Long Beach History Comes Alive As Breakers Hotel Becomes Fairmont Breakers Long Beach 

The former Breakers International Hotel – now Fairmont Breakers Long Beach, planning to reopen this summer – has been a landmark in downtown Long Beach since it first opened nearly 100 years ago, in 1926.

Pacific6 Enterprises, led by John Molina, purchased the building in 2017, after a retirement home operating in the former hotel lost its license. Molina’s dream was to return the hotel to its former glory, when it was owned by Conrad Hilton (the Hilton Breakers) and attracted Hollywood stars from Elizabeth Taylor to Cary Grant to John Wayne to Babe Ruth to … you get the picture.

Why should Sunstone Management, Inc., care about a historic building in Long Beach?

“These are the types of projects that Sunstone believes in – economic development, historic preservation, job creating – that enrich communities,” said John Keisler, CEO and managing partner at Sunstone. “It’s basic to the Sunstone philosophy to work with property owners and developers to help with government program support and private investors to help make these special projects a reality.

“Besides, it’s a great story!”

Speaking of great stories, most Breakers Long Beach history tales begin with the event that happened on May 31, 1928. That’s when Charles Lindbergh, flying the Spirit of St. Louis from Arizona to LA on the way to San Francisco, got lost off the Pacific coast in heavy fog. Around 3 a.m., he spied a “B” shining through the clouds and headed towards it. The B was the first letter in the “Breakers” sign on top of the 15-story hotel.

Runway lights were lit at Long Beach’s Daugherty Field (opened just five years earlier), Lindbergh landed and was taken to the Breakers Long Beach to rest before continuing his trip. By the time he left the hotel, it took a police escort to get Lindbergh through the crowd of hundreds of people there to get a glimpse of the famous flyer.

Keeping stories like this alive is why Molina convinced his Pacific6 partners to buy the hotel building when it was in dire straits. Bernard Rosenson, operating as Sign of the Dove, had lost his license to run a retirement home operating at the hotel, and other proposed uses caused a public outcry.

“Look, all the guys who formed Pacific6 are longtime residents,” Molina said. “Three of us were born in Long Beach and three moved here many years ago and raised families here.

“People don’t realize just how unique the Breakers is,” he added. “I’d actually been chasing it for 10 or 12 years before we bought it. We’re restoring it in part to give back. There’s nothing like it in Long Beach.”

While Rosenson had kept the iconic Sky Room restaurant operating on the top floor of the hotel/senior residence, much of the building suffered from “deferred maintenance.” It had been named a Long Beach historic landmark, but hadn’t made its way to the state or national Historic Registers – a goal for Molina and his partners.

“We bought it for the same reason Conrad Hilton bought it in 1938,” partner Todd Lemmis said. “We saw Long Beach convention goers and the community at large sorely in need of a hotel with higher-end amenities and accommodations. We were losing business because Long Beach lacked a luxury hotel, so we decided to fill that gap by resurrecting the Breakers in all its glory.”

Historical preservation and restoration can bring tax breaks and other incentives. It does mean meeting government requirements, though.

“We wanted to keep as much in place as we can,” Molina said. “But we have to make it modern too, to make it a viable, sustainable business. We’ve had long and detailed conversations with the National Parks Service over what we can and can’t do.”

The construction schedule has stretched, primarily because of the COVID pandemic, and the costs have ballooned. But Molina said he was pleased with the result. The lobby level is essentially intact, but the floors of rooms had to be gutted and rebuilt from scratch.

“We had to laser measure all the floors,” he said. “None of the blueprints were accurate at all. When you opened up a wall, you never knew what you were going to get.”

In mid-2022, the luxury brand Fairmont Hotels and Resorts was announced as the operating partner. Work continues on the final touches, Molina said, and the Fairmont team is being assembled. There’s no specific opening date set yet, but it will be this summer.

Keisler said Sunstone Management is looking forward to that day.

“We love to work with property owners and developers to help with the partnership with government programs and private investors to make these special projects a reality,” Keisler said. “And the Keisler Family has a long history in the city going back to the 1940s – so it is great to give back to Long Beach!”

We will continue to give you an inside look at the progress of Fairmont Breakers Long Beach – and Pacific6’s twin historic preservation project at the Ocean Center Building – in the coming months.

To learn more about Sunstone, go to www.sunstoneinvestment.com.

© Sunstone Management Inc., 2024


About Sunstone Management  

Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors. The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall. 

Connect with Sunstone Management at: 

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Crunchbase | Pitchbook  

News and Press Release

Startup Resources

We are passionate about supporting tech entrepreneurs like you by presenting an array of resources. Each resource is capable of assisting with the various stages of you venture, please review and explore the relevant programs that best suits your situation.

Sunstone Community Fund

The Sunstone Community Fund is committed to catalyzing partnerships that create economic opportunities for startup founders and communities throughout the United States. That’s just one of the reasons why we choose to give back to the community.