My father purchased the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica in 1983 and I had the privilege of growing up in and around an LA institution that, as Hollywood's ocean front hotel, had a long history of being a hideaway for high profile figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Bill Clinton, Tom Cruise, Diane Keaton, Madonna and Sean Penn.
Before my father passed away in 2006 I secured his blessing to carry out a multi-million renovation of the hotel. The Shangri-La had given so much to both the Los Angeles community and visitors from all over the world for over 7 decades that I felt it was time for us to put something back into her.
The renovation of the hotel was also a metaphor for rejuvenation and transformation in my own life and in my family, as well as part of my personal journey to reconcile the dichotomies in my life as a mother, entrepreneur and a lover of art and culture who has lived on several different continents.
I had four mandates for the renovation of this unique landmark:
1. To maintain the architectural integrity of the building while bringing in modern amenities and not making it another ubiquitous modern hotel.
2. To reclaim Santa Monica's roots and reputation as being a luxury destination and having an underground street cultural edge, Santa Monica being one of the origins of surf and skate culture.
3. To create a nexus of popular and alternative culture in the lineage of the Bloomsbury Set, Andy Warhol's Factory and following the lineage of the famous French salons of the 17th and 18th centuries.
4. The reconciliation of dichotomies: we all have conflicting interests and desires in our life, and the Shangri-La would be a place from where you can go shopping with your girlfriends, to hanging out by the pool or beach with your kids, to having a zen experience overlooking the ocean and doing sunset tai chi or sunrise yoga, to having an amazing sensual experience with your lover in the sexy and elegant guestrooms. The Shangri-La would be the place where you would be able to do indulge in all these seemingly disparate activities.
Given that the Shangri-La's location is superb, I knew the rooms and amenities had to keep pace with it. The custom interior 71-rooms are complimented by a rooftop bar with stunning views of the Southern California coastline, ocean-view dining in our restaurant, our custom designed penthouse rock n roll suite, and a luxury courtyard complete with pool, hot tub and fire pit.
My goal is that our much-valued Shangri-La guests experience the romance, vibrancy and tranquility that the hotel represents for me. It gives me a sense of pride and humility to know that my renovation of the historic Hotel Shangri-La has ensured the preservation and long-term health one of California's true cultural gems.