The guests will be gone, the staff will be gone. Only Chloe, Althena and Hercules — the three swans that inhabit the pond on the grounds will remain when the landmark Hotel Bel-Air closes on Wednesday for a two-year renvovation.
Owned by the Sultan of Brunei and managed by the Dorchester Group, the 63-year-old mission-style hotel has become a destination over the years for a slew of movie stars seeking privacy and exclusivity. It has been home to Marilyn Monroe and Howard Hughes, and a favorite watering hole for Hollywood. (See slideshow, "Hotel Bel-Air, 1946-2009.")
As Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures, told TheWrap. “It’s very sad for me. It’s like the loss of a dear friend. It’s always been one of the most beautiful hotels in the world to me.” (Read Sherry Lansing’s Wrap exclusive "Why I Will Miss the Hotel Bel-Air.")
But as with many Hollywood icons, it was time for a little nip and tuck.
"From the guests’ point of view, they think the rooms need a revamp," general manager Tim Lee told TheWrap. "The grand old lady did need a face-lift." The refurbishment, which will be completed toward the middle of 201, will include an updating of all 91 rooms, the construction of a new spa and 12 new villas.
"Bette was staying in a special bungalow at the hotel, and the columnist and I went over there and started the interview. It was going OK, and Bette took out a cigarette to smoke," Myers recalled.
"Always a gentleman, I carried matches and jumped up to light her cigarette and she waved me off," he continued. "I realized afterwards that that was part of her bit, her signature — the way she lights a cigarette and has a little trouble starting it, it gave her extra screen time to show what was in her mind and I was ruining her shtick."
Some other Hollywood moments in the hotel’s history:– Marilyn Monroe lived at the hotel and had her final photo shoot in Suite 261, two weeks before her death. She lived part-time in rooms 133 and 135 during her marriage to Joe DiMaggio.
– Grace Kelly was a resident guest at the hotel before she married Prince Rainier Grimaldi III.
– Judy Garland’s favorite room was 118. Doris Day preferred 150.
– Tom Cruise hung out in a bungalow after divorcing Nicole Kidman in 2001 — to hide from the paparazzi as he began dating Penelope Cruz.
– Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis wed a yoga instructor in a 17-minute marriage ceremony. Reagan spoke one line in the ceremony, responding, "Her mother and I do" when answering who would give the bride away.
– Joan Collins renewed her wedding vows at the hotel in 2008. Collins, 75, renewed her vows to Peruvian-Scottish theatrical producer Percy Gibson, who is 32 years her junior. The marriage is Collins’ fifth.
– Kate Beckinsale married director Len Wiseman in 2004 at the hotel with 50 guests in attendance for the evening ceremony. The vows took place in a garden under a rose-covered gazebo with hanging votive candles and "Morning Has Broken" by Cat Stevens was played in honor of Kate’s late father before the nuptials began. After the vows, a string quartet played while guests sipped champagne in the garden next to the swan-filled pond.