The gal went to a fascinating presentation at the recent Preferred Hotel Group meeting showing how a good photograph can be made even better, and this pool shot of what is now the luxury Diplomat Resort and Spa Hollywood, Curio Collection by Hilton, is a perfect example of the best. It makes you want to rush there, and into the pool. Why ‘now’, you may ask? Until November 2014 this was Westin. Two months earlier, however, the 998-room beach-set hotel had been purchased by Thayer Lodging who decided they wanted a non-brand, or what is called a ‘soft’ brand. They liked locking into Hilton’s distribution platform so the hotel lost its Westin tag and became Curio, sibling to only a couple of other hotels (one is SLS Las Vegas).
General Manager Ed Walls, a Public Administration graduate, must have needed all those discipline skills at this stage. He had six weeks to switch the property from Starwood’s Westin to Hilton’s Curio. Thousands of items, from coasters to pens, needed taking away, and others brought in. He was helped by his marketing team, which includes another of my new friends, Judy Ericksen. Of his 1,110-strong team, over 200 have been here since the hotel opened in 2002 – they call themselves the Founders Club (I am sure bellman Martin is one of those, he could not have been more helpful when I was later checking out, somewhat stupidly at 12 noon which is just when you should NEVER check-out as that is maximum-people-time).
The 36 floors are in a C-formation. 2471 is a lovely spacious corner suite, with a balcony that allows great, if somewhat vertigo-inducing, views of the sunrise, and, much later, the sunset. This was going to be a busy day, I knew, and I wanted to make the most of every minute. I headed first for the gym, a two-floor futuristic affair in the adjacent convention centre. I can always tell when a hotel’s boss is a fitness freak – Ed Walls is a semi-professional cyclist as it turns out – and here the excellent LifeFitness equipment is complemented by plenty of Pilates balls, kettle and other weights and straps, and a good supply of disposable headphones. The gym is also, thoughtfully, open 24/7.
The Concierge Club on the 33rd floor has a massive terrace, and many were happy breakfasting there, though if you want the full works you need to head for the luxury hotel’s main floor Café, where an egg white omelette option comes with avocado, a great taste combination – I think back to the tempura-ed avocado in Pebble Beach. Another great dining venue here, by the way, is the evening-only Rivals sports bar, overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway: sit outside, or inside by pool tables and/or televisions, and feast on those barbecued chicken thighs or grilled salmon tranches to your heart’s content.