How miserable is San Diego’s hotel and convention business these days? So bad, apparently, that the grand old Hotel del Coronado has gone to court against a big Washington, D.C., law firm for canceling a posh partner retreat scheduled for five days at the end of April. In a complaint filed two weeks ago in superior court here, the Del, managed by KSL Resorts of La Quinta, alleges that Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, signed a contract in July 2007 to “utilize 877 sleeping nights at the Hotel” for rates ranging from $295 to $895 per night, plus tax. The deal also required Akin Gump to plunk down “not less than $166,870” plus taxes and a 22 percent service charge for drinks and banquet food. The complaint says that if the law firm wanted to cancel out between 91 and 180 days prior to arrival, the contract required it to pay “liquidated damages in the amount of eighty percent” of the room and banquet figures, along with taxes and service charges. The hotel says Akin Gump gave notice on December 24 of last year that it wouldn’t be checking in, and so the law firm now owes $385,950, in addition to the $40,000 deposit already made, plus 1.5 percent monthly interest until the bill is paid in full.
James Leary, Akin Gump’s executive director, told American Lawyer magazine that he’d tried to work with the hotel to reach a settlement. “I got on a plane and flew cross country to start negotiations face to face. We are surprised and disappointed it has come to this point. We got no warning they decided to file a lawsuit.” According to reports, the firm canceled out because it would be “unseemly” to take off for a luxury getaway by the sea, especially since 65 employees had just been laid off. It now plans to conduct a scaled-down one-day retreat in Washington. … Democrat Lori Saldaña, serving her last term in the state assembly, has already set up a campaign committee to run for a spot on the State Board of Equalization. Now, apparently taking no chances, she has registered an additional fund-raising vehicle: Lori Saldaña for Senate 2012. According to the filing, Saldaña is taking aim at District 39, where the seat is now held by her fellow termed-out Democrat Christine Kehoe.