Hyatt Riot

Notes on the new Huntington Beach resort opening

Photo by Keith MayPull up to parking lot gate with "London Calling" blasting on Saturn car speakers. Get shot who-are-you-and-what-are-you-doing-here glare from snotty guy working booth. Eventually get waved in. Arrive in time to watch sky surfers land on beach. Stroll amongst rows of Woodies parked along red carpet. Hordes of hoity-toity-dressed peeps sit in chairs and watch assorted suits speechify at podium in front of newly built bridge spanning PCH, leading into resort. Important-looking guy with Irish accent introduces Dana Rohrabacher, "who I'm sure would rather be surfing the waves here—he's a surfer, you know!" People emit the kind of forced laughter used only to fill awkward silences. (How can someone as lumpy as Rohrabacher get up on a board, anyway?) Jim Silva shockingly speaks in complete sentences about the 480 new jobs created by Hyatt: "On behalf of the 2.7 million people of Orange County, we're proud to welcome you!" Mentally handicapped guy riding past on bike doesn't look welcoming. City councilwoman with annoying, whiny voice quotes Bible and says, "Without vision, this would be a city of strip malls and drive-throughs!" Suits nod. Really, really short guy thanks Lord for beautiful day and talks about how resort property was a mobile home park in the '70s. Hyatt rep says, "I look upon these hotels as my children." Ribbon is cut. Crowd mingles and then gradually makes way across bridge to party at resort. Same mentally handicapped guy stands eight feet away from fancy-suited hotel developer guy and tries to make conversation. Developer guy turns head, pretends not to notice. At resort, lots of garish fountains, including Hot Seahorse-Riding Bitches Puking Water On Shirtless Old Fart and Nude Young Boys into Water Sports, which may not be their official titles. All shops and restaurants are named "Surf City" something-or-other. Surf City Grocers sells tiki crap and $35 glass balls filled with colored sand and plastic-looking seashells. Surf City Trading Company has Hawaiian shirts—but no wifebeaters, the unofficial HB uniform? Surf City Sunset Grille serves $11 burgers and $14 shrimp tacos. Dean Torrence (sans Jan) helms band in courtyard, the Surf City All-Stars. Wretched and sad. Reduced to covering songs like "Kokomo." Akin to watching Paul McCartney perform the Ringo Starr catalog. Later, we pull up performance rider on band's official website: "Dressing room (doubles as hospitality room for your corporate guests during and after show/meet & greet, etc.): Room should have ample comfortable seating, e.g.: couch(s) [sic], etc. Also a table for signing photos, shirts, etc. Food: bottled water, Coca-Cola (not Pepsi), bottled beer, coffee machine, assorted juices. Food may include deli presentation or hot food (chicken or pasta), candy dish (M&Ms/no "M's" on candy, only "W's")." People mill around courtyard and imbibe from food trays—froufrou desserts, sushi, fried shrimp, wine, crab cakes. Everyone is good-looking and happy-acting, but in a disarmingly Botox way, like the ad pages of Orange Coast Magazine made three-dimensional. Check-in desk is staffed entirely by young, pretty girls. It costs guests $15 a day to park their cars. There is at least one Federal Treasury-expensive jewelry shop. All rooms offer pristine ocean views, so tourists visiting "affluent Orange County"—that's how we're described on the resort website—won't notice the Big Lots! store just up Beach Boulevard, which used to be called Pic-N-Save. Also on the website: a job opening for a Utility Steward, more popularly known as a dishwasher. Read in press kit about resort's 574 rooms and the 180 homes soon to be built next door. That's more than 700 new toilets, a perfect source for the next beach-closing raw-sewage spill. Doubt guests are told about those at the check-in counter. Mentally handicapped guy appears at party again, sans bike. No one stops him because no one notices. He uses the bathroom, hangs out for a bit, speaks to nobody, watches crappy band, and then slinks away, across the bridge, out of sight.

 
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