MID-MONTH at WVRC PLUS PHOTOS!
We had a minor timing problem, in
that the buffet lunch was ten minutes late in starting. And since no
one really could predict how long the photo session might take, this was
a cause for concern which turned out not to be a problem, due to the
really organized way that PP DAVE WHITEHEAD had arranged the
picture-taking. All went off on schedule, and the Speaker came on right
at 1 p.m. you cant do better than that!
PP STEVE DAY started us off with
the Pledge. He and PP JIM DOWNIE combined for the song, which turned
out to be My Country Tis of Thee with JIM providing the music on his
harmonica. JIM then also did double duty, providing the Invocation,
which he dedicated to SUNNY JIM SUMNER. Its a grand and glorious
feeling, to have that pro control, to loft it toward the ceiling and
drop it at the hole. The whole world looks rosy, your game is splendid,
BUT the whole damn thing is ruined when you miss the two-foot putt.
Im not sure that JIM credited the author his Dad, who wrote this
particular sonnet in 1927 but it was well done, as usual.
MARK BLOCK noted that we had a
Visiting Rotarian, Martin Weber, who belongs to the Manheim, Germany
Club, and was visiting at UCLA he called me in advance, and I assured
him he would be most welcome, and he seemed to enjoy all the extra photo
activity, etc. While not formally announced, we had another Rotarian,
Dick Thompson, who was the photographer, and a long-time member of the
WLA Club. ELOISE SISKEL brought HOWARD, and she always adds to any
meeting. And it must be announced that we had that rare, almost
visitor, PP RON WANGLIN, with us. While Im sure he wanted to be
included in the photo shoot, it was also announced that RON has just
bought a new house. GENE PRINDLE was the agent, and this opens up
wonderful opportunities for fining RON, of course, for the house, GENE
as the agent and the one still-open question was how much the fine to
RON should be. It was suggested that he should pay a buck for each
square foot in the new house, and then the figure of 5000 square feet
was noted plus, it was also suggested that GENE should at least match
that fine. This will be resolved, and we are all interested, so stay
PDG ANDY ANDERSON came forward
with a brief reminder about the forthcoming Wine and Cheese party. This
will be a fund raiser for the Global Neuro Rescue program run by Dr
Jorge Lazareff and the Neuro Oncology Department at UCLA and of
course, with these two wonderful programs as the beneficiary, UCLA
makes no charge for the use of the James West Center thus all the
income goes directly to the two charities. Tickets are $25, and your
Board of Directors has voted that each Rotarian should pay for two
with as many additional tickets as needed, of course. Save the date
May 16th, Sunday, from 2:30 to 5 p.m.
PP HOMER NEWMAN is the Chair of
the Election Committee, which met this past Monday. The many ballots
were tallied, and the following results are now official
President - RUDY ALVAREZ,
President -Elect DON NELSON, Vice President
Secretary-Treasurer, CHRIS BRADFORD, International Service, SEAN
McMILLAN, Vocational, TONY DERYAN, Youth, SHANE WAARBROEK, and
Community, LILLIAN KLIEWER. An excellent team and they were approved
by unanimous voice vote.
As noted above, PP DAVE WHITEHEAD
took charge of the seating and placement for the group photo. The first
row was seated, with several rows behind the chairs, and it all went
forward quite quickly. Photographer Dick Thompson then had a few
instructions, mounted his two chairs, and on the count of two, began
shooting. He took a bunch of shots, and then dismissed the group. Next
was a group shot of Past Presidents, of which we have twenty eight!
Same procedure, on the count of two, etc, and so it was done.
PP RALPH WOODWORTH next introduced
our Speaker, Carlos Lopes, Managing Director of the Bel Air Hotel; Mr.
Lopes was born in Lisbon, Portugal, and received his collegiate degrees
in Canada. He has had over thirty years experience with luxury hotels,
managing such properties as Cap Juluca Resort in Anguilla, BWI, and the
Grand Hotel in Cap Ferrat, France. He was Senior Vice President for
eleven years for Four Seasons Hotels worldwide and this is his third
stint at the Bel Air! In the late 1980s when the hotel was owned by
Rosewood Hotels, he was first here, on a two week assignment, which
turned into a three year stint. He returned in 1990, briefly, and has
been at the Bel Air this time since 2002 and hes glad to be back!
The hotel was started in 1946, and
first had 63 units. It was later expanded to 83 units, and now its
configuration is 91 units, with 51 suites and 40 smaller rooms. Rates
range from $345 to $3500 (yes, thats per night) and 30 of the rooms
have private spas. They have regained their Five Star rating, which was
temporarily lost, and there are only two hotels in LA with that rating.
Every room is different, and their ratio of personnel to rooms is three
to one, which is very high. Wolfgang Puck was once the Chef here, and
the present chef is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) Graduate who
has been here for three years.
It should not surprise us to learn
that the hotel has the largest selection of port wines anywhere Mr.
Lopes is, after all, from Lisbon. The guest makeup has changed recently,
with almost 60% of bookings being business related. They host over 100
meetings each year, and over 200 weddings. The Bel Air is very proud of
their gardens spending recently $150K just to have the upper foliage
of the trees thinned, for example. They grow their own herbs over
80%, at last count which gives them tremendous variety in their
They emphasize employee retention,
and the average period of service now is fifteen years. Their turnover
rate is less than 10%, and the average rate in Los Angeles is 40 to 50%
- so their efforts to retain personnel is working. You will be pleased
to know that they do allow dogs
And if a client is here for over three
months, and spends over $100K, they will redecorate their room to the
clients specifications. When the Japanese bought the hotel in the 80s,
they paid one million dollars per room and when they sold it, the
per-room rate was $650K! Mr. Lopes allowed as how he prefers the Zagat
ratings, since they are produced by actual paying guests but any way
you figure it, the Bel Air Hotel is at the top of the list. We thank
you, Carlos Lopes, for visiting with us come back soon.
Dont forget that next week is
Investment Advisors Day bring your spouse. See you then.
YOE, Ernie Wolfe