The Irvine Co. will turn over day-to-day management of its Resort at Pelican Hill to Marriott International, with the luxury hotel eventually joining the St. Regis brand.

The Newport Beach oceanview resort — with 204 rooms, 128 villas and two golf courses—  is the Orange County real estate giant’s only remaining hotel. It has been run independently of any chain since its opening in 2008.

Irvine Co. announced that the operational switch, which does not change Irvine Co. ownership of the resort, begins July 1. The move was first reported by The Real Deal.

Irvine Co. added that Marriott “is committed to retaining the majority of our resort associates.” The company also said the property will join Marriott’s high-end St. Regis hotel network “at a later date.”

The move was made after a year’s “strategic review of the property and its operations, meeting with hospitality experts from around the world to explore how to further enhance the five-star experience that makes the resort a sought-after destination for our guests and our local community,” Irvine Co. said.

The pandemic’s economic upheaval in tourism nudged Irvine Co. to rethink its entire hotel business. In the process, the company sold its other two hotels: the 536-room Hotel Irvine went to Hyatt Hotels and the 295-room Fashion Island Hotel in Newport Beach went to Montage International and Eagle Four Partners.

The Marriott move surprised hotel analyst Alan Raey of Atlas Hospitality, who paid the resort a high compliment.

“I do not think the Resort at Pelican Hill needed a brand,” he said.

Ownership and branding changes are nothing new to Orange County’s luxury resorts.

For example, St. Regis was the brand for the 400-room, five-star resort in Dana Point from its opening in 2001 until 2016. That’s when, after several ownership changes, the property became the independent Monarch Beach Resort. Three years ago, after it was sold again, it was put under the Waldorf Astoria brand.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

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