Question: When does anything these days exceed your expectations?
Well, this grand Dame sure did. The hotel literally blew us away. With a 35 million dollar face lift (that buys a whole lot of Botox) the hotel had just finished freshening up its’ previously somewhat staid interior with several dramatic but pleasing make-over’s.
The impeccably trained staff was all exceedingly gracious and anxious to help. We’d go downstairs each morning with our agenda of places we wanted to check-out, grab a complimentary cup of coffee and pastry for brekkie by the pool, then return to the concierge who would have all our stops geographically plotted with almost fool-proof directions (she understood that we were “special” and thoughtfully avoided freeways whenever possible) so that we only got lost one time- a new world record for us.
We loved all the colors. Snappy limeade loungers circled the gorgeous upstairs saline pool (no more burning eyes) with enough patio space so you could sun with some privacy. Indoors, there were gorgeous flower arrangements in every nook and hotel cranny, while lush gardens held outdoor space hostage: think bougainvillea, orange trees and succulents –all newly styled out. Bob Cohen’s (a co-owner of the hotel) previous life revolved around the florist trade, so who would know better that a properly placed donkey tail speaks visual volumes.
Culina- Hot new Italian resto
After spreading out in our spacious two-room suite newly (and tastefully) decorated in Hollywood’s finest Glam-style, we threw on our “blacks” and joined the beautiful peeps at the Four Seasons’ new cosmopolitan Italian resto, Culina (Latin for kitchen.) The menu easily zigzags between traditional and modern offerings with the common denominator being the usage of superior ingredients- such as the finest aged balsamics, special private-label olive oil, homemade pastas and breads, artisanal salumi and a burrata peperonata to die for. After hearing our rather heated debate over which crudo to try, our peacemaking waiter quickly stepped in (without a hint of eye-rolling) and suggested a tasting platter we could all share. Just a few of the menu standouts we enjoyed were the paper-thin, truffle/fontina pizza, the Chilean sea bass with wild mushroom risotto and the humongous veal chop dressed with a zingy arugula/tomato salad. The wine list is amazing-not only due to the fact that they carry over 200 mostly wines, but that almost all of them are also offered by the carafe, ( basically a half-bottle) making it easy to put together your own wine-pairing dinner, ending with one of their unique dessert wines.
Culina’s manager stopped by to see if we were happy (oh, yes!) and told us that even though it was still their opening week, they already had “regulars” that were rapidly filling up the reservation book. But no worries, the restaurant seats around 235, widely spread out between the dining room, outdoor garden and convivial crudo bar. Unfortunately, we were previously committed for Sunday brunch so I could only do a calorie-free walk-through, but OMG what a spread! Not one, but two rooms were laden with tempting delicacies, from impeccably fresh sushi to hot donuts surrounded by a variety of dipping sauces.
Time for R & R
Later that afternoon, after a refreshing dip in the pool, I escaped to the sanctuary of the well-appointed spa to try their signature Fire and Ice facial by IS Clinical. My skilled therapist, Dallas, confided that if she had her way she’d only do this treatment, since the results are so amazing. (I begged her to name-drop a few of the “star” faces she had smoothed, but her lips were sealed as tight as my skin looked after this incredible age-defying facial.)
One of the most endearing things about this hotel was that with all the razzle dazzle,(we were told they had hosted the bulk of the Oscar nominees the previous week) we commoners were also made to feel extremely welcome. By day two, my Sis was ordering the complimentary limo to take her to Rodeo Drive like it was her nabe convenience store.