago with the RAS and the girls, and just last week. My longest visit wasn’t even within the city limits. I went to the UC campus in La Jolla, subsequently getting accepted there.
The reason why I haven’t been there often is simply because I don’t have family or close friends living in the area. I have to wait for legitimate reasons to visit, like going to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) Global Conference.
San Diego’s premier conference place
I did exactly that last week, staying at the massive Sheraton San Diego Marina & Hotel. In addition to its extensive convention facilities, it has a second building a quarter mile from the main grounds. This was the last hotel I’ve stayed at in the past few months. Thus, this post represents the end of my unusual hotel odyssey. I also stayed in two hotels in the Aspen/Glenwood Springs area in mid-August, but didn’t include them here. They were pretty standard.
Old school places like the Sheraton are starting to lose some business to smaller, more individualized boutique hotels. But one thing that those places don’t have is extensive meeting and convention facilities, which was suitable for the ASTA convention. In fact, the vast size of the place often astonished me – 120,000 square feet.
While my room was clean and comfortable, the air conditioner needed to be on 24/7. That’s because an unseasonable heat wave wracked the city for the time of the conference. All of that recycled chilled air probably ruined my respiratory system for the next few months, but it would’ve been like sleeping in a turned up sauna if I didn’t.
Luckily I had this beautiful view to make me feel a little better…
When I wasn’t attending workshops and general sessions, I worked out in their club-quality gym or relaxed by their clover leaf pool. But I didn’t swim, because I forgot my suit back home. I also went for a few runs along the jetty where the hotel overlooked the city.
Another convenience here is its location. The Sheraton is literally across the street from the San Diego International Airport. I rented a car the day before the convention started just to look around town. The next day, I literally walked back to the hotel after returning the car and to the terminal. A crazy thought to walk to the hotel before my flight later that quickly disappeared with my growing fatigue.
The hotel has a wide-ranging selection of restaurants. They included a fine dining establishment, a brewpub, wine bar and a café with Starbucks coffee drinks. I only went to two of them, as I had most of my meals in the members-only SPG Club. This really saved a ton of money for me, which I’m always grateful for when I’m traveling.
Bottom line: The Sheraton San Diego Marina & Hotel makes a great place for a meeting or convention, probably less so for a vacation stay. But with view from my room like the one I had, I probably shouldn’t complain too much.