Six months ago, all there was of Destination Irvine's Rose Parade float, "Innovation Rocks!" was a concept drawing.  Gradually, the float took shape with the creative work of welders, sculptors, artists, floral designers, and even mechanics and engineers.  Finally, hundreds of volunteers covered the float in tiny seeds and fresh roses. 

Hilton IrvineIn Irvine, artists and architects have come together to transform three of its hotels, The Irvine Marriott, Hilton Irvine, and Embassy Suites Irvine.  With easy access to John Wayne Airport and the Irvine business district and only minutes from the beach and theme parks, the three offer all the amenities to make a stay comfortable and memorable.

IR float titlesBut first to the float.  Photographer Ramona Monteros took a lot of great shots of the moving, flower-covered sculpture that represented Irvine to 700,000 parade-goers and another 80 million viewers around the world.  The happy anteater and spinning gears charmed the audience as the bubble machines added an element of pure fun. 

The pictures tell the story

Innovation Rocks trio

Look for some of the touches floral designer Lyn Lofthouse mentioned in "Bringing ‘Innovation Rocks!' to Life" and "On with the Flowers": mums on the gears, delphinium shooting out of the taller flowers and Billy buttons and hyacinth root forming the centers of the low ones, the statice fur of Peter the Anteater.  Note also the use of roses and the delightful way chemistry and research are presented, as well as the handsome profile of UC Irvine's mascot. 

Peter profileThe Irvine Marriott began its $35 million remodel with the Great Room, reimagining the lobby to serve as a gathering place as well as an entry point for guests.  The work of local artists graces the space, which features alcoves and movable seating with a coastal vibe.  The tech-savvy M Club just off the Great Room will offer a modern take on the traditional concierge lounge.

Renovating 495 guest rooms and suites in two phases from August to October is the largest part of the project.  Meeting rooms, the fitness center and pool will also be updated.  The project is scheduled for completion in October.

The Embassy Suites Irvine is on track to complete the upgrade of its guest suites in early spring with a modern "California-fresh" look and vintage regional artwork.  The 10-story atrium will bring together communal areas and continue to offer daily complimentary breakfast and a hosted bar in the evening.  The meeting rooms and lobby are also being updated.  There will be more than 150 Wi-Fi access points throughout the hotel.  Peter smiling

The renovations in the Hilton Irvine, pictured here, include guest rooms, meeting space, exterior remodeling, a glass enclosure for the swimming pool, and a covered patio for outdoor meeting space.

Orange County in general and Irvine in particular have a multitude of offerings for travelers who come for business or pleasure.  The local hotels make sure their stay brings as big a smile as that anteater who glided down Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena last Friday.