Shutters on the Beach mum on its celeb clientele

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Shutters on the Beach: The name suits it. Window shutters let the world in or keep it out -- a choice this propertys celebrity clients like to make for themselves.

We have a lot of locals, said General Manager Henri Birmele, employing a euphemism for the hotels high-wattage clients. (Beverly Hills is only 20 minutes away.) Discretion, he said, is of the utmost importance to us.

Located at 1 Pico Blvd. (even the address carries a certain cachet) on a wide expanse of Santa Monica beach, Shutters since 1993 has been the perfect retreat when you have money to spend.

The 186 rooms and 12 suites are airy, decorated in whites and blues, reminiscent of the elegant cottages that dotted the southern California coast in the 1920s and 1930s. Black-and-white photos depicting beach scenes in days gone by complement the decor.

Bathrooms are spacious, with separate glassed-in showers and a deep-soaking tub with whirl- pool jets. Granite countertops, pillowtop mattresses and Frette linens and robes are standard amenities.

My room was situated across the street from the ocean and had a small balcony and a view of the water. The scent of the ocean drifted through the white shutters.

But theres more to Shutters than meets the eye. Inside one cabinet, besides products such as sunscreen, lotions, soaps and an eye mask, were Cosabella thong panties for purchase.

There also are private wine cellars in all the guest rooms. And the hotel introduced wireless Internet access throughout the property more than 10 years ago.

Dinner that evening was at One Pico, the hotels formal, 85-seat restaurant. Windows wrap around three sides of the room, affording panoramic views of the beach. Inside, warm woods and a limestone fireplace complete the contemporary look.

One Pico serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served daily from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.  Pedals cafe, an indoor/outdoor restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Pedals also will prepare gourmet picnics in a Brookstone basket for guests who want to dine on the beach or at one of the hotels suggested picnic areas around Malibu and other state parks.

Exercising is also inviting. The hotel, which has a complete spa and gym, offers a wide variety of adventure fitness training, such as guided surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, beach volleyball or trail-running excursions.

Shutters is surrounded by art galleries and upscale shopping. Although Birmele said, We love families, few formal programs are set up for children.

Most families choose to visit Disneyland, Universal Studios and other attractions, then retreat to the beach haven.

What the hotel does best is blend refined luxury with a casual feel.

The look and feel is what were all about, and thats not going to change,said Birmele.

Room rates start at $405; suites at $905; and the one-bedroom Presidential Suite starts at $2,500. Commission is 10%.

For more information, call (800) 334-9000 or visit www.shuttersonthebeach.com.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].

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