I’ve reported extensively on safe travel and avoided hotels for months, but the Four Seasons Westlake Village wooed me back with their commitment to safety — here’s what it was like to stay there
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My 10th wedding anniversary was this summer, and my husband and I long envisioned a trip to French Polynesia, where we honeymooned, to celebrate. Of course, we hadn’t factored in a global pandemic, which quickly dashed those far-flung vacation plans.
During COVID-19, my husband and I held ourselves to conservative standards of behavior. The only time we left our home in Los Angeles county since March was for a long weekend at an Airbnb in Palm Springs, where we didn’t leave the vacation rental the whole time except for groceries, and made no stops along the way.
At that point, we considered local hotels to be off-limits. So, I assumed we’d be sitting at home dreaming of paradise while watching Moana for the umpteenth time with my kids.
But days before the occasion, I simply couldn’t bear the thought. I decided to plan something with clear priorities and boundaries: I wanted to travel to a hotel that inspired serious confidence when it came to COVID protocols, that was driving distance from home, and would provide top-end luxury as a break from endless cooking, cleaning, and fetching stuff for my kids.
Santa Barbara looked promising, but five-star hotels there started well over $1,000 nightly. Instead, we chose the Four Seasons Westlake Village near Calabasas (popularly known as the place where the Kardashians own lots of real estate), with published rates beginning at about $395 for a standard room in low-season.
Under normal circumstances, this hotel has broad appeal and welcomes families, couples, girls’ trips, and business travelers. It’s also popular with locals for its spa, and the vibe is overall sophisticated, but accessible — not too stuffy, not out-of-reach pricey. During the pandemic, the crowd was similar, though there were visibly fewer patrons as the hotel enforced limited capacity.
While I was initially hesitant to stay in a large, traditional hotel, I quickly relaxed knowing we’d booked a Four Seasons hotel. I’m a deeply devoted fan of the brand and it has earned my trust around the world for consistency, luxury, and impeccable service. It was just what we needed for our first hotel stay, and I have a hunch we’ll be back, pandemic or not. We ended up feeling so comfortable, that we added a second night to our stay, on the fly.
And, if you’re wondering if travel is safe, be sure to read what experts told me about staying in hotels right now, and the added precautions you should take. It’s also a good idea to read up about the cleaning policies being promoted by major hotel brands.
Finally, it’s important to remember that without a vaccine, there is no firm guarantee with regard to safety. It’s crucial to follow guidelines and advice from organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing. Additionally, consider your own level of risk, and whether you’re traveling from or to a hotspot, so as not to increase the rate of infection.
Keep reading to see why the Four Seasons Westlake Village is a luxurious local getaway during COVID-19.
After my entire family tested negative for the novel coronavirus, and we dropped my kids at their grandparents for their first sleepover in months, we hit the road.
I previously researched the hotel and its COVID-19 policies ahead of our stay to bolster my comfort level. And driving up to the hotel immediately provided verification and reassurance that the property was adhering to its stated promises of cleanliness and safety enhancements.
Instead of parking our car, masked valet staff explained that it was now self-parking only policy, but that we could leave our car parked conveniently right there while we checked in.
Another staff person directed us to have our temperatures checked — digitally and contact free — at a station before entering the building.
Inside, there was no wait at reception, and no one hovering around. The person who checked us in was wearing a mask as well as gloves. When it came time to sign for the room, he handed us a fresh pen right out of the plastic and instructed me to swipe my credit card rather than hand it over the partition installed between us.
This was my first time in a hotel lobby since the pandemic began. Because the hotel had incorporated many layers of safety protocols, with much room for distancing, it did not seem scary. Rather, it struck me as a relief to feel a shred of normal life resume.
I previously reported extensively on travel safety for Business Insider and spoke to an infectious disease doctor many times. As we navigated the hotel, I often referred to his guidance in my mind.
“Other bodies is the main concern,” explained Thomas Russo, chief of the division of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, referring to hotel environments. “I would wear a mask because during the check-in process, going in the elevator up to your room, or even the stairwell, it’s possible that you might run into someone. The mask would afford a layer of protection.”
Throughout our stay, we were able to keep social distance given the protocols in place, even during check-in. Further, everyone involved was masked.
Indeed, masks were a requirement. California has been a hotspot, and in particular, Los Angeles County where I live.
It was for that reason that I avoided leaving the house entirely for months. However, our anniversary coincided with a consistent decrease in cases, which finally allowed us to feel somewhat safer venturing out.
Even Dr. Russo agreed, telling me, “If you don’t interact with anyone, you’re not going to get infected. But we can’t carry on with life [in quarantine] forever, right? If you’re going to put yourself in situations where you’re going to increase your risk, choose wisely. What are those activities that are most necessary and most important to you?”
Indeed, celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary felt important, necessary, and worthy of some small measure of calculated risk exposure.
We made our way up to our room by way of an elevator bank with signage announcing a maximum of one person or one family per elevator.
The entry-level room at the Four Seasons Westlake Village is a Deluxe Room with a King-sized or two beds, which starts at $395 per night. Our room was a slightly upgraded version, the Waterfall-View Deluxe Room, which was essentially the same, but came with a view of the property’s lawns and waterfall, as well as the Santa Monica Mountains. This premium costs about $50 more, though I was offered a discounted media rate as a journalist.
The room felt expansive at about 450 square feet with a sitting area.
The bed was incredibly plush and comfortable, and these details made the sleep quality exceptional. I’m a sensitive sleeper, and generally, I use hanger clips to secure the seam of the blackout shades or force a chair in front of it, to keep out light entirely.
In this case, the shades hung on offset rods so they overlapped to let no light through at all. (If you have similar sleep concerns, you will well know why this matters!)
I slept well and experienced zero noise from other sources, likely due to the fact that the hotel had limited occupancy, and the rooms near us were not occupied by design. Also, as a result, we were typically the only ones in the hallway, thankfully.
We also found individually wrapped packages of PPE in our room in addition to other details that reassured us of the hotel’s adherence to cleanliness and protocols. The TV remotes were sealed in plastic, sealed plastic cups were offered as alternatives to glass, and individually wrapped antibacterial wipes were provided for our use.
A pair of plush robes still hung in the bathroom, and individual coffee capsules and tea services were offered in the in-room bar area.
The large marble bathroom came with a deep soaking tub, separate shower with bench, separate toilet room, and double vanities.
There was also a TV (which feels luxurious even if no one ever uses them in a hotel bathroom — or do they?) with a remote wrapped in plastic. When we asked for additional toiletries in addition to the standard fare already on hand, we received an impressively substantial nail kit and dental kits, plus L’Occitane shaving cream.
From the expansive size of the room and bathroom to the plushness of the linens and towels, and its evident impeccable cleanliness, the feeling of indulgence was palpable — even further amplified because I had been cooped up in my small home for months prior.
It truly felt like a good old-fashioned luxury hotel room experience — only with beefed-up safety measures for the COVID era. And with a generous size differing in price based mainly on view, standard rooms offer strong value, especially when you consider how much more affordable this hotel is than other five-star hotels in the region.
While some dining options were closed due to COVID, we ate at two restaurants.
The most memorable was the California brasserie Coin & Candor, which served up colorful and flavorful veggie-forward dishes with an emphasis on local ingredients. This was my first meal in a restaurant since the pandemic outbreak, and I felt plenty safe because seating was outside only, with servers in masks and face shields, with limited seating. We sat in a four-top and tables were arranged in checkerboard fashion on the patio for ample distancing.
Nothing was on the table when we arrived. Only after being seated, servers offered us individually wrapped disinfecting wipes, as well as disposable menus.
We also dined at the sushi spot, Onyx, with sushi and sashimi made to order. This venue is only operating outside right now, though there is also a sushi bar.
Additionally, the hotel is well-known for its extensive spa and wellness offerings. The on-site wellness facility, California Health & Longevity Institute, offers packages, retreats, and customized health services. Treatments from the sprawling spa are currently offered only outdoors, though I did not receive one as I was not ready for the level of contact required.
There is also a large cabana-lined outdoor pool, as well as indoor pool facilities with glass window ceilings. Both are currently open, although I only visited the outdoor pool. Unlike the grownup outdoor pool, the indoor pool welcomes families with children, and I was luxuriating kid-free this time.
The pool feature was the most important amenity to me, as there was a sweltering heatwave, and because I wondered how social distancing would work at a shared pool (unlike the one in our private Airbnb).
It turned out that it worked just fine. There was 100 percent mask wearing (with 100 percent enforcement by staff, which I did once witness, but was rarely needed) except while eating or in the pool. The outdoor pool was massive, and all guests were able to scope out a section for themselves, away from others. Posted signage at six-foot distances around the pool perimeter helped serve as a guideline.
Elsewhere on the property, there’s a huge lawn backed by cascading waterfalls with the mountains behind. It’s a popular choice for weddings and events under normal circumstances.
The Four Seasons Westlake Village is located between Los Angeles, Malibu, and Santa Barbara, making it generally convenient as a getaway for locals, or as a central launch pad for visitors road tripping around the Southern California region.
That said, it’s in a suburban area and not walkable. Nearby is convenient freeway access, but you’d definitely want a car to get around off property.
Check flight prices to Los Angeles on Expedia
The Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village gets an “Excellent” rating of 4.5 out of 5 from nearly 2,000 reviewers on Trip Advisor.
Overall, reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with reviewers praising the beauty of the grounds and the relaxing atmosphere.
Some of the more critical reviews are older, indicating that the property was in need of a facelift. Indeed, it just completed a full overhaul before closing temporarily after COVID hit. The multi-million dollar transformation includes new guest rooms and suites, new restaurants, a new salon, and meeting space.
Read reviews, compare prices, and book Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village on Trip Advisor
Who stays here: The resort-like environment that is adjacent to a major metro area makes this a hotel with broad appeal for couples, families, business travelers, and groups of celebrants like babymooners and girls spa trippers.
Yes, even during COVID: I saw several groups of girlfriends arriving for massages outdoors, as well as sharing meals in celebration of occasions. I also saw a number of pregnant women relaxing with their partners — perhaps revamped babymoon plans.
We like: The food at Coin & Candor restaurant was spectacular, with a colorful and flavorful mix of veggie-friendly offerings. It did not disappoint for an anniversary meal — nor for my first restaurant meal in months.
We love (don’t miss this feature!): The outdoor pool is a must-visit. It’s peaceful and expansive, surrounded by cabanas and greenery, with lots of room for social distancing.
We think you should know: Despite the luxury brand, this is a family-friendly hotel. However, the outdoor pool is for adults only.
We’d do this differently next time: Prior to this trip, I’d last visited the hotel years ago. I remember the indoor spa facilities being large and beautiful, even before the remodel. This time, these were closed, with only outdoor treatments performed. When it’s safe, I’m going back for a spa day for sure.
The Four Seasons Westlake Village follows the Four Seasons brand’s Lead With Care global health and safety program for the COVID-19 environment.
It’s quite extensive and was evident for guests to observe for their reassurance. Next to the PPE packs in our room on check-in, there was also a three-page description of the program’s details, including rooms disinfected daily with EPA-approved products and blacklight inspection by room attendants. It also mentioned training for housekeeping teams on cleaning protocols and public areas were to be cleaned hourly.
I absolutely got the sense these protocols were enforced, as cleaning teams were evident throughout. Other social distancing measures included:
- Limited occupancy in the hotel.
- Contactless check-in and housekeeping services.
- Outside-only restaurant seating with substantial space between tables.
- Contactless room service and guest requests through the app, which I used to make an off-menu room service request and ask for amenity delivery.
Employees also underwent behavioral training, to give empathetic and personalized care. It showed and I was impressed and felt safe.
Wearing of masks by both staff and guests was 100 percent enforced, and social distancing was both feasible and consistently practiced.
Four Seasons Westlake Village is an elegant choice for couples, families, friends, and business travelers near Los Angeles seeking a five-star stay.
The property has been fully overhauled with standout restaurants and a sprawling spa, so it feels fresh and modern. It’s also a fine choice for COVID-weary travelers, as the policies and protocols are extensive and plainly visible to guests for reassurance.
Mask wearing was practiced and strictly enforced, dining was socially distant and outdoors only, and occupancy was limited to minimize crowds and permit comfortable and risk-mitigating distance between guests in common areas.
Some areas, such as the bar and indoor spa, are currently closed, but enough of the facilities remain open to allow for a relaxing getaway, even during a pandemic.
As far as luxury properties go, the price range also falls within a refreshingly accessible range for such a well-appointed and spacious room. It offers strong value even before considering the comforting level of reassurance offered amid ongoing risks associated with travel.
Book the Four Seasons Westlake Village starting from $395 per night
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