No Depression in Beverly Hills?

While the heavy cloud of the depression spread over the country–no, the entire world–a ray of pleasure peaked out from Beverly Hills over the weekend. It started Friday night for the 1100 black-tied invitees at the bow of the Montage hotel. And while the country’s real estate market reels, Beverly Hills barrels ahead with promises of promise.

The Montage has risen nine stories from Beverly Drive to Canon to afford its inhabitants — 220 in rooms, $595 up to $7500 — at each of two Presidential suites, two floors for residences — glittering views of the glamorous neighborhood. Construction is planned for the arrival of the William Morris agency, shifting from its two locations south of Wilshire to the shopping center. And the recent election has now officially paved the way for the two new Waldorf-Astoria Hotels to rise at the corner of Wilshire and  Santa Monica — although those of us who live on the “Wilshire Corridor” wonder how we will weather the construction — followed by the traffic to follow in the already-packed passageway to/from Santa Monica and the freeways. Also to be further investigated is the coversion of the prized property formerly housing the Robinson’s May complex across from the Beverly Hilton–which will also undergo revisions. Ah, progress.

The arrival of the Montage did not come easy; it took eight years, said Kim A. Richards, President and CEO of the Athens Group. “It was often contentious,” he reminded us of its determined get approvals and go-ahead. He, Alan J.Fuerstman, President and CEO of the Montage Hotels and Resorts and Ali Kasikci, Managing Director of the Montage gave the welcoming remarks and gave credits to the staffs who have made the Montage a showplace. Kasikci greeted each arriving guest — none strangers to him as he had been their friend during his tenure at the Peninsula where he earned the title of “the Sirio Maccioni of L.A. hoteliors,” per the December issue of Gourmet Magazine.

Among the many alumni form Kasikci’s staff now with him at the Montage is Frank Bowling, also an alum from the Hotel Bel-Air. He graciously showed us about the new Montage — from the gardens and dining at street level — outdoors and in at the lobby lounge where mariachis were serenading the first niters as we enjoyed the hotel’s warmy blending of historic California architecture and Hollywood history with modern mirrors and walled designs. Then up to the second floor and the  very intimate dining in the Muse and then up to the two ballrooms, one seating 300, high ceiling’d and boasting glamorous opera box seating as well. It was then up to the spa and finally, the piece de resistance is the ninth floor Conservatory bar and grill at the pool with its in and outdoor tables affording non-stop views from this glamorous interior to glamorville itself.

The invited guests — many of whom have made Beverly Hills famous in the worlds of fashion and showbiz — were delighted to find in their cars on their arrival home — large, bear-hugging, chocolate-colored bathrobes — to warmly remember the Montage — day and night.

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