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Most of us drive right by Westlake Village on our way to busy activities in the Los Angeles area. Recently, I had the chance to spend a couple of days there and was pleasantly surprised. The Hyatt Westlake Plaza was an ideal choice for this visit and centrally located.

The town

Westlake Village has aged well over the years. That is not something you can say about most places in Southern California. The town has become a high-end bedroom community for well to do Los Angeles businessmen in addition to being a small corporate hub itself. There are scores of upscale shopping malls and markets. It is cleaner and safer than most areas of Los Angeles. The mountains that surround Westlake Village always look familiar to me, possibly because they have provided the backdrop for so many movies and TV shows.

All of these attributes are why I like to stay here when I have business or leisure plans in the greater L.A. area. Santa Barbara County residents will find it too difficult to get down and back in the same day when life takes them to L.A. This makes Westlake Village the ideal stopover either on the way down or back. If you are headed to LAX, it is an easy drive from Santa Ynez Valley early on a weekend morning.

The hotel

The Hyatt Westlake Plaza is located just off the Ventura Freeway and Westlake Boulevard. The hotelís Spanish architectural theme and lush landscaping make for a resort feel in the heart of the city. Everything you might need when traveling is within walking distance including restaurants and even a brand-new Gelsonís Market right across the street.

The hotel has a grand lobby interior anchored by the Bella Terraza Restaurant and the Knuckles Sports Bar, which both look out to grass, trees and waterscapes. The large pool area surrounded by grass and trees is also out back. The rooms rise up in this atrium design, giving it a festive feel. Our room was well appointed, and even had a large balcony looking out to the mountains that surround the town. As with all Hyatt properties, the bed linens were top-of-the-line, matching the luxury found in the oversized bathrooms. Respire by Hyatt ensures comfortable sleeping for all, especially allergy sufferers. This Hypo Allergenic Room process takes numerous steps to reduce airborne particles and other potential irritants. For more details on this hotel, visit

The golf

Those in search of a casual golf experience need look no further than just down the road at the Westlake Village Golf Course. This 18-hole short course has long been a favorite with beginners, juniors or those just looking to sharpen their short game. For more of a challenge, players will look at Los Robles Golf Course a couple of exits to the north. Los Robles always has excellent playing conditions despite being a busy public venue. My favorite public course nearby would be Rustic Canyon. This links-style layout is one of the best in Southern Cal when the greens are rolling fast.

If you have some pull, try to wrangle a game at Sherwood Country Club, one of the most exclusive courses in Southern California. The next best thing would be to watch the best players in the world tackle this Jack Nicklaus design. The 2011 Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club will be played Nov. 30 to Dec. 4. Tiger Woods is the tournament host and will be in this elite field once again; it features the top 18 players in the world rankings.

North Ranch Country Club is another gem located on the north side of town. This 27-hole layout annually hosts a large collegiate tournament and is quite challenging. Getting on North Ranch is a bit easier than Sherwood but will still require an introduction. Your club pro or manager can probably do the trick.

Golf training aid

The Matzie Golf Swing Trainer has been around for a long time now, but it is still one of the best swing aids on the market. Their Assist Club comes in a variety of sizes designed to fit all players. It has a pre-formed grip, heavy shaft and a large colorful head. The unique iron head promotes an awareness of the proper clubface position during the swing. The heavier shaft trains the golf muscles, and the pre-formed grip ensures proper hand position. I have never seen a top teacher without one of these.

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