L.A.’s Westfield Century City Mall Offering Private Helicopters to Lure Shoppers

Courtesy of Unibail Rodamco Westfield and Blade

The retail destination is upping the ante to try to compete against the recently opened Palisades Village, a renovated Beverly Center, The Grove and more.

Westfield Century City is pulling out all the stops to try to get customers to the mall.

After CNN reported that 25 percent of all malls will be gone in five years, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is announcing an exclusive partnership with the short-distance aviation company Blade. The company is now providing chartered helicopter flights on weekends to Westfield Century City, Westfield UTC in San Diego or Westfield Garden State Plaza in New Jersey.

The VIP experience includes a helicopter flight from another city to an L.A. airport, then a black car service to the shopping center ($995 per person round trip; westfield.com/blade). Customers will receive gifts and gift certificates, plus a personalized concierge for a day out on the town, with beauty treatments, personal styling and tailoring, restaurant reservations and personal shoppers.

“There isn’t a more efficient and seamless way for customers to travel to a Westfield center than by flying with Blade,” said Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal in a statement. “This partnership breaks new ground to combine shopping and helicopter travel in a truly unique way."

The creative move aims to provide new services amidst a mall decline in recent years, due to the switch to online shopping and a widening wealth gap, according to Time, though developer Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield's portfolio was valued at about $72 billion in June. Westfield Century City underwent a $1 billion renovation in 2017 that included a 156,000-square-foot Macy's and, in November 2017, the first Eataly on the West Coast. In its first year, the Italian food market served more than 150,000 cups of gelato and nearly 250,000 slices of Pizza Alla Pala to shoppers (Jay-Z, Beyonce, Bradley Cooper, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen and Melissa McCarthy have stopped by).

Following its lead, the eight-story Beverly Center recently reopened after a $500 million face-lift, adding a 25,000-square-foot skylight to the design, a stylist program that has registered 4,200 members and the largest Zara in L.A. For VIPs, the Beverly Center offers a Room Service program from London concierge company Quintessentially with exclusive events, free valet parking, help finding nannies, a private lounge and other perks.  

Meanwhile, real estate mogul Rick Caruso is trying to revamp brick-and-mortar retail by using localism as a selling point. The latest (12-year) project by The Grove developer, Palisades Village opened Sept. 20 with Legend headlining its grand opening gala. The hot spot brought on upscale designers from L.A., many of whom live near the shopping center, including jewelry designer Jen Meyer and shoe guru Tamara Mellon.

In addition to the new helicopter rides, Westfield Century City caters to high-profile clients with the Private Suite, owned by private security firm Gavin de Becker & Associates, to give one-on-one fittings and a more secure shopping experience for those avoiding paparazzi.

“While outstanding customer service has always been vital, its centrality to our company’s strategy has never been more important than it is today,” said Tom Tierney, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s evp director of operations in the U.S. in a statement.

He added, “Our new partnership with Blade is just the latest way we are committing to providing our guests new and exciting levels of hospitality – including many inspired by the world’s finest luxury hotels and resorts.”

Other new transportation developments in the works to combat L.A. traffic include Warner Bros’ plan to build a tram linking its Burbank lot to the Hollywood sign for easy tourist access; the AT&T-owned studio announced it would pay about $100 million for the Hollywood Skyway. Tesla's Elon Musk, meanwhile, has a plan to create a high-tech hyperloop to transport riders between L.A. and San Francisco in 30 minutes. We're still waiting for the Star Trek transporter.