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La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club Unveils Reimagined Walnut Lounge

HOSPITALITY: $3.5M Project Includes Updated Wedding Venue

There’s still plenty of the natural dark, dense wood made from walnut trees in the room that bears its name, but the Walnut Lounge inside La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club has undergone some substantial changes as part of the 88-year-old oceanfront hotel’s branching out in different directions.

Closed for several months during construction, the newly redesigned spot just beyond the ocean and sand at La Jolla Shores has been opened up to the beach outside and its interior upgraded with modern light fixtures, stylish mid-century modern décor, new furniture and flooring and of course additional walnut wood accents to accompany its iconic walnut wall paneling.

Bill Kellogg
President & CEO
La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

The reimagined 1,400-square foot space still has a capacity for 75 people but instead of just a simple closed room for meetings with some furniture, the lounge now offers an open-air experience and acts as an “hangout for members and is an active clubhouse,” says LJBTC President Bill Kellogg.

“It’s turned into a really elegant place for our members to hang out,” Kellogg said. “For visitors from out of town, it’s a wonderful place to be in, with open air coming in from the beach. It’s really changed the way the room works and has almost a European feel to it.”

A fourth-generation owner of the esteemed club at 2000 Spindrift Drive, Kellogg started working for the club in 1979 and became president 10 years later. Since 1989, he has run the family-owned spot that’s been a part of the La Jolla landscape since it first opened as a yacht and beach club back in 1927.

Saving Property Traditions

The upgraded Walnut Lounge, open since July, has an upscale, ocean-facing, two-sided bar, with bottles of alcohol artistically lined up along shelves raised up toward the ceiling, offering an inviting atmosphere as well as light bites and snack foods along with craft cocktails for both Beach Club hotel guests and LJBTC members.

The cozy space is next to the 2,000-square foot La Sala room, a favorite for weddings and other events, which also was renovated at the same time. The cost for the entire project was about $3.5 million, including updates to the foyer and restrooms just outside of both. The work was done by the designers at Los Angeles-based Studio Unlimited.

Michael O’Donohue
Managing Director
La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

“Whenever we do renovations on the property, it’s a challenge,” said Michael O’Donohue, managing director at LJBTC. “How do we not lose the traditions of the property after 88 years? To not modernize too much but to still put out a product that fits the needs of the environment, to be long lasting, beautiful and fits our needs? Our designers did a really good job keeping a lot of the natural wood in the room and adding wood flooring.”

Kellogg said the upgrades and updates were needed to refresh the lounge’s look, but that designers were asked to preserve some old-school touches as a way to keep the feel that locals and visitors, some coming in multiple generations of families, know and love.

More Upgrades Coming

The Walnut Lounge project is only part of the LJBTC’s plans for the coming year, O’Donohue said, which includes upgrades to the junior Olympic-sized swimming pool and its deck as well as updated walkways around the pool. Eight new cabanas and expanded seating areas plus more outdoor lounge furniture will come to the pool site.

Plans in the near future also include renovating the club’s 90 guest rooms and a redone kitchen. Kellogg said the cost of the upcoming upgrades will be in the range of $30-50 million, and the projects will be completed over the next three to five years.

Pickleball Courts Added

A new outdoors event area called the Spindrift Pavilion was recently completed near the club’s duck pond, with space for about 250 people. New pickleball courts were also erected near that site, both situated close to LJBTC’s 9-hole golf course.

The pickleball courts have been a big draw – and a few of the club’s 12 tennis courts are able to be temporarily transformed to pickleball courts – but Kellogg said he’s not planning on changing the name of the club to reflect the sport’s growing popularity.

“We’re still the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club,” he said.

LJBTC has a membership of 1,400, Kellogg said, and has had a waiting list of 300 for the last three and a half years.

Kellogg’s family also owns the Marine Room adjacent to the club on Spindrift Drive, owns the La Jolla Shores Hotel across the street, and manages the nearby Playa Del Oro Apartments, which, like the hotel, is located on Camino Del Oro.

The Marine Room opened in 1941, and last November completed a $500,000 renovation, including the addition of a cocktail lounge. The hotel was built by the Kellogg family in 1970 on a former parking lot for boats and originally was known as the Sea Lodge Hotel. Those rooms are set to be renovated as well, O’Donohue said.

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

FOUNDED: 1927 (as La Jolla Beach & Yacht Club)
PRESIDENT: Bill Kellogg
HEADQUARTERS: La Jolla Shores
BUSINESS: Hotel and Tennis Club
EMPLOYEES: 500+
WEBSITE: ljbtc.com
CONTACT: 858-412-0721
SOCIAL IMPACT: LJBTC President Bill Kellogg helped raise money as part of his role as president/chairman of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association to raise money to build and operate Veterans Memorial Walls atop Mount Soledad.
NOTABLE: The club’s history began in April 1926 with several prominent businessmen, including F.W. Kellogg, a Pasadena-based newspaper publisher and patriarch of the Kellogg family that today owns the resort, acquiring 14 acres and building the La Jolla Beach and Yacht Club. Kellogg purchased the property outright in 1935.

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