The Crowd: Peeping out the newly re-opened Hotel Hanford

Donald Sodaro, one of Newport Beach's leading community philanthropists, revealed a most unique and creative side of his multi-faceted personality at the re-opening of The Hotel Hanford, Costa Mesa.

Sodaro and his wife DeeDee, of Lido Isle, have held a visible community profile for their involvement with Chapman University and organizations such as the Orange County Business Committee for the Arts. Along with partner William Caine, Sodaro created The Hotel Hanford, a high concept property that opened Wednesday evening, proving to be a theatrical triumph with a most unique marketing outreach.

Credit also belongs to Andre Filip, chief executive of ELA Advertising, hired by Sodaro and Caine to turn up the volume on what might have been a typical cocktail party-hotel opening. Instead, the event was pure adventure.

When guests arrived at the Bristol Street complex, notes were slipped into hands by unobtrusive models in black cocktail dresses, mingling in the crowd. Sarah Veitch, a Newport Beach resident and Irvine Co. staffer on hand for the opening, unfolded her note.

It read: "For an unexpected experience please come up to room 431."

Reluctantly, Miss Veitch headed for 431, arriving to discover that the door was ajar. Joining other guests that had been given a similar note, Veitch entered room 431 and discovered a beautiful young woman lying across a hotel bed attired in a fluffy white robe.

Beside her on the bed were two designer dresses and an assortment of high-end bags from luxury fashion outlets such as Versace, Tiffany & Co. and Yves St. Laurent, all of which she supposedly had collected during her shopping spree at South Coast Plaza, which neighbors The Hotel Hanford.

Ignoring the arriving group of voyeurs as if they were invisible, the woman in the white fluffy robe began carrying on a conversation with someone in the hotel room's bath which turned out to be a handsome male model in the shower. Veitch and the other guests were so shocked, they were too embarrassed to look and see if the man was totally naked in the shower.

It was all part of the creative and dramatic staging of The Hotel Hanford opening night. But that wasn't all. Down the hall in room 429, which was a suite, a family was playing Monopoly on the floor. Mom and Dad with children had ordered room service, and they were dining while trying to buy Park Place and escape the Monopoly jail.

Veitch and the rest of the crowd had to step around the family to explore the new hotel suite. They were absolutely invisible to the hotel family.

Room 302 was occupied by a businessman relaxing after a day of work returning phone calls, working on the computer. Ignoring the visiting VIPs, the businessman went about his routine, a well-rehearsed actor playing a role.

Downstairs, the crowd mingled in The Savoy Restaurant and Lounge, sipping signature cocktails and sampling the fare. Outside in the pool, a model wearing a marine-blue sequined ball gown, with the gown swirling around her in the water, shocked the crowd. In the adjacent Jacuzzi, yet another glamorous gal in a ball gown swirled about in the bubbling waters.

Clearly it was a night of drama and surprises designed to tickle the fancy of the large crowd that had been invited to preview The Hotel Hanford.

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Images Salon, Corona del Mar, cordially invites the community to their 10th Annual Cut-A-Thon scheduled for Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For the past decade the East Coast Highway salon has opened its doors, donating 100% of the one-day proceeds to the Orange County Chapter of Childhelp. All haircuts will cost $40, with special beauty services including "feathers" starting at $20.

Over the years the salon has raised more than $105,000 for Childhelp. The year 2010 brought in an impressive $16,250, and organizers are hoping to top that amount this year. In addition, Avila's El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant, which is down the street from the salon, will be offering 15% of a customer's bill as a donation to Childhelp when the customer identifies themselves as participating in the Cut-A-Thon fundraiser. To make an appointment at Images Salon for this event, please call (949) 675-5531.

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Orangewood PALS is in the final planning stages of their second annual "Endless Summer Nights" party set for Sept. 9 at Costa Mesa's Boathouse Collective. The party calls for dancing all night with a premium bar sponsored by Patron Spirits and The Newport Brewing Company.

"Fresh from the farm" rustic food stations will be provided by Cosmopolitan Events. The evening will also feature a poker tournament and there will be a VIP bottle service lounge. Individual tickets are priced at $125 and can be ordered by calling (714) 619-0237 or by going online to http://www.orangewoodpals.org/summerparty.

PALS is a volunteer group of young professionals in Orange County that is an auxiliary of The Orangewood Children's Foundation, which serves abused and neglected children.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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