Luxury Vacations: When the rest of the world thinks about California, it’s the big three: weather, wealth, and that glorious "I’m-so-fit-and-tan-in-my-Audi R8 Sypder" way of life. Stuck in 3 feet of snow back East someplace “feeling Minnesota?” Try rocking a little California swagger as a pick me up...even if it’s just for a weekend jaunt to get your groove back. Welcome to Orange County, known for its beach cities, luxury hotels, and sun-kissed fitness activities.
“The OCeanfront” contains the beachfront cities of Orange County, including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna, and Dana Point. These beaches feature the best hotels in the country; pleasure palaces unlocked with the key of prime location.
The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa is a towering structure of elegant, masculine décor – a sweet spot for the sporty visitor or the hard worker in need of some well-deserved R&R. Step out of your business casual ensemble, step into a wetsuit, and attempt to surf some massive swells and shore-crashing barrels. While you're at it, why not throw on some trunks and join in on a friendly game of beach volleyball? Turn the tide with a fully-equipped spa and indulge in the hotel's power-showers and Jacuzzi, a welcome rejuvenation for the wave-and sand-torn body.
The Balboa Bay Club nestles in the heart of Newport Beach. Between Huntington Beach and Laguna, the harbor view and sea-captain nostalgia make for a relaxing and chic atmosphere. And the drinks are superb. Balboa celebrates Oktoberfest by channeling their inner Bavarian and serving up Paulaner Munich, Innstadt-Stadl, and my new personal favorite, Erdinger Weissbier. And since it neighbors tinsel town, Balboa has a first-class cabin restaurant called Duke’s Bar, named after silver-screen cowboy John Wayne.
At the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort, my face was cleansed and clarified – pumpkin mask and all. I looked years younger. The dining options at the Marriott are plentiful and of the highest quality. Samplers of patty melts, pizzas, and lettuce wraps are delectable and the cranberry vodka doesn’t hurt either. Looking for panache with your lip smacking? The hotel recently made a multi-million dollar renovation and didn’t waste a cent.
Chef extraordinaire Rob Wilson prepares a five-star meal at the Loft Restaurant in Laguna Beach’s Montage Resort, serving up dishes of succulent steak, freshly ripened tomatoes, and enormous zucchini sure to water your pallet. Speaking of buttering up, don't forget to slather on some SPF and make your way down to the hotel's mosaic pool, complete with poolside luxury cabanas, flat-screen televisions, an adjacent whirlpool, and bar and grill.
The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is the castle on the hill, the true king of hotels. Overlooking a legendary surf spot from its cliff-side location, the Ritz is a Mediterranean villa that lives élan and breathes luxury. The secluded location allows for the hotel, with its fresh $40 million renovation, to have giant ballrooms, expansive dining areas, and 54,000 square feet of outdoor Eden. But what is a hotel without fine dining? You’ll have the best of both worlds at the Ritz’s world-class RAYA. For me it was three hours of posh dining. I savored the good company and rich food alike. The rack of lamb, Surah, desert sampler, and delectable dialogue was a time sheer bliss.
In Orange County, South Coast Plaza is considered the mall of the gods. This is Los Angeles adjacent, and on the West Coast we know that clothes make the man. Not just any man but fashion icons, celebs and models from film to the runway. There are few things in life more enjoyable than a custom shirt fitting at Brooks Brothers. The end-all-be-all of men’s clothing, Brooks Brothers provides clothes for TVs Man Men, Tom Ford’s A Single Man, Michael Douglas’s wardrobe in Wall Street 2, the works. The store's general manager, well spring of knowledge that he is, explains which colors complement who and why (a light magenta for me), stripes verses checkered, collar length, cuff length, the death of the three-piece suit, and how two button suit jackets are more fashionable than three button ones.
So bust out the Ray Bans and live the California dream. Journey to the Golden Coast that has everyone from The Beach Boys to Katy Perry singing in ecstasy. The resorts, malls, and beaches of the OCeanfront are heaven sliced and fine living. Treat yourself and you’ll feel like the million bucks that you are.
By Caleb Garcia
Full Disclosure: Tours of the hotels mentioned above were arranged for Caleb Garcia on behalf of The OCeanfront, but all views expressed are entirely his own.