By Barbara Bishop
In the last year, so many hotels have been built in Santa Monica. I’m going to an opening of one in Santa Monica this week, and I’ve been to several others on the Westside in recent months.
One hotel that has been proudly holding its own is situated near 4th Street and the 10 Freeway in Santa Monica. It’s not too fancy, and doesn’t have a “name brand” chef in its restaurant. But this hotel made its way into my heart last Friday, when we held our first official Rotary meeting there.
All of us Rotarians were used to driving down Capri, in Pacific Palisades, passing finely manicured, multi-million dollar homes, until we reached the gates of the Riviera Country Club. I’ve been a member for 10 years, and Riviera has always been our Friday luncheon location.
We were greeted by the gatekeeper, who knew us all by the way he automatically opened the gate to let us in and gave us a smile and a wave. It was great way to spend lunch with our fellow Rotarians on Friday afternoons.
We dined on a buffet of soups, salads, meats, fish, vegetables, and a separate, sumptuous dessert and fruit table. It was nice, but I think the location trumped the food.
This past year, the Riviera decided that they wanted to do something different with their ballrooms on Fridays, and gave us notice that they no longer wanted to do business with us. We needed to find another space.
After many days of researching a viable alternative, a decision was reached. We were going to the Double Tree; what many, including me, thought was a far cry from the Riviera’s digs. But, they did have those great chocolate chip cookies.
We gathered at the Double Tree last week for the first official Rotary meeting at this location. And boy, did they do their homework.
The entire hotel staff went out of its way to welcome us. As I pulled up into the driveway, there was a very nice young woman who greeted us and instructed us where to park. Once inside, we were greeted again by young, friendly staff at the front door, who pointed out where our luncheon room was located.
The room was set up the same way it was at the Riviera, and an attentive staff was anxiously waiting to serve us. I felt comfortable right off the bat.
The main thing that surprised me, and many others, was the quality of the buffet. It also had a beautiful spread of salads, soups, meat and fish. But, the fish was amazing. So was the roast turkey. Better than the Riviera. I noticed a significant amount of members going back for seconds.
GM Brian Murphy came up to the Rotary stage and thanked us for our business. Then Director of Operations, Dave Romano, joined Brian to serve ice cream to help us celebrate National Strawberry Sundae Day.
When lunch ended, I walked away, my stomach and heart full, anticipating the next meeting. Thank you Brian, Dave and all the staff that make us feel so welcome.