This morning I sent the following to Amanda Grandinetti, identified on her Facebook page as the food and beverage director at the Chateau Marmont but, according to a longtime Chateau employee who insists that Grandinetti’s Facebook page is out of date, currently the managing director. Philip Pavel, who ran the Chateau for a long stretch, is now the big cheese at the soon-to-open NoMad hotel in downtown Los Angeles:
Mellow greetings, yukey dukey. I’m Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere columnist (www.hollywood-elsewhere.com) and longtime industry reporter going back to the early ’80s. I’m writing to convey a mild form of displeasure about a no-big-deal incident that happened last night at the Chateau Marmont, or more precisely at the outside entrance.
I don’t want to sound like an entitled asshole, but I’ve been attending industry parties at the Chateau for eons (mainly during Oscar season), and every so often I’ll pop by to meet someone for a drink at the restaurant bar, or maybe order breakfast or dinner or whatever. (Svetlana Cvetko and I met Guillermo del Toro there for dinner a year or so ago.) Or I might be with a visitor and just want to show them the Chateau’s to-die-for interior.
This was last night’s agenda — showing the interior to my wife Tatyana, who’s only been in Los Angeles for seven months and has never had the pleasure. But I was told by a polite young lady at the valet desk that we couldn’t enter without a room or dinner reservation. I said we were just looking to order a drink at the bar, no biggie. “The bar is filled,” she said. Obviously she couldn’t have known that. We went back and forth but her mind was made up.
What she meant, I presume, is that she sensed we were riff-raff, and so she was following an instinct to protect the hotel guests from people who might gawk or snap iPhone photos and otherwise generate un-coolness.
I totally get the “keep out the riff-raff” thing. If I was guarding the gate I would actually take pleasure in politely rebuffing any would-be visitors who looked like they’d just gotten off the tourist bus. Overweight types, noisy kids in tow, wide-eyed expressions, low-thread-count T-shirts, dorky sandals and a general approach to attire that’s more suited to a mall in Henderson, Nevada.
Your predecessor Phillip Pavel, who served as the Chateau’s managing director for a long stretch, said it succinctly a few years ago: “The Chateau Marmont has built its success on creating an environment where the privacy of our guests is paramount. Please know that the decision to not allow certain guests in our hotel is based solely on this concept.”
The problem is this: I’m not riff-raff, and I don’t look like riff-raff. I have the snooty cool thing down pat, and I was nicely groomed last night. I was wearing a dark blue Kooples shirt and white pants and shiny black loafers. The beautiful Tatyana was nicely dressed also. Nothing about us radiated “uh-oh…don’t let these chumps past the gate!” Granted, we didn’t arrive in a big black SUV and had just approached on foot, but still…what’s the deal here?
Call me presumptuous or entitled, but I have a long (if sporadic) history with the Chateau Marmont, and I feel…well, a certain comfort and investment in the place. It’s not “home” but I have been casually visiting since the Reagan era with no one saying boo or looking at me sideways, and so I felt…well, my feelings were kind of hurt when the door lady said “sorry.”
So is this the new post-Pavel Chateau policy — room or restaurant reservations or you can’t come in? I’ve been visiting top-tier hotels in all the great cities of the world for decades without anyone raising an eyebrow or aggressively addressing me as “sir”. You and I know that if Tatyana and I had been with Matt Damon or Jim Gianopulos or some WME agent that we just would have strolled on in.
Was it the white pants?
Next time I want to show the hotel to a friend I’ll need to make a dinner reservation in order to gain entrance, and then after we’ve had a drink or two I’ll politely inform management that we’ve changed our minds and have to leave…right? Is that how I need to play it?
I’ll be posting this letter in my column today. If you have any kind of explanation or response I’ll be happy to pop it in. Thanks & best wishes.
Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere