A Gaslamp Quarter hotel in downtown San Diego is getting a new name, a new look, a new personality, and what its owners said is a new soul.
The 20-story Kimpton Palomar, 1047 Fifth Ave., in October will turn into Kimpton Alma San Diego – its very name marking the transformation under way with a $25 million renovation, said General Manager Carmine Iommazzo.
Alma in Spanish means soul.
Nothing is being untouched in the 211-room hotel.
“Really, the whole interior of the building changed – every wall, every floor, carpet – the lobby is completely revamped,” Iommazzo said.
The rooms are designed to have what Iommazzo described as a Southern California coastal flair with lots of blues and light colors compared to what he said the hotel was as the Kimpton Palomar with darker colors and subdued lighting – a look that was popular in the 1990’s.
“I think this does a little more justice to what hotels should be or what people expect of hotels today,” Iommazzo said. “Alma is embedded in the soul and vibe of San Diego, which is very beach, very relaxed, very modern, very fun, high energy type environment. Being in the Gaslamp, there’s that element as well.”
Nightly room rates will run from about $300 to $2,000, with rates varying depending on the season and demand, Iommazzo said.
He said that the hotel is meant to exude a “no-fuss, understated luxury vibe.”
The new lobby “looks nothing like what it used to be,” Iommazzo said. The check-in desk has been moved off to a side of the lobby, and a café has been added with seating for about 100 people. Five-fold doors open out onto Fifth Avenue.
“During the summertime, you can open up the doors and bring in that environment, that connecting the outdoor and indoor,” Iommazzo said. “People want to see sunlight. They don’t want to be in a dark environment.”
A 120-seat restaurant above the lobby overlooks Fifth Avenue with “beautiful arched windows,” Iommazzo said.
A new menu is being prepared by Chef Jason Neroni of The Rose Venice, a restaurant in the beachside Los Angeles community.
The restaurant can be divided in three for group meetings or special events.
A standout feature in the renovated hotel is a fourth floor deck that has a pool, private cabanas, day beds, and a bar with plans to add a wood-fired kitchen.
“There’s a lot of bright colors, a lot of greenery, and it’s going to be a really relaxing environment for kind of like that lunch through dinner time period,” Iommazzo said.
The guest rooms were pretty much stripped bare and entirely redone. “It was wallpapered. It’s no longer wallpapered. They are white walls. There are brand new fixtures,” Iommazzo said. “They have a brand new look and feel.”
Some of the rooms have window benches and seats.
The basic rooms are on floors three through 15. The top five floors were originally designed as residential apartments and have been converted into suites and penthouses.
“There’s really cool nooks and crannies and corners that they’ve done either like a desk or a dining table or a bench that you can sit at and kind of just look outside the window to the bay,” Iommazzo said.
Two two-story penthouse suites of 1,500 square feet are at the top of the hotel.
“You walk in, you have your living-dining area, you have these amazing balconies that overlook Coronado Bay and the (Coronado) bridge. It’s just spectacular,” Iommazzo said. “You move upstairs and you kind of have your bedroom, your private bathroom, and a soaking tub that overlooks the bay as well.”
Even with the ongoing construction, Iommazzo said that room occupancy is exceeding what it was in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the hospitality industry especially hard.
“Summer was really dynamic,” Iommazzo said. “I think people really want to get out and move around as much as they can to make up for those two, three years that we lost.”
The tourism trade has been particularly strong, but Iommazzo said the business market is recovering. “We kind of see the business traveler really get out there again and start to hit the road.”
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
CEO: Mike DeFrino
Headquarters: San Francisco
Business: Hospitality management company
Social impact: Kimpton supports four partners year-round – National Urban League, The Trevor Project, No Kid Hungry and Clean the World.
Notable: Pioneer boutique hotel company in the US when founded by Bill Kimpton; multi-year placement on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work list.