Hyatt Westlake Plaza from “The Karate Kid”Jan 14th, 2015 | By Lindsay | Category: 90210 & Beverly Hills, 90210 Filming Locations
2014 was definitely the year of The Karate Kid. Not only did the flick turn thirty, but two of its missing locations were finally found – Mr. Miyagi’s house, which I blogged about here, and the fictional Encino Oaks Country Club, which, as it turns out, was actually the Hyatt Westlake Plaza hotel in Thousand Oaks. The latter was only brought to my attention recently thanks to this June LA Weekly article. So while I was in the area one (very rainy) day a couple of weeks ago, I stopped by to investigate further.
I had actually stalked the Hyatt Westlake Plaza once before, way back in February 2010, because of its appearance in the Season 1 episode of fave show Beverly Hills, 90210 titled “Palm Springs Weekend.” (You can read that post here.) I later came to find out that the hotel was also used for some interior filming in the Season 5 episodes titled “P.S. I Love You: Part I” and “P.S. I Love You: Part II,” which were also set in Palm Springs. As I said in that post, which you can read here, Hyatt Westlake Plaza was obviously 90210’s go-to Palm Springs hotel stand-in. But more on that in a bit.
In The Karate Kid, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) heads to the Encino Oaks Country Club to pick up Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue) for a date. Ali tells Daniel that she will meet him outside at 9:30, but she winds up being late. According to the LA Weekly article, Daniel waited for her just outside of the Hyatt Westlake Plaza’s main entrance. Thankfully, that information was easy to verify as the hotel’s entrance looks exactly the same today as it did in the fall of 1983, when The Karate Kid was shot.
In the scene, Daniel stood in front of the easternmost beam of the hotel’s porte-cochère.
You can even see the Hyatt’s tiled lobby fountain in the background, which was also visible in the “P.S. I Love You” episodes of 90210.
Today, the fountain is no longer tiled, but its shape remains the same as it was when 90210 was filmed in 1995.
Once Daniel gets tired of waiting for Ali in The Karate Kid, he heads inside the country club to try to see what is holding her up. He sneaks in through the kitchen and eventually sees Ali in a luxe ballroom kissing his nemesis, Johnny (William Zabka). According to LA Weekly, filming of that scene took place in the Hyatt’s Grand Plaza Ballroom, so I headed inside to check it out. Sadly, due to the fact that the hotel has been remodeled several times over the past thirty years, it no longer looks anything like it did onscreen, which gave me some pause.
The most notable change was that of the chandeliers. In The Karate Kid, the ballroom chandeliers were made of ornate crystals, while the room’s current chandeliers are almost Mediterranean in style and feature iron accents.
I did notice that the ballroom’s recessed ceiling squares and positioning of heating vents did appear to be a direct match with what appeared in The Karate Kid. Despite that fact, though, I started to have doubts about the location. It was hard for me to believe that the hotel would do away with such fancy crystal chandeliers, especially considering that the new chandeliers make the room much less elegant and far more casual. I thought it was more likely that filming had taken place at a different spot, one that still had those chandeliers in place.
I also was unable to locate the set of double doors that led to the kitchen in the movie, which only gave me further hesitation that the Grand Plaza Ballroom was the ballroom from The Karate Kid. I know, I know. I was definitely nitpicking, especially considering that it has been thirty years since filming took place. What can I say? I don’t like to be 95% sure, or 99% sure, or even 99.9% sure about locations I present on my blog. Before reporting anything, I want to be 100% certain about all of my assertions.
This past Monday, I started searching for other ‘80s productions filmed at the hotel, hoping one might show the Grand Plaza Ballroom. If I could find some sort of image of the ballroom and those crystal chandeliers were indeed in place, then I could verify that it was the same spot used in The Karate Kid. Thanks to IMDB, I learned that Hyatt Westlake Plaza had been featured in two Season 6 episodes of Knots Landing, “Vulnerable” and “The Long and Winding Road.” The episodes were filmed in 1985, just two years after The Karate Kid was shot. I spent hours searching for them online, but, sadly, Knots Landing is not available to watch anywhere! I finally managed to find a (rather dramatic) scene from the “Vulnerable” episode on YouTube and, miraculously, it took place in the Grand Plaza Ballroom! Eureka! You can watch it by clicking below.
Maddeningly though, the cameras never panned high enough in the scene to show the chandeliers. I did spot some similarities between the Knots Landing ballroom and The Karate Kid ballroom, though. As you can see below, the single and double wood frame décor elements were present in both productions.
The chair railings that run across both rooms are also a match.
As is the shaping of the doorframes. The wallpaper also seems to be the same in both films, though it is hard to tell.
I still was not convinced that the two rooms were one and the same, though. I wanted to see an image of those chandeliers! That would clinch things for me. Then, like a lightning bolt, it hit me! I suddenly remembered that in “P.S. I Love You: Part II,” Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) made a speech to her fellow sorority sisters – wait for it – in a ballroom. I immediately popped in my DVD of the episode and, sure enough, the crystal chandeliers from The Karate Kid were visible! I finally had my confirmation!
While I was at it, I figured I might as well also chronicle all of the productions filmed on the premises. In the 1985 movie Tuff Turf, Hyatt Westlake Plaza once again masqueraded as a country club, this time the El Canyon Country Club that Morgan Hiller (James Spader), Frankie Croyden (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Kim Richards) and their friends snuck into. The front exterior of the property . . .
. . . and the lobby area were used in the flick.
Oddly though, the ballroom featured in the movie was actually the Riviera Country Club’s Crystal Ballroom in Pacific Palisades. You can see pictures of it here.
As I mentioned above, Hyatt Westlake Plaza appeared in two episodes of Knots Landing, Season 6’s “Vulnerable” and “The Long and Winding Road.” In the episodes, the hotel was where Mack MacKenzie (Kevin Dobson) and Karen MacKenzie (Michele Lee) confronted the shady Dr. Ackerman (Laurence Haddon) while he was participating in a bridge tournament. After the confrontation, Dr. Ackerman runs outside to the Hyatt’s parking lot and shoots himself.
In the Season 1 episode of Beverly Hills 90210 titled “Palm Springs Weekend,” which aired in 1991, the Hyatt Westlake Plaza masked as two hotels. It first stood in for the Desert Palm Mirage, where Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) thought she was supposed to meet Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) for a romantic rendezvous.
“I had to sleep in a broom closet!”
And it also played the Desert Mirage, the hotel where Brenda later caught Dylan with another girl.
I so love that the elevators still look exactly the same today as they did when 90210 was filmed 24 years ago.
In Season 5’s “P.S. I Love You” episodes, the Hyatt was used as the interior of the hotel where the KEG/Alpha Convention was being held.
The Hyatt’s hot tub was also used in the scene in which Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) and Valerie Malone (Tiffani Thiessen) almost rendezvoused. The hot tub is denoted with a yellow arrow in the photograph below (which I got off of the hotel’s website). It is located just beyond the pool. As you can see, the tiered shaping of the top of the pillar visible behind Brandon on 90210 matches that of the Hyatt’s pillars. And the boulders situated near the pool are also a match to what appeared onscreen.
Hyatt Westlake Plaza has also appeared on The Bachelor. For a time, it was where contestants were put up prior to moving into the mansion. I do not believe that it has been used in the show’s more current seasons, though. The screen captures below were taken from the first episode of the series’ 14th season, which starred Jake Pavelka.
On a side-note – my dad has a couple of doctor appointments in L.A. this week and I am heading out there with him. While I will have a new Los Angeles magazine post for tomorrow, I will not have a new post for Friday.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!