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 cabins , a restaurant , bar and swimming pool — with a telephone in every room .
Though he had previous experience running his father ’ s walk-up apartment buildings 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 Evans was 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 Evans ’ 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 corner of Mission Bay .
Because there were then two hotels , William Evans formulated another innovative idea : He wanted an alluring way to differentiate 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 he renovated and turned into a Mississippi-style sternwheeler that he named the Bahia Belle .
EVOLUTION AND EXPANSION Over time , both the Bahia Resort Hotel and the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa have expanded . The resorts ’ most dramatic changes are evident in the number of rooms available at each . By 1968 — 15 years after it first opened — the Bahia Resort
Clockwise from left : The Lodge at Torrey Pines ; couple walks the grounds at Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa ; the pool at Bahia Resort Hotel
Hotel had gradually expanded to contain its current 313 rooms . Similarly , a tower with 160 rooms was added to the Catamaran resort that same year . Two decades later , the resort was renovated again , increasing in size to 310 guestrooms . And the Bahia Belle received an update in the 1980s to increase capacity .
Aside from adding rooms , Anne Evans says she and her company have had to keep up with changes in expected amenities as well . “ The public ’ s expectations of what a hotel needs to be have changed a lot ,” she says , mentioning that they included only telephones when the Bahia hotel first opened . Of course , flat-screen TVs , wireless internet access and more were later added to the rooms . To keep improving accommodations for guests , the company continually reinvests its revenue into the hotels .
MISSION : BEACH ! 39