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December 2016
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3:00 7 December 2016

Malibu the Right Way

Entering Malibu the right way despite the sign

Our Private Tour Knows the Way to Malibu

Sure there are some wrong turns one might make when getting to Malibu along the Pacific Coast Highway (“PCH”).  Since our guides bring their private Los Angeles tour guests here regularly they know all the turns and can show off all 27 miles of scenic beauty along the coast.  Malibu is a long, skinny city built along the Pacific Ocean and ascending up into the Santa Monica Mountains.  There are beaches renowned in songs by great surfer bands like the Beach Boys and Honk as well as winding canyon roads leading up to huge estates and vineyards.  There is Lake Malibou nestled up in the mountains above the sea.  Most of our guests visiting here in Southern California, especially at this time of year as the rest of the nation slips into winter, are eager to see the beaches and shoreline.  The Malibu Colony has its own lagoon and has been the home of Hollywood stars since the earliest days of the entertainment industry.  They often had weekday homes in Beverly Hills and headed out to the shore for the weekend and holidays.  Despite regular closures of PCH after landslides caused by occasional large storms the appeal of this beautiful coast and chaparral landscape on the rising slopes keeps the housing market tight and expensive, even exclusive, for the celebrity culture associated with Malibu.

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3:00 6 December 2016

Pro Basketball in Los Angeles

Want to see an NBA game when in Los Angeles? The Staples Center is where to go.

Now Is A Perfect Time for a Private Tour to the Staples Center

Basketball season is underway and the Staples Center is busy hosting the games of two of its three professional teams calling it home: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.  The WNBA Sparks (this year’s championship team) play again next year.  The Staples Center sits at the downtown corner of Olympic and Figueroa Streets in a part of the city that has seen an enormous resurgence in recent years with the addition of LA Live.  Already here was the Los Angeles Convention Center but with new hotels, restaurants and entertainment the southern end of downtown is now a major destination for anyone and everyone.  That includes guests enjoying a private tour of Los Angeles with us.  For basketball fans a stop at the Staples Center allows us to meander the courtyard and pay our respects to some of the great athletes who played for these teams.  Crowds fill the arena on game days enjoying the athletic prowess of today’s stars and hoping to see who the next “greats” will be.  Sports bring us all together even when we root for opposing teams.  Los Angeles, melting pot that it is, has legions of fans for every team that visits the Staples Center. We see enough visiting team jerseys aboard our luxury SUVs to know that sometimes our guests are sightseeing with us just until it is time to head to the Staples Center for that evening’s action.  We will talk about hockey (the Los Angeles Kings play here) in another posting.

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3:00 5 December 2016

Los Angeles by Helicopter

That is downtown Los Angeles and the ocean beyond

The Most Exciting Helicopter Tour of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a sprawling city.  500 square miles of urban expanse from the ocean toward the desert with mountains to the north and south.  We call it the Los Angeles basin.  About 18 miles from the sea is downtown Los Angeles (“DTLA”).  Believe it or not there is a river running through it that was the historical location of the first settlement that would become the City of Angels long before Los Angeles was so closely associated with Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  Today there are skyscrapers including the tallest building in the west (the new Wilshire Grand Center).  At the top of the former tallest building, the U.S. Bank Building, there is a new glass sliding board.  Just for thrills.  We think the best thrill, though, is our private helicopter tour of the city that begins on the top of one of downtown’s tall buildings.  Or concludes there.  Or both.  That is up to our guests.  However, we have this landing pad as a choice among other heliports in the area to satisfy the curiosity and thrillseeking of those with us choosing to see Los Angeles by air.  Even better, we can combine the aerial portion of the tour with a ground tour of three hours (or more) and visit closeup some of the wonderful sights we saw from above as we flew over the city, the sea, the forests, the mountains and the beaches.  We will also see some pretty extraordinary buildings including movie stars’ mansions and remarkable structures that are museums, office buildings and businesses.  We are delighted to inform, entertain and excite our visitors who are just getting to know this magnificent city.

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3:00 2 December 2016

Getting Muscled Up at Muscle Beach

Here is a healthy denizen of Muscle Beach

The Art of Bodybuilding on Display for Our Private Los Angeles Tour

The life of Venice, one of the beach communities of Los Angeles, ranges from high to low, from esoteric to mindless, from artistic to athletic.  Walking along the boardwalk allows us to talk about the history of this community that evolved from the ideas of one man, Abbott Kinney, to turn Venice, California into a west coast version of Venice, Italy.  The grand canals, gondolas, magnificent palaces of hospitality were all conceived and constructed during the city’s heyday.  The wooden piers were home to dance halls and carnivals.  Hollywood filmed here and vacationers reveled here.  Venice has changed from those halcyon days of full body bathing costumes and paddle balls, bicycles with two different sized wheels and dance marathons.  Today we see modern stores and boutiques as well as booths hawking sunglasses, t-shirts and souvenirs.  Fine art abounds from henna (on skin) to acrylic beach landscapes and then to kiln-fired clay kitsch.  And, of course, lots of food and drink.  And then at one end of the boardwalk there is athleticism on display.  The basketball, handball and paddle tennis courts built along the bikeway lead us to Muscle Beach.  Here our Los Angeles private tour guests watch in awe as the bodybuilders work the exercise machines in full display of everyone passing by.  The stage is lined with awards recognizing the princes and princesses of this age old expression of physical perfection.  Most of our guests recognize the names of Jack LaLanne and Arnold Schwarzenegger but there are more names to know.  The grunting and sweat results in a full-blown Adonis.

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The garden stairway at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills

English Country Gardens Impress Our Private Tour Guests

The Greystone Mansion (or the Doheny Mansion if you want to be historically correct) is a Beverly Hills city park favored by the Hollywood filming community wishing to have open access to a mansion, grand staircase, driveway, portico and gardens for a setting befitting wealthy and successful characters.  The residence and garden are also used continuously for fundraising events and special festivals.  In between all these activities the exquisite park and gardens are open for visitors.  Our Los Angeles private tour will almost always pass by the mansion so we can talk about some of its illustrious history (infidelity, suicide, unsolved murder) as well as its famous architect (Gordon Kaufman) and purchaser (Edward Doheny for his son Ned) up to its eventual purchase by the City of Beverly Hills to prevent its demolition by the then current owner, Paul Trousdale.  In 1928 when the 46,000 sq.ft. home was completed it was the most expensive home in California ($4M).  The park and grounds are open for visitors when not in use by a film production crew or other function that helps the city defray the costs of maintaining this beautiful facility.  Are you interested in visiting the home?  We can talk about making that happen.

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3:00 30 November 2016

Saint Monica in Santa Monica

Statue of Saint Monica in Santa Monica

Our Private Tour Guests Reflect on Families as the Sun Sets in Santa Monica

Wilshire Boulevard is the “Main Street” of Los Angeles.  For 18 miles the wide roadway connects downtown Los Angeles to the ocean in Santa Monica.  Traffic on this main road of a major city can often leave our guides praying for salvation as they bring their Los Angeles private tour families through Beverly Hills and West L.A. into Santa Monica, talking about the rich history, lucrative businesses and wealthy neighborhoods, telling stories and adding anecdotes, our guests never have any idea how fraught a particular journey has been.  We have great guides who are all excellent drivers.  But still, when they get to the end of Wilshire Boulevard there is a statue of Saint Monica, the bay spreading out behind her to the horizon, and our guides can offer up their thanks.  The city is named for this patron saint of difficult marriages and wayward children but sometimes any connection to the sublime when arriving at Palisades Park is worth paying tribute to.  Our guests on their custom tour often choose to walk along the palisades to admire the sea and the city, to look down over the beach and the homes of Hollywood stars built along the Pacific Coast Highway below them, to enjoy the sea breeze and, if they are lucky to be out late in the afternoon this time of year, enjoy a beautiful sunset.  We are pleased to talk about the creation of the art deco Saint Monica statue by sculptor Eugene Morahan back in 1934 with money from a federal public arts project.  As we parade along the cliff edge towards the Santa Monica Pier there are other interesting landmarks to pass by including a camera obscura.  The lights on the pier come up to make it look like a dazzling scintillating jewel against the golden sky.  Children with us are always attracted to the Ferris Wheel and the roller coaster.  Thank you, Saint Monica, for having a fun and beautiful city on the sea.

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A storm is brewing over the Beverly Hills Hotel

Private Tour Enjoys Tea Time at the Pink Palace

Before there was a Beverly Hills there was a Beverly Hills Hotel.  In 1912 the area looked nothing like the plush, verdant luxury neighborhood it is today.  Nor did the hotel.  More like ranch land and wide open space, even a race track for automobiles.  But the years have been kind to the hotel and the city.  A hideaway for movie stars (numerous bungalows and suites) and royalty from around the world this exquisite Mediterranean Revival structure captures the eyes and imagination of anyone traveling along Sunset Boulevard.  Our office was abuzz this morning with discussion of an interview with Warren Beatty about his new film RULES DON’T APPLY.  Ostensibly about Howard Hughes and Hollywood the hotel was often occupied by Mr. Hughes.  Really occupied.  As Mr. Beatty tells it, he, a brand new Hollywood star after the success of his first film, Elia Kazan‘s SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, was staying at the hotel…in one room.  However, all the neighboring rooms were assigned to Howard Hughes.  Mr. Hughes was unique.  The stars still come out at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  We often stop for lunch at the Polo Lounge and will subtly point out not only the celebrities but faces our Los Angeles private tour guests might not know, those belonging to studio executives and talent agents.  Our tour guides not only follow the industry closely (it IS our bread and butter, after all) but most of them have years of studio and entertainment industry experience behind them and have closely encountered many industry people “doing lunch” at the Polo Lounge.  Lunch on a private tour can be arranged or even a late afternoon visit for tea.  We are very careful with our camera at the hotel.  We respect the privacy of those staying there and do not wish to encumber our welcome at the hotel when we visit.  However, outside the hotel, even on a rare windswept day with a rainstorm imminent, we can take great pictures of the hotel and our guests.

 

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Family photo after hike up to the Hollywood Sign

Our Private Tour Can Be More Than a Walk

We understand that sitting in a tour bus with a bunch of strangers, looking out the windows while listening to a scripted description of what is passing by can be, well, boring.  Why not enjoy a custom private Los Angeles tour with a guide who will not only take you to the best sightseeing destinations in and about the city but let you get out of our luxury SUV and walk around.  Feel free to pose for pictures taken by your guide that can go into your photo album along with all the candid photos that you will not have noticed being taken until you share your album with friends and family.  More than just walking around Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach we can lead you on short (or long) hikes through the hills to see Los Angeles from places where only the locals know where to go.  For instance, we can hike up a service road, past the old Batman television series Batcave (and other notable films and shows) all the way to the top of Mt. Lee where our guests will find themselves right behind the Hollywood Sign – Raise the “W”!  Another easy and fascinating hike is up into Runyon Canyon where Hollywood and history come together.  Plus, it’s good exercise.  Eating the fancy snacks we keep in the vehicle will be negated by the good workout from our hikes.  Enjoy VIP treatment on a luxury tour designed to suit your interests…from Hollywood to the stars (at Griffith Observatory or the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel).

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3:00 25 November 2016

Hollywood Ray-Ban Man

The Hollywood Sign is reflected in our private tour guest's Ray-Ban sunglasses

Our Private Tour Guests Love This Photograph We Take

So many of our guests are wearing sunglasses on their Los Angeles private tour that when we drive into the hills to show them the Hollywood Sign up close we have an opportunity to not only capture their first look at the great historic billboard but we also can see the sign reflected in their Ray-Ban glasses.  This is always a favorite photograph among all the photos we take of our guests as we explore Hollywood and Beverly Hills and then maybe head over to the coast for some sightseeing through the L.A. beach communities.  Their tour photo album from us is always treasured even when they are taking their own photographs.  We can tour for hours if our guests are interested.  That’s a lot of pictures.  Maybe today, after all the Thanksgiving feasting, doing some hearty walking around and hiking in the hills and along the ocean’s edge will be a good way to spend the day.  Of course, it is also Black Friday, so it’s a good thing we have a lot of spare room in our SUVs for packages if sightseeing becomes shopping on Rodeo Drive, Robertson, Melrose and Montana and other exclusive shopping areas where the movie stars roam.  The beauty of our custom tour is we can change direction and intention as we go along.

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3:00 23 November 2016

Paramount Pictures in Hollywood

The Melrose Gate entrance to Paramount Pictures in Hollywood

Paramount Pictures Is the History of Hollywood for Our Private Tour

If we pass by any movie studio on a Los Angeles private tour it will be Paramount Pictures.  One of the big six, this studio began here in Hollywood in 1912 and continues to produce movies and television shows every day.  Originally known as Famous Players and helmed by Adolph Zukor, the production entity soon merged with Jesse Lasky‘s production company and the distribution company both producers used, Paramount Pictures.  Through these gates the greatest stars and filmmakers of the earliest days of Hollywood came and went.  The business flourished as the U.S. and the world developed a growing hunger for feature films.  New studios opened in and around Hollywood and in 1923 the giant sign, Hollywoodland, appeared at the top of the mountain overlooking the Los Angeles basin.  Hollywood was now the capitol of filmdom.  Our luxury tour guests love to talk about their favorite Paramount films and television shows like The Godfather and Star Trek and our guides will bring up other movies and programs to talk about as we drive around the studio.  The studio has a lovely walking tour of the lot where our guests can visit some of the departments in action and see what a working movie studio looks like.  Right behind this landmark “dream factory” is Hollywood Forever cemetery which we can drive slowly through and remember many of the celebrated actors, directors and artists whose creative efforts are cherished today.  Many of these famous people were themselves Famous Players at one time.

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