Book the Sportsmen's Lodge

“Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.” — Author Unknown 

And nothing makes a stay in Studio City, California more enjoyable than being at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.  A new mult-million dollar makeover has transformed the 190 room, eight acre hotel property and events center into a new century iconoclast.  This property in the San Fernando Valley, is a beautiful tropical oasis right in the heart of movie making glamour.

It’s just minutes from Universal Studios, Burbank airport, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, couture L.A. shopping, and many beautiful California beaches. This legendary landmark for the film industry still holds the glamour and allure of yester-year’s stars.  The property holds the secrets of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.   Clark Gable and John Wayne were said to have taught the children how to fish on the property. The minute I stepped into the white pristine lobby with the black and white television screens playing the old movies, I felt that I had entered a true Hollywood glamour experience. 

The Sportsmen’s Lodge is right off from Ventura Blvd. and minutes away from the best San Fernando Valley attractions and legendary Hollywood haunts.

The allure of garden ponds.

The property itself is over eight acres of lush California vegetation, complete with ponds, gardens, water features, and towering redwoods. “Re-imagining this hotel was a labor of love,” explains Richard Weintraub, owner and President of Weintraub Real Estate Group. “Our goal was to transform the property into a modern-day boutique hotel while keeping the retro-spirit of the property intact.”

I found this modern boutique hotel destination comfortably edgy with a sense of whimsy. The tropical setting, mixed with a Palm Spring’s decor, is interlaced with a mid-century color sizzle of hot orange, lime green, and high gloss white accents.  It felt fun, lively, and deliciously different.

Historic sleeping headquarters.

The rooms are comfortably vibrant.  Our bedroom retreat overlooked the nearly Olympic sized heated pool with spa and outdoor bar where the star power of their Pool Bar was almost as impressive as their cocktail libations and scenery.  The large palm trees swayed romantically in the breeze.  Should we indulge in our cocktails by the pool or just relax on the cozy outdoor patio with their lime green and white striped patio chairs that invited us to lounge.

We decided to save the pool for later because the room was so delightfully cozy and inviting.  It held a platform queen size bed with a grey shantung tucked in bed skirt that was accented with a 4x4 bright white paneled head board.  A mod deco cotton comforter swirled in lime green, orange, grey and white geometric print that was bold and playful.  White and chrome night lamps were placed on each side of the bed. 

Luxuriate in the modern past.

There were lime-green. black-out drapes with see thru chocolate brown and orange stripped silk chiffon sheers that gave a breezy whimsical air to the decor.   The walls were painted a glossy light grey blue with bright orange grass cloth walls.  The carpet was grey with orange bursts of colors and the entry way was accented with grey wood lament flooring, complete with a full length dressing mirror, valet coffee maker, white chest of drawers with silk shantung grey draped closet.  We had an LG flat screen television.  And the white and chrome glass topped desk with rolling chrome and white leather desk chair completed the mod-mid-century retro look and feel.

The bathroom had a raised white porcelain sink with a 4x4 lit vanity mirror.  The countertop was white granite sparkled with grey.  The lime green, white and chromed bathroom door had a grey tinted glass insert.  It was comfortably luxurious. 

Lap up Hollywood living.

We were thrilled we saved our pool experience for later because to our surprise they had just introduced an amazing one-of-a-kind pool experience.  We were invited to enjoy an aquatic swimming experience called the Aquilillies.  On Sunday evening, in the largest swimming pool in all of San Fernando Valley, they offered synchronized swimming lessons for anyone looking to learn some retro-underwater moves and dances.  I was thrilled!  The Aqualillies are today’s superstars of the water and I was going to learn their secrets of the trade.  I felt like I was on the movie set with Esther Williams, diving into the water and becoming and learning how to become a starburst or waterfall; perhaps after my lesson, I’d be able to audition for Le Reve or “O” with the Cirque du Soliel.  My imagination went wild as I learned to hold my breath underwater, waiting for my cue to splash my way to stardom.    

According to Larry Broughton, Founder/CEO of Broughton Hotels, that, “There is no hotel like the Sportsmen’s anywhere in the city; we want our guests to not only enjoy the room experience, but to explore the distinctive grounds and have a memory to take home — swimming with Aqualillies is just what we had in mind.”  Actually, this was a memory that would last me a lifetime.  I can still close my eyes and feel like a dancing water baby.  “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up!”

The River Rock Restaurant was renovated in 2014.

I didn’t get discovered at the pool that night.  But when we went for dinner at the River Rock Restaurant, we were treated as if we were part of the Hollywood elite. 

We had a beautiful round table for four, with oversized leather chairs, white table cloths, and dining service befitting a star.  The feeling of the restaurant was like a rich hunting lodge.  Any moment it felt like the Rat Pack might appear and join us for a cocktail to commiserate their day’s hunting/fishing adventures. The waiter told me that in the day the River Rock is  where diners used to catch trout at the nearby lake and bring the catch directly over for one of the Chefs to cook up fresh-to-order.

We didn’t catch our own fish but the salmon was moist and fresh, the Wild Mushroom Ravioli sensational, and the River Rock Ribeye succulent.  The Lobster Bisque with crème fraiche and béarnaise vegetables left me lusting for more.  The Red, White and Blue Salad with organic baby mixed greens, candied pecan, maytag blue cheese, fresh red pears with white balsamic and vanilla bean vinaigrette was the perfect match to sip my Lucille Ball Martini.

The ambiance of the restaurant, the sensational menu prepared by Executive Chef Marcos Arana, mixed with the mysterious glamour of day’s gone by gave the evening a nostalgic pleasure rarely found in today’s dining experiences.

Breakfast in the poolside Cafe.

Breakfast the next morning at the Patio Café was a flavorful start to our day.  Their extensive menu made it difficult to choose between breakfast or lunch.  The selections were as enticing and glamorous as the Hollywood oversized black and white photo’s on the walls.  I wished we were staying for a week so we could sample everything, including specialty omelets, griddle favorites, and staples like Huevos Rancheros or Country Fried Steak.

The rich history of the Sportsmen's Lodge reads like a classic Hollywood movie script.  This newly renovated property, complete with mid-century decor, Aqualillies aquatic allure, the old fishing hole ambiance, fire pits, lusty libations, and the glamour of movie magic, make today’s Sportsmen’s Lodge a must stay for anyone who wants to feel like a STAR or just get treated like one!

— Feature by Janice Wilson, Jetsetters Magazine Hotel, Spa and Lifestyles Editor.