Los Angeles holds many charms for Kiehl's USA president Chris Salgardo, who says it's one of his favorite places to visit for business. (Good thing, too — he flies there about twice a month as California is the skincare brand's biggest market in the U.S. outside of New York.)
"California was my home for so many years," says Salgardo, who is based in New York City but grew up in Thousand Oaks, California.
"When I go, there's a feeling of comfort and familiarity," adds Salgardo, whose company has 63 free-standing U.S. stores and one spa in New York City. "I love the fact that there are so many different things to see — it's the entertainment capital of the world. I love just going down Hollywood Boulevard, even when it was filled with seedy theaters. There's so much happening at the Disney Concert Hall, and let's not forget about the fabulous shopping on Rodeo Drive."
Here are Salgardo's tips for making the most of two work days in Los Angeles.
How to get to town from the airport: La Cienega. It cuts right through the city, and you can be in West Hollywood or Beverly Hills in 20 minutes.
Where to go right when you land: Farmers Market (6333 W. Third St.). The best donut place in the whole world is there: Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts (Stall 450). Get there early in the morning and get them piping hot. They have this incredible glaze that literally melts in your mouth. It's really like no other donut I've had in my life.
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Where to sleep: L'Ermitage Beverly Hills (9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills) is my home away from home for the best service and privacy. The service cannot be beat — they know your name, they give you anything you want. If it's 11 o'clock and you want cheesy mashed potatoes, they'll make it for you. The hotel can be completely sold out yet you'd never really know it. It's so quiet, it's so discreet and I just love that.
Power breakfast or lunch spot: Soho House (9200 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood) has the best views and best networking in L.A.
Best place to have a productive business meeting: Palihouse (8465 Holloway Dr., West Hollywood) is tucked away, but easy to get to for private meetings.
Team outing: Griffith Observatory (2800 E Observatory Road) for outdoor fun and to see the "other" stars in LA. The views are incredible, and you get something that you just don't expect in Los Angeles.
Best boite: Akbar (4356 Sunset Blvd.) is a great place to hang with the trendy Silver Lake crowd. The Friday happy hour is the best time — totally yuppy with a little bit of trendiness which I always love to observe.
Killing time: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd.) for the incredible art, especially its Broad Contemporary Art Museum, to see some of the best Jeff Koons pieces in the world.
Favorite tourist trap: Knott's Berry Farm (8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park) for its famed chicken dinner and Old West theme park.
Essential chow: Du-par's (6333 W. Third St.). The French toast is addictive. It's done with the challah bread and melted butter. Instead of maple syrup have them bring you the boysenberry syrup, and you'll be in heaven. And Maria's Ramada (1064 N. Kingsley Drive) for authentic Mexican food. Speaking Spanish will come in handy.
Before you leave: Hollywood Boulevard. Everybody wants a souvenir with the Hollywood sign, and you're going to find that in spades out there. You can also get that cut-out of Brad Pitt.
- by CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN