A couple of weeks ago, I whisked a new friend away to the Four Seasons Westlake Village, a spa resort about a half-hour north of Los Angeles, to experience a special offer called the Ignite the Spark.
Providing a complimentary cocktail, a selection of welcome appetizers and a $100-200 US credit at selected Four Seasons properties, it’s a little romantic incentive to get away together between now and December 15th.
Y’know…should you need a little romantic incentive.
From outside, the Four Seasons Westlake looks more like a conference or medical center than a luxury resort; as the host of a cosmetic and wellness center, as well as many business gatherings, this aesthetic isn’t entirely off base. However, the brick and steel edges of the exterior are softened as soon as you’re through the front doors, with a combination of gleaming surfaces, lavish sprays of seasonal flowers, glittering chandeliers and ornate murals.
The 270 guest rooms echo the same mix of marble, gold, chintz, porcelain, and dark wood. Ceilings are high, soundproofing is excellent, and there’s plenty of space to spread your things out in the closet and on the sink counter. In the bathroom you’ll find two thick robes, a deep bathtub and a roomy shower, and a fancy little flat- screen.
For the tall travel companion in your life, know that the beds are long enough to keep feet from dangling free, and comfortable enough to encourage falling back to sleep in case, shall we say, one of you has to take an early call for work.
(As I’m fond of saying, “‘Tis a far better thing to take a mid-week getaway and suffer a conference call than not take a mid-week getaway at all.”)
One suggestion: ask for a room facing the rear of the resort. The view from our room faced the front, which is dominated by the hotel’s entrance driveway. The back, however, has sweeping views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the hotel’s manicured grounds, including a huge man-made rock pond and waterfall.
Down at lawn level, the resort’s grounds are an artful exercise in formal landscaping and meandering paths. There are at least a dozen different types of trees, a scrollwork gazebo, thousands of bedding plants and shrubs…and did I mention a huge waterfall? Yeah, they’ve got that, too.
If you’re starved for fresh air, treat yourselves to a wander here; when you need a rest, there are plenty of padded places to sit and while away the day.
My favorite features of the resort grounds include a greenhouse (which nurtures the hotel’s many orchids between blooms), a duck pond full of…ducks, and a Chinese wooden pagoda bearing wishes for prosperity and a long life. Sheltering pond-view benches, this is a lovely spot to relax, hold hands, or simply stare into space.
For some, this is considered a meditation garden. For others, it’s a canoodling garden.
When you’re ready to take your canoodling indoors, be sure to head to the lobby’s Look Out Bar and claim your Ignite the Spark repast, an assortment of fancy little appetizers and a half-bottle of Champagne. I was smitten by the rich artichoke-parmesan dip on house-baked bread, but also coveted the sexy cheese plate on a neighbor’s table. There are no two seats together by the fire, so try to grab the loveseat tucked into a corner beside the bar, which affords you a fireplace view.
Always featuring some fun seasonal promotion, the Look Out’s patio will host a blanket of man-made snow throughout the month of December. (And yes, it’s true…we are just this weather-challenged in what passes for a Southern California winter.)
Suitably sated, we went in search of the resort’s fabled indoor pool and its atrium ceiling.
What we found, happily, is that we had it all to ourselves.
Once again dry, we ventured over to a romantic Japanese dinner at the ONYX Restaurant. Inlaid with glowing, backlit slabs of quartz and onyx, one of the room’s most compelling features is a 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium which can be viewed from either the bar or outside in the hall.
Definitely try the Red Dragon Roll with tuna, shrimp and crab; the yellowtail makimono sushi; the veggie tempura; and an educational tasting flight of sake. However, skip the tuna tartare trio if you plan to split your meal; served in crispy taco-style shells, these are awkward to share.
We were intrigued by the sound of the Japanese-style fried chicken and the five-course chef’s tasting menu, but with only two stomachs between us, really? Something had to give.
Aside from ONYX, there are several other dining options throughout the property, including a Friday-night raw bar, a Saturday-night buffet designed to evoke an Italian food market, and even a cooking school. At breakfast, the locally-farmed turkey bacon is a crispy treat, and the great big salads often feature produce from the resort’s on-site veggie garden.
The next morning, if you’ve overindulged the night before (and even if you haven’t), you can lounge around the elegant outdoor pool, dip in and out of the hot tub, and/or book a cabana all to yourselves. But if it’s a chilly, overcast day — as it was on the second day of our visit — you can always opt to head indoors to the spa.
At the spa’s lobby entrance, we were intrigued by a massive stone sculpture. Found at various other spots around the resort, these artworks are fashioned from 2,000 year-old boulders that used to line the River Kwai in Thailand.
Inside the 40,000 square-foot spa, which induces a desire to waft rather than merely walk, a river runs through the co-ed and women’s waiting areas, lined with a forest of orchids and spanned by a red lacquer bridge. The lounge chairs here are ridiculously plush and the soft lighting can do half the work of a deep-tissue massage. Inside the men’s and women’s locker rooms, you’ll find mosaic-inlaid whirlpool rooms, as well as small steam rooms and saunas.
But if you ask me, I’d beeline straight for a spa suite. You can still hang out in the public areas if you want, but a spa suite provides a couple with their own private room within the spa, including a day bed, two massage beds, fireplace, Jacuzzi bathtub, and a shower the size of the average L.A. apartment. Outside, there’s a whirlpool tub, several lounge chairs and a table where, if you’re so inclined, you can order a meal from the pool grill.
These suites are pure romance, with or without a couples’ massage.
(But I, for one, am always a big fan of the “with a couples’ massage” option.)
My verdict of the Four Seasons Westlake Village?
It will Ignite the Spark, indeed.
The Ignite the Spark promotion,
providing a complimentary cocktail, a selection of welcome appetizers
and a $100-200 US credit at various Four Seasons properties,
runs through December 15, 2012.
Four Seasons Westlake Village
is located approximately 35 minutes from central Los Angeles.
Rooms start at $210/night.
My guest room, Ignite the Spark offerings, dinner at ONYX,
spa treatments and spa suite
were provided by the Four Seasons Westlake Village.
However, all observations and opinions are my own.