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Road Trip

Lower your carbon footprint by vacationing close to home

Prayer flags flying in the wind at Tassajara's Flag Rock
Shundo David Haye

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

The trek to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, down a steep, 14-mile, winding dirt road at the bottom of Big Sur canyon in Los Padres National Forest, gets the adrenaline pumping. But the moment you arrive the rush is left behind for sacred space, and the only marker of time is a gong.

Since 1967, when a Japanese Buddhist monk founded this first Zen monastery outside of Asia, spiritual seekers from around the world wanting to unplug from their busy lives have been arriving deep in the Ventana wilderness, by car or Tassajara’s eight-passenger stage, to sit silently, harmonize the mind and body through yoga, or explore the culinary and fine arts. Zenshinji (ZenHeart-Mind Temple), as Tassajara is formally known, is open from May through mid-September to stressed-out techies (that would now be all of us) looking to unplug and rejuvenate in this digital-free environment.

For the remainder of the 2014 guest season, Tassajara offers disciplinary retreats in Body and Mind, Mindful Living and Spiritual Practice, one of which is Balanced and Awake; Zen and Yoga to Harmonize Mind and Body. My husband and I attended this weekend retreat last August with Letitia Bartlett, a professor, clown, mime and Iyengar instructor from San Francisco, who with Kanzan David Zimmerman, a Zen priest and program director of the San Francisco Zen Center, guided us into an experience of compassionate awareness. Bartlett allowed us, with her light-hearted approach, to express yoga poses fully and joyfully, and through Zen teachings, Zimmerman helped us to deepen our connection “to our natural state of equanimity and insight.”

Practicing yoga poses, she explained, “reveals places that are stuck; a clown may be having a hard time being funny, a yogi may have tight hips, an actor may be having trouble expressing an emotion, but these are all obstacles that let us take a deeper look at ourselves as human beings.”

Zimmerman used the recent fire, which ripped through the old-growth forest and the property in July of 2013. as a teaching, explaining that “fire was just being its nature and doing what it was supposed to do.”

We giggled and expressed, played and posed in workshops in between attending silent meditations, soaking in the curative natural hot springs, hiking along the river, and enjoying the artisan bread and vegetarian family-style meals with our fellow spiritual voyagers. Our stone room sat peacefully along the river, a cool resting place of self discovery after a long day of yoga and zazen, seated meditation.

While much remains the same since its opening in the late ‘60s, since which time Tassajara has hosted thousands of monks, teachers, students and celebrity guests such as the late Steve Jobs, Governor Jerry Brown and Joan Baez, who came to enjoy the silent mediation, hot springs and organic meals, the already green center has recently further improved its carbon footprint.

Tassajara now garners 100% of its energy from solar panels and the local hot springs.Two years ago Tassajara began utilizing a new eco-retreat center designed with the highest standards in green development by architect Helen Degenhardt from JSW/D Architects, and this past spring, saw the permanent installation of Dharma Rain, a sprinkler system that provides critical protection to Tassajara from fires that are a natural part of its ecosystem. While rooms are still match-lit by erosene lamps, the kerosene lamps on the grounds have now been replaced by new solar path lights.

Through recycling, organic food, water and energy conservation, composting, use of native plants and organic gardening practices, bio-degradable soaps and cleaning supplies, solar power and geothermal heating, Tassajara is truly commited to its invitation to its community “to live lightly” and “leave no trace.”– JUSTINE AMODEO

Say Om :: Balanced and Awake: Zen and Yoga to Harmonize Mind and Body (August 21-24, 2014) Featuring Letitia Bartlett (professor, clown, mime, yoga instructor) and Kanzan David Zimmerman (Zen Buddhist priest and program director, San Francisco Zen Center)

:: sfzc.org/tassajara

Langham Huntington Pasadena
Before hotels were built like airplane seats, to squeeze the most people in as possible, there was the Huntington Pasadena. Set on 23 acres at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in the center of an old world residential neighborhood, this historical landmark is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in style. Formerly the Ritz-Carlton, Langham Hospitality Group purchased the property in 2008 and commenced an aggressive renovation, opening new restaurants and bars (The Royce, The Tap Room), remodeling the cottages, and launching a 11,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar Chuan Spa and Salon just last August. While I have stayed there over a dozen times, I had never even seen the cottages until recently, which were large enough for a family, with terrace and a rose garden views, yet with the privacy of your own residence.

Alex Kratena, the Langham head mixologist and winner of accolades all over the world, literally popped in for 18 hours from the Artesian Bar in the Langham London for a visit and to share his new creations. Kratena has created signature cocktails for each of the Langham resorts, all based on the freshest mixers he and his staff hand make.  The Social Club (Pasadena’s signature libation) is a vodka- and Lillet-based cocktail, infused with citrus, vetiver and naturally, blooming rose. Intoxicating!

On a more sober note, the Langham brand has been serving high tea since 1865 and a few times a year, that tea is open for young children and parents to partake in a magical dress-up experience, games and a tea service fit for a king or queen. My daughter and I dressed up as brides, drank tea from rose-decorated porcelain cups with our pinkies up and savored salty then sweet petit fours until our stomachs could hold no more.
The next morning, it was time for relaxation and more tea. Chuan spa is based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water, and all the details of the spa are geared toward your balance and well-being. Reception greets you with a short questionnaire about your sleep, hunger and energy patterns, and the greeter selects a tea and essential oils prepared to harmonize your body and spirit. After a Mistral Light Heat Energy “mini” laser and a heated stone massage, I floated into the dream room for a nap. If you are with a partner, engage the VIP room for the day and spend it lounging with Champagne and strawberries in your private suite.
Perhaps when there, you might consider the Langham Huntington $100,000 Proposal of the Century. The ultimate luxury experience includes a private proposal in the Rose Bowl Stadium, a bespoke performance by the 40-piece Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, a $35,000 custom diamond ring and two nights in the Tournament of Roses Presidential Suite, as well as other romantic offerings through December 29, 2014. Here, everything’s coming up roses. – SUZETTE LIPSCOMB

Two for Tea :: The next Imagine Tea is set for September 7.

:: pasadena.langhamhotels.com

:: chuanspa.com

Lakehouse Hotel and Resort
By the light of the silvery moon, you can swoon at the Lakehouse. With new rooms, two cottages, pools, fire pits and San Marcos Lake views, it’s a North San Diego County getaway that’s reasonably priced and offers a great deal of value for the money. If it’s a romantic getaway you want, go there and just nest. But the close proximity to Legoland, Carlsbad Premium Outlets and the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Parks make it a fantastic family hotel as well. It has a retro feel from a bygone era when it was safe to let your kids roam the neighborhood and play outside after dark. The layout is such that a corporate retreat or family reunion would be so fun spread out amongst the pools, Jacuzzi and 142 rooms.

Checking in with Franco was a pleasure. He welcomed us in the lobby library, where a pitcher of green tea stood on ice. He arranged our activities – a one-hour paddleboard for morning that seemed so short when we booked it, but was oh so long on the legs when we did it, a sunset cruise in the Duffy and an hour on the tennis courts (we declined the instructor). Our home away from home was the Shore Cottage - a two-bedroom, two-bath kitchenette mini house which had its own grassy driveway, fresh soothing décor, and happy lime yellow accents. There were silver walls with simple elegant light fixtures while rows of primary colored boats waited outside the sunny decks that were stocked with pairs of yellow wood deck chairs and a fire pit that begged us to make s’mores, even though we really don’t like them.

It’s difficult to sleep in because it’s so bright outside and the lake reflects the light and lookslike giant sparkly diamonds. You can order room service breakfast, lunch or dinner from The Grill, and the food is surprisingly fresh if a bit heavy. Guests can enjoy St. Mark’s miniature par-71 golf course, driving range and petite fitness center just up the street. The hotel arranges in-room spa services which allow you to lounge as much as you like, or heed the siren call of the lake. Mad Men would be happy having cocktails here, as would you!–S.L.
:: lakehousehotelandresort.com

Sofitel, Los Angeles
Cronuts are not what you’d expect to be greeted with at a French hotel, but the Sofitel has embraced LA “culture” with the marriage of the croissant and donut upon arrival. Double windows block out the LA noise, and views of the Hollywood Hills greet the day. Directly across from the Beverly Center, the 295-room Sofitel provides easy access to the gargantuan mall (although I miss the Loehman’s that used to be next door). Right down the street from Joan’s on Third (a favorite lunch spot), and a hop, skip and a jump from my incredibly talented hair stylist Brant Mayfield, who works at Chris McMillan’s salon on Burton Way, the Sofitel is at the center of the LA universe.

Remodeled interiors, Le Spa, and a revamped restaurant, Esterel, with elegant modern decor make for a fun evening within the hotel walls. Book a spa appointment, lounge or dine in-house, or better yet, slip under the covers, squish into the signature pillow-top bed and duvet and have a “Bon Soir” indeed.–S.L.

:: sofitellosangeles.com

Bacara Resort and Spa

Tucked into the bluff and beaches of the Gaviota coast between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains like a pearl in its shell, Bacara Resort & Spa is a luxurious gem of a getaway in any season. Spend your weekend walking the pristine beach or relaxing in your own private poolside cabana with a dedicated waiter, or take in the ocean views from the resort’s reopened restaurant, The Bistro, whose celebrity chef de cuisine, Chris Turano, blends the finest locally sourced ingredients with flavors of Italy, rich in seafood, fragrant olive oil, fresh herbs and farmers’ market vegetables. Like everything else at this oceanfront resort, The Spa heavily favors the sea. The BABOR Signature SeaCreation Massage utilizes precious extracts of microorganisms found in the depths of the sea and an exclusive Sea-Telligent Complex made with sea silk protein to visibly reduce wrinkle depth, enhance skin elasticity and firm facial contours. Enjoy an intricate facial massage incorporating coral and sea stones and know that a portion of the proceeds from this wonderfully indulgent treatment is donated to the Gaviota Coast Conservancy. Before you leave, make sure to take in some flights at the new Foley Food & Wine Society wine tasting room, which includes wines from Kuleto Estate, Chalk Hill Estate, Sebastiani and Lancaster Estate. The wine bar offers guests and members of The Foley Food and Wine Society the opportunity to taste and purchase wines, as well as to utilize a personalized concierge service for wine outings, cooking classes, reserve tastings and more. Rooms start at $350 per night. –J.A.
:: bacararesort.com

The Broadmoor and Ranch at Emerald Valley
Rumor has it that Spencer Penrose, the founder of the Broadmoor Hotel, wanted to purchase the Antler Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs, but the owner refused to sell it to him. Instead, Mr. Penrose bought a decaying casino on 3,000 acres, and turned it into the mini city it is now.  But first, he got lit, rode his horse into the lobby of the Antler Hotel, and told them that his hotel would be bigger, more successful and better than their hotel would ever be. As a snub, he had the letter “a” in the Broadmoor logo made smaller than the other letters as a reminder of these facts when he opened his hotel in 1918.

At the time, it took 700 artisans, (many from Europe) only months to build his 340 room resort.  Fast forward to the present day’s 744 rooms, three golf courses, 185,000 square feet of conference space, seven restaurants, shopping, pools, a spa, and the newest jewel in the crown, The Emerald Valley Ranch. It’s a bit like an Italian lake town a couple hours flying time from the OC.

I found myself sleeping soundly, jogging the lake circle, indulging in the spa, and wandering the grounds, when I wasn’t eating. The staff of nearly 1,900 employees from 23 countries all contribute to the perfect romantic sojourn, but my favorite employee was the bread maker, Johann Willar. We had the chance to watch the third-generation French artist start the day and sample hot fluffy baguettes from the commercial oven. After a couples massage, you can roast marshmallows by the outdoor fire, or better yet, head over to the private chapel and tie the knot!

The Ranch opened late last summer as a seasonal wilderness experience high in the mountains of the Pike National Forest. Guests hitch a ride in the shuttle from the famed Broadmoor, and commune with nature in one of 10 luxuriously rustic cabins set amidst the trees and lakes cuddled by a stream. The entirely new cabins (created on the footprint of the old ones) come decked out in a “Ralph Lauren meets Hank Williams” vibe. Tweeds, a local firm out of Woodland, decorated the individual dwellings and used thoughtful touches.

Things like hand-selected river pebbles and rain showers mimic the sounds of the waterfall and stream running through the Ranch. The Turkish towels with the EV branding remind you that it’s a luxurious place. The Zapotec tribe of Mexico’s Waxaca Indians were commissioned to weave the cabin’s rugs. Your ranch hand can light your fireplace for a cozy evening in, and each cabin has a duet of rocking chairs, cozy beds and high-thread-count linens. Philip Anshutz, the current owner, selected 140 original and reproduction pieces from his private collection of his own American Museum of Western Art to adorn the walls of the property (a cowboy herding the cattle through the snow adorns my bathroom wall in the Pine Cabin).

At this all-inclusive property, your dedicated chef prepares local specialties, appetizers and main courses that are heavy with Waygu beef, delicious Colorado lamb, potatoes, hearty vegetables and a variety of homemade desserts made by the Broadmoor’s pastry chef. Do you dream of rising early and stealing a few jumping rainbow trout from the lake? Maybe holding hands along the lush malachite colored valleys is your cup of tea? Does canoeing float your boat? We chose horseback riding. Aztec, a coffee-colored “forge a path of his own” type horse, chooses me for the mountain trail through the trees entwined with the old mine artifacts (circa 1920). I’m a novice rider, and Aztec manages to climb as close to the edge of the trail as possible (on the down side) and scrape me along each aspen, pine, or spruce tree we pass.  I mentally choose my next year’s Christmas tree 100 times over as we climb the trails with the stream’s relaxing song. After the ride and a hearty lunch, we soak in one of the two outdoor cedar tubs brimming over alongside the lake as night falls and then go back to the room to nest and forge new paths the following day. – S.L.
:: Broadmoor.com/ranch

Montage Beverly Hills Suite 100

When the city of Beverly Hills celebrated its centennial earlier this year, five luxury hotels agreed to join the Conference and Visitors Bureau in a unique program meant to transport guests back in time. The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows, Montage Beverly Hills, The Beverly Hilton, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills and The Peninsula Beverly Hills all created “Suite 100,” a redecorated, glamorous suite that reflects an era from the past 100 years.

Suite 100 Project Director Susan Manrao, of Susan Manrao Design, worked with interior designers from the five hotels to guide the vision, which includes the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows suite inspired by frequent guest Marilyn Monroe (a display case showcases original artifacts from the actress’s estate, and a library features her videos and books), The Beverly Hilton’s 1960s suite inspired by the Beatles, Audrey Hepburn and Tippi Hedren (a working television from the 1960s is on loan from the Grammy Museum), L’Ermitage Beverly Hills’ Studio 54 and Halston-inspired ‘70s suite (Halston Heritage pieces balance delicately against the use of Ultrasuede throughout), The Peninsula Beverly Hills’ 90s suite inspired by the Hollywood glamour of awards season (the living room walls are papered with photographic murals of a red carpet Hollywood gala event), and the Montage Beverly Hills ’40s film noir inspired suite.

We spent a night at the three-room, two-bedroom suite at Montage to travel back in time with interior designer Nina Petronzio’s vision of film noir, epitomized by jaded detectives, femme fatales and the Great American Novel. Petronzio was inspired by art deco furnishings, architectural details and classic movie sets of the era, filling the space with bespoke pieces from her own Plush Home luxury furniture collection crafted specifically for this project. Lalique crystal, gold holographic wall coverings, an original Underwood Noiseless typewriter and a custom menu that includes food and libations inspired by the 1940s and an iconic “Press for Champagne” button create the ambiance (a bellhop was quickly at our front door with Laurent-Perrier bubbly in hand). The room service beverage menu offers a unique selection of what may have inspired the Great American Novel, from the Ernest Hemingway (what is the modern day Mojito), to the Carson McCullers (dry sherry, citrus tea and lemon). A collection of the ‘40s most popular candies are stocked at the Honor Bar and the ’40s-inspired room service menu (because why leave?) includes chateaubriand for two with carrots, turnips and green peppercorn sauce, anchovy toast, deviled tomatoes and lobster thermidor, Prince de Monaco.

Through September 30, Executive Chef Gabriel Ask’s Suite 100 menu, served in Montage’s Parq Bar, includes panzanella salad, chilled crab tower and the specialty cocktail menu.
You have until the end of the year to enjoy these blasts from the past. After December 31 the suites will go back to the more recent past. – J.A.

Stay :: The Film Noir Suite is priced at $1,914 per night. 

:: montagehotels.com

For reservations and more information about all Suite 100s :: lovebeverlyhills.com

Riding the wave at Tower23

Set on the Pacific Beach boardwalk, in a neighborhood that is unapologetically scruffy, Tower23 Hotel is all clean lines, modern conveniences, and cool comfort. The suites are roomy in more ways than one – offering enough floor space to entertain in, giant couches, and oversize tubs.

Instead of a swimming pool, Tower23 features a wide deck with a panoramic view of the endless Pacific. Surely this was an item of much debate at one point – but it isn’t missed. Instead, guests congregate on the deck to have a cocktail and watch the eclectic crowds weave past. Those who like being in the thick of the action are quick to borrow one of the hotel’s beach cruisers.

With its restaurant, JRDN, Tower23 has created a dining experience with a strong sense of identity. Chef Nick Shinton focuses on fun, light California cuisine – bright flavors and beautiful plates that won’t leave you feeling bloated on the beach. He also pays keen attention to what’s ripe, and the seasonal vegetable dishes that show up on the menu are probably his strongest.

This year, Tower 23 became the first property to secure a surf school partnership with Izzy Paskowitz of the legendary Paskowitz Surf Camp (whose father, “Doc” Paskowitz, would definitely have a spot on surfing’s Mount Rushmore). For guests, learning to surf from Paskowitz – a longtime professional surfer and all-around ambassador of the sport – is akin to having Dr. J coach them in basketball. Paskowitz’s warm, friendly vibe is a perfect fit for the hotel and he welcomes newcomers into the surf tribe with open arms.  

“Certainly the neighborhood of Pacific Beach has a lot of history for my family,” Paskowitz says, “I grew up surfing at Tourmaline and my dad is honored there. Tower23 respects the magnitude of how far back our history goes, and their guests don’t just want to catch waves – they want to share stories and understand that rich culture.”

Paskowitz is signed on for a “Hang23 Surf Camp” from September 26-28, with more dates on the way.

If the waves aren’t cooperating, the neighborhood offers plenty of diversion without the hassle of hopping in a car. Nearby Belmont Park features two wave machines, along with a historic roller coaster, and brand new brewery and sushi concepts. Just be sure to zig-zag your way back to Tower23’s deck in time for sunset and happy hour.– STEVE BRAMUCCI

STAY  COAST readers will be welcomed with a free cocktail and hotel baseball cap or sun hat. Simply show this article upon your arrival  :: T23Hotel.com

W is for Westwood
LA may be close to Orange County in geography, but it’s a giant departure culturally. The scene shifts quicker up there—as bands hunt for their big shot, chefs stake their careers on new concepts, and plays open and close in the span of a weekend. “Hot new things” pop up on a minute-by-minute basis.

With this frenetic change comes the endless possibility for discovery, especially for visitors. And that makes for a fun excursion.

Checking in at the W in Westwood, I soon learn that the blooming LA food scene and the buzzing nightlife I’ve arrived to explore are both reflected in-house. At the W’s restaurant, NineThirty, Chef Dakota Weiss prepares smart California cuisine with subtle nods to other cultures. Her baked Kunik goat cheese with truffle honey is Mediterranean comfort food with a twist and other dishes do a similarly good job of being at once familiar and surprising. Weiss is also well known at the Santa Monica farmer’s market (occasionally bringing hotel guests along) and her specific menu creations that result from these trips are a menu highlight.

After dinner at NineThirty, I head to Whiskey Blue, the W’s highly stylized bar. The fixtures are bespoke, the lighting is speakeasy-esque, and the drink menu is heavy on tropical riffs spiked with citrus and herbs to keep them from being cloying. This night, a band called The Get Down Boys killed on stage. One great joy of live music is the giddy vibe that comes with seeing a truly skilled but previously unknown band rock the place. The Get Down Boys leave all of Whiskey Blue with that feeling.

The next night I decide to stroll up the road to the Geffen Playhouse. The theater is showing a two-hander called Slowgirl. The piece takes its time building, but the reversals and reveals at the end make it resonate. Again, there is a sense of discovering something worth gushing about.

Of course, at the end of all this cultural adventuring, one is prone to a little fatigue. Especially when the discoveries are often savored with a Moscow Mule in hand. There again, the W doesn’t disappoint. After sleeping late in a mega-thread count bed, I spend my Sunday in lounge mode, catching up on reading by the pool. Later, I visit the hotel’s Bliss Spa for a massage. This, I find, is yet another joy of spending a weekend in the middle of so much action: giving yourself permission to ignore it all and do nothing. – S.B.

Go :: The W is offering COAST readers complimentary valet parking for their stay.

:: wlosangeles.com/orange-county-offer

Listen :: The Get Down Boys come south to play at Laguna Beach’s Festival of the Arts on August 3rd. :: thegetdownboys.com

Manchester Grand Hyatt
The award-winning waterfront Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is, well, grand. In fact, it’s practically a small city with 1628 rooms, two tennis courts, a 24-hour Stay Fit exercise facility, a full-service Kin spa, bars, restaurants, and a 30,000-square-foot grand ballroom housed within the 125,000 square feet of function and meeting space. Fresh off a multimillion-dollar remodel, the property could easily be a European pomp and circumstance affair, but its low-key elegance is conveniently located right here in our own San Diego backyard. The lobby is magnificent, and the common areas house antiques and renovated frescoes, while the classically styled marble columned pool and Jacuzzi overlook the harbor and have incredible views of the water, city lights and Coronado.

We slept with the blinds open to enjoy the spectacular city lights, and awoke bright and early to azure skies and cerulean water. My daughter dragged me, against my many protests, down to the pool for a 6:30 a.m. swim on a clear windy Sunday morning. We had the pool to ourselves and then warmed up in the toasty Jacuzzi.

We were spoiled in the Art Deco Penthouse Suite. Our short visit was enhanced by the floor-to-ceiling wrap-around views from North to South County. Complete with an office, stunning master bedroom, multiple Jacuzzi tubs, and views from the dining room, living room, bedroom, and even the bathroom, we enjoyed every nook and cranny, understanding completely why Elite Traveler just named “our” suite one of the top in the entire world! –S.L.

:: manchestergrandhyatt.com

Half Moon Bay
Big Sur gets most of the votes as California’s most scenic stretch of wild coast, but I’m a fan of the more subtle charms of Highway 1 a bit farther north. Driving south out of San Francisco, the freeway downsizes suddenly around Pacifica, and then meanders through Half Moon Bay, past pretty Pescadero and south into Santa Cruz, the other Surf City.

The drive is bucolic, with windswept beaches on one side, and forested mountains on the other. But it’s also home to luxury by way of The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. It’s billed as the only oceanfront resort in the Bay area, which seems a bit odd to us in OC, with all of our resorts, including a sister Ritz-Carlton, offering ocean views.

The Half Moon Bay hotel’s solo status is enhanced by the surrounding golf courses. Set against the green open space, the resort stands grandly as a solitary sentinel on bluffs above the Pacific. It’s that feeling of separateness that makes it one of our favorite places to get away from the bustling stress of SoCal. Of course the luxury amenities don’t hurt, either: dining at Navio and sunset drinks on the Ocean Terrace, complete with a bagpipe player; treatments at the spa; and of course the convenience of Club Level access.

Half Moon Bay has a cute downtown that’s worth exploring if you get tired of relaxing in luxury at the resort. It’s a few blocks filled with restaurants,  bars, bookstores and boutiques, from a chic new plant store (Garden Apothecary) to the rustic Feed & Fuel store, which has been in town since 1911.

While we were there, Half Moon Bay was battling over preserving or rebuilding the unassuming Main Street bridge (proudly billed as “the first concrete bridge built in San Mateo County”), with dueling referendums on the ballot.
This just in: the old bridge won. –Kedric Francis

:: ritzcarlton.com

Glen Ivy Hot Springs
Nestled in a valley behind the Santa Ana Mountains, Glen Ivy Hot Springs is one of the largest wellness destinations in the U.S. Before opening its doors in 1860, the healing hot springs was an indigenous refuge. Since Glen Ivy is situated on an ecotone that converges two ecosystems, it’s a natural healing sanctuary. Known for its holistic spa treatments, this retreat also features Club Mud, California’s first red clay mud treatment pool. While guests bask in nature’s serenity, the mud draws out impurities from the skin – and, awakens your inner child.  –Jenn Tanaka

:: glenivy.com

Coronado Island

Traveling with toddlers can be a challenge. There are no free rides on the airlines after age two, uncomfortable car seats and frequent potty stops make long roadtrips tough and sharing a hotel room and even beds with squirmy kids is not so fun for mom and dad. Which is why a splurge on the Hotel Del Coronado’s family-friendly Octopus Suite is such a treat. So named because of the whimsical ocean murals on the walls of the ocean-themed kids room, the two-bedroom family suite includes a master bedroom with king bed, two bathrooms and a separate kids bedroom with bunk beds and a trundle, plus a chest filled with toys and games.

There are few places in California more iconic than the historic Hotel del Coronado. And even though it’s only a bridge or ferry ride away from the San Diego mainland, a getaway to Coronado Island feels farther away than a drive down the 5.

Our kids loved the suite, which was high up in the hotel’s newer Ocean Towers. While not as charming or historic as the built-in-1888-original, we preferred to sleep in the tower, rising to explore the old floors of the grand dame early in the morning.

We enjoyed the most parent-friendly meals of the summer at the hotel’s Sheerwater restaurant. Our kids were charmed by Cody, our server, who instantly brought something for them to munch on as we were seated, and convinced them to eat their broccoli before he’d bring our banana split for dessert. After dinner, we went to the beach for a fun s’mores experience one can book through the hotel, and the next morning marveled at the giant sand castle someone had built on the beach.

Just across the street from the Del sits the Glorietta Bay Inn, a less costly alternative. Though we didn’t find it as family-friendly as the Del, the standard rooms are fine, the suites historic (it was once the Spreckels Mansion), and the beach is right nearby.– K.F.

Stay :: Rates for the Octopus Suites begin at $1,249. :: hoteldel.com

Disney Staycation
Ahh, August 18. The third Monday of the month should be a holiday, since it’s the first open day for most Annual Passholders at the Disneyland Resort, after having been blocked for much of the summer. For locals who go a lot and the once-a-year-crowd, it’s a real treat to book a night (or several) and stay in Anaheim. There are themed suites at the resort’s three main hotels, guests gain an hour of early access to the parks (the Grand has its own entrance to California Adventure), and the pools are the perfect place for families to escape the mid-day crowds and heat.  A tip for those with young kids: Disneyland Hotel’s Monorail Pool is perfect for kids who don’t yet swim. The water in the baby pool is only ankle deep, toddlers can ride the smallest slide solo and lifeguards (“Walk, please!”) are ever-vigilant. The big  slide at the Grand empties into the pool, so kids have to be swimmers. A cool, new place to stay nearby is Hotel Indigo. It has a chic boutique design, and is walking distance to the main entrance of the Happiest Place in OC.– K.F.

On Guard :: disneyland.disney.go.com

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