A "Kid Glove" environment provided by Elite Adventure Tours aces the "White Glove Test". What a fulfilling experience to tour the rich heritage past and present of the Los Angeles area within the plush and pleasing atmosphere of a made to order full size van with amenities comparable to four and five star hotels. Private and personal Elite Adventure Tours (EA Tours) goes above and beyond traditional tour products to create a red carpet treatment allowing a day of fun and enjoyment with the peace and comfort of a favorite easy chair. The shiny unmarked black van had other tourists looking at us as VIPs.
EA Tours found a need - that of maintaining the elegant feeling of the finest hotels while seeing the sights of the city - and successfully filled it. With experience in the tour industry coupled with much research and creativity EA Tours focuses on extreme comfort, satisfying hunger, and providing lasting memories.
L.A. Splash Magazine had the pleasure of experiencing their hospitality first hand. Our group of four was scheduled for a combination land and air tour which consisted of four hours of touring Los Angeles and Hollywood, transport to Sundance Los Angeles Helicopters for a half hour helicopter tour over Los Angeles and transport back to our home.
Our guide Tony Riccio arrived punctually at our front door and our day of fun and adventure began. Once we were in the van it was clear that much thought and research was given to the interior. Lush leather captain chairs and sofa style bench seating in the rear provided roomy comfort. The ceiling of the van was adorned in tiny chandelier lighting which according to our ten year old junior writer Laura was like "sparks from fireworks." Once seated in the van, we were offered beverages and snacks that were furnished according to our individual preferences.
Our first destination was up Beachwood Canyon to view the Hollywood sign. Tony was extremely knowledgeable and full of interesting history trivia and facts about all our destinations. He took us around to several of the best vantage points to view and photograph the sign while simultaneously telling us fascinating stories. One of the highlights for Laura was the trivia of the Hollywood sign; she relates, "It was awesome to get to know the history of the Hollywood sign, and did you know that the Hollywood sign is full of holes to let the wind go through?" The original Hollywood sign actually read Hollywoodland, was erected by a housing development company and was made out of wood. A highlight for Paula was the stories of disillusioned starlets jumping off the sign and how there are now ghosts haunting the sign.
After taking our fill of pictures we drove around Lake Hollywood and then up to Yamashiro, a mystical Japanese restaurant high on top of a hill with breathtaking views of Hollywood and downtown L.A. Originally a home for two brothers, it was designed in the style of a Japanese Palace as an exact replica of a palace from the hills near Kyoto, Japan, and surrounded with acres of beautiful gardens. Laura was transformed into a Japanese princess and said, "I like how there are all the waterfalls! It makes it look like you are in China or Japan or wherever."
Our stop after Yamashiro was for a bathroom break at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Tony has rated the bathrooms in Los Angeles, and although not in his top ten picks, it did make it among the top twenty. We then took a stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame over to the Mann's Grauman Chinese Theatre to try and match our hand and foot prints with the stars whose prints are memorialized in cement in front of the theatre.
Once more back in the van Tony passed out refreshing cold lemon scented linens to energize us. Perking up, Sallie exclaimed, "It worked. I am revived and ready for more."
Next stop was lunch at the Grove and the Farmers Market. With many cuisines from which to choose, we each made our selection and then sat in the common area to dine together. More enticing than the lunch itself is the plethora of sweets available at the Farmers Market. A favorite stop for Larry is Little Johns where besides just eating the treats he enjoys watching the candy being made. He is our kid in a candy store and it's hard to tell who rivals who between Larry and Laura for the sweetest tooth. (In fact that may be another article altogether.) To quote Larry "Mmm, mmm, mmm. Being a native of Los Angeles I have been fortunate enough to be able to go to the Farmers Market all my life. And except for those rare times when my will power is strong, I will go to the candy store and carefully pick my favorite sweets which are usually gone by the time I get home."
Traveling on to Hawthorne Airport and the helicopter tour, we relaxed and listened to the vibrant surround sound music. Arriving at Sundance Los Angeles Helicopters, we found our Bell Jet Ranger fired up and ready to go. We were, too, after a safety briefing by Mick Robinson, location manager. Three of us had never been in a helicopter. Laura had never been in an aircraft period. Can you guess who was the most excited? Escorted out and buckled into our seats, we were ready. The smooth take-off really surprised Sallie who said, "I must have been looking at the camera in my lap, because the next thing I knew when I looked out the window, we were already in the air."
Gliding along the Pacific coastline, we viewed the largest man made small craft harbor in the world before heading inland. The sound of our pilot Scott Schroder's voice came in clearly through the headsets we each wore as he narrated the sights below. We poked each other and pointed a lot in between our picture taking, and passed the microphone around as we commented and asked questions. Paula best described the movement of the helicopter as a "gentle rocking like a boat in the water." Then Laura quipped, "Yeah. It was smooth sailing." Larry commented "I've driven the streets in L.A., taken flying lessons in a Cessna over the city, flown into and out of LAX, but have never seen the city from such a bird's perspective. The apparent closeness of everything from the beach, the Getty Center, monster stars homes, Silver Lake and downtown was exciting. But the most exciting part for me was flying downtown, not just above the buildings but between them. My stomach dropped wondering if we'd make it through the buildings. A half hour felt like five minutes"
With our bird's eye view, we scanned Los Angeles landmarks, stars' homes, skyscrapers, Sunset Boulevard, the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood Bowl and the famed Hollywood sign.
This "helicop-tour" definitely fills the bill when it comes to unobstructed views and covering a city of fourteen million people in half an hour. We were whisked back to Hawthorne and smoothly set down to conclude our spectacular aerial journey.
Touring with Sundance Los Angeles Helicopters provided a most satisfying VIP experience. The courteous, professional staff clearly delights in serving their customers and taking every measure to exceed any expectations.
Throughout the day Tony was taking pictures of us and during our drive home, EA Tours cleverly kept up our spirits with an in van slide show on the 22" color LCD screen. We pulled up the window shades and reveled in our own mini theatre. We then each selected the one shot we liked the most, and after the slide show Tony pulled over and programmed our selections into a photo quality printer in the van. By the time we were home we each had a 4 x 6 photo keepsake. Another quality service they offer is to burn all pictures onto a CD and send it to you. It was incredible to have such a state of the art full photo lab in house. Or should we say in van?
Without a doubt every aspect of our day was totally positive and pampered. Whether you are a tourist, new transplant or native to L.A. Elite Adventure Tours and Sundance Los Angels Helicopters combination tour is a most memorable way to experience the "City of Angels."
See our story on Elite Adventure Tours by clicking here and Sundance Helicopters by clicking here.
For more information on how to experience in this unique tour, please visit www.eliteadventuretours.com or call 888-328-6871 and www.sundancehelicopters.com or call 310-337-6701.