Thursday’s grand reopening party for Montecito’s Coral Casino was a night to remember, as 400 guests packed into the exclusive resort to celebrate its return.
As people began pouring into the spotlessly white club Thursday evening, the wait seemed well worth it. The Olympic-sized swimming pool had mermaids swimming on either side of an installed fountain, while a catwalk extended from one end to allow for leggy models to show off Louis Vuitton’s latest “Cruise Collection.” (Rumor had it the pool was designed to actually be one foot longer than Olympic standards dictate, so as to avoid potentially having to host any competitive events down the road.)
Following the fashion show, burlesque star Dita Von Teese’s protege Ava Garner put on a little show for the audience, which ended with few clothes and several strategically placed jewels and feathers.
The gathering was a who’s who of Montecito, filled with celebrities, politicians, and more than 90 people who waited until the last day to sign up for the event, which ran for $250 a ticket. Celebrities in attendance included actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus – fresh off Wednesday’s season premiere of her show The New Adventures of Old Christine – and Louis-Dreyfus’s husband, writer Brad Hall, comedian Dennis Miller, actor Christopher Lloyd, comedienne Carol Burnett, reality TV star Jason Wahler (Laguna Beach), and actor Cole Hauser (The Family that Preys). Andy Granatelli, Nina Terzian, and Mary Belle Snow were among the locals in attendance.
Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean, was more than ecstatic to be at the party and even more thrilled to know that the proceeds from the silent auction were going to benefit her nonprofit. Included in the auction was a commemorative painting of a Coral Casino Mermaid Mural, Louis Vuitton’s Damier Azur Collection of bags, and getaways to two Warner resorts – one at Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico, and the other at the Four Seasons Hotel New York. The estimated value of the five auction packages was $32,800.
First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal was making the rounds with his planning commissioner, Michael Cooney, while Montecito Planning Commissioner Bob Bierig was also spotted. Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone, fresh off his pacemaker implantation surgery two weeks ago, was enjoying himself with his wife, Kate, and marveling at how much better he felt with his new and improved ticker. The event was emceed by his son, Andrew Firestone.
There was no hiding that Thursday was a special night at the Coral Casino, with spotlights shining high in the sky, the white – not red, white -carpet lined with photographers and a host of valets who were at the ready to take the line of sports cars, hybrids, and other late model vehicles away. While the club had been opened to members for a few months, the party offered nonmembers a glimpse of the renovated club, fit with 31 private poolside cabanas, a whirlpool, children’s wading pool and rooftop sun deck, the poolside Coral Cafe and Bar, beautiful, spacious locker rooms with steam rooms and saunas, a fitness center, and the La Pacifica Ballroom and Terrace.
As DJ Mike Smith spun hits for the dancing partiers below, a VIP after-party was held at the club’s Tydes Restaurant upstairs featuring acclaimed French jazz performer Morganne. Different areas of the club offered hors d’oeuvres and cocktails including vintage champagnes and desserts.
The party hummed with people talking about whether Warner, the reclusive owner of the resort who rarely makes public appearances, but who was quite hands-on in the preparations for the party, was actually going to make an appearance. In a statement, Warner said he “wanted to host a gala that pays homage to the Coral Casino’s history while carrying the Club into a new era; one that’s as glorious and celebrated as its past.”