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Anaheim Business Travel Guide

The Anaheim Convention Center is  a great place to hold business meetings

The rows of citrus fruits that once dotted the fertile, temperate landscape of California's Orange County are long gone. In their place stand the brick, mortar and glass of professional buildings and skyscrapers that represent OC's metamorphosis from a sleepy farming community to a power player in the business world. So it's not all that surprising to see how, Orange County has become an increasingly essential hub for business travel, with the Anaheim Convention Center, Newport Beach's financial district and Irvine's dueling finance and biotech industries being the prime movers behind this growth.

The businesses that Orange County has a significant hand in driving are surprisingly diverse. In addition to expected industries, like surfing, the OC also propels fields such as technology, healthcare, financial services, biotech, automotive and pharmaceutical. While it has received plenty of nationwide attention as the home of Disneyland and "The Real Housewives of OC," Orange County also serves as headquarters for powerful companies like Allergan, Beckman Coulter, Billabong, Broadcom, Gateway, Hurley, Hyundai, Ingram Micro, Mazda, Oakley, Pacific Life, Quiksilver and Taco Bell.

Boasting a scenic coastline, practically perpetual sunny skies and some of the most affluent zip codes in the country, Orange County has plenty of unique recreational, shopping, dining and nightlife options available for the person looking to mix a little pleasure with business. From the childlike amusements afforded by Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney to the more refined pleasures that South Coast Plaza, Newport Beach and the county's various historic districts have to offer, there are ample opportunities to escape the doldrums of the work world.

Orange County is well-versed in assuring visitors enjoy themselves. OC has long had a thriving tourism industry, as the allure of its charming beach towns and amusement parks draws nearly 45 million guests annually. In the last decade, a host of world-class resorts have cropped up along the county's majestic undulating coastline, like The Resort at Pelican Hill, Montage Laguna Beach, Monarch Beach Resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. These venues have attracted an increasing number of business guests to conduct their affairs in the lap of luxury.

Facts to Know Before You Go

Most business travelers use John Wayne Airport (SNA) to enter Orange County, since it is located in the midst of OC's major business districts. Ontario International Airport (ONT) is another choice that, like SNA, is relatively uncrowded. The Jet Blue hub Long Beach Airport (LGB) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are also options; however, they can pose a major inconvenience, as coming into OC from these airports can take an unpleasantly long time due to L.A.'s infamous traffic.

Taxis and Limousines:
Taxis are available 24 hours a day at John Wayne Airport, and are located across from the baggage claim area at the venue's ground transportation center. Typically, cab fare to the Anaheim Convention Center will run you a little over $50. If you take the same trip via limo, the charge will be around $60. If you are doing business in the neighboring Irvine or Newport Beach areas, your cost here will be substantially less. If you want to arrive to your meeting or conference in style, Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car loans town cars (sans driver); if you have enough room in your expense account to make a big splash, the company boasts a fleet of exotic rides from such prestigious auto makers as Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini.

Over a dozen companies offer shuttle services at relatively competitive prices; most of them charge about $40 for a ride from the airport to destinations throughout Anaheim. The majority of OC's larger hotels and resorts offer complimentary shuttle services to and from John Wayne Airport.

Rental Cars:
Renting a car in Orange County is a smart choice, given that businesses and entertainment options are scattered throughout OC's sprawl and public transportation is essentially not an option. Most national rental car chains can be found at John Wayne Airport, conveniently located next to the baggage claim area. A handful of discount companies are located nearby the airport as well, and can be reached via shuttle service outside baggage claim. If you can swing it, renting a car from an off-airport location could save you quite a bit of money.


The Orange County Register covers general news and includes a daily business section. Certain articles on the online version are limited to subscribers, so finding a paper version of the publication may be a better option than trying to pull it up on your tablet or mobile device.

The Orange County Business Journal, the region's dedicated business paper, is printed weekly and features business news, company profiles, top sales lead lists and business dining recommendations.

OC Weekly offers local news, investigative pieces and highly irreverent opinion articles, as well as the most comprehensive guide to the area's entertainment listings throughout the week.

Where to Stay

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
1600 S. Disneyland Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92802

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in Anaheim, California

The luxurious Grand Californian Hotel & Spa redefines the Disneyland experience that you know and love by providing exquisitely lavish accommodations for discerning theme park and convention center visitors alike. Bedecked in classically alluring Arts & Crafts architecture, the beautiful hotel provides 745 spacious guestrooms with visually arresting décor and views of Disney's California Adventure. Business travelers should note that the hotel offers high-speed Internet access as well as a business center, and plenty of indoor and outdoor meeting space. Guests staying at the Club Level can also indulge in an exclusive lounge that features a continental breakfast, complementary DVDs and a nightly wine and cheese reception. The hotel is also home to the award-winning Napa Rose restaurant — a sublime venue featuring wine country-inspired cuisine and an exceptional list of top wines from California and around the globe. Additionally, the resort's Mandara Spa offers plenty of options to sooth the soul and feet of guests that are frazzled after a hectic day at the park.

The Duke Hotel Newport Beach
4500 MacArthur Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

The meeting facility at The Duke Hotel Newport Beach in California

One of the more conveniently located hotels in Orange County, The Duke Hotel Newport Beach is just a quick shuttle ride from John Wayne Airport and is in close proximity to Irvine and Newport Beach's business districts. The hotel is also just 30 minutes away from the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland. Boasting 440 luxurious guest rooms equipped with high-speed Internet access, this smartly appointed modern venue features all the key amenities any business traveler needs, including wireless Internet access in all of their spacious meeting rooms. Travelers enrolled in the Fairmont President's Club have access to further delights, such as a complementary deluxe continental breakfast, daytime snacks, evening appetizers, late-night sweets and access to a CD/DVD library. Businesspeople can also take clients to breakfast, lunch or dinner at Citrus with fresh California-inspired contemporary cuisine. The Fairmont also features plenty of lush amenities to unwind away from the office, including an outdoor heated sky pool and the decadent treatment rooms at TheSpa Santé and Salon, both of which are located on the third floor of the venue. Plus, Orange County's legendary beaches are just minutes away, as are the exquisite shopping and dining opportunities afforded by South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island.

Hilton Anaheim
777 W. Convention Way
Anaheim, CA 92802

The lobby at Hilton Anaheim in California

The Hilton Anaheim is one of California's largest hotels, as it lays claim to a whopping 1,576 rooms and suites within its impressive facility. Festooned with smart modern décor, the massive venue is steps away from the Anaheim Convention Center and just two blocks from the Disneyland Resort. Because of its location, the hotel's focus is on business travelers and convention-goers as opposed to tourists. You can always tell when there is a conference in town, as the hotel's spacious modern lobby will be abuzz with badge-wearing attendees. The Hilton's Mix Restaurant satisfies hungry travelers by serving up quality California cuisine that strives to surpass the normal expectations of large hotel dining. The Mix Lounge provides a pretty swank place to indulge in a nightcap with business colleagues. Guests can work off their meal by taking advantage of the hotel's enormous fitness center, complete with state-of-the-art equipment, a sauna, aerobics classes and a basketball court. The guest rooms here are roomy and comfortable and come equipped with flat screen TVs and high-speed Internet access. And while the facility's executive lounge isn't too exciting, it does afford a nice panoramic view of The Disneyland Resort.

The Island Hotel Newport Beach
690 Newport Center Dr.

Newport Beach, CA 92660

The Bayview King Room at The Island Hotel Newport Beach in California

Located across the way from the famed outdoor shopping mall Fashion Island and a short drive from the Orange County coastline, the exquisite Island Hotel specializes in business meetings. Its opulent luxury is derived from its surroundings almost as much as it is from its meticulously kept digs, as it affords sweeping views of the ocean, Newport Harbor, the Newport Back Bay and the Santa Ana Mountains. The hotel hosts nearly 300 elegant guest rooms, 64 executive suites and 19 opulent luxury suites within its towering facility. The Oak Grill provides alfresco dining for guests, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those looking to really get comfortable can indulge at The Spa at Island Hotel — a small, yet lush facility ideally built for soul soothing. If you need to break out the laptop, the venue's stunning 20th floor lounge known as Island Club provides guests with an elegant locale to wrap up odds and ends remotely, all against a panoramic view of the Newport Beach skyline.

The Resort at Pelican Hill
22701 Pelican Hill Rd. S.
Newport Coast, CA 92657

The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, California

Arguably the most luxurious seaside resort in Orange County, The Resort at Pelican Hill charms business travelers and tourists alike with stunning hilltop views of the Pacific Ocean, pristine golf greens and the coastal Crystal Cove State Park. The sprawling venue boasts 20,000 square feet of high-tech meeting spaces, as well as Mar Vista: a unique stand-alone event facility complete with its own arrival area, outdoor event lawn and brilliant Venetian-inspired rotunda. Each of the resort's 204 bungalows and 128 villas offer supremely luxe amenities equipped with a uniquely comfortable, residential ambience, replete with large balconies, marble bathrooms, separate living rooms and cozy desk areas featuring wireless Internet. An eclectic array of dining options is available for you and your clients, from the casual contemporary entrees of Coliseum Pool & Grill to the elegantly refined northern Italian fare served up at the visually arresting Andrea. Those who like to do business on the greens will enjoy the beauty of the Pelican Hill Golf Club, a 36-hole championship golf course designed by renowned course architect Tom Fazio. You and your clientele can end the day breaking down your game over gourmet burgers and microbrews at Pelican Grill's spacious, upscale lounge area.

Where to Dine

The Catch
2100 E. Katella Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806

Seafood/Steakhouse/New American

The dining room at The Catch in Anaheim, California

Located 600 feet from Angel Stadium and down the road from The Honda Center, this super hip spot is an ideal place to grab dinner or a post-game drink if you are entertaining clients with a sporting event. Accentuated by a home plate-shaped bar, the lounge is a comfortable spot for business types to grab a brew and a burger. Over in the main dining room area, The Catch is noted for its seafood, and surf-based items range from beer-battered fish and chips and the refreshing shrimp ceviche cocktail to ahi tuna tartare and tender Chilean sea bass. If your clients would prefer meat, direct them toward items like the filet mignon and the massive 32-ounce tomahawk chop. The restaurant also contains state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and a private event planner to assist you in setting up business meetings and functions.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Fashion Island
455 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660


Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Newport Beach, California has four private dining rooms

Fleming's is a versatile venue that is perfectly suited for one-on-one business meetings or for large groups of up to 75 people. Each of the venue's four private dining rooms are equipped with high-tech TANDBERG video conferencing systems that can connect up to five other satellite sites from around the globe. On the culinary side of things, Fleming's private dining director can assist you in pairing over 100 exquisite wines with a wide range of noshing options, from receptions to lunches and multi-course dinners. Fleming's classic surf and turf menu, featuring cold seafood appetizers, prime steaks and enormously portioned side dishes, is perfectly suited for the palate of executives, high-level managers and other such power players. Additionally, the restaurant's lively, upscale bar and immensely popular happy hour is a magnet for hip professionals and singles.

The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon
1025 E. Ball Rd.
Anaheim, CA 92805

Contemporary American

The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim, California is located in a six-story office building

The location of this restaurant is very unorthodox. It occupies half of the first floor of a six-story office building in an industrial area in Anaheim. But don't let the unusual exterior fool you — this is a restaurant that impresses like nobody's business once you and your clientele come inside. Executive Chef Michael Rossi crafts an exquisite contemporary menu whose seasonally rotating items share space with killer interpretations of traditional steakhouse fare, such as the 58-ounce cowboy rib-eye. The restaurant has maximized the usage of their digs, as the top floor has been converted into a Private Dining and Event center: nearly 7,700 square feet of space featuring four uniquely designed rooms created to host special functions, great and small. Those who are looking to cut loose after a day of meetings can go next door and hang out in The Saloon. It's a lively country music and dancing spot that occupies the other half of the building's ground floor.

Stonehill Tavern
Monarch Beach Resort
One Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629

Modern American

The dining room at Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, California

This Michael Mina establishment is arguably the best restaurant in the OC to impress clients who cannot be stirred by anything less than the finest food and wine. Armed with a breathtaking view of the Monarch Beach Resort grounds, the Monarch Beach Golf Links, and the Pacific Ocean, the ambience of this dark-hued, modern venue feels very much like a current-day supper club. The contemporary American cuisine served at the venue is exceptional, as is the deep wine list and the potent cocktails. If you have a few hours to spare and the desire to really make an impression, go for Executive Chef Raj Dixit's special multi-course tasting menu.

Off the Clock

Downtown Disney
Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA

Browse the shops and restaurants at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California

If you don't have the time, budget or energy needed for a day at Disneyland or Disney's California Adventure, this self-proclaimed “sports, dining, and entertainment complex” adjacent to both theme parks will fit the bill. Indeed, there are plenty of options for you to keep yourself occupied. Catch a live show at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, or a televised sporting event over at ESPN Zone. There are also several options here to help you satisfy your hunger, most notably the Mediterranean fare served up at celebrity chef Joachim Splichal's art deco venue Catal. And do not miss out on the chance to sink into one of the comfortable, overstuffed chairs that are featured in the Craftsman-style lobby of the adjacent Grand Californian Hotel.

Huntington Beach Pier & Main Street
Pacific Coast Highway at Main Street

Enjoy the ocean view at Huntington Beach Pier in California

Officially nicknamed "Surf City USA," the downtown area of Huntington Beach — or as the locals call it, HB — is equal parts laid back beach town and hip, lively hangout. Beachcombers flock to HB because, unlike other coastal communities in OC, it offers 8.5 miles of wide, sandy shores with no buildings or structures to interrupt its flow. This makes the spot an exceptional place to people-watch, as the concrete boardwalk that borders the sand is always loaded with walkers, cyclists, skaters and rollerbladers. The sprawling shoreline is anchored by the presence of an impressive concrete pier that stretches out nearly one-third of a mile into the Pacific Ocean from its start at the always bustling corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street. For the optimum experience here, take a stroll down the pier, stick your toes in the sand and grab a drink or a Hawaiian-inspired bite at Duke's restaurant. From there, walk across the street and explore the many chic boutiques, bars and restaurants featured on Main Street or one block west at The Strand in Huntington Beach.

Newport Harbor
Pacific Coast Highway between Jamboree Road and Balboa Boulevard

Head to Newport Harbor for a peek at the opulent OC lifestyle

To get a glimpse of the opulent OC lifestyle, head on down to Newport Harbor and take in its nearly perpetual sunny skies, blue Pacific Ocean waters, multi-million dollar shoreline homes and ubiquitous yachts. Begin your excursion by touring the boutiques and eateries found on tiny Balboa Island. From there, drive your rental car onto the Balboa Island Auto Ferry, where a mere $2 will give you the chance to glimpse the majestic waters of the harbor from a most unique perspective. The ferry will unload you onto the Balboa Peninsula to explore its many activities, including a walk on one of its two piers, a shuffle in the sand, or a stroll along its perpetually active boardwalk. If you have time, become a skipper for a day by renting a kayak or an electric Duffy boat and take a spin around the harbor's waters.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Dr.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

The Renee & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, California

Located just a few minutes away from John Wayne Airport and across the way from South Coast Plaza, this magnificent complex is Orange County's premier area to indulge in fine arts. The crown jewel of the area is the beautiful Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which offers the finest in symphony, musical theatre, dance and other exercises in high art from regional, national and international talents. Other fine art performances are held at Segerstrom Hall, the popular playhouse South Coast Repertory and the smaller concert venue Samueli Theater. Between these venues, you are bound to see a show that will pique your interest. The area also offers plenty of fine dining options to help set the proper tone for the evening, including Leatherby's Café Rouge (conveniently located inside the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall), Pizzeria Ortica, and Mastro's Steakhouse.

South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Treat yourself to a luxury shopping experience at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California

Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza is located a few minutes away from John Wayne Airport, and is one of the nation's most successful, alluring and opulent shopping malls. Indeed, stories of people jetting in from around the globe to shop at this sprawling venue are not hyperbole. And with good reason; the center contains boutiques from some of the world's most prestigiously luxe designers and names, including Armani, Chanel, Christian Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co. and Valentino. The mall also features five big-name department stores: Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Nordstrom's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the seemingly out-of-place Sears. In addition to the indulgent shopping, South Coast Plaza and the surrounding area boast some of OC's finest dining experiences, such as Hamamori, AnQi Gourmet Bistro by Crustacean and Antonello Ristorante.

By Sheryll Alexander & Rich Manning


* Huntington Beach Pier image by Mcclane2010 / CC BY-SA 3.0


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