Irvine Company’s 1,700 layoffs mostly hit staff at 3 hotels, resorts

Among those were workers at Donald Bren-led firm's shuttered Hotel Irvine and Fashion Island Hotel

TRD LOS ANGELES /
Oct.October 07, 2020 03:37 PM
Donald Bren Hotel Irvine and Fashion Island Hotel (Credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, and Google Maps)
Donald Bren, Hotel Irvine and Fashion Island Hotel (Credit: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images, and Google Maps)

Real estate investment and development juggernaut Irvine Company has laid off 1,700 employees since the coronavirus took hold, with most of those cuts affecting workers at three hotels and resorts in Orange County.

The layoffs — reported to the state in August through WARN notices — include 698 employees at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, 372 workers at Fashion Island Hotel in Newport Beach, and 317 workers at the Hotel Irvine.

The notices indicated that the layoffs took place in May and were made permanent. The affected workers included room cleaning staff, banquet servers, bartenders, cooks, and “customer experience agents.”

The Hotel Irvine and Fashion Island Hotel remain closed.

Also let go were 106 workers at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine, including practice facility attendants and kitchen staff. Another 103 workers who held various office positions at a research park at the University of California at Irvine were laid off, along with 64 employees at Irvine Company’s office in Newport Beach.

Each notice states the layoffs are “permanent and there is no collective bargaining agreement in place with any employees,” in contrast to many Southern California hotels whose workers are union members.

In April, hundreds of Irvine Company workers were notified they would lose their jobs because of Covid-related closures at its hotels and retail spaces, the Orange County Register reported. At the time, it was not known how long those layoffs would last.

Numerous hotels throughout Orange County are closed or have few guests as the pandemic continues to batter the industry, said Alan Reay, a hotel broker at Atlas Hospitality Group in Irvine.

A spokesperson for Newport Beach-based Irvine Company declined to comment on a layoff count that officially totals 1,681.

The company is led by 88-year-old Donald Bren, who Forbes calls America’s “richest real estate baron” with a net worth of $15.4 billion. Bloomberg estimates his net worth has declined $1.2 billion in the past year. But the company has greatly expanded since he led a takeover of the firm in 1977. Irvine Company’s website says it has 125 million square feet of holdings, including 560 office buildings, and 40 retail centers.

The privately-held firm was thought to have close to 17,000 employees, according to reports, though sources close to the company say that figure is generous. The company also has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.


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