Stu Rowland has sung in public once, but he's already gotten rave notices about his performance.
Fifty-three, to be exact.
Rowland, a La Quinta resident, is among the contestants in the Shorebreak Hotel's Singing for an Upgrade competition, in which the hotel staff films guests singing pop songs and posts their videos on Facebook. Whoever gets the most votes wins a two-night stay later this year at the Shorebreak and the other four Southern California properties owned by Joie de Vivre Hotels.
Rowland, who harmonized with a friend on Katy Perry's "California Gurls," has gotten 53 votes. That places him far behind front-runner Caitlyn Courcier, whose take on the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice" leads with 173, but he hopes to rally more friends to vote online.
"You should see that number going up soon," said Rowland, who works as a golf course superintendent and often ventures to Huntington for its beaches.
Since May 16, the Joie de Vivre properties — Shorebreak, Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach, Hotel Erwin in Venice and Hotel Angeleno in Los Angeles — have offered a room upgrade to the first guest every day to sing on camera. (The Custom Hotel in Los Angeles is expected to join the program later this summer.) Guests who come after the upgrade has been awarded can still create a video for the Facebook competition.
Shorebreak General Manager Marco Perry got the idea for Singing for an Upgrade after a front desk clerk had a brainstorm. Earlier this year, he said, a twentysomething couple checked in and asked for a room upgrade but didn't want to pay extra for it.
The clerk then handed them an umbrella from behind the desk and told them that they would get an upgrade if they sang "Singin' in the Rain" in the lobby.
"The guy did it," Perry said. "There were people from the restaurant and bar who came out to see."
Each customer who agrees to be filmed receives a list of five possible songs, which, at different hotels, includes the Doors' "Light My Fire," Village People's "Y.M.C.A." and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire." Online voting will close Sept. 30.
The hotel, Perry said, offers songs from different generations to lure as many contestants as possible. For Rowland, "California Gurls" was an easy choice.
"That was the only one we could remember the melody to," he said.
Singing for an Upgrade
Where: Shorebreak Hotel, 500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach
When: Guests can sing for the camera any time day or night
Information: (714) 861-4470