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Spotlight on Hoteliers: The 50,000th Amgen Tour of California Hotel Room

By Elaine Keller

The 2012 Amgen Tour of California will celebrate a unique milestone, and there's no bike involved.

As America's premier cycling competition sprints from city to city, a dynamic behind-the-scenes routine also commences. Miles of fencing gets erected. Fleets of cars, trucks, box trucks, motorcycles and RVs are convoyed. Pounds of pasta get consumed. Hours of media content are created. Hundreds of course directional signage gets posted. Hundreds of permits are activated. Then, each day's whirlwind rituals conclude when pro teams and staff check into assigned hotels – actually, lots and lots of assigned hotels.

After seven years of booking thousands of hotel rooms, this year's race will surpass its 50,000th hotel room used.

This statistic may be overlooked in sports pages, but it's one that captures the attention of hoteliers up and down the state of California. We, at the Amgen Tour of California, are also excited to celebrate this milestone by spotlighting our hoteliers.

A big part of being an official race Host City is the ability to supply enough hotel rooms for the 1200-person traveling entourage. More than 200 hotels have been part of the race's official hotel block at least once since the race's inception.

At a basic level, the race represents substantial hotel group business: high occupancy or sold-out status is music to the ears of hotel properties. Further, our hoteliers also shared that the race impacts them in more ways than just as a group business account.

We talked with three hoteliers who have hosted the race multiple years. Here are their thoughts on the race and what it means to their hotel and community.

Max Childs, director of sales-Courtyard Marriott Santa Rosa, has hosted the race all six years the race has come to the city, including the 2006 inaugural year.

Q: How do you compare the Amgen Tour of California's inaugural year with the upcoming race in 2012?
A: I remember our first meetings with the CVB in 2006, and how we all believed the race would someday rival the Tour de France. But, we were wrong, for us, the Amgen Tour of California is actually better than the Tour de France –because it's here.

The race has absolutely put Santa Rosa on the cycling map. It's been a huge stimulus for other cycling groups to come to Santa Rosa and Sonoma County to host their training camps or fundraising rides here. Many groups want to ride the same course as the pros. My hotel has become an annual host hotel for a number of cycling-affiliated groups above and beyond the actual race.

Q: Memorable moment?
A: I'm a hotel guy, so my fondest memory is receiving AEG's recognition letter, complimenting the hotel's service. But when I take off my hotel hat, I also remember the excitement of walking out of the hotel, and, right in front of me were all the teams getting ready for the race, all the kids activities and all the cowbells clanking. I even have my own cowbell collection.

Todd Simons, director of sales & marketing -Doubletree Ontario, has hosted the race four times but at three different hotel properties. His previous Doubletree experiences include: Doubletree Ontario (2012-2011), Doubletree Bakersfield (2010), and Doubletree San Jose (2006).

Q: Your thoughts on hosting the race in so many different cities/hotels?
A: Each brush I've had with the race -three hotels/four host cities - has coincided with that city's first time as an official race host city. I've experienced first-hand in each city the energy and excitement that comes with being on the world stage. It's especially true for communities like Bakersfield that don't get as much exposure as other markets. The Amgen Tour of California is a catalyst that brings the community together.

Although I love seeing it in person, I record the race at home so I can see my own city on television. There's a special community pride in seeing your city being broadcast all over the world.

Q: I understand you are working with the Ontario Local Organizing Committee (LOC). How is the LOC planning coming along?

A: Being on the LOC offers a different perspective; the host city organizes many moving parts. I'm helping the other Ontario hotels with their questions. Mostly, I'm excited to now put Ontario, California (not Canada) on the map.

Q: Most memorable moment?
A: I was amazed at how much the pro riders eat. I've hosted other athletes, and cyclists eat as much- if not more- than even football players.

Robin Paloma, director of sales and catering -Hilton Garden Inn Livermore, has also hosted the Tour at the Doubletree Modesto (2008).

Q: How do pro cyclists compare to other athletes?
A: Although they have similar dietary needs as other athletes, pro cyclists definitely win the calorie- intake contest. Based on the race requirements, I happen to know they eat 10,000 calories per day; but seeing it in person is remarkable.

Hosting the Amgen Tour of California is similar to other sporting events that we've hosted. Everyone eats as a team and is close-knit. One difference, however, is the speed that the race entourage is in and out of the hotel- it's much faster than other groups.

In Livermore, I'm excited by the village-like housing we're putting together. It's going to be like a mini-Olympic village.

Q: Memorable moment?
A: In Modesto, we all dressed in yellow, making noise with our thunder sticks and cowbells to welcome guests into the hotel. Our bar's televisions were tuned into the race, generating interest from both our race and non-race guests. It was a way of involving everyone staying at the hotel.

Considering the many international cyclists who speak Spanish, I would also say that the race connected with our Spanish speaking staff more than other groups. I enjoyed seeing the unique bond that created.

Look for more news about Amgen Tour of California hotels in our April newsletter. We are publishing the results of a staff poll, voting for the best-of-the-best race hotels. The winning hotels will be given the distinction of the Amgen Tour of California's "Honorary 50,000th Hotel Room" in celebration of this unique 2012 milestone.