CAL­I­FOR­NIA DREAM­ING

WEST HOL­LY­WOOD THE CAP­I­TAL OF CAL­I­FOR­NIA FUN

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Steve Mac­Naull FOR THE HER­ALD

WeHo an en­clave for the stylish LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity, A-list Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties —

In­dulge. Re­pent. Re­peat. It will be­come my wife, Kerry, and I’s mantra dur­ing a long week­end of self-reg­u­lated rev­elry in West Hol­ly­wood. For ev­ery drink sipped at the rooftop pool of The Lon­don West Hol­ly­wood Ho­tel there will be an hour of cy­cling in Bev­erly Hills spy­ing the man­sions of the rich and fa­mous.

The morn­ing af­ter a wine-paired din­ner at Luc­ques on Mel­rose Av­enue, an hour at the trendy ur­ban sweat lodge is de rigueur.

An­other din­ner at Sun­set Boule­vard hotspot Tesse re­quires next-morn­ing jog­ging in the Hol­ly­wood Hills.

Yet, the in­dul­gence of play­ing with The Lon­don’s real-life bull­dog mas­cot, Win­ston, re­quires no re­pen­tance at all. He’s just so cute and cud­dly. We picked West Hol­ly­wood for our long week­end of bal­ance be­cause it’s the epi­cen­tre of weather-per­fect Los An­ge­les.

And as our Bikes and Hikes LA cy­cling guide Zach Sig­note ex­plains, West Hol­ly­wood is the Cal­i­for­nia cap­i­tal for any­thing-goes fun.

As such, WeHo, as it’s called by those in the know, is an en­clave for the stylish LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity, A-list Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties, en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try ti­tans and tourists.

We see such di­ver­sity on the scene, 10th-floor, ca­bana-ringed and palmtreed rooftop pool of The Lon­don while loung­ing and sip­ping those afore­men­tioned drinks.

Sin­gle­tons and cou­ples, both straight and gay, sun­bathe and a fam­ily from Ger­many and an­other from the Amer­i­can Mid­west splash in the aqua­ma­rine wa­ter.

As its name sug­gests, WeHo is its own 4.9-square-kilo­me­tre city smack dab in the mid­dle of Los An­ge­les, west of Hol­ly­wood proper.

West Hol­ly­wood is home to fa­mous stretches of Sun­set Boule­vard, Mel­rose Av­enue and Santa Mon­ica Boule­vard re­plete with shops, restau­rants, bars, tal­ent agen­cies and TV head­quar­ters.

And, back on our bikes, we pass it all on our way to ad­ja­cent Bev­erly Hills to glide past the man­sions of the rich and fa­mous.

Full dis­clo­sure: they are elec­tric-as­sist bikes, which means we still have to pedal, but e-boosts kick in when we need it on the tony neigh­bour­hood’s in­clines.

We flit past Bev­erly Hill’s only high­rise, Sierra Tow­ers, where Cher, The Os­bournes, Lind­say Lohan and RuPaul call home.

There are the sprawl­ing es­tates of Jen­nifer Anis­ton (when she was mar­ried to Brad Pitt), Tom Cruise (when he was mar­ried to Katie Holmes), Michael Jack­son (where he over­dosed), Elvis (in his hey­day) and Mick Jag­ger (when he was get­ting some sat­is­fac­tion).

With some ex­er­cise un­der our belts, we re­ward our­selves with lunch at Gra­cias Madre, a ve­gan Mex­i­can restau­rant on Mel­rose Av­enue, where we or­der the jack­fruit tacos and an enor­mous mar­garita for two.

Then, there’s more pool time at The Lon­don be­fore head­ing out to Luc­ques’ ivy-cov­ered court­yard for pan-roasted bar­ra­mundi fish paired with Gruner Velt­liner wine from Santa Barbara County.

The next morn­ing, to ef­fort­lessly work off the in­dul­gence, we drop by the West Hol­ly­wood out­let of Shape House – an ur­ban sweat lodge.

We’re wrapped in in­frared blan­kets and heated to 77 C for an hour while we sip al­ka­line wa­ter and watch re­peats of That ’70s Show on TV.

The pro­fuse sweat­ing pro­motes weight loss, re­duces stress and sore­ness and gives you a big meta­bolic boost for 36 hours.

In­vig­o­rated, and armed with the prom­ise of faster me­tab­o­lism, we Uber to out­door mall The Grove for some shop­ping and lunch be­fore more pool time back at The Lon­don and din­ner at Tesse on the Sun­set Strip.

At Tesse, I’m sure we oblit­er­ate all the ben­e­fits of our sweat by gorg­ing on caviar on toast, lob­ster sausages with French fries dou­ble fried in duck fat and choco­late souf­fle.

Oh well, I went for a run the next morn­ing to re­pent, zig-zag­ging up and down streets in the Hol­ly­wood Hills to soak in the palm-tree scenery and say good­bye to Cal­i­for­nia be­fore re­turn­ing to Canada’s up­com­ing win­ter.

Air Canada flies to Los An­ge­les from Toronto, Mon­treal, Cal­gary and Van­cou­ver.

Check out VisitWestHol­ly­wood.com and The Lon­donWestHol­ly­wood.com.

Pho­tos by Steve Mac­Naull

The ivy-cov­ered court­yard at Luc­ques restau­rant on Mel­rose Av­enue. The Bike and Hikes LA Celebrity Tour ped­als down palm-treed Bed­ford Av­enue in Bev­erly Hills.

Wait­ress Me­lanie John­son holds a gi­ant mar­garita for two at ve­gan, or­ganic Mex­i­can restau­rant Gra­cias Madre in West Hol­ly­wood.

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