Passport 12-2-2005

Terra Judge Seg-what? 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 tr

By: Terra Judge

Seg-what?
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 ride.

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 the machines.

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.

310-395-1395
www.segway.la






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.

www.grandyachtadventures.com


Overnight Changeover

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 Hansjoerg Maissen.

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 transformation.

“We strongly believe that it is not just a quick change,” he said. “We want to understand, evaluate and build on the strength of this hotel.”

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.

949-759-0808
www.irvinecompany.com

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