The Regent Beverly Wilshire. Always a pretty woman. - Click to Enlarge
Beverly Hills, California: Anticipation. That's what you feel every time the doorman holds open the lobby door of The Regent Beverly Wilshire. Better have your camera ready. After all, this could be your lucky day, the day when the Dalai Lama is sipping afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge, or Larry King and a former U.S. President are feasting on Lobster Napoleon in The Dining Room.
But of all the celebrated guests, perhaps no one in recent history has brought more added fame to The Regent Beverly Wilshire than "Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts. Where did she stay ask fans. (The Presidential Suite.) Has she been here recently they want to know. (Yes.) Somehow, Roy Orbison's familiar refrain is still fresh in our minds: "Pretty woman. Come walk on by. Pretty woman give me the eye."
Since 1928 people have been giving the eye to what was then the Beverly Wilshire Apartment Hotel. Built on the site of the Beverly Auto Speedway, picnickers in the Roaring Twenties flocked to the Model T Ford races on Sunday afternoons. But you might say they really raced to the opening of the Beverly Wilshire Apartment Hotel, the highest building in town. Its extravagant four million dollar Wilshire Wing featured white Cararra marble and Tuscany stone, Corinthian columns, glass mosaic skylights, fireplaces and connecting roof gardens. Another crowd pleaser was the hotel's El Camino Real (Royal Road), a private cobblestone driveway created by Italian masters and lined with thirty-eight gaslight lanterns imported from a castle in Edinburgh. No wonder even back then the Beverly Wilshire was not thought of as a hotel, but rather as an experience.
|And yet with all the hoopla, Beverly Hills was nothing much to cheer about in the Jazz Age, not even the hotel's famed address of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. In the 1920s and far from luxe or sophistication, Wilshire looked like a country road, while Rodeo Drive was a cowpath. In fact, as far back as 1906, Beverly Hills was all swampland and bean fields, although its streets were palm-lined giving it its lasting trademark.
Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. The world's most famous intersection.
Click to Enlarge
During that era the city had fewer than one thousand residents (Today there are 33,000 and 200,000 visitors per day.), and Hollywood was the only town famous for movie stars. But in 1925 a subtle change occurred when actor Will Rogers became the first and only honorary mayor of Beverly Hills. Three years later, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were the first stars to buy property in the desolate town. Today Pickfair, once their private dream house, can be spotted on a movie star map.
But if 1928 was a year to remember, skip way ahead to 1970 when the hotel's contemporary Beverly Wing opened with its underground parking for 800 cars, 1,000 seat grand ballroom, and Mediterranean-style pool.
Both the Beverly and Wilshire wings were connected by a domed Porte cochere that has welcomed the most famous guests in the world. Prince Charles heads the list of royalty, while America's "king" Elvis Presley always stayed in the Presidential Suite. Yet nobody tops the eleven years that actor Warren Beatty took up residence in the Veranda Suite with its own private stairway entrance, as well as a private rooftop terrace with spectacular city views.
Always the center of glamour and eminence, the hotel has a Spa and Fitness Center with packages from the Men's Revitalizer to Wedding Day Bliss. But for a very special meal, try The Dining Room. Award winning in food, ambiance and décor, the establishment features California cuisine with Italian influences.
Traveling with kids two through twelve? Enroll them in the "Comforts of Home" amenity program and they'll receive everything from a stuffed toy animal and personalized teddy bear t-shirt to milk and cookies on a silver tray.
In 1985, Regent International purchased the property, and since 1992 the Four Seasons has taken over the management. But no matter the owner or time, the hotel has remained steeped in status. Seventy-three years have passed along with a whopping $135 million spent in renovations, and today's lobby is even more sumptuous with marble floors and soaring columns, paintings by Verhoven and tapestries by Aubusson.
Totaling 395 deluxe rooms in two distinctive wings, 120 are suites overlooking the pool. Rates begin at $385 for a Superior Room, while the "Pretty Woman" Presidential Suite runs $5,500 per night in the Wilshire Wing, and offers 4,000-square feet, all in the manner of a European palace. There you'll find hardwood floors, roman columns, high ceilings, antiques throughout, plus two bedrooms and a lavish master bath with Italian marble and views of the city.
The 5,000-square foot Penthouse Suite for only $7,500 a
night. Click to Enlarge
|Not large enough? Try the 5,000-square foot Penthouse Suite ($7,500 a night) on the top floor of the Beverly Wing. Amenities include: floor to ceiling windows, a wrap around balcony with 360 degree views, three large bedrooms, Italian marble bath, roman columns, Venetian glass chandeliers all in stylized deco.
Vacationers to Beverly Hills know there are many sleek hotels, but only one borders on the world's most famous intersection - Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. Walk along Rodeo Drive's shopping Mecca, and you won't find it hard to spend your money at Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Vitton, Harry Winston, Gucci, and Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few. Stroll over to the eye-appealing retail center on 2 Rodeo Drive, ascend the cobblestone steps, and rub elbows with "Official Ambassador" Greg Donovan, the renown former butler to comedian Bob Hope. Donovan will take time to gossip and then point you in all the right directions.
Only ten minutes away is The Museum of the Holocaust, along with The Shubert Theatre, The Museum of Television and Radio, and The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center. Thirty minutes from Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive is Staples Arena, home of the LA Lakers, LA Clippers, and the LA Kings, The Museum of Natural History, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion which has housed the Academy Awards, The Hollywood Bowl, Universal Studios, and of course Disneyland. The airport is also a half hour away and costs $35 for a taxi or $94 for a limo ride to the hotel.
Cameras ready? As the doorman opens the lobby door of the Regent Beverly Wilshire, you might catch a glimpse of Elton, Mick or even Julia. Then again, you may be surprised to see someone checking in with a dog. You might think that elite treatment is limited to celebrities and royalty, but not so for the "King Fido." As a hotel guest, he'll be dining on a silver tray with some Evian on the side. Throw in a linen napkin, squeaky toy and a long-stemmed rose, and you'll get a clue as to how well the staff treats everyone whether they're on two legs or four legs. Wow? You say. No, make it bow wow.
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Where to stay in Beverly Hills:
The Regent Beverly Wilshire
9500 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA. 90212
or outside California call: 800-421-4354
Special Offers from the Regent Beverly Wilshire include SHOPPING, CHAMPAGNE, SHIATSU AND SUPER VALUE FOR 2001. Savings include 35-50% off.
BEVERLY HILLS SHOPPING EXPERIENCE offers accommodations in either the Wilshire or Beverly Wing, arrival champagne and strawberries, a $100 certificate at some of the finest retailers in Beverly Hills including Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. Stay in the Wilshire Wing's One Bedroom Suite at $525 per night, including added amenities for a 50% savings.
SPA INDULGENCE PACKAGE pampers the guest upon arrival in a Regent Deluxe or Deluxe View guestroom with two plush and personally monogrammed terry robes, and a $400 credit for the full-service Spa and Salon. Rejuvenate with a choice of massages, body wraps and facials designed to revitalize the mind, body, and soul. $1,295 for two nights includes tax and gratuities.
ROMANTIC ESCAPE welcomes visitors with a bottle of champagne and strawberries, along with roses, soothing aromatherapy candle and bath salts and two personally monogrammed terry bathrobes. A deep-soaking tub, marble bathrooms and the stylish elegance of a Regent Suite runs $625 including tax and gratuities.
BED AND BREAKFAST features the convenience and added value of a full American breakfast each morning in The Dining Room or in the privacy of a Deluxe guestroom. Values begin at $450 per night for the Deluxe category.
More about Beverly Hills? Call the Beverly Hills Visitors Bureau. 310-248-1015. Ask for a walking tour of the city with the official Beverly Hills Ambassadors.
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"The LIVEWIRE" for Travel
Watch. Former President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, and created the national writers conference, "The Days of Wine &
She is a travel and entertainment reporter living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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