Why I Will Miss the Hotel Bel-Air

“Everything changes. We move on. But, I think the Hotel Bel-Air is perfect just the way it is.”

Last Updated: October 15, 2009 @ 4:21 PM

With all of the problems in the world — global warming, the economic downturn, the health care debate — why do I care about the closing of the Hotel Bel-Air? Because it is more than a lovely resort. It is a friend. 

So many people are concerned about the loss of this beloved landmark. One can’t go to the Bel-Air these days without hearing guests exclaim, “We’ve got to save this hotel!”

Why are we so concerned? 

Simply put, the Bel-Air is unique. The first thing one notices upon arriving are the manicured grounds, which are serenely beautiful. There is even a lake with swans. But one quickly comes to realize that it is the people who work there that make the hotel special.  

General Manager Tim Lee has established an environment that is completely welcoming and authentic and the dedicated employees — some of whom have been there for over 40 years — are like family. We have heard of their kids going to college, getting married, and raising families. We have a personal relationship with them and are concerned about their welfare. 

What will happen to them when the hotel closes for renovations?

When I was at Paramount, I had breakfast at the Bel-Air nearly every morning on my way to work. I continue to do so, in my non-profit life, several times a week. I also continue to meet friends there socially. The hotel makes work more pleasant and social occasions more intimate.

Everything changes. We move on. But, I think the Hotel Bel-Air is perfect just the way it is, and I don’t want it to change at all. 

As they say, however, I’ll still have my memories.

Sherry Lansing, the longtime head of Paramount Pictures who stepped down to focus full-time on philanthropy, is a founding member of Stand Up To Cancer, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. Ms. Lansing also chairs the EIF Board of Directors.