Here at Mantality we don’t just see a hotel as a place to stay or a bed for the night. It is an experience that often starts with the management. We were lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with the visionary and owner behind this fabulous hotel: Tamie Adaya.
The Shangri La Hotel in Santa Monica is a credit to her and she is a credit to the hotel. If this hotel could speak, it would sound like Tamie and believe me, that is a good thing! This woman is flamboyant, stylish and oozes elegance. The hotel doesn’t fall short of those adjectives either. This is not an ordinary hotel review because this is not an ordinary hotel. The hotel is Tamie’s child, so this review reflects that and allows her to chime in to explain the decisions and reasoning behind this exquisite Art-Deco gem. At Mantality Magazine our BEING A BOSS segment is reserved for people who have an extra special business, which works because of the people behind it and that is certainly the case at The Hotel Shangri La.
Before this Hotel, Music was a huge part of Tamie’s life and this is certainly reflected in the décor and tone of the hotel.
TA: “We helped bring what is known as EDM into it’s huge wave. I gave a lot of these guys who are now known like Skream, Benga, Resco and Casper their first stages in North America. Music has always been my first love with Mark Bolan and David Bowie and Slade.”
The hotel is Old School Hollywood and the ambience created by Tamie really reflects that. This Art-Deco establishment was built in 1939 and was passed down Tamie’s family until it landed in her hands in 2004. Tamie secured funding for a $40 million renovation, which was completed in 2009 and this was when the hotel really began to shine. One thing that has never changed however, is that almost each and every one of the 71 rooms at the Shangri La displays a sea view.
TA: “We gutted out the entire inside and kept the architectural integrity of the hotel without turning it into another modern hotel like a W or something like that. It still very much has it’s original identity. I think people are so tired in this world of corporate culture, that they want something that’s real. You want to be a person, and acknowledged and know that there is a line to ownership, should you need it. But having said that, there were 3 mandates for me when I took over with the renovation.
1. To keep the architectural integrity of the hotel when modernising it and bring modern amenities, without turning it into a ubiquitous modern hotel.
2. The rejuvenation of my family after the patriarch died and my rejuvenation.
3. To create a place to reconcile a woman’s dichotomies. What I tried to do over here is create a place where a woman could come with her children, have something to do by the pool with them, go shopping with them but then tuck them in bed and go upstairs because they are in the same place. Maybe meet a guy, maybe check in with her lover, have a suite, sit in the bathtub and admire the view, because a lot of our rooms have tubs with a view. Most people want to go to a family hotel or a couples hotel. This is a place that you can do both. You can come here with your kids and still have a sexy time, and you can come here as a couple and have a super sexy time.”
According to the trustworthy source of Google, ‘Shangri La’ means: a remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection, a utopia. Remote, the Shangri La is certainly not. It boasts the best location of all the hotels in Santa Monica: With 3rd Street Promenade just a minute walk away and direct access to the breath taking beaches across the street, location is a major asset to this hotel. Nevertheless, a Utopia it certainly is.
The pool area is divine. The black and white theme of this hotel is consistent throughout, adding to the Art Deco feel. The best thing about this hotel is the personalized service you get and personality of a person rather than a corporation. The personalized touches like the pink pool towels exhibit Tamie’s fun and colourful personality, whilst the simplistic black and white theme displays her elegance and class. Tamie has thought of everything! The level of detail is second to none. The pool area is situated in a delightful courtyard, which is peaceful, romantic and relaxing. There is a jacuzzi, stunning cabanas and plentiful seating. So no fighting for a seat! They even offer complementary cheese and wine to their guests as an afternoon snack! Additionally there is a serviceable gym, which does the job for a holiday workout.
TA: “I love to create and if I like something that I think is beautiful, I’ll be inspired by it and create something else out of it. Like the outdoor furniture, I knew this building was 1939, Streamline Moderne, tail end of Art Deco. I’d been to South Beach and I thought to myself… what is going to work round here? Black and white! All the chairs have deco lines, but they are not exactly right because I wanted it to be comfortable so tall people can sit and I designed it so that nobody’s feet would be dangling off the chair and can’t relax. So, I had fitting for the chair so I could see where it would break. Then I thought… what goes well with Deco? So the tables are orange segments, like pop art but in black and white. So then, I thought it needs a little bit of colour so in the cabanas I put little rugs and hot pink towels. It is all thought out and comes from somewhere. But basically this hotel is a personality brand. Just like Richard Brandon is for Virgin. This is my personality. And I happen to be good with people so….”
ONYX is the hotel rooftop bar. This
bar is the ONLY half inside, half outside bar in the whole of Santa Monica. The queue to get ino this bar is large but the best part about being a guest is you do not have to wait in line. Because trust me, you will want to check this out! ONYX has a Studio 54 vibe and the ambience really replicates that. It is buzzy, sophisticated and has a view to die for. What more can you ask for?
The Dining Room at the Shangri La is a classic American Eatery, intimately designed to create a relaxed vibe with simple but delicious dining. Most importantly all the food is fresh and
the menu is designed according to market availability. The staff and service is friendly, attentive and personalized, especially at the pool. The cocktails are also beyond delicious. Of course I had to try the Tamie Tini, which just like Tamie herself- full of passion with a little punch.
Tamie’s management philosophy is reflected in the staff, service and operation of this hotel.
TA: “I have tried it all! I’ve been completely hands on and completely hands off. I think what works best is providing the vision, being really consistent with it and making sure it is implemented. Hiring a professional to do the job for the general manager is essential because otherwise it will burn you out. You can’t be the visionary, implementer and the disciplinarian. So hire the best staff you could possibly afford and reward them handsomely, otherwise you will train them and someone else will steal them. Keep your eye on the numbers. It is a business! It is all about the numbers BUT not at the cost of your vision. My family has always bought businesses to keep, for the next generation and the generation after that, so we don’t believe in flipping for fast cash. I could make a lot of money if I used this hotel for filming and doing reality shows but I wouldn’t have a brand anymore. So for me it is long-term. The public doesn’t lie, if they don’t like it they are not going to buy it. But at the same time my vision is long term and I won’t do anything for a short-term profit.”
I have saved the best until last because suite 604 was absolutely breathtaking. The uninterrupted panoramic view from my suite windows (yes plural!) and private balcony made me not want to the leave the room. I wanted to spend the afternoon staring at the Pacific Ocean with countless Tamie Tini’s being delivered by the 24hr room service. The cherry on top of this fabulous cake of a suite is when I opened the curtains in the morning and could see a whale playing in the ocean. It is just a really special place. The room was huge, with its own living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. It is the perfect little oasis. Again, designed beautifully!
But what is coming up next sounds really exciting….
TA: “In the pipeline we have Santa Monica’s only open-air rooftop spa. It is going to be called Xanadu. The theme is going to be all white and gold, with two gold bathtubs over looking the ocean whilst you are getting your treatments. I have designed all the treatments and they are all going to be in house. If everything goes to plan it should all be ready by the end of September!
The other thing that is coming for next year is a Sidewalk Café, which will serve simple food. It will be mostly wine, croissants and coffee in the morning and simple salads and simple foods for lunch. We have this beautiful view and people just want to sit, drink and enjoy.”
I massively enjoyed my stay at this one of a kind, TRUE BOUTIQUE hotel and I would not hesitate in sending even the fussiest of guests. It is a MUST! It is romantic but child friendly, relaxing but vibrant and finally Old School Hollywood but current!
TA: “There is something for everybody here! If you want
vibrancy- you go to the roof top bar, if you want a great view- any of the rooms, if you want a secluded balcony- you stay on the 6th floor, if you want a zen oasis experience- you stay at the courtyard and then there is the pool and then there’s the hot tub and there is a little wellness spa.”
“A lot of hotels want to be called boutique, like The Edition in London. It’s not! It is part of a Marriott chain! How could it be a boutique? Boutique hotels are one of a kind, under 100 rooms and preferably family owned, where the guests feel they are known.”
Tamie’s office is a total projection of her personality and it is like her psyche exploded against the walls. If I had stayed at this hotel and not met Tamie this article would have been very different. Now I can understand the vision behind The Hotel Shangri La and I hope this article has helped you to understand it too. The hotel screams her extravagant, colourful and fun personality. She is certainly the inspiration to this fabulously chic boutique hotel.