Planned Bulgari Resort in Benedict Canyon celebrity brouhaha

58-room luxe hotel eyed in Beverly Crest opposition for potential noise and traffic

Gary Safady and rendering of Bulgari Resort Los Angeles, at 9704-9712 West Oak Road (Getty, Bulgari Hotels)
Gary Safady and rendering of Bulgari Resort Los Angeles, at 9704-9712 West Oak Road (Getty, Bulgari Hotels)

A plan to build a luxury hotel in Benedict Canyon has caused a pitched battle among Los Angeles celebrities.

Gary Safady, a real estate developer and movie producer, has filed plans to build a 58-room hotel on a 33-acre hillside at 9704-9712 West Oak Road in Beverly Crest, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The vision for the Bulgari Resort Los Angeles and eight single family homes has drawn fire from movie executives and celebrities who have squared off over the future of one of L.A.’s richest neighborhoods.

In the center of the debate is the 33-acre former home of billionaire businessman Kirk Kerkorian. The property was sold in 2015 for $19 million.

That’s where Safady plans to build his luxury resort, which would include a 10,000-square-foot spa, gym, theater and an eight-seat sushi bar, along with a restaurant from Michelin-starred Italian chef Niko Romito.

Project supporters include actors Mark Wahlberg, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Gerard Butler, Orlando Bloom, Adrien Brody and Jon Lovitz, plus rock musician Gene Simmons, according to letters written on behalf of the project.

Opponents include several hundred well-heeled neighbors, including Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, television host Phil McGraw and actors Jacqueline Bisset and Stefanie Powers, according to signed testimonials opposing the hotel.

The neighborhood, shaded in oak, sycamore and willow trees, is hung with signs decrying the proposed resort. Home prices in Benedict Canyon range from $3 million to $100 million.

Supporters have launched Opponents created

Safady has invested nearly $2 million on City Hall lobbyists in support of his project, according to city disclosure records.

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Opponents have hired a City Hall lobbyist and a legal firm, spending at least $74,000 on lobbying activities at City Hall, according to city records. Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the neighborhood, has voiced opposition to the project, as have mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso.

Safady said his project compares favorably with the nearby swanky Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel, two larger upscale hotels that draw more visitors than would the Bulgari and are each located on only 12 acres of land.

“We have technical experts working on it to make it a bespoke eco-luxury hotel with homes,” he said.

Benedict Canyon Drive is used as an alternative to the 405 Freeway between the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles.

Adding a hotel to the neighborhood would only aggravate the traffic headaches, opponents say. Critics complain about potential traffic and noise, especially if it were to host weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and more.

The project was originally proposed in 2018 with 99 rooms and branded “The Retreat.” It has since been revised with fewer rooms and dubbed “The Bulgari Hotel.”

A planning committee meeting is scheduled this week to decide on a zoning change needed to build a commercial project in the residential area. A final approval would be required from the Los Angeles City Council.

If completed, The Bulgari would be one of eight hotels operated by a hospitality firm under LVMH, a French holding company created by the merger of fashion house Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy. The maximum occupancy of the hotel would be 715 people, including 130 employees per shift, according to city records.

— Dana Bartholomew

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