New hotel with a name brand to live up to A review of Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village

Stayed here over the President's Day weekend using their Introductory Package, which includes one free night and $100 credit towards the adjacent California WellBeing Institute (more on this later).

The hotel just opened in late 11/06--things still smell new. For now, self-parking is complimentary, but there is a guard gate and pay machines in place for future parking charges. The valet and self-parking are in the same 4 story structure; valet parking is $22 a night. The walk to the hotel is short.

The hotel is located in an office park just off the Ventura fwy (101). A brick retaining wall at least 10 feet high surrounds the property and secludes it from the freeway and busy Lindero Canyon Rd. I believe the land is owned by billionaire David Murdock, whose company , Dole (as in pineapple and foods) is across the street. Indeed, the Dole building and the hotel look almost identical--I had to look for the Four Seasons sign to be sure which was the hotel. Mr. Murdock apparently lives in, and probably owns, the nearby Lake Sherwood community with its famous and posh Sherwood Country Club. He also essentially owns the Hawaiian island of Lanai and its 2 luxury hotels, Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay, now both Four Seasons properties. I was told there are plans to open a WellBeing Institue there as well.

The hotel is somewhere between a resort and an urban hotel in size, location and distance from downtown . In comparison to other Southern California Four Seasons properties, it is not as urban as the 2 hotels in Beverly Hills, and has more acreage, but not as much as the resorts in Santa Barbara (Biltmore) or north San Diego (Aviara).

I wondered why someone would choose to stay here in this area north of Los Angeles. Westlake Village is an affluent community, but besides the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, golf and perhaps horseback riding, there is not much for a tourist to do. I would guess that the beach (Malibu) and Beverly Hills are over 30 minutes away. Perhaps the hotel will be more for business travelers, but is also a good not-too-far-away getaway choice for locals.

Outdoors, the hotel has a simple porte cochere that in my opinion would have been enhanced by a water feature/fountain. There are 3 landscaped outdoor areas, all dominated by huge off-white boulders imported, I was told, by Mr. Murdock from the River Kwai in Thailand, and serve as dramatic natural sculpture pieces. The most dramatic outdoor area is directly behind the hotel and has a huge rock formation and waterfalls. Many rooms, the hallway to the meeting rooms, and all the restaurants face this landscape. There is a smallish indoor pool with a small outdoor deck here too. I wondered why the pool was indoors in generally sunny So. CA. There are minimal outdoor seating areas from which to enjoy this vista. Behind the luxurious spa is another landscaped garden dominated by a pagoda and small lake that again could have benefited from the sound of gurgling water. There is also a greenhouse where orchids that fill the spa and public areas are grown. The 3rd outdoor landscaped area is behind the parking structure and has no obvious use--it seems like this area could have been made smaller to make the pool area larger.

Indoors, there are many Asian touches--lamps, screens, cabinetry. There is some fine artwork on the walls, and a great California mural lining the staircase. There is a full art gallery on the mezzanine above the CA WellBeing Inst., with pieces that will be rotated and are available for purchase. Continuing the nature as art theme, there are also many large framed cross-sections of stones, geodes and marble that are backlit and gorgeous. The pieces behind the reception and concierge desks match the counters. Very unique.

I had a room on the top (7th) floor that faced the waterfalls. It had a huge plasma TV and a smaller one in the bath, a DVD player and an iPod and MP3 docking station/alarm clock/radio. Everything was typically Four Seasons luxurious.

The Spa also gets high marks. It has great indoor lounging areas with enticing daybeds, a beautiful trickling water and orchids feature, an Asian bridge, and a quiet adults-only outdoor pool with cabanas and 2 jacuzzis. There are many treatment rooms. I had a massage is a Spa suite designed for a full day of pampering--it had a main room big enough for couples treatments, a bedroom, fireplace, huge shower with innumerable heads, a jacuzzi tub and a private outdoor plunge pool.

The fitness center is quite large and well equipped.

There are 2 restaurants, Hamptons and Onyx (Japanese). I tried neither, but did order room service one night. The food was fine, but I was not given a napkin or breadplate, and there was no flower or centerpiece on the table.

The California WellBeing Institute is connected to the hotel and offers packages that promote health and healthy living. It has complete medical facilities, workshops, and a kitchen. The hotel's Introductory Package includes a $100 credit towards the Insititiute, but the least expensive package is a $250 2.5-hour cooking class. I chose the $450 half-day package that included a workshop, consultation with a LifeAdvisor and a nutritionist and the aformentioned massage.

The service overall was of Four Seasons quality. If no other Four Seasons existed, I'd give this hotel a 5, but in comparison to other Four Seasons I've stayed at, it's a 4 for now. It's a big name brand to live up to.

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Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
576 reviews