Honarkar adds Hotel Laguna to his holdings
By Barbara Diamond – StuNewsLaguna
Mo Honarkar scooped up another large chunk of Laguna Beach real estate this week.
The Laguna Beach Company announced on Monday the acquisition of Hotel Laguna. The Honarkar family is excited about restoring and improving this community icon, according to a press release.
Honarkar reached a 99-year lease agreement with Earl Merritt, owner of the land on which Hotel Laguna sits, which Joe Hanauer, Greg MacGillivray and James “Walkie” Ray could not do in two years of negotiations and at considerable expense.
In a letter to Stu News, the three partners thanked locals for their support for their quest to reopen the hotel and restore it.
“We envisioned recapturing its historical appearance by bringing back some of the features lost over the years and addressing the deferred maintenance that is so apparent,” Hanauer wrote.
Hotel Laguna, as it now stands, was built in 1930 in the Mission Revival style. It looks pretty much the same today and is featured in Karen Wilson Turnbull’s The Cottages and Castles of Laguna.
But there has been a hotel on the site since the 1880s. However, the first hotel burned down two months after it opened. It was rebuilt on the same site.
The 68-room hotel became a popular hideaway for early Hollywood celebrities such as John Barrymore, Errol Flynn and Rosalind Russell. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are said to have stayed there before they married.
Today’s Hotel Laguna is still a local landmark but in desperate need of repair and updates, according to Honarkar.
In his statement on Monday, Honarkar stated that over the years several investors and developers have submitted proposals for the historic property.
“The Honarkar family is grateful that their offer was accepted. They look forward to working with their team on bringing the Hotel Laguna back to life for all to enjoy.”
Honarkar now has projects in the works for Canyon Acres and a hotel on Cleo Street and South Coast Highway. He also owns property on North Coast Highway, where his restaurant Royal Hawaiian is located, and properties along Laguna Canyon Road from Seven Degrees to the Art-A-Fair grounds. He also recently acquired Kitchen in the Canyon. Additionally, last summer he took over the lease of Tivoli Terrace at the Festival of Arts grounds, re-envisioning and re-opening it as Terra Laguna Beach.