The new normal is dramatically redefining the luxury landscape in Southern California. From West Hollywood’s fabled Chateau Marmont to Newport Beach’s oceanside Lido House and beyond, architects and designers are reassessing amenities, adapting spaces, and redefining business models in unexpected ways to meet changing lifestyles and needs.
—by David Graver
The charming Autograph Collection hotel typifies the extent to which a property’s team will go to accommodate clientele. “Our first priority has been to make sure our guests and associates are safe,” Lido House owner Bob Olson says. “Our second priority has been to normalize, as best as possible and in a safe manner, the guest services we already provide.” This has meant rearranging seating, developing new reservation systems, and adjusting capacity for their pool and rooftop lounge experience. It’s also meant delivering takeout from their onsite restaurant to guest rooms and even outside dining locations on the premises. Safe, socially distant access to what they’re known for is the most sought-after amenity.
Olson says the ability to pivot to meet the shifting, strict guidelines of state and county officials has been the real task at hand—and to do so without interrupting service or decreasing the quality of the experience provided is a necessity. Lido House’s efforts have yielded unexpected benefits. In addition to being one of the top-performing hotels in the region, it’s welcomed guests from as nearby as three miles, receiving locals who are looking for a secure getaway and a comfortable change of pace.
High-end properties are finding creative ways to enhance health and safety.
Acclaimed hotelier André Balazs has taken a protective step toward even greater exclusivity at his iconic West Hollywood wonderland, Chateau Marmont. With the understanding that 70 percent of the hotel’s guests pre- pandemic were repeat customers (and that the top 100 guests generated the majority of room revenue), Balazs has begun to transition the property to a “members- owned” hotel. In other words, guests now have a stake in the property itself.
Buying into a portion of the hotel comes with tangible attributes: Guest-owners will have access to private dining areas and to dedicated staff trained to domestic (not commercial) service standards, as well as the ability to leave things on the grounds for extended periods as they come and go. It harks back to Chateau’s early days as a residence. What’s more, Balazs sees this model expanding elsewhere into his illustrious portfolio.
He believes that safety is paramount to the guest experience, and it can be ensured through this sort of partnership with guests.
SAN VICENTE BUNGALOWS
Though not member-owned, hotelier Jeffrey Klein’s San Vicente Bungalows are still for members only. The cozy collection of historic L.A. bungalows recently underwent a six-year-long, $50 million renovation. A portion of that was dedicated to the exquisite gardens at the property’s heart. It is there that one can bask in the attribute that Klein—best known for breathing life into the iconic (and nearby) Art Deco–influenced Sunset Tower Hotel—finds to be the most important amenity: privacy, a priority now more than ever.
THE WEST HOLLYWOOD EDITION
A little over a year and a half old, The West Hollywood EDITION continues to adapt through new comfort- driven experiences. For instance, anyone who books a suite-category room at this chic urban resort is now guaranteed an on-demand “home office” (which includes a monitor, HDMI cable, printer, and support for installation), as well as access to Technogym in-room travel fitness gear (including a mat, roller, and resistance bands). This new suite experience amplifies their preexisting luxury extras, including their proprietary EDITION by Le Labo scented toiletries and even an updated snack and beverage selection. This was the 10th EDITION property by hotelier Ian Schrager—of Studio 54 fame—and Marriott. As with all the others, elevated comfort is key.
The EDITION also offers the opportunity for permanent living in 20 one-to-four-bedroom residences, unique 1,000-to-6,000-plus-square-foot living spaces with outdoor terraces of up to 1,000 square feet that offer magnificent views of L.A. Owners enjoy the amenities of the hotel and at the same time a fully private experience, including a private entrance, residents-only concierge, 24-hour doormen, onsite manager, and residents-only rooftop pool and sundeck.
One might wonder whether some of these amenities would have emerged if not for the pandemic. And some are easier to understand than others—a desire for more outdoor spaces, for example. This point is certain, however: Properties will continue to innovate and find creative ways to enhance safety, from the use of materials with antibacterial properties to developing schedules for shared facilities. Undoubtedly, preserving and promoting health will be embedded into luxury requests long beyond the foreseeable future.