Kim Kessler has more than a decade of public relations experience for luxury hotels. Four years ago, after award-winning stints at The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui (during a $180 million transformation), she came on as director of public relations at the star-beloved Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. There, with her own wellness-fueled lifestyle and vegan diet as guides, she has worked with the talented culinary team to help create new healthy initiatives such as the vegan StrEAT menu in Windows Lounge, the Squeezed custom blend juice menu at fresh Italian restaurant, Culina, and strategic partnerships with leaders in the industry, most recently plant-based celebrity nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder. The hotel also recently held their first Camp Wellness retreat, guided by some of LA’s most talked about experts in fitness, yoga, bio-meditation and nutrition.
Here, Kessler—a third-generation Los Angeles native, who spends her free time traveling the globe, practicing yoga, hiking and cooking vegan dishes with pals—shares the ingredients in her favorite green shake and waxes wise about the importance of time abroad.
Live The Process: Have you always been into wellness and healthy eating?
Kim Kessler: Yes, I became vegan at the age of 16 and, as a child, always loved walking around the lake in Calabasas and taking hikes in Malibu.
LTP: When you were 16, what sparked that change? And what does your regimen look like today?
KK: I shifted my diet in 11th grade when I was at Calabasas High School. My closest friend was Julie Kasem, daughter of Top 40 DJ, Casey Kasem. He has been vegan for more than 45 years. They both influenced me to become vegan for health, environmental and factory farming reasons, and I am forever grateful for the enormous benefits. My diet is still completely plant-based and I now try to avoid packaged and refined foods as much as possible too.
Every morning for breakfast, I make a green smoothie inspired by celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder's Glowing Green Smoothie. I combine kale, ginger, fresh tumeric, celery, cucumber, Maca root powder, Chlorella, raw coconut water, romaine, cilantro, cayenne, pineapple and banana in a Vitamix blender.
For lunch, I am fortunate to dine most of the time at Culina, Modern Italian, where I enjoy either a quinoa salad with avocado, arugula, strawberries and cucumbers; a roasted beet salad with basil, pistachios, oranges and basil oil; or an heirloom tomato salad with avocado and fennel. Sometimes I also indulge in the new vegan ice creams at Four Seasons from Stella's Best, which are coconut and cashew based, without soy or refined sugars. The chocolate brownie is my favorite!
For dinner, I usually make a kale salad, veggie sushi rolls or zucchini lasagna, or dine at healthy veggie friendly restaurants, such as Crossroads, Cafe Gratitude, Cleo or Avotre Sante.
I love yoga and spend weekends at Maha Yoga, as the class led by owner Steve Ross is amazing. I also like Kundalini and frequent Yoga West on occasion. On weekends, I also do beach walks along Ocean Avenue, followed by the Santa Monica Stairs, or a hike in Mandeville Canyon with friends.
LTP: How has your interest in wellness impacted the hotel where you work? What programs have you all implemented since your arrival?
KK: The culinary team at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills has been very open to healthy suggestions. Executive Chef Ashley James created vegan StrEAT food menu items in Windows Lounge and a farmer's market salad station at our famous Sunday Brunch. Chef Ashley also created the Young Hollywood Salad, which has hemp seeds, organic greens, strawberries, blueberries and cucumbers.
They were also very receptive to the idea of a juice menu and launched Squeezed: guests can create their own juice from several ingredients, including kale, celery, ginger, lemon, cayenne, watermelon, mint, fennel, parsley, Asian pear, green apple, pineapple etc. Our chef also developed three juice blends too, which are very popular with our guests. Our general manager, Mehdi Eftekari, is a huge fitness enthusiast and partnered with Blue Clay Fitness to create more than 200 customized workouts available through our in-room iPads. I am fortunate to work with such a health-minded team.
LTP: Tell us a bit about this new retreat, which launched over Labor Day Weekend.
KK: We put together a wellness weekend with celebrity fitness trainers, Blue Clay Fitness; Kimberly Snyder, a nutritionist for Kerry Washington, Drew Barrymore, Fergie and Vince Vaughn (to name a few); and Steve Ross from Maha Yoga. We are currently scheduling the next one. The program included a healthy dinner at Culina, a nutrition seminar with Kimberly Snyder, a cooking demonstration with Executive Chef Ashley James, a Runyon Canyon hike with Blue Clay Fitness and a yoga session with Steve Ross. As you can tell, I got to bring all my favorite leaders in the wellness community together!
Next up, we are filming five nutrition videos with Kimberly Snyder focused on getting “Red Carpet Ready,” navigating holiday parties, the ideal foods or smoothies to eat after working out, the best meal to have after a spa treatment and more.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
KK: Happiness is living a healthy life and traveling often. I am most happy in the Greek Islands, especially sailing from island to island, enjoying the local cuisine. My favorite dishes include Greek salads with organic ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and the best olive oil and seasoning (without feta); steamed "horta" dandelion greens; baked stuffed tomatoes with rice; and fava, the Greek version of hummus. I also love traveling to South America, Miami and Hawaii. To me, happiness is not as much about material possessions, but more about unique experiences that change your life.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how do you do that every day?
KK: I believe “Living The Process” means caring for the environment, including all animals and sea life, as well as truly caring for family and friends. I also believe it is important to travel the world and experience different cultures. I have learned more from traveling than from anything else. It is important to care for your body through exercise and diet. I believe in living life to the fullest and taking advantage of any opportunities that come my way. For instance, I have been fortunate to live on Maui and experience that culture through a previous job. It is important to embrace life, surround yourself with positive people and be grateful for every moment!