Thursday, October 08, 2009
the bel air hotel-3

The pool at the Bel Air Hotel, looks bigger in this picture than it actually is....But what I love is that you can see all the amazing foliage that makes the area so very private.....Stone Canyon Road is right beyond all those tall trees...... I love the shape of this pool--it is Oval and a really beautiful oval, at that.....Below, another view of the pool as evening is coming on.....
Again, it looks bigger than it is...not that it is tiny, but given the size of the Hotel---only 91 rooms---it is the perfect size. Intimate and lovely in every way. Again, I love the lush greenery all around this property..... Here above is another hallway-walkway that is so very very pretty......Everywhere you look there is great great beauty and everything has been thought out so that wherever the eye lites, there is the exquisiteness of nature. How many Hotels really do this...not many.....I pray that this renovation keeps the integrity of what has always made The Bel Air Hotel so special....I would think they would because the longevity of a Hotel is built on it's reputation over the long haul, and this Hotel has been an Oasis of comfort and privacy since 1946......
Another walkway lined with pretty little flowers.......Only this one has this discreet smallish sign that is impossible to read in the picture above...but I isolated it and lightened it and here is what it says.....

Of course, if you are visiting a Guest of the Hotel, or are part of a 'Wedding Party' as I was for two different Weddings back in the 1990's---you can ignore that discreet little sign. The Bride is given a room, sometimes two, depending on the size of the Wedding Party----so there is a place for everyone to change and get made-up, etc., plus a place for the "Officiant" (me) to change into my robe and study the text of the ceremony, if needed......And then the Bride and Groom stay at the Hotel the night of the Wedding, if they aren't flying off on their Honeymoon later that same day or evening.....And speaking of 'the rooms'..... Couldn't you just lay down on that lovely big bed right now? The rooms are just so comfy-cozy looking....and in my view, beautifully furnished....How much this will change with the renovation only time will tell, but again, I cannot imagine that their would be drastic changes in the kind of decor that will grace each room. Above, is the living room of one of the Suites....and this particular one has it's own little "Spa" outside on the private patio, like this one in the picture below......This next picture looks like it might be the Suite that goes with the Spa above, or one very is really beautiful, isn't it?Here below is another 'Spa' that is a different shape and it looks to me like it is slightly larger maybe than the one above....... And of the Private Patios that belong to one of the Suites...... Although, this doesn't look so private, does it...! (lol) I do believe though, that "privacy" has always been one of the watchwords of this secluded-hidden-away Hotel. Many people who come here are looking for the kind of privacy that isn't always available at many many other Hotels here in Los Angeles. Especially high profile people who prefer being as anonymous as possible, which isn't easy, if you are a famous movie star, or The Queen of England......And The Bel Air Hotel has always provided that, and I am sure will continue to do so when it re-opens after this renovation is completed.And another very pretty room---they say that no two rooms are alike in terms of furniture and decorations.......
One more personal story: When I was a little girl---maybe six years old, my mother was looking for a stimulating creative place for my older sisters, Gene and Robin, to spend the summer. She found it in this wonderful group called The Washington Square Players from New York University who were to be at Hofstra College on Long Island---near Great Neck, where we lived---for that summer of 1937. They would be staging a number of Shakespeare's plays there in an outdoor theatre very much like The-Shakespeare-In-The-Park, in New York--which came along many many many years later....Normally they didn't accept such young children in their Summer Program----Gene and Robin were then 11 and 13. But if accepted, they would get Dance and Acting and Movement---and maybe even be in a few of the productions....A brilliant lovely man named Professor Randolph Somerville was the head of it and he taught Drama, at NYU, in fact I believe he was the Head of the Drama Department! My mother went to see him in Manhattan, where he lived, and whatever it was she said, he did accept Gene and Robin into his summer 'program'.

A just-turned-18-year-old dear young man named John Taras, was the one who taught them Dance, 'Jen The Hen', my mother, as she was affectionately known later in life, was very taken with John and thought he was incredibly talented.....She wanted to help him continue his studies---which he really couldn't afford to do at the time---and so she convinced Daddy Joe, (they were still together back then...) to subsidise John's 'schooling' in Dance for however many years it took. Well, he became very close to our family spending a lot of time with us in Great Neck and at 'The Farm' in Pennsylvania, too....we all LOVED John....there was something about him that resonated to all of us, and as the years went on, more and more of his life and work resonated to me, big time. And Ma's belief in him was truly truly realized. He had a wonderfully successful career in the world of Ballet, as a Dancer and a Choreographer with The Ballet Theatre in the early 1940's, (Later known as American Ballet Theatre) and then later with the French company Le Grand Ballet de Marquis de Cuevas, where he served as Ballet Master and as a Choreographer, too, and then going on to be the Ballet Master of Balanchine's New York City Ballet for many many years---He was also Balanchine's Assistant during all those years. And after Balanchine's death in 1983, Baryshnikov named John Associate Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre where John remained until 1990. John worked all over the world, staging Ballets (His own and other people's, too) in Paris with Paris Opera Ballet, in Germany, Russia, The UK, etc., etc., etc.
And all through the years from 1937 until he died, John stayed close to our family. And we always went to see any and all performances in which John was involved as a dancer or as a choreographer. (That is my sister Gene on John's back, 1937-38......) After my mother died in April of 1966 we asked John to speak at her funeral, which he did, and beautifully, too. He always felt that if it hadn't been for Ma, he would never have had the career that he did. And it was a truly fabulous career. The crowning achievement being his association to Balanchine and The New York City Ballet, where he was The Ballet Master from 1959 to 1983. When Balanchine died, he left John the "rights" to a number of his Ballet's, which meant that John had an ongoing income---for life, because these Ballet's were done all over the world all of the time. And this was in addition to whatever else he earned as a choreographer, etc.

Over the years I saw John fairly frequently and I actually got to spend more time with him than any of my siblings. Whenever he came to Los Angeles, which was quite often, I would see him. He usually stayed at Nora Kaye and Herb Ross' house----They had all met back in the early days of Ballet Theatre. I remember going to dinner at their home---John cooked and, by the way, he was a great great cook---I think he could have been a Premiere Chef had not 'The Classical Dance' been his first passion in life-----That dinner was some time in the fall of 1975...and John said..."Be sure to bring some of your paintings with you". And I did. I packed my car with as many paintings as I could (They were all from my Heart Series, and I had had a huge and very successful one-woman show at Ankrum Gallery that year---opening on Valentines day, 1975).....That evening after dinner, the three of them looked at the paintings and John bought one and Herb and Nora bought two---giving one as a gift to the most famous theatrical agent at that time...Sue Mengers.

What does all this have to do with The Bel Air Hotel? Well, the very last time I actually saw dear John, was for lunch at the beautiful Bel Air Hotel, sometime around 1999. John was like an older older brother to me and a kind of mentor, too, and I loved him dearly....And besides all of his many other talents, John had a truly rare sense of humor and was always always great fun to be around. Dear John Taras died on April 2, 2004. Oddly enough, my mother died on April 2, too, 38 years before John......That lunch at The Bel Air Hotel created another wonderful memory for me, adding to a collection of other wonderful memories that are all extremely special to me.....I miss dear John, more than I can say......And I miss being able to go to The Bel Air Hotel.....In a way, knowing that it will be closed for two years makes me feel a little better about not being able to go...Why? Because no one else can go there!

More To Come........

Links to this post:


had this to say:

Wonderful tour as always and I can understand how you will actually being relived that it will be closed for two years.
Beautiful story about your "brother" John. It was so neat how he stayed in your family when he no longer needed to financially. Obviously the bond was family, way beyond patron/performer.

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 4:53:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

What great pictures and recollections about the Bel Air Hotel. I scrolled down and read the earlier ones as well. I hope the remodelling doesn't change it too much. It has such old fashioned charm and beauty.

And congrats on your blog
anniversary. I have only been at it 2 years, and sporadically, at that. But I do enjoy it when I take the time for it.

Your blog is special. I'm glad I found it.


Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 4:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

This hotel is so beautiful, no wonder you fell in love with it. That bed looks so comfy, I sure would like that room in my home. I enjoyed your story about John, it was so interesting. Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment.

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 6:04:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

It's amazing how places can trigger memories seemingly out of the blue. It shows the marvels of our human brains and the connections we form throughout life.


Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 6:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

It is so wonderful to be able to help someone who you just feel "right" about, someone with a special talent that without that extra help might be lost to the world. I bet your mother helped many people in many ways. My partner graduated from the acting program at NYU---so much talent but many never get that lucky break, and you really do need a little luck. Your mother was a four leaf clover. (I understand your feeling about nobody being able to visit the hotel right now.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 8:31:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Beautiful descriptive post in the beginning.....

then very poignant special memories in the middle.....

then you made me laugh at the end!


Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 9:58:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

These rooms are beautiful.. I would never be able to afford one but its great to look at...

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:01:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Another wonderful trip down memory lane. John sounds like such a special man, and I'm sorry for your loss of a dear friend.

The hotel does look beautiful, but I have to admit the bedrooms look a bit too chintzy for my taste. Not that ultra modern would look good either, but maybe something inbetween. :)

I hope you get another opportunity to go there when all the renovations are done.

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 2:38:00 PM PDT 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

Another great post Naomi. The hotel looks so inviting - the bedrooms quite opulent - let's hope they are going to repair and refresh rather than change the ambience.
No wonder you are sucn a person of the arts with your father's collection and your mother sponsoring John. He must have been devoted to her for giving him that chance and how brilliantly he used it.
I love your heart picture - It's quite moving.

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 3:41:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

A wonderful series of posts, Naomi. I wonder what a night in a lush suite at the Bel Air would go for nowadays? It truly is a little jewel!

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 4:06:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Wow! Another great tale. Did you get to meet Balanchine? I LOVE ballet and he's one of the masters, but I have to confess, I've never liked his hand style. When I see dancers holding their hands like that, I always say, "Oh this is a Ballanchine." I noticed that years ago when I saw my first Fort Worth ballet and sure enough, the director had studied under Ballanchine. I so love your stories, I sure wish you would write a book.

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I think i've come to the conclusion that you have a whole store room just filled with photographs! I love love love that you have so many pictures of your life!!

(and I'm glad the hotel is closed for a while lol)

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 3:07:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Well, you can start packing your bags, young lady...two years will fly by in a heartbeat and I will visit you in LA and we'll stay at the newly furnished Bel Air Hotel for a weekend! How 'bout that?? :)

Seriously, it is a beautiful hotel, and funny enough, I'm reading about it in the Marilyn Monroe book. Apparently she and DiMaggio were fond of the place (and I can see how they'd appreciate the kind of privacy it offered).

The patio and walkways with all the greenery and flowers would make me feel one on one with nature, and I can think of no better place to stay in CA.

The story about John is a touching one, and it's amazing he passed away on the same day as your mother (38 years before!). He really took what she gave him and soared. I love it!!

You have the most wonderful stories, my friend, and the pictures you share are priceless!

Have a beautiful weekend up in your hills!! Enjoy your greenery and flowers!

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 4:24:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Beautiful pics and wonderful memories !

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 5:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Of course, you know *I* was wondering about the pool at the Bel Air Hotel. :)

I'm sure they'll just give the hotel a facelift of sorts, and not change the atmosphere of the place.

You do love deeply, don't you? You have been blessed to have so many wonderful people in your life. They are blessed to be loved by you... xo

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 1:41:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Naomi,
once again I feel wordless.
I mean, how can I really comment?
I was not there at that time.
And you know I have even ever been to the L A area.
On the other hand,
it's like beeing there with you, as a flie on the wall, so to speak, if you understand this Norwegian way of expression.

Nonoen but you have teaches me more than you about US entertainment from A to Z as you.
And also written about friendship in an industry known for people outside, like youdo in your remarkable blog.
I've learned a lot from your blog and even when talking with you.

Well, you have encouraged me to write more openly than I first thought about when I planned to present a visit to a more or less Village in the middle of France.

Thanks to you, it ended up more or less as dedication to old friendship.
Something that is utterly important.

hugs from

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 4:41:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

In a way, knowing that it will be closed for two years makes me feel a little better about not being able to go...Why? Because no one else can go there!

this is why i love reading your blog, sugar! priceless humor and wit! xoxoxo (if ypu'll permit, drinks are on me next time i'm out in la!)

Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 6:07:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Your photos show why the Hotel Bel Air is home away from home for those who can afford it.
When it reopens, I shall have to visit to learn what hospitality it teaches which can be brought home.

Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 8:40:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Lovely personal story you associate with this fascinating series with photos on the Bel Air Hotel.

We really do make an impact on others lives with whom we come in contact, whether the degree of involvement of your family with John or even much less involvement.

Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 8:59:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I, too, hope that they do not make drastic changes to the Bel Air. Maybe I'll save my pennies these next two years and treat myself to a night in that magnificent place when they reopen!

Lovely set of posts about the hotel, a very touching personal memory. I love reading about your life and the many people whose lives you have touched (and who have touched yours.)

Love from the OC --Kathy

Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 9:55:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a fantastic thing that your Mother did in helping John!

All I can think of when looking at pictures of the greenery at the Hotel is, "Wow, a team of gardeners has their work cut out for them!"

Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 11:09:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh my gosh I don't know what pinged my heart more the pictures and write up's you so beautifully do thus I live what you did, saw and felt or the wonderful story of John your friend for life. And then your heart I felt it was like mine so often broken and waiting to mend and sometimes it takes so long I can hardly bare and other times the healing is quicker. Thus promise if you can that you will share more of your beautiful art which told me so much about you.

Dorothy from grammology

Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 8:05:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a lovely hotel and what a great history you provided about John. Your mother did a truly loving and wonderful thing for him. Everyone benefitted from it.

Monday, October 12, 2009 at 10:00:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Dear Naomi,
The pictures you have of the garden suites at the Hotel Bel-Air are indeed lovely.
Many of them go for a minimum of $1,500 a night - $5,00 a night, and more.

They are also TOTALLY different from many of the rooms, which are small and dark and musty and have very old-fashioned bathrooms, even at $850 a night.

I stayed there lasy year and was VERY disappointed on several occasions by what they considered a deluxe King room, even when they moved me to what they said was nicer, it really wasn't.

For that kind of money charged for their accomodations, I think the hotel was LONG overdue for a complete renovation.

The grounds are luscious, and hopefully the new management will maintain that standard of beauty, and the dining room will get a marvelous new Chef as well.

Happy upcoming holidays to you, dear Naomi.

The hotel should reopen in summer of 2011 - let's keep our fingers crossed it once again becomes the jewel of west Los Angeles :)

Monday, October 12, 2009 at 5:21:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What lovely photos with a walk through the Bel Air and a walk through your beautiful memories. For us east coasters the Bel Air is full of mystique; nice to get a peek inside! And your artistic abilities, connections and experiences never cease to amaze me. Thank you!

Friday, October 16, 2009 at 4:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

To find someone like you in the blog world is one of the truly great gift of the Web. Imagine, I am here in Georgia and I can visit the exclusive Bel Air Hotel with such an eloquent and knowledgeable guide. In addition I am regaled with a truly sweet family history about the great John Taras. It does not get any better really. I have had my blog for only a few months and am still amazed at how is has enriched my life - your blog being one of the most outstanding.

Sunday, October 18, 2009 at 9:04:00 PM PDT 

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Name: OldOldLady Of The Hills
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