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Embassy Suites: Tranquilizing the Tired Traveler

Embassy Suites, Los Angeles: Home Away from Home
by Courtney Caldwell

More often than not people who travel very little or not at all always tell me how lucky I am that I get to travel so much. I can relate because before starting Road & Travel Magazine twenty years ago I was a pencil-pushing, bean counting desk jockey, chained to my desk fifty-plus hours a week. I envied those who traveled and thought they were the lucky ones; always on the go… until I started traveling.

Embassy LAX Lobby
Embassy LAX Lobby

There’s an old saying… ‘never judge a man until you’ve walked in his shoes for a mile.’ Or perhaps to be more PC I should say, never judge a person until you’ve walked in his shoes or her heels for a mile. Either way, there’s a great deal of truth to that as I learned from becoming a frequent traveler myself. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be especially since 9/11 and now skyrocketing fuel prices.

Today, with tight security at all airports, stripping down to the bare essentials every time, heavy luggage, luggage limitations, luggage searches, and now luggage charges, not to mention long delays, cancellations and screaming babies, traveling only once a year would truly be a blessing. But if you must travel a lot for business, like I do, then you work pretty hard at finding solutions that make your life on the road much less stressful.

One solution is the Embassy Suites. I fly to Los Angeles several times a year to meet with clients. There are dozens of hotels from which to choose while there. However, I always choose the Embassy Suites LAX because of all its creature comforts inside and out. It’s also convenient to most of my LA destinations as it sits right off the 105 and 405 corridors, which run in all directions.

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Staying at the same location each time provides a sense of being in a home away from home and after awhile the staff even remembers your name. In fact, at a recent stay, I found it quite interesting to see how everyone pitched in. One day, I called the front desk to ask for extra coffee cups and within a few minutes their airport shuttle driver delivered the cups. Another day, I called to ask for something else and the next thing I know the security guard knocks at my door with item in hand. This is a five-story, 349 suite hotel, not some little 10 room motel where service like that might be expected. To ensure guest satisfaction, the Embassy strives to meet your every need and ensure prompt service, which is why they employ any available staff member to help out. Guests never wait too long for any request.

At this same stay, which was almost two weeks, the housekeeper picked up a white towel that I always travel with. No doubt it blended in with the other hotel towels, which is why she didn’t notice any difference. When I realized it was missing later that day, I called housekeeping to see if they found it, which I thought would be a long shot considering how big the hotel is. What happened next blew my socks off. Click here to read the story.

Because I’ve reduced my travel over the past couple of years due to the strain it puts on my business and body, it had been six months since returning to the Embassy LAX. I was delightfully surprised to discover a significant number of new, and major, upgrades had been accomplished.  

Serta Sweet Dream pillow top mattres
Upgraded Pillow Top Mattress

Let’s start with the rooms. Each is sporting a brand new Serta Sweet Dream pillow top mattress, which was exceptionally comfortable, allowing for a good night’s sleep. This is important to me at any hotel as I have a bad back. I’ve stayed at five-star hotels that have horrible mattresses leaving me in pain and tired during my stay. The new Serta Sweet mattress was the best hotel mattress I’ve ever slept on, bar none. After one night on these heavenly clouds it wouldn’t surprise me if a guest went out and bought one as soon as they returned home.

Each room has been upgraded with brand new, attractive lighting making it easier to get work done for those of us who are light-challenged or visually impaired. Each room has also been upgraded with a 24-inch LG widescreen TV, offering a clear, bright picture.

Every bathroom in all 349 suites has had a complete make-over as well, with brighter lighting, a necessary evil for those of us who apply make-up, more storage space, and granite counter tops with ample room. I absolutely hate hotels that spend more on fashion than function. How many times have you had to create a make-shift area to lay out your toiletries because the hotel bathroom had no counter space? Oh, but wait, it had a fancy-schmancy ultra modern sink bowl that was absolutely useless.

Suite Dining Area
Suite Dining Area

The dining area of each suite offers a new look complimented by three chairs and a roll-away table that doubles as a desk for business travelers. What I like about the roll-away table is that it can be extended to seat four or to spread your work. If one doesn’t need that much room, the table easily slides under the credenza leaving more living room space. For those who prefer king rooms, one of the three dining chairs is a large, comfortable, ergonomically-friendly swivel chair for working those long hours in your room.

The Embassy Suites are known for their Atrium lobbies and although I’ve been to many Embassy Suites around the U.S., I’ve yet to see one that has the beauty and ambiance of the one at LAX South. This too has been beautifully redesigned. In fact, it provides a sense of being in a five-star hotel instead of a suites hotel. Oddly enough, I’ve stayed at five-star hotels from time to time and have never found the number of conveniences that are offered at the Embassy suites for a quarter of the price.

One important element that will make a business travelers' stay more convenient is the easy in-room internet access, which is $9.95 a day. However, should you forget your laptop or not even have one, the Embassy LAX has just built a brand new business center complete with three Dell computers for free Internet access, a secure printer, fax, copier machine and free phone service. It is also fully stocked with every office supply you need. In fact, I’ve never quite seen a business center at any hotel that was as well equipped as this one.

Conference Room
Conference Room

If holding a business meeting is on the agenda, the Embassy offers a wide variety of conference and meeting rooms, some of which even adjoin to your suite but you must request them in advance. The smaller board rooms sit up to 12, but there are several choices for different sized rooms so no meeting is too small or too big.

If an upscale, private dinner meeting is more your style, Capistrano’s Restaurant is located on the lobby level, an elegant dining experience for those who want to impress their clients or colleagues. This has undergone a complete transformation providing an atmosphere for a meeting of the minds or hearts. Capistrano’s offers excellent menu choices for both food and wine. Whoever you entertain here will not be disappointed.

For those who instead prefer to meet at day’s end the Embassy offers the Manager’s Special from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Cocktails are on the house, a nice way to celebrate a successful meeting and still entertain your client if you’re on a budget. Or a nice way to forget about a bad day and not worry about driving back to your hotel.

The next morning, the cocktail area is completely transformed into a full breakfast area complete with seating for approximately 200 people. The full cook-to-order breakfast is included every day of your stay at no additional charge. The cooks are friendly, quick, and if you stay often enough, they even remember your name.

For social events, the Embassy offers a spacious poolside area called the Granada Courtyard, which seats up to 200 people. This area is perfect for big events such as weddings, holiday gatherings, even celebrations of life for those who wish to honor their loved ones after a funeral. For any event, the hotel provides a full menu from continental breakfast to corporate packages to themed buffets to specialty breaks during conferences.  

Embassy Dining Area
Capistrano's Restaurant

For larger events, the Embassy offers the Imperial Ballroom, which seats up to 270, with plenty of room left over for a band and dance floor. This too has been completely upgraded with new carpeting, lighting and furniture. In fact, the new-room smell was still fresh during my visit. For companies that need a large space and still provide convenience to their clients who fly in for the meeting, this location is ideal.

The Embassy is conveniently located off the 105 Freeway and Sepulveda Blvd, a 10-minute shuttle ride from LAX provided by the Embassy. There’s a shopping area nearby complete with a grocery store to stock your in-room kitchenette. Once settled in your room, though, you may find no reason to leave as the Embassy provides every amenity a traveler could possibly want. The hotel offers a full gym equipped with brand new state-of-the-art Precor equipment with personal TVs and headphones, a full-sized pool, self-serve laundry room or full service cleaning, a large gift shop, a great bar with a pool table, a business center, meeting rooms, room service, the Manager’s Special and Capistrano’s Restaurant.

Add to all that the ambiance of the enormous atrium with birds flying, chirping about and the beautiful Koi pond with Koi fish, turtles and ducks, it’s hard to imagine needing anything more during your stay. In fact, I worried about having to stay for two weeks, which is much longer than most of my business trips, but between the spacious suites, all the amenities and the impeccable service, I actually found it difficult to leave when it was time to go. Much to my surprise, I felt sad leaving.

If you must be in LA for any length of time or planning to move there and need a temporary home, the Embassy does offer long term lodging. Inquire at the front desk about the length of your stay and when you’ll need your suite to get a quote for a special rate. Or, if you visit LA often enough and stay at the Embassy each time, and become partial to a particular room or floor (I like the 5th floor near the elevators facing the airport) they’ll even hold the same room for you each time with enough advance notice. Speaking of the airport, the windows and walls of the Embassy are so well insulated that you barely hear the planes take off or land if you’re on the airport side. Since airline rules prohibit flights during specific hours of the night, it’s pretty quiet all night long. Jets start taking off around 5 a.m. but in my opinion it’s not very noisy. In fact, it’s a gentle wake-up call for those who need to rise early. However, if you prefer complete dead silence, ask for a king room on the other side of the hotel.

They are still not done with the make-over, which is hard to believe considering everything I saw during this last visit. However, coming soon, the Embassy will indeed be providing all new living room furniture as well as a complete make-over of the kitchenette areas in all 349 suites. Based on what I’ve seen so far I’m certain that these additional upgrades will be nothing short of amazing. All I know is that this property has done a remarkable job at making their suites feel like the next best thing to a home with attention to every detail travelers want and need while on the road.

Suite costs per night vary depending on season, day or week so be sure to check their website for the rates. But again, keep in mind that no matter what the cost, your full breakfast is included as is the evening manager’s cocktail hour (or two) special, all the home-like comforts and unique features. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best deal in town. There is underground parking for travelers who’ve rented cars, however there is a daily charge.

So yes, frequent traveling isn’t very glamorous at all but the folks at the Embassy Suites LAX have done everything to make every guest feel at home, which makes a world of difference when on the road. Now, if they would just stock the closets with my wardrobe I wouldn’t even have to bring a suitcase. Hmmm, my guess is that if I shipped my suitcase in advance of my trip or left my ‘travel wardrobe’ behind, they’d even do that!

If You Go...
Embassy Suites LAX
1440 E. Imperial Ave.
El Segundo, CA 90245
Phone: 1-310-640-3600
Fax: 1-310-322-0954

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