Mex­i­can Beach Va­ca­tion Is Closer Than You Think

Riverbank News - - NEIGHBORHOOD VALUES - By CARY ORDWAY Cal­i­for­rni­aWeek­

OXNARD — For those who’ve tried them, Mex­i­can beach re­sorts are among the most re­lax­ing va­ca­tions or get­aways one can imag­ine — long stretches of beach, palm trees, a cerveza or mar­garita never far from one’s grasp. It’s easy to drift along like some white fluffy cloud with your only worry be­ing when the next drink server will come along.

But not many folks can af­ford to do this very of­ten. To­day’s air fare isn’t bad, but fly­ing still isn’t ex­actly cheap. And it’s hardly worth go­ing to Mex­ico un­less you can stay a week -- who has a week any­more to just sit and do noth­ing?

The an­swer is to find a sim­i­lar re­sort that’s a lit­tle closer and, when you elim­i­nate your air­fare, a lit­tle cheaper. You need to find some­place where you can just hop in your car and drive a few hours, stay two or three days, and get back home just as re­freshed as if you’d been to the Mex­i­can Riviera.

You need to check out the Em­bassy Suites Ho­tel Mandalay Beach Re­sort in, of all places, Oxnard, Cal­i­for­nia. This is a Cal­i­for­nia va­ca­tion that feels like you’re in the heart of Mex­ico.

Be­fore we vis­ited the Mandalay Beach Re­sort, my only rec­ol­lec­tion of Oxnard was a time when I was 19 years old driv­ing through Cal­i­for­nia with a buddy, eat­ing cans of tuna fish to save money and look­ing for a place to crash that was just as cheap as cheap could get. We found just such a place in Oxnard, but were too scared of our sur­round­ings to get to sleep.

Fast for­ward to Oxnard of the New Mil­len­nium and, while its tourism in­fra­struc­ture is not quite com­plete, the area is fast be­com­ing a pop­u­lar desti­na­tion for peo­ple who en­joy Cal­i­for­nia beach va­ca­tions. About an hour’s drive north­west of Los An­ge­les, the area is close enough to ma­jor pop­u­la­tion ar­eas to be ac­ces­si­ble, yet un­de­vel­oped enough to feel like you’re re­ally get­ting away from the rat race.

Po­si­tioned on some of the best real es­tate in the Oxnard area, the Mandalay Beach Re­sort is ev­ery­thing that the Oxnard vis­i­tor in­dus­try wants to be — it’s a water­front play­ground that has style, lots of ameni­ties, plenty of wideopen spa­ces and a wide beach that stretches for miles. And, yes, it has plenty of Mex­i­can beer and mar­gar­i­tas.

Trav­el­ing High­way 101 north­west from Los An­ge­les, you’d never imag­ine that this re­sort area was just a few miles off the free­way. The ur­ban sprawl along the free­way is not par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive and most peo­ple headed north know that an es­pe­cially spec­tac­u­lar beach­side city of Santa Bar­bara is just an­other half hour ahead. So it’s no won­der that peo­ple just don’t think of Oxnard when they think va­ca­tion par­adise.

But if you take the Vic­to­ria Av­enue exit and travel across sev­eral miles of agricultural fields, you will come to the Mandalay Beach area, one of many beaches along this part of the coast. The Mandalay Bay Re­sort with its at­trac­tive early Cal­i­for­nia Span­ish de­sign, is a large com­plex of sev­eral build­ings that in­clude 248 suites in all. Trop­i­cal plants, gi­ant palm trees of ev­ery va­ri­ety and a se­ries of wa­ter­falls give the re­sort a feel­ing sim­i­lar to many beach­side re­sorts we have vis­ited in places like Puerto Val­larta, Can­cun and Cozumel. An invit­ing pool is the cen­ter­piece for the court­yard while the re­sort’s restau­rant and bar ar­eas are nearby.

We im­me­di­ately ex­plored the grounds and found our way out to the many paved walk­ing and bike paths that tra­verse the beach. Parked near the re­sort’s beach en­trance were sev­eral ped­dle­cars and bi­cy­cles that, as far as we could tell, were get­ting rented quite fre­quently by the many fam­i­lies who were staying at the re­sort.

The beach it­self was one of the most invit­ing we’ve seenin South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The re­sort looks out onto an area of sand dunes and, be­yond that, the broad beach. Off in the dis­tance we saw the Chan­nel Is­lands, an easy boat trip from nearby Chan­nel Is­lands Har­bor. Once out to the beach, we no­ticed that there was plenty of walk­ing — both north and south — and, even though this was a warm sum­mer Sun­day, not a lot of peo­ple com­pared with other South­ern Cal­i­for­nia beaches.

A lit­tle bit north of the re­sort is the Mandalay Beach at Oxnard Park with its sweep­ing lawns and out­door fa­cil­i­ties. Fur­ther south is Hol­ly­wood Beach, which was the lo­ca­tion for a movie called The Sheik star­ring Ru­dolph Valentino. Filmed in 1924, the movie needed a lo­ca­tion with an Ara­bian feel and this part of the coast was deemed to have it.

Back at the re­sort, we set­tled in for some se­ri­ous pool­side sun tan­ning and could see that the guests were a mix­ture of cou­ples and fam­i­lies who seemed typ­i­cal of the crowd you would find at any Mex­i­can beach re­sort. For all in­tents and pur­poses this was Mex­ico — just a kin­der, gen­tler ver­sion in which you have no wor­ries about the wa­ter, the food or the air­fare.

The suites at the Mandalay are spa­cious and com­fort­able. Our “king suite” had a king bed in one room and so- fa-bed in the other room. The unit was apart­ment-like with a re­frig­er­a­tor, cof­fee maker, mi­crowave and wet bar — al­though you won’t need a kitchen for break­fast be­cause a big one is of­fered free for all guests. Our suite opened out to the beach and had a sep­a­rate ta­ble and chairs on the pa­tio with a nearby lawn area.

Cal­i­for­nia beach va­ca­tions can in­clude much more than sit­ting on the beach, and the Mandalay is no ex­cep­tion. There is plenty todo in the Oxnard area in­clud­ing many beach and ocean ac­tiv­i­ties. You can take a trip out to the Chan­nel Is­lands Na­tional Park — ei­ther half or full day ex­cur­sions are of­fered.


The Mandalay Beach re­sort in Oxnard

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