Imagine being picked up by a vehicle and driven through the hills of Malibu. The vehicle drops you off in front of a large house, you’re welcomed by a volunteer and you stroll inside.
You’re guided through sections of the house and given tidbits of inside information — how the house was built, where pieces of art came from, etc. — as the panoramic ocean views, open floor plans and apartment-sized bedrooms leave you speechless. At the end of the tour, you’re treated to food from a local eatery.
Now imagine doing that four times, through four different houses.
Luxurious Malibu houses were open to 300 people for the 29th annual Malibu Cook’s Tour on Saturday, May 9.
Participants received small, yellow “passports” that were stamped at each location of the tour. The booklets contained information on each house and the food that would be served when they arrived.
Pravina Somani, owner of one of the homes, said it was overwhelming having strangers walk through her house, but she did not seem to mind.
“I didn’t expect so many people, but it’s wonderful,” Somani said. “I love it.”
This was the first time Somani has shown the inside of her home to the public, she said. For the past three years, she has shown the outside as a part of the Malibu Garden Tour.
Malibu Methodist Nursery School organized the event. Parents of children who attend the school and other volunteers from the community helped guide tour-goers, gave facts and told stories about various sections of each house.
Participants received different versions of the itinerary and had to drive themselves to one of the homes. Several shuttles picked up and dropped off people at the three other locations.
Yvonne Bosch, one of the volunteers, said the tour is the main event that helps fund equipment for the school, as well as other projects and scholarships.
“It’s all volunteer work, so 100 percent [of the proceeds] go [to the nursery school],” Bosch said. “It’s really, really good.”
The majority of the tour’s participants were women. Bosch said the reason could be the event usually occurs close to Mother’s Day.
Bosch said parents affiliated with the nursery school were asked to think of homeowners they knew who might be willing to open their houses for the event.
“The homeowners are oftentimes related somehow to the school because they sent their children to the school before, and now they’re grandparents or they are aunties of the child who goes there,” Bosch said.
The tour is limited to 300 people to put less stress on the homeowners, Bosch said. The limit also adds to the novelty of the experience, she said.
“It’s kind of an exclusive club to get a ticket,” Bosch said.
Bonnie Kliger, who lives in Woodland Hills, has been taking in the tour for the past 12 years, and attended Saturday’s event with her husband.
“The idea of peeking into the private lives of Malibu homes [is what interests me],” Kliger said.