Archive for February, 2015
Our Private Tour Family Shows Some Attitude
This is truly our “money” shot on almost every private Los Angeles tour we do. We have a number of locations we chose from to get our guests in front of the Hollywood Sign for a round of picture taking that will yield a number of shots useful for later holiday cards and Facebook posts. Some of our guests already have ideas about how they want to pose. Some like to hear suggestions from their guide and photographer. No matter how long as it takes we are always pleased to capture as many pictures as they want on our digital SLR and any cellphones and cameras they might have with them. How many private tours come with a personal photographer?
A Favorite Private Tour Stop in
Hollywood – Sweet!
Better than the Disney Store, better than souvenir shops or even Baby Gap, our young guests love when we take them into Sweet! Despite all the activity in preparation for the Oscars ceremony all around the store at Hollywood and Highland, right next to the Dolby Theatre where the Academy Awards are presented, nothing grabs our girls’ attention like the goodies inside this great candy store. More than your usual Wall of Confections this place is interactive. You can make personalized candy with names and logos or even design your own chocolate bar. The selection of candies, too, rivals any other store of this kind. There is nothing like a little sugar rush to keep the youngsters interested in walking around Hollywood on a private Los Angles tour and watching all the moving parts getting ready for the big show.
Private Tour Camera Sees More Than Our Guests
While cruising the shoreline in Santa Barbara it seemed natural for our private luxury tour guide to snap a photograph of this colorfully painted VW microbus. Southern California beach culture is very familiar with this vehicle in all its configurations and with myriad artistic expressions applied to its surfaces. We had no idea that such a great lens effect was captured. It truly is a magic bus. Santa Barbara is not a very long ride away from Los Angeles and the Hollywood scene and many of our guests are familiar enough with L.A. to want to explore other cities in our vicinity. Santa Barbara is an excellent destination with its long Indian-Spanish-Mission-Gold Rush history, it’s surfing culture and it’s proximity to the wine making region in the Santa Ynez Valley. We know it well and go there often. While we drive luxury SUVs maybe we should consider finding our own Magic Bus.
Our Private Tour Guests See Their First Whale
Despite the warm February weather we have been enjoying the skies have remained extremely clear – no inversions to hold the dust down and obscure visibility. This has been an incentive for our private Los Angeles tour guests to book a combination helicopter and ground tour for a grand sightseeing experience. Just the other day as we were skimming low over the Pacific Ocean near Malibu we sighted this gray whale near the surface. Our guests (from a land far, far away) had never seen a whale before. They were concerned that if the aircraft had to land in the sea would the whale eat us. We assured them that the gray whale is peaceful (when not hunted) and is a baleen whale – it sifts tiny crustaceans from the sea floor for its nutrients. The pods of grays are beginning to head north now from their Baja birthing waters of the winter. Gray whales are not the only large cetaceans we spot in the placid waters of the Santa Monica Bay protected by the string of Channel Islands along the southern California coast. There have been recent sightings of blue whales and …. orcas!
Our Private Tour Does Not Have to
Be in Los Angeles
Some of our guests enjoying a visit to Los Angeles travel here from vast distances, sometimes half a world away. For them to want us to take them north another 400 miles to sample some fine Napa Valley vintages is no big deal at all. Believe me, our guides jostle for the opportunity to enjoy a private charter flight up to the what we all believe is the finest winemaking region in the U.S. As you might expect, we often stay overnight in one of the incredibly luxurious wine resorts or B&Bs located in the heart of the vineyards and wine estates much as we often do when traveling just up the coast to the Santa Ynez Valley. Whatever our private tour guests wish is how we customize the trip to Napa. Perhaps a visit to San Francisco and a fine meal there?
A Los Angeles Amusement Pier in
the Good Old Days
Our private Los Angeles tour guests truly enjoy their visit to the Santa Monica Pier which is a modern manifestation of the great wooden piers of old that once adorned the bay just a streetcar ride from downtown or Hollywood. One of the great piers seen above in this vintage aerial photograph demonstrates how extensive these structures were and how much fun they would have been. Built (and rebuilt when they would burn down) in the early 20th century and instigated by Abbot Kinney who designed and created Venice, these extensions into the sea offered roller coasters and other exciting rides, carousels, carnivals, dancing (watch THEY SHOOT HORSES DON’T THEY) and lots and lots of eating and drinking. Long before beach culture became what it is today fully dressed denizens of Los Angeles would spend entire days at the shore strolling from one pier to another.
Our Private Tour Guests Recall the Opening Scene
The opening of the classic noir film, TOUCH OF EVIL, is studied in film schools around the world and spoken about with reverence by film aficionados. The extended tracking shot, made long before Steadicam and CGI technology, was filmed in Venice in 1958 right where this Jonas Never mural adorns a large wall on the side of Danny’s deli. Using artistic license, Never creates a dark atmosphere for this lively part of Venice and populates the image with details not seen, or purposely disguised by the film’s production staff to make Venice into a Mexican border town, that causes our private Los Angeles tour guests to linger in front of the mural and study it carefully. Like so many of the murals found around Venice the impressive scale and artistry demand passersby pause and enjoy the artwork.
Enjoy a Sightseeing Tour of Los Angeles on a Yacht
We have our private Los Angeles tour guests up in the air in our luxury helicopters as well as driving through the fanciest neighborhoods around Hollywood and Beverly Hills. We also take them aboard some incredible private yachts for a look at Los Angeles from sea level. Departing from the most beautiful man-made harbor in the country, Marina del Rey, our luxurious vessel skims through the harbor and out to sea, the Santa Monica Bay, where we head up the coast toward Malibu. This tranquil and comfortable ride gives us lots of time to describe the history of coastal Los Angeles and examine, with binoculars, some of the fabulous celebrity homes that line the shore. We also have the opportunity to interact with adorable sea creatures like sea lions, harbor seals, porpoises, dolphins and yes, whales. Gray whales range through the channel in their season but we have had recent sightings of blue and killer whales, too (OK, maybe not all the creatures are adorable). Everyone comes to Los Angeles and the ocean is a great place to meet.
Our Private Tour Visits the
Griffith Observatory – Twice!
Familiar to movie lovers and close observers of myriad television shows, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is as photogenic as any movie star. It is a jewel in the crown that is Griffith Park, more than 4,000 acres of parkland in the middle of Los Angeles donated to the city by Col. Griffith J. Griffith in 1896. With the help of astronomer George Ellery Hale and initial designs of Russell Porter the facility was opened to the public in 1935. As visible from the Los Angeles basin as the Hollywood Sign even better views can be enjoyed from the observatory itself looking southward from the Pacific Ocean in the west to beyond downtown where the San Jacinto Mountains rise up in the east (on clear winter days). Our private Los Angeles tour guests got a good view of the Griffith Observatory as we flew overhead on the first part of their combination air + ground tour of Los Angeles. After our helicopter landed we drove back to the observatory through the wonderful parkland for a chance to see the grand science museum’s exhibits. A tour in the evening permits additional views – the night sky as seen through the observatory telescopes.
Quiet, Peaceful Luxury in Beverly Hills for
Our Tour Guests
Just outside the Golden Triangle of Beverly Hills is one of the nicest hotels in the city that so many locals drive by without noticing. L’Ermitage Beverly Hills sits on the wide Burton Drive in serene splendor just a quick walk from the courthouse and city hall. A hushed peace pervades the lobby where so many of the other fine hotels we stop at to pick up our private Los Angeles tour guests seem always to be bustling and busy. For people watchers busy is good. For peace seekers L’Ermitage is a lovely alternative. Fine dining at their Italian osteria Livello plus all the other wonderful amenities one would expect at a five star hotel make a stay at this inn a perfect consideration when visiting Los Angeles and Hollywood. As you can see in the photograph, a helicopter flight as part of your sightseeing experience with us can offer a birdseye view of Beverly Hills and L’Ermitage.