Still reign­ing: South­ern Cal­i­for­nia

The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/travel - BY ANTHEA GER­RIE

IT TAKES A brave in­vestor to cre­ate a new multi-mil­lion­dol­lar re­sort in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia — and not just be­cause of the re­ces­sion.

No other hol­i­day play­ground is al­ready so well en­dowed with five-star ho­tels, and in this star-stud­ded state, many of those come with an ex­tra fris­son.

Only in the land of movie leg­ends can you sleep in bed­rooms once oc­cu­pied by Os­car-win­ners and then eat break­fast at their favourite ta­bles.

With the Bev­erly Hills Ho­tel, now ap­proach­ing its cen­te­nary and still as glam­orous as when Char­lie Chap­lin, Marilyn Mon­roe and Tay­lor and Bur­ton made it their home from home, it’s hard to make a case for tourists to turn right out of Los An­ge­les air­port to­wards Or­ange County in­stead of left to­wards west­side LA.

The glitzy shops of Bev­erly Hills, buzzy restau­rants of West Hol­ly­wood and clean air and beaches of Santa Mon­ica are a hard act to beat.

Yet this is just what the creators of Pel­i­can Hill in New­port Beach are hop­ing vis­i­tors will do.

They are bank­ing on the great ex­po­sure the real OC has had from the tele­vi­sion pro­gramme, that show star­ring a surf-mad Jewish lawyer which so gor­geously show­cased New­port, Or­ange County’s own cap­i­tal of glitz, buzz and beach life.

Per­haps buzzy is not quite the right word for the taste­ful col­lec­tion of Tus­can-style vil­las which com­prises Peli- can Hill. But buzz is cer­tainly what you do find in An­drea, its el­e­gant Ital­ian restau­rant, where pasta and ge­lato are made in-house and the finest buf­falo moz­zarella is im­ported from Si­cily.

Ser­vice is at­ten­tive to the point of be­ing faintly ridicu­lous, as when my waiter so­lic­i­tously re­quested to “re­visit” my ravi­oli with fresh pep­per and Parme­san. But the food was truly de­li­cious, and there is also an ex­cel­lent on-site spa.

Pel­i­can Hill is close not only to New­port Beach, which has all the yachts, well-heeled blondes and trendy cafes which pop­u­late the OC soap, a beau­ti­ful ma­rina and shop­ping mall, but the quirkier de­lights of Crys­tal Cove. Built as a sea­side colony in the 30s and 40s, the his­toric cot­tages lin­ing this quiet beach have sur­vived the de­mo­li­tion ball and are be­ing au­then­ti­cally re­stored.

It’s a charm­ing place to stroll or sip a cof­fee, get­ting a rare sense of south­ern Cal­i­for­nia in the golden age be­fore the de­vel­op­ers carved it up.

Equally at­mo­spheric is the three-mile Bal­boa Penin­sula, whose retro houses, ur­ban beaches and yacht har­bour are the high­light of any trip to the New­port area.

A cou­ple of miles fur­ther down the coast, La­guna Beach re­mains a charm­ing and au­then­tic small coastal town, one well-en­dowed with gal­leries, cafes, shops and a ter­rific lit­tle art mu­seum; the re­sort segues into a full-blown artists’ colony dur­ing the sum­mer months.

Given all the south­ern half of Cal­i­for­nia of­fers, it’s worth in­cor­po­rat­ing a peek at the OC into a full-blown odyssey, stop­ping awhile to en­joy the high­lights of west­side LA be­fore con­tinu---

ing north to the Mon­terey Penin­sula. Bev­erly Hills must-sees in­clude not just the shops of Rodeo Drive and the epony­mous ho­tel built in 1912 to cater for the film in­dus­try, but within it the fa­mous Polo Lounge.

Here Mar­lene Di­et­rich shocked the matire d’ by com­ing to din­ner in trousers, Frank Si­na­tra threw a chair through the plate glass win­dow and Peter Finch dropped dead in the en­trance lobby.

To­day, the star-mak­ers rather than the stars come for power drinks or break­fast, with the lat­ter among the best in town.

West Hol­ly­wood is al­to­gether younger, buzzier and less re­mote than Bev­erly Hills, and has its own star sto­ries to tell. The Riot House, as the Hy­att was known in the bad old days when The Who threw TVs from their bal­conies, has been re­born as the sleek, stylish An­daz, with a great lo­ca­tion in the heart of Sun­set Strip.

A great touch are the pri­vate loung­ing ar­eas with flat-screen TVs which have re­placed those danger­ous bal­conies, en­closed dur­ing the re­build, pre­serv­ing the fab­u­lous views with floorto-ceil­ing glass. The glory days of the Riot House are cel­e­brated in the restau­rant, which serves to­day’s mu­sos and pays homage with its RH mon­icker. In Santa Mon­ica Madonna’s favourite, the Shangri-La, is an­other leg­endary old ho­tel which has had a makeover.

This art deco jewel is per­fectly placed for the beach and within walk­ing dis­tance of both the neigh­bour­hood’s best and buzziest restau­rant, the Bor­der Grill, and its new­est hot eatery, Fig in the Mi­ra­mar Ho­tel.

It’s also within a 10-minute stroll of the An­nen­berg Beach Club, a great new as­set for Santa Mon­ica with its swim- ming pool, sea­side cafe and drop-in yoga classes.

If the Club’s evoca­tive pic­tures of Hearst and Mar­ion gam­bolling with Hol­ly­wood greats whet your ap­petite for the glory days of Cal­i­for­nia his­tory, plan an overnight stop near Hearst Cas­tle on the way to Mon­terey.

It’s less than a five-hour drive to San Simeon, where the Mor­gan, named for the fe­male ar­chi­tect who built Hearst’s fan­tas­tic hill­top com­pound, makes a

comfortable ocean­side base. Nip along early to the cas­tle, where the Imax film of­fers a fas­ci­nat­ing in­tro­duc­tion to the man and prop­erty on which Ci­ti­zen Kane were based, be­fore mak­ing the ac­tual visit. Af­ter drool­ing over the Ro­man pool, the an­tique fur­ni­ture and the fab­u­lous vis­tas from one of the world’s great houses, drive 90 min­utes north past fan­tas­tic vis­tas of coast and clifftop to Big Sur, where an out­door lunch at Ne­penthe may well be the most at­mo­spheric meal you will en­joy in Cal­i­for­nia.

It’s worth wait­ing for two seats at the bench with heart-stop­ping views of the Pa­cific and blue jays div­ing in and out of the in­ter­ven­ing trees. Leave enough time to ex­plore the New Age shop, one of the best in the state.

Half an hour north lie the many joys of the Mon­terey Penin­sula, in­clud­ing the quaint town of Carmel by the Sea, where stars ac­tu­ally own ho­tels rather than stay in them. Clint East­wood has taken over the mod­est Mis­sion Ranch, while Doris Day has made the laid-back Cy­press Inn a haven for dogs and their own­ers - the joint pos­i­tively jumps dur­ing tea-time Yappy Hour!

No stars were in ev­i­dence, just lux­ury and very fine food at L’Au­berge Carmel, the best rea­son to stay in rather twee Carmel apart from the beach.

L’Au­berge is the first Re­lais & Chateaux prop­erty to ar­rive on the penin­sula and has brought a touch of chic to Carmel it hith­erto lacked. Less pricey is La Playa, a lit­tle closer to the beach; its woodsy self-ca­ter­ing cot­tages may be a bet­ter bet for a fam­ily than the ho­tel rooms.

Two great cul­tural at­trac­tions which have made the penin­sula a must for tourists are the fab­u­lous Mon­terey Bay Aquar­ium — surely the world’s best, with an un­miss­able dis­play of glow­ing jel­ly­fish — and the Na­tional Stein­beck Cen­tre at Sali­nas, the home­town so evoca­tively por­trayed by the au­thor in East of Eden.

Do fol­low the aquar­ium with din­ner at C, the wharf-side restau­rant at the new In­tercon­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel, a few steps along on Can­nery Row. Sali­nas ca­ter­ing op­tions are more mod­est, but lunch at the Stein­beck House charm­ingly re­calls the era of the au­thor’s hey­day.

Boats and multi-mil­lion dol­lar real

Seascape at Pa­cific Grove on the Mon­terey Penin­sula, where stars start their own ho­tels rather than stay in them

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