We’ve rearranged the furniture — or at least have turned our heads to an alternative wall in the room. In fact, climbing the walls now is a potentially viable option: It’s good exercise while our gyms and recreational facilities are closed. We may have even decided to enjoy our spouses (dogs, kids, housekeepers) more instead of killing them because they chew/walk/vacuum/exist too loudly. It’s amazing how important “pivoting” has proven to be during COVID.
“As time has gone on, the world has just had to hunker down at home and that is beginning to get very wearing on people,” Jeff Morris of the West Hollywood Travel and Tourism Board understates on a very socially distanced Zoom call.
Luckily, Morris and the board’s CEO Tom Kiely have some reprieve for West Hollywood residents and all those across the Golden State: Stay in one of the fine hotels here in WeHo for a change of scene, while staying safe and saving some coin. You can travel and enjoy West Hollywood, enjoying it responsibly while “still having a change of pace and just getting out and having somebody taking care of you,” Morris tells me.
Quite a safe and practical option, right? A change of scene, a change of pace. Some dinner, drinks, and pampering. And all without having to deal with airports and airplanes, and the 14-day quarantine required before you leave your hotel room if you vacay out of the country.
In fact, one of the silver linings of COVID-19 may be rekindling the old flame you had with West Hollywood — you know, before you moved, got caught up in your life, and started abbreviating Santa Monica Boulevard “SMB.” After all, West Hollywood is a vacation hotspot for very good reason.
“One of the things that in West Hollywood has always been a huge benefit for us is our rooftop pools and cocktail scene,” Morris said. “Being able to be pampered a little bit, get out, hang out by the pool, have someone deliver cocktails to you. Those kinds of things are really why people come to West Hollywood.”
Cocktails by the pool notwithstanding, a West Hollywood vacation may be a brilliant idea: The recent months have been downright scary for many of us; just the sight of masks (or people not wearing masks) makes us long for the safety and comfort of home; at the same time, many of us desperately need to get away. A holiday in a West Hollywood hotel provides a balance to our needs.
“I think [vacationing in WeHo] gives locals a little sense of normalcy and a little sense of pampering,” Morris said, alluding to two things many of us would appreciate right now: Familiarity and a change of scene.
But could COVID make a vacation boring?
“Even though we’re in the middle of COVID, there’s still a lot of great places to see and experience within our city,” Kiely said. “There’s a lot of fun dining spots to go to and just hang out and enjoy maybe a nice afternoon, lazy leisure lunch with a bottle of wine. Then maybe a rooftop pool.”
Indeed, West Hollywood is certainly not shut down: Although it didn’t happen immediately, more and more businesses have done the “pivoting” required to stay in business while keeping staff and customers safe. Craigs, La Bohème, and Cecconi’s are just a few of the restaurants that now offer outdoor seating (a regularly updated list of them can be found here). Dining outside is not only healthier and safer amidst the current climate, but often more enjoyable.
“The al fresco experience has come about because of all of this,” Morris said.
Kiely recently dined at La Bohème and had a lovely experience. “[La Bohème] made their parking lot into this very charming outdoor dining area was really enjoyable,” he told me.
In addition to many restaurants offering outdoor seating, there are also those bars that double as restaurants where you can dine outside — Rocco’s, and The Abbey, for example. For these places, you have to wear a mask upon entering the establishment’s outdoor area, but can take it off when you’re eating or drinking (and put it back on when you leave your table).
Besides dinner and drinks, WeHo businesses are getting creative in how they can serve the community and still stay afloat, i.e., “pivot.” The Andaz Hotel, for example, has opened a rooftop drive-in movie theater that has been immensely successful. (Get your tickets soon, in fact, as they’ve been consistently sold out:www.latenightdrivein.com.)
“I think that what the Andaz is doing is just absolutely hitting the nails right on the head about [pivoting],” said Kiely. “Being creative, being unique, trying something new to garner attention, and also at the same time, providing some fun new things for people to do whether they’re residents or visitors.”
Even with COVID, there’s always something fun to do in West Hollywood. And if you have to work (or live to work), the West Hollywood Travel and Tourism Board also has you covered with “remote office” opportunities: The Mondrian, Petit Ermitage, and The London are three hotels that have special offers for those who are tired of working from home and would like a change of scene.
“In many cases, they’re California-resident offers, but in some cases there’s also special deals for West Hollywood residents as well,” Morris says. “All of the hotel partners have done really pretty dramatic and worthwhile kind of offerings that are either discounts, off-of rates, food and beverage credits, or a variety of other things.”
Morris and Kiely encourage locals to take a look at the Visit Weho site and see what offers are available. That dream hotel you always pass by can be your home away from home for a few nights without breaking the bank.
“Each of our hotels have something special for our residents, but it varies and it’s up to each hotel to decide what they wanted to offer,” Kiely said.
What’s also great about enjoying a holiday in your West Hollywood backyard is that you will be helping the economy and supporting your friends and neighbors.
“By staying locally, by spending your money with our local community, you’re actually helping fund jobs and keep people working and keep people in business,” Morris said. “I think that’s important.”
Also, in spending your money here at home, you’ll help keep West Hollywood running smoothly. (The taxes for your discounted hotel stay help fund the services here that you’ve come to expect and enjoy.)
“The taxes that visitors pay, especially the hotel tax, which is called the Transient Occupancy Tax or TOT, is the largest provider of income to the city of West Hollywood,” said Kiely. “Of course, that money goes to such things as fire and police protection, schools, any types of social programs that the city provides.”
Both Morris and Kiely view their roles at Visit West Hollywood as important for this reason; they’re passionate about maximizing the financial economic benefit of attracting visitors to our city. To this end, they have helped make a vacation here a no-brainer for Californians and West Hollywood residents alike.
“The hotel selection in West Hollywood is fantastic and varied,” Kiely said. “Get out, walk around and explore West Hollywood — see what it has to offer that you might have missed while staying at home.”
Well, Wehoans, we’ve found the ultimate vacation spot during COVID — and it was under our masked noses all along. Really, the only question left to ask is “Shaken or stirred?” Hope to see you soon by a gorgeous WeHo rooftop pool.
You can find the current Visit WeHo offers for West Hollywood residents by clicking here.