The best way to sum up my recent trip to LA, the nearby coast, San Diego and Los Cabos is that I thought to myself ‘wow I’ve been really careful with photos this time, only the best shots for sure’ and checked my camera to find over 300 photos and none that I want to delete.
The whole place is such a feast for the eyes and each stop offers such variety that it makes a perfectly gentle, sun soaked, well fed touring holiday.
We started our adventure in Santa Monica. It is close to the main tourist attractions in West Hollywood and Beverley Hills but is a relaxed beach place with some incredible shopping and wonderful restaurants. Nearby is Abbot Kinney where artists have smaller personal shops and it has become the place to spend time. http://www.abbotkinneyonline.com
There are hotels for all tastes here, Viceroy for the party set who want style and a lively evening atmosphere. Casa Del Mar is right on the beach for a more relaxed client who likes a slight country club feel to their hotel and then Shutters. This place was wonderful. It has a real sense of excitement in the evening as a live jazz band play in reception but it is elegant and feels like a New England home as well as a stylish resort. It is cleverly done!
We then set off to The Resort at Pelican Hill. The thing that struck us most about this impeccable resort is the sense of space they have. Luxury cars scatter the driveway and the villas are huge. They have one, two and three bed villas all with enough space for many more guests. The main pool is enormous and the lunch we enjoyed in a gazebo by it was absolutely delicious. This is a deluxe resort by an amazing shopping mall close enough to all the main attractions for families nearby.
One excellent day out is on a Duffy Boat. A small electric powered boat that you self-drive around the safe and calm harbour. You can take a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
We then set off for Montage Laguna Beach. This is a grand dame of local hotels and they run the place incredibly well. Stunning rooms, lovely pool and the most amazing cliff top position. Laguna Beach is a little more bohemian and artistic than some of its neighbours with some wonderful restaurants to explore. This makes a lovely stop for a couple of nights.
I have stayed at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel before but being 8 years old the most amazing thing for me was that someone offered to clean my sunglasses by the pool. Now I have a more grounded opinion. They have the view. The sweeping beach is beautiful and full of walkers and surfers on the day we visited. The small town also hosts an arts festival, which is hugely popular, but the Ritz Carlton is certainly a resort that caters for groups as well as leisure clients so I would be careful to question the number of group bookings they have at the same time for my clients.
Then came the real wow factor and a huge surprise for me, Rancho Valencia. It is a small yet spacious, quiet, yet plenty to do stunner of a property. I rarely find a property that is incredibly exclusive, so much so that it goes back to being relaxed. I think Jumby Bay achieves this in Antigua. You may have all the money in the world but sometimes a burger and beer by the fire pit is perfect. The place sparkles in the evening and the cocktails are as delicious as the food. In the day the spa, pool and gardens make for a complete get away. It is perfect for a couple but their attention to detail and range of local activities would suit a family too. I adored this property and will be sending anyone I think would love it as much.
There is so much to do and see in this area and the classic itinerary of San Francisco down to LA works brilliantly and is a holiday I have sold for many years but this was an amazing trip and offers a different feel, which you cannot help but fall in love with. After all the excitement we were off to Los Cabos for some serious beach exploration but that is the next installment.
We returned from Los Cabos for our last night in LA and stayed at the Beverley Wilshire. Could it live up to its hype? Was the service as good as everyone says? Is there any shop within 5 minutes I can afford to buy anything at all? Yes to all three. What a place! The rooms are beautiful and having a hidden pool area in the middle of a city is a welcome rest after a day exploring or shopping. We took a tour of the city and hopped off at The Grove, which is a lovely open-air shopping center. Then back to the hotel for dinner and again it was sensational. It may be known as the pretty woman hotel but it is so much more than that. It is also now a “Jerry Springer held the lift for me” hotel and a very good one at that!