Entrepreneur Maya Mallick Shares The Fascinating History Of Culver Hotel

There’s an enchanting location that housed an impressive roster of Hollywood heavyweights like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Douglas Fairbanks and the cast of The Wizard of Oz. This place is Culver Hotel. The historical property has existed since 1924 and remains as a charming attraction in Culver City. Maya Mallick, the owner of Culver Hotel, tells us more about the bewitching and glamorous Hollywood establishment.

Hi, Maya tell us a little about your background.

My parents’ first business was a historic restaurant on the Potomac River, an old farmhouse which used to be part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. I was raised around hotels and restaurants and was engrained with the spirit of service since my childhood, learning many other aspects of the hospitality business growing up. My German mother always taught me that a successful hotel is how happy your guests are and shaped my understanding of what hospitality was all about, adding her European touch.

I went to school in the French part of Switzerland and my family would go on road trips during the holidays. We often didn’t have a specific destination so we would stop along the way and stay in smaller boutique properties with a unique architectural charm.

There is so much to draw from people’s creativity around the world, especially in hospitality. I love to travel and hotel hop because each new place inspires me in a unique way and I often blend these travel experiences into my design process.

There is an instinctive European flavor in the way I see hospitality and I have a long standing love affair with the French culture – it’s romantic, esthetic, musical, historic, artisan, and puts the ‘gourmet’ in everything. (By the way, I also married a Frenchman!)

I have also learned that where we choose to stay when we travel can often make or break a trip. Hotels should provide a special experience because people deserve to have a certain emotional comfort when they are away from home.

My father is Indian and was a sculptor and painter in his earlier years which is most likely where I inherited my creative side, my love of color and eclectic nature. From a young age I enjoyed painting until late in the night and would often find myself with a hammer and nails working on little projects on the week-ends. Later on during college, my sister and I were inspired to work together and started our own clothing brand called Loveletters Loungewear. This 10 year entrepreneurial adventure gave me great insight and experience -whether it was design, production, sales, accounting or management, I was able to bring that experience with me into the realm of hospitality and build on it.

How did you end up as owner of Culver Hotel?

There were a few things that came together which led to the purchase of the Culver Hotel. I had recently transitioned out of the fashion industry and into the family hotel business. My first project was a large franchise hotel renovation and during the process I realized how much I enjoyed construction and the whole architectural process of re-creating space. At that time we were also selling a beautiful 1950’s hotel we had owned for 35 years and found ourselves in a 1031 exchange. We were searching for something with historic charm and kept landing on the doorstep of the Culver Hotel, even though it was not for sale. It was a rundown hotel in a depressed yet interesting neighborhood, a risky undertaking with an uncertain outcome.

What gravitated you towards Culver Hotel initially?

The Culver Hotel’s landmark architecture, legendary ownership, rich movie history, proximity to the studios and great location as the only hotel in the immediate downtown area would be the obvious reasons. What truly inspired me was that the Culver Hotel, even in its neglected state, had such a strong presence and the potential to become so much more than just a hotel. I fell in love with the space, imagined all that it could be and wanted to be the one to make it happen. I saw it as a unique opportunity to combine all the things I loved – art, design, food, music, travel –into one single neat little package. As I was just transitioning out of the fashion industry, I was ready for the challenge and it was the perfect next step, it was thrilling.

Culver Hotel has a fascinating Hollywood history, can you tell us some intriguing facts?

The hotel indeed has an amazingly rich history. It was built by city founder Harry Culver in 1924, a few years after Mr. Culver incorporated his own city and later owned by Charlie Chaplin who – legend has it – lost the hotel to John Wayne in a poker game. It is also believed that Red Skelton owned the hotel at one time. Since the Culver Hotel was the only hotel in the area and in the middle of a studio town, it hosted many legendary movie stars some of which maintained part-time residences at the hotel. Some of these include Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan. Our most infamous guests however, would be the 124 Munchkins who stayed at the hotel during the filming of the Wizard of Oz in the 1930’s. If only the walls could talk!

Many people are not aware that Culver City is a major movie production town and has had two major studios producing feature films and television shows for the last 100 years. This is how and why the city got the name “The Heart of Screenland. The celebrity history continues to this day as the Culver Hotel and its surroundings still host many television and film productions.

Did overcome any adversity as an entrepreneur? If so, how?

When we first bought the hotel, the mechanics and infrastructure were not properly operational and the interiors were shabby and unappealing. As is the case with many older properties, you don’t know what you are getting into until you get started. With a 1924 national landmark once heralded as the “first skyscraper’’ in the area along with its many other historical attributes, there were big shoes to fill. We used to joke around in our old empty lobby and daydream of what it would feel like to have every guestroom and every space in the hotel buzzing with people. Throughout the process, I made sure to stay in line with the architectural integrity of the property as I wanted to make sure the Culver did not to lose its historic cache like many places do when they undergo extensive renovations. I wanted to bring back the Culver Hotel as the jewel of downtown Culver City in the way it deserved, and I was serious about getting it right. The economy tanked right after we purchased the hotel so the first few years were tough and the neighborhood was nowhere what it is now. There were many obstacles and at times gloomy days. With persistence and positivity, the vision I had when I first walked in was able to come to life, and then some. I am proud that we have built a great team, many of which who have been with the hotel for a long time. It is a pleasure to work with people and meet guests everyday who appreciate what a special place the Culver Hotel is and I am fortunate to experience that gratitude every day. Without a daring imagination, it’s hard to get anywhere.

Many want to know – is Culver Hotel haunted?

As I always say, the Culver Hotel has a great presence and a big soul. Yes it is spirited, all in a good way! Mr. Culver would be proud and I do believe he’s keeping a cheerful eye on us….with a smile.

Any forthcoming announcements for Culver Hotel?

Yes! We are proudly hosting the Culver City Centennial Finale in the form of a lavish black tie masquerade ball on September 23rd, 2017 – almost 100 years to the day that Harry Culver incorporated his namesake town. This year also happens to be the 10th anniversary of owning the Culver Hotel and we are excited to celebrate two very important and meaningful happenings. The evening will be filled with wonderful entertainment, great food, signature cocktails, live bands and of course some unexpected surprises. We will be highlighting ‘THEN and NOW’ of Culver City by partnering with other imaginative businesses and also doing a retrospective of the city. Tickets and information are available on our website at http://www.culverhotel.com.

2017 EMMYS RECAP: Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge

Hollywood’s finest made their way to Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge honoring the 2017 Emmys on September 14th and 15th at the glamorous Andaz West Hollywood. Over a 100 stars and influencers recieved products from:

  • Ocean Spray: cocktails and Cranberry-hued rain boots from Uggs.
  • Samba Sol: custainable flip flops made from recycled Brazilian rubber.
  • Moon Palace Resort: a free accommodation at luxury resort in Jamaica.
  • Kelley Baker Brows: eyebrow services including waxing, shaping and makeup application.
  • RE;CODE: an upcycled premuim apron from South Korea.
  • Lavender and Canvas: LA based company providing versatile bags.
  • Mane n Tail: hair care that promotes healthier, fuller and stronger locks.
  • Aladdin: Aladdin premuim, fashionable, reusable water bottles.
  • Odd Molly: Swedish clothing line specializing in unique women’s clothing.
  • Pinner Test: food intolerance test designed to determine food intolerance based on a blood sample.
  • Belladaar: delicate jewlery handmade in Los Angeles.

The Emmy nominated actors, personalities, models and influencers that attended include:

Cameron Monaghan, Joey Bragg, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Meg Donnelly, Curtiss Cook, Merritt Patterson, Vella Lovelln Brendan Meyer, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapmann Suzanne Cryer, Sherri Saumn Fred Melamed, Jen Kirkman, Tom Payne, Cameron Boyne, Carly Hughes, Peter Facinelli, Matt Iseman, Cara Pifkon Jeff Meacham, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Bernard White, Aly Mawji, Lotte Verbeek, Cheryl Hines, Leonardo Nam, Keegan Michael Key, Mo Collins, Karrueche Tran, Beverley Mitchell and countless others. Learn more about Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge at http://www.kfpr.tv.

2017 EMMYS RECAP: DPA Pre-Awards Gifting Lounge

Nathalie Dubois hosted a luxury gifting suite to Emmy nominees, presenters, personalities and entertainment VIPs on September 14th, 15th and 16th, 2017 at the Luxe Rodeo penthouse suite in Beverly Hills. Guests received premium services, vacations and products from:

  • Soori Bali accommodations
  • Bowhaus NYC
  • Atlantico Rum
  • Revel Tequila
  • Kye’s healthy burritos
  • Ketamine Treatment Centers
  • Splash Mixers
  • Red’s Cheescakes
  • Organic Bareburger
  • Suja Juice
  • Linger fragrance primer
  • Hysqia intimate products
  • Kosmetikos skin care
  • A-Stand ergonomic laptop stand
  • They and Them gender neutral clothing
  • Serani M jewlery
  • Reija Eden jewlery
  • Paola Graglia jeweled bags
  • Honey Hive handmade soaps
  • Amy DiGregorio leather goods

The event benefited non-profit Save the Children organization.

2017 EMMYS RECAP: Doris Bergman’s 8th Annual Emmy Style Lounge At Fig And Olive

Hollywood’s power players attended Doris Bergman’s 8th annual Style Lounge on September 14, 2017 at Fig & Olive. The event honored 69th Annual Primetime Emmy® Awards. Not only did Emmy nominated actors attend, Doris invited 2 special foster children to enjoy the exclusive gifting suite and give them the opportunity to mingle with celebrities. KTTV FOX 11 News of Los Angeles will feature the foster children on their weekly segment ‘Wednesday’s Child’ with Anchor Christine Devine. ‘Wednesdays Child’ features harder to place foster children in the LA County foster care system who are in need of loving adoptive families (www.foxla.com/wednesdays-child).

The Emmy®Nominated actors, former Emmy® winners, presenters and industry titans in attendance include:

  • 2017 Primetime Emmy Winner, Kim Estes, Best Actor, Short Form (“Dicks”)
  • Patrika Darbo, 2016 Primetime Emmy Winner, Best Actress Short Form (“Acting Dead)
  • Primetime Emmy Nominees, Kevin “The Bull,” Host of Emmy Nominated Series (“American Ninja Warrior”)
  • Kelsey Scott (“Walking Dead”)
  • Mo Collins (“’F’ Is For Family”)
  • Oscar Nominee Bruce Dern
  • Genevieve Buechner (“UnReal”)
  • Shiva Negar(“American Assassin”)
  • Tony Denison (“Major Crimes”)
  • Michael Campion (“Fuller House”)
  • Naomi Grossman (“American Horror Story”)
  • Nathan Davis, Jr. (“Detroit”)
  • Gleb Savchenko (“Dancing With the Stars”)
  • Steven Bauer (“Ray Donovan”)

The gifting suite was hosted by Buywine.com and presented by Skinside Drinkable Collagen. The distinguished gifts and services were provided by:

  • Buywine.com
  • Skinside Drinkable Collagen
  • Abingdon Co. Timepieces
  • The Dry Bar
  • Montrose Regenerative Cosmetics & Laser Center
  • Curlifornia
  • Hair Swell
  • Chef Elliott’s Red Velvet Bourbon Bundt Cakes & Signature Spices
  • Olympia Luggage, USA
  • Spa Girl Vodka
  • Hashtag Hooker
  • Signature Innovation Group Men’s Wear
  • Art Lewin Bespoke
  • Hint Water
  • Sue Wong Couture & Fragrance
  • Pampered Pets Playhouse Resort & Spa
  • CJS Homemade Wholesome Pet Treats
  • My Saint, My Hero
  • Twisted Silver
  • Jeanne Vixen Jewelry
  • Reema Beauty
  • Burger Time
  • Single Dress
  • Kaya Di Koko
  • Mascarpone Cheesecake by Chef Turok
  • Rock Your Hair
  • Marriagemindedonly.com
  • CJS Pet Staycation
  • Sunless Beauty
  • Purad’or
  • Miradryla.com