California Dreamin’ with Segway Los Angeles
The wind whips through my hair as I speed along the beach walkway.
A little girl points at me and laughs, “Wow, that’s so cool!”
I lean forward and reach my top speed of 12½ miles per hour.
Gone is the trepidation I felt in the training office when I first
stepped onto the Segway. Jason Stemmler, president of Segway Los
Angeles, guaranteed I’d get the hang of it, just like his other
customers. And he was right. Soon I was cruising through Los
Angeles on what is best described as a gliding footstool.
For $75 clients can come to Segway’s Santa Monica, Calif.,
location and try the two-hour California Dreamin’ oceanside tour
that goes from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach. (Clients can
also opt for a $5 demo ride before committing to the tour.)
While other cities have Segway tours, zipping along this famous
stretch of oceanfront real estate makes for an especially memorable
After a 30-minute indoor training session, in which we watched
an instructional video and practiced weaving through cones,
customers head to the beach. Stemmler narrated as we proceeded
along the boardwalk, reassuring us that since opening in May of
last year, the company has stayed accident free.
“Segways are so easy to use. You can fit through crowds of
people and go all over the place, much longer distances than if you
were walking,” he said.
Segway Los Angeles works with local hotels, including Hotel Casa
del Mar and the Hotel Shutters on the Beach, to provide tour
packages for guests. At a 15 percent commission for agents, the
company steers customers toward the tour rather than simply renting
Equipped with new lithium batteries that will last for a run of
up to 24 miles, we made the trip to Venice easily before heading
back to Santa Monica. By the time we returned to the office, it was
dusk. Just three hours earlier I wasn’t sure if my helmet gave me
enough confidence to venture out, but by the end of the tour, I
felt like a seasoned pro.
Grand Yacht Adventures
In September, Grand Yacht Adventures unveiled its third
mega-yacht, the M/Y Absinthe, and last month it made a West Coast
media swing on its way to Central America. At 201 feet, the yacht
boasts such luxury toys as an onboard helicopter, fishing boat,
SeeDoo Wave Runners, water skis, scuba gear and wake boards.
Amenities also include a wine cellar, lounge with grand piano,
Jacuzzi and full-time massage therapist.
The 12-passenger yacht cruises to Alaska and northern British
Columbia from June-September, and Costa Rica from October-December.
Visits to the British Columbia coast, which features heli-skiing
opportunities that are perfect for the Absinthe’s copter, are
scheduled for February-April.
Charter rates for one week start at a measly $169,000. Specialty
cruises such as the Gourmet Cruise in the Pacific Northwest, Glass
Art Cruises and Photo Safari Cruises are also available, with
prices starting at $5,900 per person, all-inclusive, excluding
yacht crew gratuities.
Over 60 items were removed business cards, coasters, mailing
labels and room keys, just to name a few. By Nov. 1 at midnight,
each item with the Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach logo was
replaced as part the California hotel’s changeover to The Island
Hotel, managed by the Irvine Company.
"We had over 1,000 tasks to complete,” said general manager
In addition to the logo switch, the hotel’s reservation system
also changed. Instead of booking through the Four Seasons, the
hotel now uses GDS and belongs to the Leading Hotels of the World
also an overnight switch.
Maissen explained, however, that to those involved in the
switchover, the change was not merely about a visual
“We strongly believe that it is not just a quick change,” he
said. “We want to understand, evaluate and build on the strength of
As part of this mission, Maissen retained more than 80 percent
of the current employees and hopes to continue to earn the Five
Diamond rating from AAA the hotel was recently awarded.
“We understand the local market and community,” he said. “Of
course, there are challenges with the Four Seasons name going away,
but we believe in the long run that this change will affect
business in a positive way.”
The Island Hotel is offering a $99 per night introductory rate
for travel agents through January 2006.