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Historic Balboa Inn Slated to Reopen

December 08, 1985|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

The Balboa Inn--the Southern California beach hotel that in the '30s and '40s attracted such celebrities as Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Glen Miller and the Dorsey brothers--will re-open on Wednesday after being closed for seven months while undergoing $1.2 million in renovations.

Built in 1930, the 34-room beachfront hotel, near the Balboa Pier on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, changed hands eight times, including its sale last April to Griswold's, a Costa Mesa-based management company, for $4.2 million. Griswold's (which manages a famous old smorgasbord in Claremont as well as two other restaurants and a 240-room hotel in Fullerton) then became an equal partner in the Balboa Inn with an investment group including such basketball superstars as the Lakers' Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Others in the group are Jabbar's financial adviser, Tom Collins, Ralph Sampson of the Houston Rockets, Terry Cummings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Alex English of the Denver Nuggets and Brad Davis of the Dallas Mavericks--all, with Jabbar, also involved in a partnership with Michael Talla and Nanette Pattee in the $20-million Sports Club/L. A., which will be dedicated at 1835 Sepulveda Blvd. on Wednesday. (It's due to open in a few months.)

The Balboa Inn investment group also involves former Laker Charlie Scott; Rudy Hockett, who plays professional basketball in Italy; Tustin management consultant and motivational speaker Danny Cox, and Joni Eareckson, an inspirational, Christian recording artist and author.

With the help of the architectural firm Scheer/Braden, the new owners restored the Spanish Colonial Revival exterior almost exactly as it was designed by Walter Hagedhom (who also did extensive work on Union Station) 55 years ago, Raymond L. Sanford, president of Griswold's, said, and the interior has been updated and restored.

The Cove--where Orange County's first black chef, Henry Jones, reigned, and liquor was available during Prohibition--has been turned into The Grill. (Some old-timers say that the inn's five-story towers, the tallest structures in the area, provided a convenient navigational guide for bootleggers who arrived from the sea.)

And here's another change: Before the sale in April, room rates were as low as $25 a night in the winter and $40 a night in the summer. Now there is a suite that will go for $560 a night!

It has an ocean view, private deck, living room, fireplace, three bedrooms and three baths. The hotel also has concierge service, bathrobes, shoeshines, daily newspapers, turn-down service and a full breakfast, which can be served in the rooms at no extra charge.

Hotels offer some pretty nifty amenities these days, but the Watergate in Washington, D. C. is offering one of the niftiest!--Something called "At Your Service . . . Your Personal Valet," which allows guests to leave their clothing, shaving gear and other personal belongings in their suite. The "Personal Valet" will launder garments and pack and store them with other items until the hotel is notified that the guest is returning. Then the clothes are pressed, shoes shined, and everything placed in the suite for the guest's arrival.

The Watergate's managing director is Paul M. G. Astbury. Californians might remember him from the Four Seasons in San Francisco, which he managed before the El Escorial in Santa Barbara.

Sotheby's International Realty, headquartered in New York with offices in California and other states, is expanding in Europe.

Not only is the firm adding to its network of European affiliates and cooperating brokers, but it also announced the appointment of Denise Le Van of Greenwich, Conn., as manager of Sotheby's International Realty's European regional offices in Greenwich and New York City.

And the company is getting more and more European listings like: an Italian villa dating back to 1790; a Dutch houseboat fitted with Delft tiles; a 15th Century estate on Spain's Costa Brava, and various resort properties and estates on Ibiza and Mallorca, Spain's Costa del Sol, and Italy. (The firm, real estate arm of the world-famous auction house founded in 1744, also has listings for London or Paris apartments; castles in Ireland, England, Germany and Spain, and chateaux in France.)

"Outrageous inflation:" That's how a Swiss national who preferred to remain unnamed expressed the state of the economy in Geneva when she moved there from the Southland for a spell this fall. Seems things were so high that she moved again, back to Beverly Hills, where she claims housing and everything else are (can you believe this?) less expensive!

What's being touted as the "first residential structure in the United States to have a fire code-approved thatched roof" has been built in Rancho Santa Fe as a gatehouse for a 25-lot subdivision called Stonebridge.

The 3,000-square-foot house, designed by Ade Collie of Orange, cost an estimated $300,000 and is a replica of an Olde English cottage.

Warwick Cottage Enterprises of Anaheim makes the thatched roofs. Stonebridge is a development of Kern-Atkinson of Solana Beach.

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