‘Ask the Concierge’ – 10 things you need to know when visiting Beverly Hills
No one knows a city like a hotel concierge and no one knows the Los Angeles/Beverly Hills region of California, USA, better than Jeanne Mills, Chef Concierge of the iconic luxury hotel, the Beverly Wilshire. We asked Jeanne to share her wealth of knowledge and experience of the region with Prodijee readers to ensure you have the a truly memorable Southern California experience.
1. WHAT IS LA’S ‘BEST KEPT SECRET’?
Many choose to visit LA for the trendy restaurant and club scenes, the world class shopping, or to soak in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. But most of our visitors are unaware of the many hiking trails in the surrounding areas that afford some of the most stunning views and photo opportunities of the City of Angels – views of the famous Hollywood sign and the picturesque coastlines of Santa Monica and Malibu.
2. IF A FRIEND CAME TO TOWN FOR A DAY, WHAT IS THE ONE ‘MUST DO EXPERIENCE’ YOU’D RECOMMEND?
The best way to get a quick and comprehensive tour of the vast LA area is by helicopter. If you only have one day to see it all, you certainly have no time for the LA rush hour traffic! Imagine seeing downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the coastlines of Santa Monica, and having a comprehensive and breathtaking tour of our beach town of Malibu, all from above. You will have the birds-eye view of the hillside mansions and ocean front estates of the stars in a way that few others ever will!
3. BEST PLACE FOR A ROMANTIC DATE?
Melise, Providence Inn at the Seventh Ray (1104 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica) for a more formal evening or Il Cielo (9018 Burton Way, Beverly Hills) and The Little Door (8164 W 3rd St, Beverly Grove) for a more low-key, yet still romantic dinner. Depending on the entertainment schedule, even a romantic picnic in the Hollywood Bowl under the LA starry skyline can be quite romantic too…
4. BEST DINING EXPERIENCE?
CUT (Beverly Wilshire Hotel, 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills). CUT has received numerous accolades over the years including a Michelin star… and you won’t wonder why after you have the opportunity to dine here. From the restaurant’s all-white interior (designed by Richard Meier, acclaimed architect of LA’s Getty Center) to the array of creative steak and seafood presentations designed by Chef Wolfgang Puck, this contemporary twist on the class steakhouse is sure to provide a memorable dining experience!
5. BEST PLACE FOR A LATE SNACK AFTER A NIGHT ON THE TOWN?
Wally’s Wine Bar (447 Canon Dr, Beverly Hills) or Berri’s Pizza (8412 W. 3rd St, Los Angeles). Wally’s has the feel of a European Vinoteca and has an incredible collection of more than 2,500 different wines, spirits and specialty foods from around the world. In addition to their incredible selection of beverages, they also carry more than 200 cheeses, meats, caviar and many other delicacies from around the globe. Wally’s is a fun, energetic and social place offering great service from a vibrant staff. Late night diners can gather for a full gourmet meal or just for a quick night cap after hours as it’s the only place in Beverly Hills serving until 2am.
Berri’s Cafe serves a mix of Mediterranean food including hand tossed pizzas and many home style recipes including pastas, meats and seafood. It’s a place where many celebrities and film industry executives go late at night for great food and for the lively in-crowd scene – it serves till the wee hours of 4am.
6. BEST SHOPPING PRECINCT?
That truly depends upon what you wish to shop for. Rodeo Drive is the place to go for the most internationally known brand names in high-end fashion. For the trendier boutique shops and one-of-a-kind pieces, you may look to stroll the shops on Melrose Avenue or Robertson Blvd. Then there is also the downtown jewellery district, or the arts district.
7. BEST PLACE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE AS AN LA LOCAL?
Silverlake. This neighborhood has been called the Williamsburg of the West and is shaped by trendy eateries, quaint shops and the many artists, musicians and celebrities who have been going there since the early 1900s.
8. BEST WAY TO GET AROUND TOWN?
Rent a convertible!! With the great year-round weather you should be riding alfresco in an exotic car like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari – you will fit right in!
9. BEST DAY TRIP?
Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach and Malibu. Start at Venice Boardwalk (Ocean Front Walk, Venice, Beach), where you will find a busy, urban entertainment strip with casual souvenir vendors and interesting street performers. Santa Monica is approximately 1 mile (1.6km) North from Venice and has lots to keep visitors busy. From many wonderful brunch spots, shopping from the very casual to the very trendy, to activities by the water – there is something for everyone.
The Pacific Park on the pier (380 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica) boasts a solar-powered Ferris wheel as well as other rides and carnival games, you can also rent bicycles or rollerblades. Continue on the historic Highway 101 up the coast to the swank town of Malibu – a city with lots to see along the historic coastal highway, including the Malibu Pier (23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu), beautiful ocean front dining, shabby chic shopping at Malibu Country Mart (3835 Cross Creek Road Malibu) and the Lumber Yard (3939 Cross Creek Road, Malibu), and many stunning beach fronts to stroll.
10. BEST WAY TO RELAX?
A full day at The Spa at Beverly Wilshire Hotel (9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills). From facials to body scrubs, massages, nail treatments and more, The Spa at Beverly Wilshire is an oasis away from it all. From the highly trained professionals to the luxurious amenities (such as Eucalyptus Steam Room, Ice Fountain, Tranquillity Lounge & Experience Shower), this chic haven in the heart of Beverly Hills is sure to revitalize the mind and body for a memorable journey.
Also, for guests not staying at the Hotel, The Spa offers complimentary parking and access to the Spa, Pool and Fitness facilities upon booking a 60 minute treatment – it’s a hidden gem to say the least!
ABOUT JEANNE MILLS
Jeanne Mills was born to be a concierge. Born in Harbor City, California, Jeanne grew up in the halls of the classic hotels of Las Vegas, where her father worked as a bell captain at The Dunes for 37 years. After studying vocal performance on scholarship at the University of Nevada-Reno, she returned to Sin City in the late 1980s just as the first mega-resort was rising on The Strip. A friend of her father, who worked at the resort, recognized Mills as a “people person” and placed her in guest relations to chat to arrivals and give site tours to investors and prospective guests.
Jeanne went on to work at iconic Las Vegas properties, including MGM Grand, Four Seasons Hotel, Desert Inn, and The Mirage.
As Chef Concierge of Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel), Jeanne heads a concierge team of 14, including eight members of Les Clefs d’Or – literally, “keys of gold” – a professional organization for the cream of hotel concierges around the world. There are more members of Les Clefs d’Or on the concierge desk at Beverly Wilshire than at any other hotel in California – you can spot them by the crossed gold keys displayed proudly their lapels.
Jeanne, who speaks English and Spanish, along with conversational Portuguese and French, has orchestrated elaborate surprise marriage proposals and chartered helicopters for intimate excursions to scenic Pacific coast beaches. She has fulfilled last-minute requests via FedEx for lavash bread and exotic Middle Eastern coffee. She has arranged celebrity meet and greets, helped out with sick children, changed travel reservations in the wake of untimely deaths, rented yachts in France, acquired Ferraris in Italy, and arranged 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.
Among her favourites was a request from the personal chef of a sheik who needed a clear crystal serving dish in a hurry to match the white ceramic serving dish he held in his hands. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to find a piece like this one at Pottery Barn or Williams-Sonoma, so I arranged to have one hand blown especially for him,” she recalls. The new crystal serving dish, an exquisite match, cost US$5,000. “And it was ready in time for the sheik’s party.”
And she has done all of the above with the aid of fellow concierges and her personal network of contacts throughout the world.
The concierge desk has long been integral to Four Seasons, which was the first hotel company to introduce European-style concierge service in North America. It is especially so at Beverly Wilshire where, in Mills’ estimation, 90 percent of arrivals are A-listers. “Royalty, celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs – nearly everyone here is very high profile,” she says, adding that Z-listers benefit from her service, too. “There are always guests who have dreamed of one day staying at the iconic Beverly Wilshire, and it’s my role to make each and every guest feel as though they are the most important VIP in the entire hotel.”
Jeanne and her team at Beverly Wilshire base their recommendations – and cautions – on personal experiences rather than on postings from non-professionals or paid advertising on the internet. They also offer insider access via personal connections for experiences that guests may not even be aware were possible, much less be in a position to do on their own. “When a guest had a US$1.2 million car shipped into LA and needed insurance, I didn’t tell her how to get it. I got it for her.
“The best concierge is the one who speaks from experience,” she said. “I haven’t had much downtime since moving to LA because I spend every minute of my spare time experiencing the city. That’s the only way to give guests the insightful and personalized service they’re looking for. I feel so privileged to be in the position to impact so many lives and create so many memories that will last and last.”
BEVERLY WILSHIRE, BEVERLY HILLS (A FOUR SEASONS HOTEL)
9500 Wilshire Boulevard
California 90212 USA
Tel. +1 (310) 275-5200