After about a year and $13 million later, the newly named Hyatt Santa Barbara at East Beach will be completely refurbished by March, its general manager Barry Prescott said Monday.

Built in 1931, the property at 1111 East Cabrillo Boulevard was called Hotel MarMonte until July 2011. It now features 171 rooms, including three suites, and a remodeled lobby and pool area, Prescott said. “We want to keep the heritage of the Hotel MarMonte,” Prescott said. “We renamed the employee cafeteria the MarMonte.” As part of the facelift, Prescott said he brightened up the popular 1111 Bistro, which is the restaurant attached to the hotel.

While sounds of a hospitality rebound are in the air on the South Coast, Prescott is hoping to get through the winter and early spring with conferences at the Hyatt. The following months should bring more occupancy with European tourists as well as visitors who drive up from Los Angeles. “The big season is Memorial Day to Labor Day,” he said.

Like most of the nation’s hotels, those on the South Coast took a hit during the recession and had to lay off many staff members. However, after the Hyatt name came to Santa Barbara on July, it was announced a few months later that the 112-room, 59,000-square-foot, three-story hotel and a 6,000-square-foot restaurant at the planned Rincon Palms hotel was moving forward in Goleta. Not long after that, El Encanto Hotel in the Riviera received $45 million in renovation loans and is expected to reopen later this year.

On top of that, the former Hotel State Street in the Funk Zone is nearing completion of its renovation. Renamed the Statehouse Hotel, it is expected to open next month.

Women-Owned Businesses Encouraged

Elected officials on Monday encouraged women business owners to work more closely with them to generate jobs and boost the South Coast economy. Representative Lois Capps went so far as to invite a formal representative from the South Coast chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, or NAWBO, to meet with her and her staff on a regular basis.

Four elected officials comprised a panel that answered questions from about 100 NAWBO members and guests at a Monday luncheon at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort and Hotel.

County Supervisor Salud Carbajal told the group it should appoint one of its members to follow business issues on the county board’s agenda. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider called for NAWBO to have more “connectivity” with municipal government. Jeannette Sanchez, district representative for Assemblymember Das Williams, said she wants business owners to let her office know if a particular piece of legislation hurts business.

Capps said she is seeking more cooperation in the House of Representatives this year to help businesses. However, the Republican House majority has been more concerned with cutting the national budget deficit than boosting the economy. “The best way to deal with the deficit is to encourage small businesses to grow,” she said. “I’m determined that we are not going to bicker this year.”

A member of Congress since 1998 who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Capps called for extending the “payroll tax holiday” in an effort to create more jobs.

The state and county officials also lamented their respective budget deficits, which have been painful to manage. Sanchez said Williams knows the proposed multibillion-dollar cuts in education spending “will be harmful and eventually hurt all of us.” Carbajal said the county was challenged by last year’s $72 million budget deficit. However, this year the county’s red ink amounts to about $15 million, which he said “is child’s play by comparison.”

The South Coast Biz Blog is a roundup of business news in the Santa Barbara area and is written by Ray Estrada,, who has covered business in the region for numerous publications over the past couple decades. See more at and


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