FOUR SEASONS LOS ANGELES AT BEVERLY HILLS – led by GM David Wilkie, above – has done it again. This is the hotel that the owners, the Cohen family, first envisaged as a lesser-star establishment, with 16 floors of bedrooms, each one decorated with a cute little semi-circular balcony, wrought iron railing, just big enough to step out on to get fresh air. That changed before the 1987 opening. What became industry-setting Four Seasons has 285 keys, with double balconies.
The Cohens are into flowers and this is a floral hotel that happens to have beds, see below, and much else, including over-600 epitomal, anticipatory staff. All that has not changed. Along its way, however, the hotel has evolved. It has introduced the idea of an outside gym, partly covered against the elements and open 24/7. Its outdoor pool has become the main ‘private club’ for brokering big entertainment deals (question, are the five pool-side cabanas adequately sound-proofed?). On the food side, it was this hotel that first introduced Matthew Kenney and his plant-based concepts to the live-well world.
And that word ‘well’ is the latest trend-setter at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. About five years ago, then-GM Michael Newcombe was already deeply into navigating Four Seasons’ wellness at corporate level – he has since moved on, and out of ops, to concentrate wholly on keeping fitter longer. His legacy at the hotel, now masterminded by David Wilkie, is immense. Ana Cruz, the hotel’s dynamo marketing supremo, says that from the start of the wellness concept they knew an outside consultant would surely be needed, and the hotel partnered with New York-based Delos for its advanced air purification solutions.
The first Well rooms opened 2018 and now the entire fourth floor is, well, Well. Suite 406 is typical. Go in, to a neutral, taupe space, with hardwood floors except for a soft carpet under the bed. Both living room and bedroom have wall-set Rabbit Air HEPA/UB units constantly to purify air. Welcomes included a dark-black charcoal and coconut detox drink, surprisingly enjoyable, and a not-so-nice green juice (Girlahead hates drinking cucumber). The Bryte bed is monitored, separately either side by fixed tablets, to show sleep patterns (in Girlahead’s case, she climbed on to a bed with total of six large pillows, eyes closed automatically and only opened with the alarm from her iPhone charging in one of two USB ports below the bedhead fibre-optic light. There are other wellness ‘toys’, say a Peloton, a light-emitting thing similar to one Girlahead has at home, and a Siri-like ball that will play soft or loud waves. Talking of balls, there’s a red 10-kg weighted ball in the closet, alongside a yoga mat and a yoga ‘tube’.
For serious exercise, however, suite 406 is specially divine as it is exactly across the corridor from 405, now a Private Fitness Studio, free to those staying (at surcharges of $70-$100 per night), and available for others to book at $75 a slot. A named welcome note acknowledges you. As well as both a Pelaton bike and the Techno version, there was the latest Techno jogger but, joy of joys, there’s an elliptical-look sculpture, somewhat banana-shaped, that is a Hydrow rowing machine that encourages you to stay, row another kilometre and keep smiling.
The final – for now – element of this ‘be well’ initiative is mental wellness. What was room 420 is now Well Work. Similarly stripped of unnecessary fripperies, it too has hard-wood floor and a Rabbit. Other players in this theatre are a high table with six right-height stools, a wall-set desk with remote keyboard and device holders, ready to connect to a giant screen, a printer-scanner, and paper shredder. To humanise, a few books include a biography of Coco Chanel.
Downstairs, in the sprawling La Culina eating rooms and on two adjacent terraces, nutritional wellness abounds. Breakfast, for instance, includes ‘CA tonics and elixirs’, say Muscle Power (almond butter, banana, almond milk, cocoa nibs, honey); there’s an Acai Bowl, with granola, goji berries, blueberries, banana chia seeds, bee pollen, almond-honey drizzle. But is David Wilkie – a serious restaurateur who got to Four Seasons after years in the ops side of Gordon Ramsay – going to do something drastic? Watch this space.