Destination: California: Los Angeles
Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire
This landmark property emerged from a $35 million extreme makeover in the fall of 2006 not only looking younger and refreshed but with real style. That’s only fitting, since it’s situated at the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills’ shopping headquarters. Though the original Italian Renaissance–style lobby is, thankfully, intact, just about everything else was changed. The most obvious change was the arrival of Cut, Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse, open for dinner only. On nights when he’s not at another of his far-flung restaurants, the famous chef can be spotted walking the block and a half between this place and his flagship, Spago. Envisioned in a minimal style by Richard Meier (of Getty Center fame), Cut boasts Eames swivel chairs, an open kitchen and sky-high prices, including $160 for eight ounces of Wagyu beef from Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan. It’s also one of the toughest reservations around unless your name is Eddie Murphy or Jennifer Aniston. Sidebar, the more accessible lounge, serves Puck appetizers, including three mini Kobe sliders on brioche buns ($20). Also new is a stunning 8,500-square-foot spa that manages to look expensive and Zen at the same time, with walnut, etched-glass, alabaster and limestone details. Before you reach the ice fountain or the aromatherapy-crystal steam room, you pass a massive amethyst geode poised in front of a water wall of changing colors. If you book four or more hours of Personalized Time, putting yourself in the hands of a therapist who guides you through the menu of treatments and rituals, lunch is on the house.
The other eye-popper is the rooftop pool area, serene and modern, with two Moroccan beds and six new cabanas (complete with flat-screen TV, iPod and two fifteen-minute foot massages for the $175 weekday, $250 weekend daily rental fee). A state-of-the-art gym with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooks the pool area. Rooms in the original Wilshire Wing have all-marble bathrooms that include flat-screen TVs and furniture that is surprisingly au courant. Accommodations across the way in the Beverly Wing are a tad less spiffy, but their larger windows bathe the rooms in sunshine.
Montage Beverly Hills
Entrances in LA are closely observed, and when the Montage Beverly Hills made its debut on the scene in 2008, it did so with a dramatic flourish. Everything at the resort is done on a grand scale, from the no-expense-spared spa (a palatial 20,000 square feet) to the hand-painted ceilings in the public rooms, to the rooftop pool, which features arcing jets of water. The property’s Spanish Revival architecture, meant to evoke the 1920s, creates a dignified ambiance. Women may find the look slightly masculine (the earth-tone aesthetic extends to the coffee-colored bathrobes), but captains of industry will feel right at home. The 201 rooms and 55 suites are spacious and well-appointed, with overstuffed furniture and plenty of lavish touches. Even the smallest room (at 480 square feet) boasts a mosaic-tiled bathroom and a 42-inch flat-screen TV. My suite had Pratesi linens, a stocked wine rack in the living room and a shaving mirror inset into the wall of the marble shower. Under the leadership of managing director Ali Kasikci, formerly of the Peninsula Beverly Hills, the staff offers extravagant service. (When I got in my car, the valet offered to help me with my seatbelt.)
The top coup may be the resort’s Golden Triangle location on North Canon Drive, just off of Wilshire. Although LA is not much of a walking city, this is one spot where you’ll feel inclined to embark by foot—perhaps to Rodeo Drive (a few blocks away) or simply to Bouchon (just across the landscaped courtyard). But for a city resort, there is also plenty to do on site. The spa is so vast it is almost overwhelming. In addition to the 17 treatment rooms and the state-of-the-art fitness center, there are saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, Vichy showers, a Pilates and yoga studio and a full Kim Vo salon. Be sure to visit the coed relaxation area, which has a mineral pool and a stunning two-story, mosaic-tiled Moorish skylight. On-site restaurants include Parq, the fine-dining Muse, and the rooftop Conservatory Grill, which is a wonderful spot for breakfast or an alfresco lunch.
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