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Anaheim Business Travel Guide

The rows of citrus fruits that once dotted the fertile, temperate landscape of California's Orange County have long been jettisoned. In their place stand the brick, mortar and glass of professional buildings and skyscrapers that represent OC's transformation from a sleepy farming community to a power player in the business world. As such, 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.

The industries that Orange County has a strong influence in are surprisingly diverse, as they include such fields as technology, healthcare, financial services, biotech, automotive, pharmaceutical and, of course, surfing. 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, Mazda, Oakley, Pacific Life, Quiksilver, Toshiba 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 pursuits that South Coast Plaza, Newport Beach and the various historic districts around the county have to offer, there are ample opportunities to escape the doldrums of the workaday world.

Orange County is well-versed in assuring visitors enjoy themselves here. OC has long had a thriving tourism industry, as the allure of its charming beach towns and amusement parks draws nearly 45 million guests inside its borders annually. In recent years, 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, St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach, 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

Transportation:
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 about $40. 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) for around $100 per day, and also boasts a fleet of exotic rides from such prestigious auto makers as Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Lamborghini.

Shuttles:
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.

Information:

The Orange County Register covers general news and includes a daily business section.

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
714-956-6425
disneyland.disney.go.com


The luxurious Grand Californian Hotel & Spa redefines the Disneyland experience 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 Craftsman 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 California wines. 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.


Fairmont Newport Beach
4500 MacArthur Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
949-476-2001
www.fairmont.com


Fairmont Hotel, Newport Beach

One of the more conveniently located hotels in Orange County, the Fairmont is just a quick shuttle ride from John Wayne Airport and is in close proximity to Irvine and Newport Beach's business district. 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 recently renovated 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 Executive 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 bambu 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 the Amadeus Spa. 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
714-750-4321
www1.hilton.com

Hilton Anaheim

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 pass through the normal expectations of large hotel dining. 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
949-759-0808
www.theislandhotel.com


The Island Hotel Newport Beach

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. Be sure to ask for full-time massage therapist Saiko, who started massaging her parents as a child in rural Japan and continues to showcase her mastery of this healing tradition here.


The Resort at Pelican Hill
22701 Pelican Hill Rd. S.
Newport Coast, CA 92657
800-315-8214
www.pelicanhill.com

The Resort at Pelican Hill

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 resorts' 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.


See our list of Orange County's 10 Best Business Hotels

Where to Dine

Anaheim White House
887 S. Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805
714-772-1381
www.anaheimwhitehouse.com

Italian/Contemporary
14/20
$$$$$

One of the most celebrated restaurants in Orange County, this elegant venue is overseen by Bruno Serato, a 2011 CNN Hero who treats his guests as if they were coming into his home, making every visit here quite special. Twelve presidentially-named private rooms are available here for secluded business meetings and special occasions. The menu, helmed by longtime chef Eddie Meza, strikes an intriguing balance between Northern Italian styles and French sensibilities. We recommend the Salmon Chocolat; an intriguing dish consisting of a lovely steamed salmon filet served atop an indulgently creamy white chocolate mashed potato purée. Serato and his amiable managers and service crew are quite knowledgeable in the ways of wine, so ask for a recommendation from their well-stocked international list.


The Catch
2100 E. Katella Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806
714-935-0101
www.catchanaheim.com

Seafood/Steakhouse/New American
13/20
$$$$$

The Catch dining room

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 their seafood, and their 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.


Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza
Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714-352-2525
www.charliepalmer.com

New American/French
15/20
$$$$$

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza

Nestled in the confines of Bloomingdale's at Costa Mesa's legendary South Coast Plaza shopping mall, this venue is most assuredly worthy of carrying the name of Charlie Palmer, the super star New York chef who created such nationally acclaimed dining venues as Aureole NYC, Métrazur, and Dry Creek Kitchen. The sophisticated venue is decked out with an open, airy space whose whites, browns and yellows emanate a natural elegance that dovetails nicely with the menu's signature New American cuisine. While the restaurant is an attractive option for business lunches and dinners, its ultra-hip lounge area offers a terrifically swanky spot for casual, end-of-day client powwows. If you're looking to host a meeting, the restaurant contains a sizable private room that can host groups up to 50. What's more, you can buy out the entire eatery for parties of up to 200 guests.


Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Fashion Island
455 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660
949-720-9633
www.flemingssteakhouse.com

Steakhouse
13/20
$$$$$

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Fleming's is a versatile venue that is perfectly suited for one-on-one business meetings or for large groups 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 is a magnet for hip professionals and singles.


Stonehill Tavern
St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach
One Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629
949-234-3200
www.michaelmina.net

Modern American
15/20
$$$$

Stonehill Tavern

This Michael Mina establishment is arguably the best restaurant in OC to impress clients who cannot be stirred by anything less than the finest in food and wine. Armed with a breathtaking view of the St. Regis Monarch Beach 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 the chef's special multi-course tasting menu.


Off the Clock

Downtown Disney
Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA
www.disneyland.com

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen at Downtown Disney

If you are looking for a little Disney magic but 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 The House of Blues or 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
www.surfcityusa.com

Huntington Beach Pier

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 and starts 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
www.visitnewportbeach.com

Newport Harbor

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 bustling 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
714-556-2746
www.scfta.org

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

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 expressions of fine art can also be enjoyed here through the opulent performance center Segerstrom Hall, the popular playhouse South Coast Repertory and the smaller concert venue Samueli Theater. Between these venues, you are bound to see a performance or 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), Pinot Provence, Pizzeria Ortica, Scott's Seafood, Mastro's Steakhouse and Marché Moderne.

South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
800-782-8888
www.southcoastplaza.com

South Coast Plaza

Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza, located a few minutes away from John Wayne Airport, is one of the nation's most successful and alluring 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 area that immediately surrounds it boasts some of OC's finest dining experiences, such as Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza, Pinot Provence, Hamamori, AnQi Gourmet Bistro by Crustacean, Antonello Ristorante and Scott's Seafood. (Author: Sheryll Alexander & Rich Manning)



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* Images by their respective properties. Newport Harbor image by Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau. Huntington Beach Pier image courtesy of Huntington Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau.

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