It wasn’t too long ago that having a telephone or even a bathroom in your hotel room was considered a luxury. You’re in for a treat. Today we have phones AND televisions. We don’t like to brag, but some of our hotel rooms even have two bathrooms.
Every good story has a good beginning, and the San Diego Lafayette Hotel is no exception. Built in a grand colonial style in 1946 by former car dealer and developer Larry Imig, this historic San Diego hotel opened along California Highway 80 and opened up doors to celebrity clientele. With a little bit of risk and a whole lot of resolve, Imig leveraged his well-honed skills as an entrepreneur, home builder, and flirt to kick start the celebrity cult and turn the San Diego Lafayette into a historic San Diego hotel everyone knows about. Whether he was looking to cause a scene or stay behind them, the Imig Manor quickly became a legacy vacation resort and hideaway to stars like Bob Hope and Ava Gardner.
In the 1940’s and 50’s, this charming old San Diego hotel inhabited nearly 2.5 acres and boasted 24 shops, 4 restaurants, a nightclub, and 250 guest rooms, suites, and apartments. Sometime during the 1950s, hotelier and San Diego Charger owner Conrad Hilton purchased the San Diego Lafayette and immediately put his stamp on the property. Not only did he demolish and relocate several of the property’s apartment buildings and paint the brick façade, but he also removed Imig’s large signature from the large terrazzo star in the Conservatory floor.
The 60’s ushered in more change as Interstate 8 was completed redirecting automobile traffic from The Boulevard. With it came a sharp decrease in hotel occupancy. Over the next several decades, the San Diego Lafayette saw a shift in both ownership and appearance at the hands of visionaries looking to restore the historic San Diego hotel to its former glory.
In 2004 as part of an urban redevelopment project, Hampstead Partners acquired the property to develop hotel residences on the south portion of the complex. The project was abandoned due in part to the declining real estate market. Seeking to uncover the rich spirit of the historic San Diego hotel while respecting its 65-year individuality and easy nonchalance of the neighborhood’s spirit, JCG has resurrected the vibrant soul of the complex and reinstated it as a legacy vacation resort worthy of such a title. In 2011 with the assistance of the San Diego Redevelopment Agency and State of California a much-anticipated 6 million historical renovation was completed. We like to think even Larry himself would be proud with what we've done.