Evans Mission Bay Magazine Issue 2 - Page 35

Clockwise from top: The Lodge at Torrey Pines; a bay- view room and patio at Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa; the beach at Bahia Resort Hotel and one of the company’s two stern- wheeler boats (in the distance) expansion over the last few decades and a steady stream of guests all point to a suc- cessful enterprise with no signs of slowing anytime soon. The company announced in late 2015 that it would partner with SeaWorld to explore the opportunity of building a hotel at the theme park in Mission Bay. Even with these grand plans on the horizon, sometimes looking back on the journey from humble beginnings is the best part. THE EARLY YEARS In the mid-1940s, a Chamber of Commerce committee suggested developing Mission Bay as a recreational area to draw tourists and broaden the city’s mostly military-based economy. “The city issued a formal request for proposal, inviting developers to apply to lease land to build a hotel,” Evans says. Her late husband and co-founder, William Evans, decided to apply to construct 52 beach cab- ins, a restaurant, bar and swimming pool— with a telephone in every room. Though he had previous experience run- ning his father’s walk-up apartment build- ings and managing a fraternity house at the University of Southern California, the Bahia Resort Hotel was the first property Evans developed; it opened in 1953 after the Evanses were awarded the first long-term lease on Mission Bay, which was mainly marshland and mud flats at the time. “Not everyone could see what Mission Bay was going to be, but he could,” Evans says. Eventually, crews would dredge 25 million cubic yards of sand and silt to create the land areas of Mission Bay Park. In those early days, as work on the hotels progressed, Evans shares that her husband went around to older neighborhoods offering to remove their pesky palm trees. Remove them he did—and the trees have grown with the Bahia Resort Hotel ever since. The Bahia was the Evanses’ only hotel until the owners of the Braemar estate, a mansion belonging to the Scripps family, offered to lease land to Evans Hotels in 1958. The following year saw the opening of the Catamaran Hotel (the name later changed to the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa)—an 82-room inn on the northwest cor- ner of Mission Bay. Because there were then two hotels, William Evans formulated another innova- tive idea: He wanted an alluring way to dif- ferentiate the properties, to transport guests from one hotel to the other and to increase event space for both properties. His solution was the purchase of a 45-foot ferry boat that 35