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Sunday, Jul 14, 2024

LaFayette Hotel Reopens After $31M Reno

HOTELS: Upgrades Pool, Dining; Adds Bowling Alley

The LaFayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows, the landmark lodging spot in the middle of the heart of San Diego, has never been a cookie-cutter hotel.

Built in 1946 by developer and entrepreneur Larry Imig, the independent 2.5-acre Colonial-style hotel at 2223 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was a haven for then-young Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.

After a closure last October for the start of $31 million in renovations, owners and operators CH Projects reopened the 131-room LaFayette Hotel in mid-July after a complete overhaul designed by Brooklyn-based Post Company, seeking to honor the past while moving into the future with vintage-meets-modern décor and style, several unique restaurants and bars, and other twists – with more planned.

Arsalun Tafazoli
CH Projects

When CH Projects founder and San Diego native Arsalun Tafazoli bought the property in March 2021 for $25.8 million, he envisioned creating a timeless spot that could reflect the unique cultural fabric of San Diego. (The LaFayette previously sold for $11 million in 2004 and was owned by Jay Wentz, principal of JCG Development.)

Tafazoli said the LaFayette has been all about creating a place that is different from the usual suspects, and instead encourages escapism, connection and exploration.

Until taking charge of The LaFayette and renovating it from front to back and top to bottom – including the pool designed by Olympic swimmer and actor Johnny Weissmuller – CH Projects was best known for its creative collection of nearly two dozen concept restaurants around the city of San Diego.

Among its eclectic offering of dining establishments that are all in a 12-mile radius of one another: Morning Glory, Youngblood, Born & Raised and Craft & Commerce.

“The LaFayette Hotel & Club is the culmination of every project we’ve undertaken since our inception over 17 years ago, when we dreamed of creating social spaces that honestly reflect San Diego’s underappreciated and misrepresented cultural scene,” Tafazoli said. “As stubborn advocates for the city, we are obsessive about creating experiences for the community that both celebrate our weird, wonderful pockets of subculture and provide elements of escapism. A hotel is the pinnacle of hospitality, the most complex canvas on which people can socialize and connect deeply.”

For guests, experiencing The LaFayette’s pinnacle of hospitality in one of its rooms starts at $299 a night. For locals who want to enjoy the hotels amenities, a daytime swimming pool pass costs $46 and add-ons like lounge chairs are extra.

Tafazoli said he and his team at CH Projects have searched far and wide for special touches and one-of-a-kind items that speak to the hotel’s unique atmosphere.

The LaFayette’s The Lobby Bar is circular in design and has a soaring glass atrium that floods the space with light. Anchored in the middle by a statue of the god Atlas, the spot is surrounded by Brazilian-based artist João Incerti’s hand-painted ceiling.

The hotel’s authentic made-in-Mexico vintage church altar with candles and repurposed stained glass church windows provide moody lighting in the Oaxacan-inspired concept and Mezcalería called “Quixote.”

Its two-lane bowling alley in “The Gutter” room was inspired by industrialist and financier Henry Clay Frick’s personal bowling alley in the basement of The Frick Collection museum, Tafazoli said, and has bowling balls that look like large billiard balls. The gaming spot has no video games but instead has pool tables, table shuffleboard, foosball and more.

“What we strive to create in terms of our spots are about the quality of life, the bonds with the community,” Tafazoli said. “None of our spots have televisions because we want to encourage communication and connections. Connections you have with real conversations. This is our art form: our spaces are created to make you feel less alone, to help you connect more deeply with the people around you.”

The hotel is only halfway through a two-phase renovation. Phase 2 is set to roll out in Q4 this year, and will include three additional food/beverage concepts, a music venue and a spa.

CH Projects (Consortium Holdings, Inc.)

FOUNDER: Arsalun Tafazoli
BUSINESS: Hospitality
WEBSITE: ch-projects.com
CONTACT: info@ch-projects.com
SOCIAL IMPACT: The company’s restaurants use locally sourced seafood from fisheries in San Diego.
NOTABLE: Steeped in the San Diego community, everything CH Projects does is in 12-mile radius of the city of San Diego.


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