Just back from Malibu. Sounds great, doesnt it? It has a certain ring to it. And, it was an experience for a wedding weekend. Talk about a venue for the activities more about that in a moment.
Where the mountains meet the sea – the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean with a 27 mile sliver of Heaven in the middle. Malibu is not easy to get to, either from the busy Pacific Coast Highway heading North up from Los Angeles or going across the spine of the mountain range via numerous canyon roads from the Ventura Highway (101) in the East. If you try State Highway 23 over the range, begin the drama with some Dramamine. But, once you are in Malibu, the magic begins. You become one of the beautiful people (no white socks with your sandals)!
The accessibility is part of the allure. Film people discovered the area about one hundred years ago, and exclusivity still reigns through price and property location. I did see one movie star at a restaurant – he was in several ninja films as the heavy – you know – old what’s his name. I was hoping that James Garner in his Rockford look would come rambling through. That semi-famous ninja actor was the only sighting, although there must have been many more stars hiding in sun glasses, shady sun hats and dark tinted windows in fancy cars. Later at LAX I did espy my favorite tier three actor – Lou Diamond Phillips, traversing the concourse.
Malibu has the length with hardly any width – homes are strung along the coast or nestled into canyon walls – there is no middle ground. Brown or green landscape, depending on the season, all festooned with glorious flowers and fauna, stretches of famous beaches, and the blue of the rolling ocean. This surely almost beats a Boston area at the height of the Fall leaf period! Mighty close, but obviously very different.
Now, to the venue. Up about half a mile into the hills from the Malibu Colony Club, the site was actually a private home. During the great recent depression (you remember 2008 – 2010), many folks in Malibu were sitting on some very expensive housing – prices had dropped precipitously as did income. Many decided to rent these properties and houses, and some turned them into locations for film shots and special events. We are not talking massive estates here, for there is little room on the climbing hills. Rather we are talking a “room with a view”, and it is magnificent.
Meeting Planners and event folks are always looking for that special location, considering amenities, activities, accessibility, and the like. This particular venue, according to the owner, who inherited the property, is used primarily for small weddings and management retreats. The activities are outdoors on a large veranda, facing the Ocean and other “insignificant” properties below. The veranda easily accommodated about 80 guests for the wedding ceremony, sit down dinner and dancing under the stars. There were several guest rooms for the bride and her attendants, a kitchen and living room and a back terrace for food and beverage prep – and that was about it, except for a wondrous blooming garden surrounding the property.
Of course, there are always a few challenges when you find Heaven. Parking is horrible, for there is little room either on the winding road up to the venue (this beats Lombard Street in San Francisco) or on property. You must plan a shuttle type of service for the main event (the wedding), and watching those vans maneuver the roads and turn-arounds is worthy of Buster Keaton. Additionally, there is a Malibu noise ordinance, so music must cease by 10 pm. Okay, so not perfect, but workable.
What a great time! The events and schedule were carefully orchestrated by bride Laura and fully appreciated by groom Christopher and the wedding party. The weather was perfect, from the rehearsal dinner on Friday through a brunch on Sunday. You simply do not forget the marriage vows against the sunset over the Pacific. This particular movie won the Oscar. By the way, surf is always up in Malibu, and the movie stars grocery shop at Ralph’s!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
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