The New Inn Spot : Larry Ellison & David Geffen Become Hoteliers

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Billionaire business moguls David Geffen and Larry Ellison have become hoteliers, hitting the beach with contrasting yet complementary properties.

By Jeremy Lissek

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 Casa Malibu Inn is a small, intimate, and blissful resort on the beach.

Malibu, where you wake up and breath in fresh ocean air while you gaze past the famous pier and lose yourself in the vast horizon of the Pacific. Malibu, where good people, from surfers to Hollywood power brokers, are casual and comfortable and care about the quality of life. Malibu, where offbeat charm is celebrated-Nobu can be found in a shopping plaza on the same stretch of Pacific Coast Highway where a storefront spiritual adviser charges $20 for a palm reading. Malibu, where David Geffen and Larry Ellison have recently become beachside innkeepers along the coveted coastline of Carbon Beach.

Ellison, the chief executive of the software giant Oracle and the world’s 11th-richest man, according to Forbes magazine, recently bought the 21-room Casa Malibu Inn on Carbon Beach for $20 million. A few blocks away, record/film exec turned philanthropist Geffen, the six billion dollar man and a buddy of Ellison’s (with whom he owns a yacht), renovated the 3-story Malibu Beach Inn, which he purchased in 2005 for $29 million, as a 47-room luxury hotel.

And what a facelift it is. Redefining oceanfront luxury in Malibu, the Malibu Beach Inn immediately swathes its guests in a contemporary sanctuary of elegant, unpretentious style. Designed to complement its marine location, the Inn features clean-lined architecture and interiors, a beach-inspired color palette, and natural materials for an organic indoor/outdoor feel. “Every detail of the hotel is designed to ensure the most pleasurable experience for our guests,” says Managing Director Alan Goldschneider, who spent a globetrotting year researching design elements, services, and amenities. “There are elements from furnishings to tabletop…that haven’t been used in U.S. hotels before, which will give our guests a sense of exclusivity and luxury that will heighten the true Malibu beach experience.”

At the heart of the renovation is a new guests-only 44-seat dining room, which affords indoor and oceanfront terrace seating, both of which boast breathtaking views and the sound of tumbling surf below. The hotel offers a unique food and wine experience, pairing Executive Chef Samuel Lara’s Mediterranean tapas and California coastal cuisine with an extensive wine list of hand-picked small-production wines, such as Schramsberg and Far Niente, culled from the Golden State’s premier wine regions. “I’ve met each of the winemakers, tasted their wines, and learned about their production to put together a diverse list that displays the best of California’s talented small producers,” says Goldschneider.

The 47 guest rooms, including 6 suites-each with ocean views, balconies, and fireplaces-showcase custom-made furnishings, luxurious fabrics, and cutting-edge communication and entertainment equipment, such as 32-inch plasmas and interactive touch screen telephones. In-room amenities include a mini-bar stocked with Dean & DeLuca, a wine rack with California vintages, and skin and hair products from Molton Brown.

The hotel also features an expanded lobby with 24-hour concierge, valet service, and a European-trained multilingual staff, as well as 5,000 square feet of oceanfront meeting space, loaded with high-tech audio/visual digital projection systems, video conferencing, and digital whiteboards. The property’s team of meeting professionals coordinate each conference, meeting, or retreat from first contact through post-event follow up. For example, catering and banquet menus are individually created to provide a range of meal and mingling options. High-speed wireless and cable data connections throughout the property make the Inn “virtually” the perfect destination for meetings, corporate retreats, parties, or galas. Intimate and casual receptions can also be created on the hotel’s pristine beach.

The Malibu Beach is also ushering in a fresh concept with its Carbon Beach Club-the only private beach club in Malibu. Nestled on a nearly 300-foot long sandy stretch, the club is a limited membership experience, giving area residents and non-hotel guests access to the hotel’s private beach. For a nominal fee, hotel guests may enjoy all the benefits of club membership, including the dedicated beach concierge, who can arrange surfing lessons, kayaking, water-skiing, and yoga. Or while away the day cocooned in a plush lounge chair and experience the serenity of “Billionaire’s Beach.”

Casa Malibu Inn is a small, intimate, and blissful resort on the beach. For more than 50 years, guests have been enjoying this unique little hideaway’s quiet, restful charm and private, white sand beach. In fact, Jaime Lee Curtis and husband Christopher Guest see the relaxed Casa as their secret escape. It’s such a timeless landmark of laid-back Malibu sensibility that Ellison decided against changing anything, including honoring the lease of long-time manager, Richard Page.

With just 21 rooms, Casa Malibu features four types of accommodations, including two mini-suites. The Malibu Suite offers the ultimate Southern California beachfront experience, whereas the Catalina Suite (Lana Turner’s favorite room) overlooks the courtyard gardens and grants romantic views of the Pacific. According to legend, Turner checked into the hotel for a day, but loved the place so much she ended up staying for a year. Both mini-suites feature a king-size bed, fireplace, and a full kitchen. Additionally, the Malibu Suite includes a Jacuzzi bath and a large, private seaside deck. If your stay is in the spring, it functions as an observation point to watch the whales migrate. Yet in any season, you just may be mesmerized by jumping dolphins.

The most popular rooms, those for which the Casa Malibu is famous, are the beachfront rooms. Literally right on the beach, each has its own just-above-the-sand private deck, with limitless, unobstructed views to the horizon. Upstairs, ocean view rooms also have their own panoramic decks. Garden view rooms face the inner yard, a lush oasis of palms, beautiful flowers, climbing cuppa d’oro vines, and exotic plants, and just steps away from sand and surf.

Keeping with its homey atmosphere, each morning Casa Malibu offers up a light Continental breakfast for guests to enjoy before slinking out to the beach, which is raked smooth every morning. Because Casa Malibu is situated on one of the most sought-after stretches of sand in the world, Page advises to make reservations well in advance.

So take your pick. But no matter which one you choose, you’ll be sure to think, “Malibu, where I have discovered another magical slice of haute living.”

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