Byline: The Log Staff
LONG BEACH — A Newport Beach-based hospitality company has been hired to manage Queen Mary.
Evolution Hospitality, which manages several California hotels, took over managing duties Sept. 26 for the historic former ocean liner-turned-tourist attraction/hotel in Long Beach Harbor.
According to the company, Evolution Hospitality will oversee all aspects of operations for Queen Mary’s 314 staterooms, 80,000 square feet of meeting space, museum and attraction ticket sales, special event productions, retail outlets, and seven restaurants and bars.
“Our primary goal is to increase revenues in order to preserve this wonderful community tourism asset and international icon, as well as help it flourish,” said John Murphy, president of Evolution Hospitality. “Our team will focus on growing Queen Mary’s customer base and leveraging the considerable investments made in the ship’s facilities over the past several years.”
The city of Long Beach bought Queen Mary in 1967, and over the years has contracted with many firms to manage the hotel and attraction’s operations, and the 45 acres of waterfront property adjacent to the historic vessel.
New York-based hospitality group Delaware North Companies was hired by the current Queen Mary lease operators, Garrison Investment Group, in 2009 to manage day-to-day operations of the ship. Delaware North Companies announced in April that it would be ending its relationship with Queen Mary, moving Garrison to find a new hospitality firm.
Matt Greene, regional director of operations for Evolution Hospitality and general manager of the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, will oversee the transition and ongoing operations for the ship.
“We recognize how truly iconic Queen Mary is — there’s simply nothing else like it — and we’re excited to be a part of the team that supports the ship,” Greene said. “We plan to build upon all that has been achieved previously at Queen Mary and are ready to apply our management expertise, tools and technology, and servant leadership philosophy to the ship, its guests and associates, and the Long Beach community at large.”
In 2010, Delaware North Companies oversaw $5 million in upgrades to Queen Mary instituted by Garrison, which included room refurbishment, upgrades to the onboard restaurants and bars, and improvement to the ship’s elevators, electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems.
The lease operation of Queen Mary has changed hands several times over the years, as many investors have failed to meet renovation and improvement goals for the ship.
Garrison Investment Group took over the vessel’s lease Jan. 28, 2009, after no responses were received to an ad in the Wall Street Journal seeking a new leaseholder. The company — which had been a silent partner with the former leaseholder, Save the Queen — gained full control of the vessel/hotel’s operations and development rights to property next to the ship.
Prior to Garrison’s control, Save the Queen had taken over the lease from the ship’s former operator, Queen’s Seaport Development Co., when it filed for bankruptcy. Save the Queen put the lease up for sale when it ran into financial trouble.
Save the Queen had won the lease for the vessel in 2007 when O&S Holdings, a competing bidder, announced it would not top Save the Queen’s $43 million offer.
The team behind Evolution Hospitality has operated hotel assets for several decades.