The Lux­ury of La­guna Beach

Luxe Beat Magazine - - Contents - By Jes­sica O’he­hir

The laid-back life­style in La­guna Beach isn’t the only perk of vis­it­ing this quaint, art-driven city in Cal­i­for­nia; lux­ury is around ev­ery cor­ner. From five-star restau­rants to gor­geous ho­tels, La­guna Beach beck­ons you to live the good life. The stun­ning ocean views alone can be the cat­a­lyst that will have you pack­ing up your life and mov­ing to La­guna Beach — or at least con­sid­er­ing it!

The va­ca­tion that dreams are made of be­gan for my fam­ily and me at La­guna’s Surf & Sand Re­sort. Trav­el­ing with young chil­dren can be, to say the least, a chore. At the Surf & Sand, ev­ery ef­fort is made to ac­com­mo­date your needs; mine be­gin and end with my chil­dren. The beau­ti­ful ocean front ho­tel has 167 rooms, all of which have an ocean view. There are plenty of ameni­ties; I highly rec­om­mend the com­pli­men­tary S’mores and Snores pack­age (upon re­quest). The ho­tel staff set up a small tent in our room for the lit­tle ones to sleep in, and de­liv­ered S’mores be­fore bed­time. Ac­cord­ing to my chil­dren, “That’s the right way to be­gin a va­ca­tion!” The Surf & Sand also pro­vides com­pli­men­tary earplugs, in case the sooth­ing sounds of the surf threaten to dis­turb your slum­ber.

Step­ping onto the bal­cony of our ho­tel room was serene; the Pa­cific Ocean creeps pre­car­i­ously close to the foun­da­tion of the Surf & Sand, giv­ing the im­pres­sion that the ho­tel will be con­sumed by the waves at any mo­ment. Ac­tu­ally walk­ing along the beach or gam­bol­ing in the surf (or do­ing back hand­springs in it like my teenager) su­per­sede any op­ti­cal il­lu­sion for my fam­ily, how­ever. We spent hours chas­ing waves and play­ing catch in the sand, soak­ing up ev­ery ounce of sun pos­si­ble. The staff at the Surf & Sand set up beach chairs and um­brel­las along with spa wa­ter — just in case re­lax­ation is call­ing your name in­stead of the hot Cal­i­for­nia sun.

When the sand be­comes a nui­sance, the Surf & Sand’s rooftop pool and spa of­fers a re­prieve. I spent some se­ri­ous time read­ing in a ca­bana lounge chair fac­ing the ocean, with a La­guna Sun­set – the Surf & Sand sig­na­ture cock­tail of course!

The fa­mous Splashes restau­rant, lo­cated just steps away from the pool (and a mere 25 feet from the ocean), of­fers the same gor­geous sea­side view. For­tu­nately, Splashes was also just feet from my ho­tel room, making life that much eas­ier. Din­ing on the palm-shaded pa­tio of Splashes feels like a va­ca­tion in it­self (de­spite the shame­ful crayon throw­ing – cour­tesy of my youngest child).

Dur­ing our lunch at Splashes, I was served an in­ter­est­ing dish: Flat­bread of For­est Mush­room and Pork Belly, com­plete with pick­led baby ap­ples, soy caramel, Brie cheese, rose­mary and black gar­lic. What’s a va­ca­tion for, if not to ex­pe­ri­ence life (and there­fore food) out­side of your com­fort zone? My teenage daugh­ter, on the other hand, opted for her usual: the Kobe Burger with smoked ched­dar, co­rian­der slaw and gar­licky pick­les.

We swung by Sap­phire La­guna for brunch while out ex­plor­ing and were pleas­antly sur­prised. Sap­phire of­fers pa­tio or in­door seat­ing, and dis­plays works from lo­cal artists through­out. The restau­rant is known for pro­vid­ing com­fort food in­spired by cuisines from around the world. My hus­band, rel­ish­ing the mo­ment, or­dered A Study of Eggs Bene­dict. Served three ways, A Study of Eggs Bene­dict con­sists of a toasted English muf­fin, Cana­dian ba­con, hol­landaise sauce, thick sliced sum­mer tomato, poached egg and pancetta-mush­room cream sauce. My younger chil­dren were less con­cerned about the food they re­ceived and more about the plates; all kids’ menu items are served on Dis­ney or Pixar plates at Sap­phire La­guna.

Din­ner at Se­lanne Steak Tav­ern in down­town La­guna Beach beats them both, how­ever. This con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can steak­house of­fers out­door seat­ing in their ve­randa or sun­set ter­race, as well as in the wine loft and wine li­brary. Co-founded by hockey leg­end Teemu Se­lanne and Kevin Pratt, Se­lanne pro­vides menus in­spired by ex­ec­u­tive chef Josh Sev­er­son. We were first of­fered a small plate con­tain­ing the Se­lanne ‘Flash’ Burger – ground sir­loin and short rib on a pret­zel bun with an­gry onions and ba­conaise. For our first course, we were served the Wedge: baby iceberg with heir­loom toma­toes, ba­con foam and Point Reyes blue cheese. (Nor­mally I de­spise the pre­ten­tious­ness of any­thing “foamed,” but have to ad­mit that now I’m ob­sessed.) The en­trée of Filet Mignon with truf­fle mar­row but­ter and bor­de­laise, served with Truf­fle Oil Risotto Carnaroli, had me eu­phoric, al­though I’m sure the Chardon­nay helped with that. I couldn’t have guessed that

dessert (Vanilla Crème Brulee Torte with laven­der foam, or­ange saf­fron and pis­ta­chio ja­conde) would have come in sec­ond to an en­trée.

Ex­plor­ing down­town was the per­fect way to walk off calo­ries from the ex­ces­sive consumption that occurred through­out our stay in La­guna Beach. The lo­cal art scene is on point (I may be adopt­ing lingo from my teenager) and is vis­i­ble in ev­ery store win­dow. Be it can­vas, cloth­ing, food, ar­chi­tec­ture or surf­boards, art is every­where. The Chocolate Sol­dier in down­town La­guna Beach pro­vides both works of painted art and gelato. What could be bet­ter?

If you are ready to end the am­bu­la­tion (or if you tripped off of one of La­guna Beach’s very large curbs, as I did), La­guna Beach of­fers com­pli­men­tary trol­leys through­out the sum­mer. The trol­ley runs through­out the day and into the evening. I down­loaded the La­guna Beach Travel Info app and used the Trol­ley Tracker func­tion to see real-time lo­ca­tions of all trol­leys.

Af­ter a busy day wan­der­ing around La­guna Beach’s stun­ning streets (think flow­ers and suc­cu­lents every­where), we were able to kick our feet up at the Man­ager’s Re­cep­tion. Hosted by the Surf & Sand’s 15Fiftyfive Lounge, the re­cep­tion (oc­cur­ring ev­ery Fri­day evening) fea­tured live mu­sic by lo­cal artists, wine and ap­pe­tiz­ers.

The 15Fiftyfive Lounge is also host to the most adorable event on Satur­day morn­ings, Lit­tle Pi­cas­sos. The Surf & Sand staff

sets out multi-col­ored framed easels, along with pa­per and mark­ers. The Lounge area also boasts a picturesque view of the sand and ocean – more than enough in­spi­ra­tion for my lit­tle artists.

Cre­at­ing our own art­work in a city known for its cre­ativ­ity was the per­fect way for my fam­ily to end our time in La­guna Beach. While we won’t be making the move there any­time in the near fu­ture, I’ll be star­ing of­ten at our pho­to­graphs and rem­i­nisc­ing with my fam­ily, re­mem­ber­ing all of the won­der­ful (and silly) ex­pe­ri­ences we had in La­guna Beach. Now we are onto our next ad­ven­ture – wher­ever that may be. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “This world is but a can­vas to our imag­i­na­tion.” I’m ready to paint the town – are you?


ABOVE The Chocolate Sol­dier

TOP Art­work at Sap­phire La­guna

View from the Surf & Sand pool pa­tio IM­AGE COUR­TESY OF SPLASHES RESTAU­RANT

Sun­set on La­guna Beach

Lit­tle Pi­cas­sos

For­est Mush­room and Pork Belly Flat­bread

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