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Monday, Jun 5, 2023

Quashing Sportsmen’s Lodge Rumors

The Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel is suffering from the kind of rumor powerful enough to cripple a business. The word? The hotel has closed. In fact, the 47-year-old hotel is very much still open, but the idea spread that the opposite was true following reports last summer that the Sportsmen’s Lodge Restaurant and Banquet Center were shutting their doors. “The papers got it wrong, as far as I know,” said Art Ginsburg of Art’s Deli in Studio City. Ginsburg has patronized the lodge for four decades. Following the publishing of articles by major Los Angeles dailies last July about the lodge, word spread rapidly that the hotel was on its way out because it shares a name with the restaurant and banquet center and is located on the same Studio City grounds as those entities. Adding to the confusion is that real estate developer Richard Weintraub owns the hotel, restaurant and banquet center, alike. “It’s very confusing,” the hotel’s GM Michael Spencer said. But he wants to make sure people know that “the hotel is here. It’s open.” To dispel any notion that the hotel is closing, management is trying to capture the attention of Valley residents by offering them a 15 percent discount on stays and dining at the hotel via a “Show us Your Zip Code” promotion through April. The promotion will also enable management to showcase the $1 million in renovations it recently made to the hotel, which included a revamping of its lobby, Pub Bar and Patio Caf & #233;. Renovations to both were completed in September. Also, guestrooms were upgraded with high-speed wireless Internet access, new beds and bedding and other soft goods, plus the addition of flat-screen plasma televisions, according to management. To boot, more renovations are likely to take place in 2009, but the specifics of those projects will become clearer as the year progresses. “I think with the overall new look and feel we’ll maybe be able to attract a new type of guest that we could never attract before,” Spencer said. “There will be more appeal to a corporate client instead of [just] leisure travelers.” In particular, by installing new technology, Spencer hopes that the hotel will be more appealing to musicians and studio people who stay at the hotel. As upgrades are made, Spencer will continue to prioritize preserving the integrity of the hotel’s historic character. “It’s a little kitschy,” Spencer said of the hotel, but he doesn’t think that poses a problem. “We’ve just opened it up a little, brightened it up a little bit, paying tribute to celebrities who have come here.” Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, Lena Horne, John Wayne and Joan Crawford are among the many luminaries who once lodged at the hotel regularly. The hotel is part of Spencer’s family history as well. “My family is from the Valley,” he said. “My father used to fish at the lodge.” And that’s not all. Spencer’s father proposed to his mother on the grounds of the Sportsmen’s Lodge back in 1969. Although the hotel looms large in Spencer’s personal history, he has been GM of the hotel for fewer than two years. He was formerly at the helm of the Grafton Hotel on Sunset in West Hollywood. At present, he feels fortunate to be leading the Sportmen’s Lodge Hotel. “Part of my personal life was very connected to the Valley, so it’s exciting,” Spencer explained. “It’s my destiny to be here to help weed through this confusion and bring it up to a new level and make it an icon, a shining star.” Art Ginsburg also cited the hotel as a part of his family history. A resident of a home just up the hill from the lodge on Ventura Boulevard, the deli owner has had many events there over the years. His family even lodged there when termites overran his home. Asked to name the hotel’s most winsome characteristic, Ginsburg answered, “I think the friendliness of the hotel.” Spencer believes that the hotel stands apart from others because it is a boutique hotel in an area where such entities are few and far between. Ginsburg agreed. “As far as I’m concerned, the hotel is a very major place in our area,” Ginsburg said. “We’ve been in business 51 years. I’m going back 41 years ago. I’m looking forward to it being remodeled. I think it’s going to do really good.”

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