I spent this past weekend in downtown L.A. speaking at The Los Angeles Times Travel Show. I was on two panels: the first one took place on Friday during their trade day and was titled Using Social Media to Build Your Brand. I presented alongside of Jessica Marati, Social Media Manager of Gadling.com and our moderator was Lillian Africano, President, Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).
I also spoke both consumer days (Saturday and Sunday) on a panel titled Budget Tips for Savvy Travelers. I was joined by Gabe Saglie from TravelZoo and Brian Kelly of ThePointsGuy.com. Our moderator was Catherine Hamm, the Los Angeles Times’ travel editor, who is one of the most prolific newspaper travel writers.
One of the highlights, besides attending the annual speakers dinner with some of the most amazing travelers in the world like Rick Steves, Don George, Andrew McCarthy, Rudy Maxa, Josh Gates, Julia Dimon, Marybeth Bond and my wife Natalie DiScala was spending the weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles.
No, the Los Angeles Times did not put us up there. Instead I pulled some strings since I once spoke at a Ritz-Carlton annual conference attended by all of their GMs and owners from around the world. I basically got to live like a rock star for the weekend. To give you an idea how swanky the hotel is I created a post on 10 Reasons to Stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles.
1. It’s beautiful: It’s downtown L.A.’s coolest looking building and it towers 54-stories over the city’s horizon so you can’t miss it. Nor would you want to.
2. You will never be bored: It’s part of L.A. Live so it’s in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and there’s almost always something going on. Within a block of the hotel is the Staples Center (where the Lakers, Clippers and Kings play), the Nokia Theatre (used mainly for concerts), The Grammy Museum and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Not to mention a slew of restaurants.
3. Service: The Ritz-Carlton is known for its service and the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles does not disappoint. The moment you pull up, a couple valets will approach your car, open the doors and grab your bags. There was almost always a doorman assigned to the front door so you will rarely have to open it yourself.
4. The rooms: Even though The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE (the official name) is located in a 54-story tower it only operates 123 guestrooms. The hotel is mainly located between the 22nd and 26th floor. Because the hotel opened in 2010, everything is still new. The bed is über-comfortable (like all Ritz-Carltons) and the rooms have large flat screen TVs (I despise the remote control since it is slow to respond), a huge closet and free Wi-Fi.
5. The bathrooms: The bathrooms are made of marble and have a deep soaking tub big enough for two. There’s a separate shower with a rainfall shower head, anti-fog mirrors (one with a built in TV) and plenty of Asprey toiletry products.
6. The Views: The views from the hotel are outrageous and it’s surreal to wake up each morning and see the Hollywood sign.
7. Club Room: As invited guests, my wife Natalie and I had access to their 3,400 square-foot signature Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge. It’s located on the 23rd floor and usually costs $100 per room per night but it’s worth it if you plan on holing up in the hotel. That’s because it’s one of, if not the, nicest club room I’ve ever seen. Not only that but they offer four amazing food presentations throughout the day – breakfast, lunch, appetizers and desserts.
They have all kinds of drinks, cookies (including some seriously addictive chocolate macaroons) and nostalgic candies. On top of that the staff is amazing and they learn your name after the second day. It’s opened from 6am to 10pm.
8. Spa: The spa and a small fitness center are located on the 2nd floor. Natalie and I visited because we signed up for a 50-minute couple’s massage. You start to unwind the moment you arrive since they offer glasses of wine or champagne (or water). There are separate changing rooms but the Sanctuary waiting area is co-ed. It’s beautiful, clean, stocked with snacks and has big screen TVs with soothing Hawaii videos. But obviously, the best part of the experience is the massage and the heated tables and soft sheets.
9. WP24: We didn’t have time to eat at the hotel’s WP24 restaurant since we were busy with friends/colleagues. But celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has both a casual, sleek lounge area and a formal, more expensive dining room on the hotel’s 24th floor. Signature dishes include Chinese Spring Chive Crystal Dumplings, Alaskan King Crab, Gulf Shrimp, Kurobuta Pork and Chili “Dan Dan” Dumplings.
10. Pool: On the top floor is where you will find the swanky pool and a much larger fitness center. Even though we didn’t hang out there this past weekend, because we were busy and it was a tad chilly, the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles is not a bad place to be relaxing poolside.
Note: Finding the hotel’s entrance is a little confusing since it’s tucked around the side of the JW Marriott. The JW is the Ritz-Carlton’s sister property and they are owned by the same company (Marriott). That’s why you will sometimes see the two hotels sharing the same building, like in Orlando.
Given the impressive exterior of the building, visitors are surprised at how small the hotel lobby is – there are just a few chairs and a counter or two.
The Ritz-Carlton and JW are a popular business hotel since there’s over 100,000 square-feet of meeting and event space (mostly on the 3rd floor).
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