California's Own Shangri-la

STORY BY Sam Russell

Published: January 4, 2016

As 2015 recedes into the distance, there is a type of woman you can bank on in the new year and beyond to keep the wheels of success churning. Tamie Adaya is a hotel owner, music mogul, published author and a mom ; All equally demanding of her time and we feel so privileged at Truth is Cool to get 10 minutes in the swanky Shangri-la penthouse with her.

Strong women have always captivated my senses and Tamie Adaya is cut from that cloth. When my envious eyes connect the dots from her stunning shoes to her bold jewelry, it will be upon eye contact that I see a wise soul with a message.

Without further adieu, meet the barometer of cool:

Tamie Adaya: CEO and owner Hotel Shangri-la Santa Monica


Q & A with Tamie Adaya

Your creative palate has clearly profited you. Where in your childhood were you influenced and challenged?  At 9 my attention was lost in comic books, I get a sense you were on airplanes.

Ever since I was a young girl, one of my greatest joys has been playing host to interesting people whom I inspire and who inspire me. I’ve been holding dinner parties and salons since adolescence and in many ways the Hotel Shangri-la is merely an extension of my innate desire to host and entertain.

I’ve travelled since I was a child and hospitality has always been second nature to me. As an ardent traveler, I pick up tips and pull inspiration from every city I visit and document them for either Huffington Post (, my personal blog ( and my Instagram at tamieadaya.

I remember flying on Pan Am in its heyday and how mesmerized I was as a young girl by the huge Jumbo Jets and the glamorous flight crew.  Travel was aspirational in the 60s and 70s as people got dressed up to fly and it had a palpable sense of excitement, possibilities, glamour and seduction.  I have never forgotten that feeling and those experiences have definitely influenced my creative palate.

There is a definite spell one comes under when they encounter your boutique hotel in Santa Monica. Inspiring future travelers, what is it about Shangri-La and the culture of the hotel that attracts such dynamic people?

Hotel Shangri-la’s exhilarating and elevating personality-driven brand is designed to inform every aspect of the guest experience and vividly communicate, and share with them, my unique and particular point of view.  It draws heavily on my own personal taste and sense of aesthetics and propagates to every aspect of the hotel’s design, atmosphere and service.


As a social architect, my passion is bringing together creative people from film, fashion, art, jewelry, music, design and literature to orchestrate inspiring social exchanges. My guests are engaged and intrigued by a culture that provides not only a luxury experience, but an inspirational journey with every stay.

With its colorful history and enviable location, the Hotel Shangri-la has been the ultimate clandestine

relaxation retreat for celebrities, future presidents, royalty and families for 75 years. The property is definitely spellbinding, where people can leave behind the burdens of the different roles they have to adopt in everyday life and enjoy a safe harbor where life’s dichotomies can be reconciled harmoniously and seamlessly.

If you could suggest a suite to help a couple "re-thread" their stalled connection, which suite would it be? It’s so easy to get lost in family life and career that we forget about that delicate dance with our significant other.

For those who want to fall in love all over again, any one of our luxurious ocean view suites are perfectly suited for renewing passion and desire. Who can resist escaping to a lavish bath tub in the main bedroom of a luxury suite with a stunning view of the Pacific or taking in a brilliant sunset from high atop in Suite 700, with 360 degree views for a romantic escape that appeal to all the senses? Sunsets from the rooftop of Hotel Shangri-la are a truly magical experience, year round.

You have added hotel owner, music label mogul (So Sweet Records), Huffington Post contributor and published author to your already crowded resume. Can you give us a peek into The Diamond Jubilee Book? 

I am very committed to preserving Hotel Shangri-la’s unique cultural and architectural masterpiece for generations to come.  I’ve always had a deep-seated commitment to traditions, continuity and preserving the hotel as an institution to be shared with others. Authoring the limited-edition Hotel Shangri-la Diamond Jubilee anniversary book allowed me to reminisce and memorialize one of Los Angeles’ unique cultural gems.

The book chronicles Hotel Shangri-la’s past and its role in American history. In the 1940s, it lured actors such as Mae West and Jane Wyman, the future wife of President Ronald Reagan, to its beauty and solitude.  It was also where Wild Bill Donovan head of the OSS, which was the precursor to the CIA helped conceive the idea of today’s modern Navy Seals from the Santa Monica lifeguards (and their equipment which was the first generation of scuba wear) which were instrumental to U.S. involvement in World War II.  During the war, the Shangri-la also provided battle-weary U.S. combat veterans a safe haven where they could rest and relax for 15-day periods before entering civilian life.


These and other stories about the great political figures, artists and luminaries who have used this property to ruminate, create and make history can be found in its pages.

It also reveals some of Hotel Shangri-la’s numerous famous VIP guests including John F. Kennedy Jr., the Dalai Lama, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Clinton and Madonna, among others. The hotel has continued its celebrity appeal throughout the ages with A-listers such as Madonna, Tom Cruise, and Diane Keaton frequenting luxurious suites that overlook the Santa Monica pier.

Was there a figure in your life that pointed you in the right direction for success and independence? What words of wisdom stayed with you the most from this influential figure? 

My father was a role model to me, but I was very aware of the need for me to forge my own style and identity. He mentored me in the art of hard work and organization, teaching me accounting is the heart of business, to always know where your money is coming from and going to. But in my case I’ve found that it is just as important to have a team of believers behind me that continually bring out the best in me and help teach me about myself and the value of union.


I believe in liberation of the individual and always loved that Coco Chanel quote, “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” The Hotel Shangri-la is a realm where inhibitions melt away. 

Success takes a village! Los Angeles Business Journal lauded you for your leadership and business achievements earlier this year as a top finalist for Business Owner/CEO of The Year. Any advice for women with a dream?

Any venture or prospective project inevitably comes with adequate assumed risk and investment; my support group is the indispensable foundation of my business. No matter what your passion project may be, the first couple of years unavoidably come with ups and downs and it is imperative to have the support of your loved ones. The key to success is good planning and the understanding that you may not be able to achieve your goals as soon as you’d like or as fast as you’d thought, but that time affords you the ability to curate a winning team and vision, and most importantly, to practice patience.

I believe that to be successful and happy, we must pursue experiences that either are deeply pleasurable, nourishing and nurturing or experiences that will have an alchemic effect on how you see yourself and the world at large. To flourish and enjoy success, it’s essential to liberate yourself, transform who you are, or affirm who and want you want to be.

I thrive on inspiring social exchanges, among women, artists and others. One opportunity for me to do this is via my popular invite-only salons held in the Shangri-la Dining Room. I frequently bring together 6-8 exciting, dynamic and influential people from diverse backgrounds for fun or learning; and both outcomes are incredibly gratifying, serving as a nexus of culture and a source of inspiration and support.

Anything else we can shine a light on? Your phone has not stopped buzzing since we sat down.

Each year, I host a series of BritWeek™ events at the hotel showcasing the U.K.’s hottest talent in fashion, modeling, jewelry and design. Last year, I featured British fashion designer, milliner and corset-maker Mich Dulce, for a poolside jubilee swing-dance party; artist Matthew Stone, named most influential person in the arts in the UK under 30 by the Sunday Times for a Salon; and world renowned artist KESH, who unveiled her KESH 4 Shangri-la custom art pieces designed exclusively for the hotel to the public for the first time.

This year, we had the festival’s most sought-after events at the hotel with an afternoon ‘Village Fête' themed tea party, an exclusive penthouse soiree co-hosted by James Perkins, owner of one of Britain’s most unique stately homes Aynhoe Park, and a village fete with the iconic fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and effervescent milliner Piers Atkinson presenting an informal poolside fashion show.

Being a nexus of culture has earned our hotel its distinctive reputation as the word-of-mouth watering hole for the cognoscenti. What makes me truly happy is to take upcoming talent, incubate it and showcase it to the world. My goal is to continue to bring social style, luxury, spontaneity and refined experiences and share them with all our guests.

For more information, visit

$75 Available at the hotel

Diamond Jubilee Book honoring the 75th Anniversary featuring original photography by Architecture Photographer, Julius Shulman from 1939-1949 & Celebrity Photographer Richard Young


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