The Birth of “Bizcation”

Traveling for business? Why not make it fun?! Especially if business requires you to head to Hollywood! This is where we coined the term “Bizcation.”

Among Andy’s many talents, his resumé includes voiceover work. He’s in the market to to record a new demo. So he has an appointment for a day of recording at Digiland. Driving hours up to LA in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the scorching heat of summer, then jumping into a booth does not seem like the best approach. Booking a hotel for a few nights and turning it into a stylish mini-vacation seems like a better course of action.

A Little Hollywood Glamour

We picked the infamous Highland Gardens Hotel, right in the middle of all the action. This is where Janis Joplin took her last breath in one of the rooms. (I hope it’s not the one we’re staying in!)

The Highland Gardens is perfectly located near Grauman’s Chinese Theater on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. We’re walking distance to all the best sites and fabulous restaurants. To be comfortable, we pre-book a spacious one bedroom suite with a kitchenette and a patio overlooking the pool.

Nobody Walks in LA, But We Start Off on the Wrong Foot

Unfortunately, when we arrive things get off on the wrong foot. Although we made arrangements well in advance, they seem to have lost our reservation. So we have some tense moments until they manage to produce the room we asked for.

The lobby is spacious and in mid-Century retro-Hollywood style. The gardens surrounding the pool leading up to our room are nice and lush. We are definitely getting that retro-glamour feel! They also have underground parking for added security.

How Suite It is

Our suite is large and comfortable with a patio and view of the pool and gardens. There’s a table and chairs on the patio for lounging and enjoying wine and cheese. The kitchenette is rather large, but it has absolutely no kitchen supplies! It is completely devoid of anything to cook with. Usually in this case, there will be a sign directing you to call the front desk for kitchen items. But not in this place.

The bedroom is big and has a large walk in closet, but there is a problem here too. The bedroom totally reeks of stale garlic! How did this happen if there’s no cookware in the kitchen?

This is why I always come prepared. We have a fully-stocked picnic basket, with not only great treats and wine, but also utensils and plates.

I also like to travel with some essential oils. No, I am not one of those essential oil freaks, I just like the smell. Essential oils travel well, they can be romantic, they can freshen hotel rooms, and give a more spa-like feel. In this case, I have to use a lot of oil!

Hitting the Streets

While the room airs out, we walk out for some sightseeing. It’s just two short blocks to the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, so it’s not long before we are right in the middle of the action! Sidewalk Stars, The Chinese Theater, cheesy souvenir shops, people in Elvis and Marylin Monroe costumes, and of course pick-pockets. You have to be on guard. They are everywhere. Andy worked in LA for years, and has been here before, but I am in awe and in total tourist mode.

Return to Calm

Back at the hotel, it’s time for our own personal happy hour. In the basket full of treats, we have a bottle of Danza de Sol Reserve (to wet the inside of the “Traveling Wine Glasses”), all the charcuterie goodies… salami, grapes, dried figs, almonds, a baguette, my own homemade marinated goat cheese… and homemade chocolate raspberry bars.

I pressed the easy button and bought a bag of pre-sliced apples. Bad idea, they were mushy. Lesson learned. The chocolate raspberry bars are tasty, but not the best dessert choice on a 95° LA day. Still, we’re having a great time on our patio, enjoying our wine like we’re movie stars.

Dinner with a View

The highlight of our evening is dinner at Yamashiro! This is the chi-chi sushi restaurant in the Hollywood Hills just above our hotel. Looking to drop some bucks on a sushi roll (they have one called “The Wolf Of Wall Street!”), take in amazing views of the city as it lights up in the valley below, and stroll through beautiful gardens? Then this is the place for you.

We made reservations for a table with a view. When we arrive we are valet-parked and escorted through the beautiful restaurant to our table… and what a view! The sushi is so good, it might ruin us forever. The Wagyu beef Nigiri roll is to die for. And there is nothing like sipping a cool glass of Chardonnay on a hot summer evening.

After dinner, we stroll the garden and find a park bench where we enjoy the sunset as the lights of Hollywood begin to twinkle. It is very romantic. We feel like we are on top of the world.

Down to Business

Day Two is devoted to business. It’s 8am and already 85°! We have to grab breakfast and dive across town in rush hour traffic. We are spending the day at a group of studios called “Digiland” (now closed).

Before we settle in, our host gives us a tour. I am of course impressed by the studio kitchen where they shoot cooking shows. Then Andy steps into a booth and up to a mic for a few hours. It was very educational for both of us.

After all Andy’s hard work, it is time to celebrate with a toast! We pop some bubbles back at the hotel.

Then on to Ovation Hollywood, a lively shopping and dining area with views of the Hollywood sign. If you’ve watched The Academy Awards, you’ve seen Ovation, where they’re held at the Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater). It’s mid-week, but there’s live music, and we grab a table at Trastevere Italian Restaurant (now closed) for a few cocktails and nibbles before we enjoy the night life.

That’s a Wrap!

We wrap up our Hollywood experience with a morning drive through the winding curves of Mulholland Drive and a visit to Griffith Park. And of course, we must get an iconic shot of the Hollywood sign!

A word about that: it’s not as easy as you think! We take our shot from the middle of busy Beechwood Drive. You have to run out into the the street and take your shot fast before the next car comes flying down the road! I’m pretty sure the locals are gunning for selfie-grabbing tourists and photographers. We live in a tourist town too, so we understand.

Our trip a success, we leave the glitz and glam and head south back to the “real world.” But maybe one last stop in Dana Point to enjoy a glass of wine and some oysters by the harbor.