Sure, there's a 30-mile stretch of public sand in the city, but only a few places where you can pay as much as $85,000 in equity shares to be vetted, schmooze with industry peers and play paddle tennis on top of it all.
With Soho House's Little Beach House Malibu re-energizing Los Angeles' private beach club landscape and some industry insiders reconsidering their European vacations, this Labor Day likely will find town players angling for an exclusive oceanside perch. The nearly century-old stalwarts down the coast — Pacific Palisades' Bel–Air Bay Club and Santa Monica's The Beach Club (aka BC) and Jonathan Club — tend to welcome industry civilians of East Coast Ivy League stock but limit, for privacy reasons, celebrity presence. Would-be members can hear, “We're not really a Hollywood club,” during the application process, which can take a year at Jonathan and two years at the BC as aspirants prove long-term ties to member families.
Most beach clubs have strict rules barring members from talking with outsiders about the clubs. Initiation fees can be one-time or include equity shares — meaning they later can be sold at prices that fluctuate according to the number of memberships available — and run as high as $85,000, not including monthly user fees (Soho House membership simply requires an annual fee). Membership can include spas, pools, even a rare padel court (a paddle tennis/squash hybrid), but — most of all — buys access to a fully serviced stretch of sand leased by the club, only a minute's stroll away (below the median-tide point is public). The choice can come down to the commute, says an industry member: “Jonathan is the first off the 10 Freeway, which makes it convenient. Bel-Air Bay Club is farther down PCH. Traffic gets bad in the summer — a quarter-mile can be 20 minutes.”
Beach clubs also can serve as unique settings for work gatherings. After client Alicia Vikander won the supporting actress Oscar in February, UTA partner Theresa Peters took Vikander and her team to Jonathan Beach Club. “Nobody bothered her,” says Peters. “It's a nice break from the typical places everyone goes to for business.”
Bel-Air Bay Club 16801 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades; (310) 230-4700
Little Beach House Malibu 22716 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 456-2400
The Beach Club 201 Palisades Beach Road, Santa Monica; (310) 395-3254
Jonathan Beach Club 850 Palisades Beach Road, Santa Monica; (310) 393-9245. Also: 545 S. Figueroa St., DTLA; (213) 624-0881
Annenberg Community Beach House 415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica; (310) 458-4904