LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.—After going through four years of renovations, Hotel Laguna has officially reopened its lobby and a new restaurant during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 12, celebrating the first step in the restoration of the 1930s building.
Mo Honarkar, the founder of Laguna Beach Co., the company that has a 99-year lease on the hotel, said the company did what it could to ensure the iconic history of the hotel was preserved through the renovations.
“We have worked diligently to honor this unique location by putting tremendous care and attention into every detail of this renovation. We are extremely excited for Laguna residents to visit the property and experience it for themselves. We aim to make the city proud, and I am confident they will not be disappointed,” Honarkar said in a statement.
“There’s nowhere in the world quite like Laguna Beach, or like Hotel Laguna,” he added.
During the ceremony, Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen cut a red ribbon, and Honarkar received congratulatory plaques from Rep. Michelle Steel, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, and Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.
The renovations feature a new lobby area filled with artwork, as well as Larsen, a new restaurant named after the original Laguna Beach “Greeter” Eiler Larsen, who greeted cars and passersby in the city from the 1940s to the 1970s when he passed away.
Larsen also lived at Hotel Laguna and used to dine at the restaurant.
Larsen will be run by Michelin’s five-star winning Chef Craig Strong and will feature what he calls Laguna Beach-style foods, such as burgers, salads, and other cuisines.
There will also be a new Japanese restaurant, called Fin, which will serve local seafood and other imported delicacies, according to Laguna Beach Co.
The four-year-long renovations did not come without their own set of problems though.
The hotel originally closed in late 2017 after operators dealt with lease disputes in court, and renovations received four different stop-work orders for alleged unpermitted construction, though the renovations were allowed to continue after city inspectors determined city requirements were being met.
Additionally, a Laguna Beach closed city council meeting on June 29 regarding Hotel Laguna renovations received a probe by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office alleging the council violated the Brown Act—a law that ensures public access to city meetings—by failing to properly list the scope of the meeting, as well as by Councilmember George Weiss for disclosing closed session information to the public.
Honarkar is also considering remodeling its 62 hotel rooms, although they must wait to bring proposals to city and state officials for approval prior to starting construction.