Cruising the Golden Coast
by, 04-27-2013 at 08:57 AM (3023 Views)
With California’s legendary sunshine pouring into to sunroofs and convertible tops, there’s no better way to see the Golden State than a good old-fashioned road trip. California has 840 miles of coastline to explore and there’s a bounty of can’t-miss stopping points along the way.
Pop some Beach Boys classics into the CD player and begin your journey at the bottom of the state – LoCal, as some even call it. San Diego is a gorgeous port city that features excellent nightlife, stunning beaches and breathtaking views. It’s the perfect combination of a city and sea, located in an area filled with history.
Perhaps no better example of that combination is the Keating Hotel by Pininfarina. Located in the heart of the buzzing Gaslamp District, the Keating Hotel is modern revelation of style in one of San Diego’s most historic buildings.
Built in 1890, the Keating building was at one time the home of the San Diego Trust & Savings Bank, and the bank’s underground vault is now being put to use as the Keating’s wine cellar. That’s just one example of the hotel’s cutting-edge design that the Pininfarina (designers of Maserati and Ferrari) were able to capture in their first hotel. The rooms and accommodations are an experience all to themselves as Jesseca Crissey, Marketing and PR Director for the Keating points out.
“The Keating’s 35 luxurious stanzas (Italian for “guestroom”) and suites, feature custom-designed furnishings and the loft-like accommodations feature the building’s original exposed brick walls, vaulted ceilings and an open floor plan with glass-walled bathrooms and oversized walk-in showers with overhead rain fixtures,” she said.
While in San Diego travelers can do everything from catching a Padres’ game at beautiful PetCo Park, sampling from the great restaurants and bars in the Gaslamp District or visiting Coronado Island. The view driving over the Coronado Bridge is one of the most beautiful in California; be sure to drive back to the city at night and take in the skyline, especially under a full moon.
After experiencing all that San Diego has to offer it’s time to hop up Interstate 5 to the place where dreams are made and stars are born…Los Angeles! While this metropolis is vast, guests in search of Southern California’s beach culture can find no better place to rest and recharge than the elegant and simply-stated Oceana Beach Club Hotel. Perfectly situated in a wonderful residential area, guests of the Oceana will get the true feel of living in the idyllic seaside city of Santa Monica.
The Oceana is within walking distance to the world-famous Santa Monica Pier and only a short drive to Hollywood. Guests can experience their own “movie star” treatment laying around the hotel’s heart-shaped pool and then take a yoga class to get centered. After a restful morning of sun and stretching guests can take their complimentary beach cruisers and go for a ride either along the coast or into town for lunch at one of LA’s hidden gem restaurants. Make sure not to be caught staring though as Montana Avenue has been known to be a perfect lunch location for A-list celebrities.
Once the fun in sun has ended, make sure and get back to the Oceana in time for dinner at Tower 8, with a menu created by two-star Michelin chef Josiah Citrin.
“As a Santa Monica native and avid surfer, my respect for the ocean extends to the surrounding community I call home. I have created a menu at Tower 8 that was inspired by the seasons and local colors that make up Southern California. It is a taste of how I enjoy cooking for my guests at my own home,” Citrin said.
Speaking of home, that is the feel that guests can expect at this gorgeous art-deco style property. Open and spacious rooms are filled with the luxury of Missoni throw pillows and oversized Frette bath sheets. The Oceana only has 70 guest rooms and suites so guests are treated with personalized care and service that normally comes when staying with friends.
(Ed. If looking for any specific recommendations in the greater Los Angeles area, feel free to call our Luxury Link Concierge team. We’re headquartered in LA and we love showing off our knowledge of the coolest places to go and things to see.)
Next, it’s time to put on some sunglasses and criuse the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll drive through scenic Malibu and be treated to a panoramic view of cliffs and coastline. About an hour north you’ll find yourself entering the quaint hamlet of Santa Barbara.
The red Spanish style roofs can be seen as you approach what is widely considered one of California’s most beautiful cities. Travelers will want to drive straight up into the hills – called The Riviera by locals – to their next luxurious property, Belmond El Encanto.
El Encanto is equally bathed history and sunshine, but what makes this property really sparkle is its recent multi-million-dollar restoration. Seven years in the making, the project is finally completed and the property celebrated its grand reopening in March 2013.
El Encanto features 92 rooms and suites that are individually designed as California style bungalows and with hardwood floors, plantation-style shutters and bespoke amenities. As General Manager Laura McIver says, El Encanto offers guests a feel of privacy and luxury that is unmatched.
“Each bungalow has its own private patio or garden, where guests can choose to dine al fresco or enjoy a romantic sunset in complete seclusion. Telescopes throughout the grounds also allow guests to take in the magnificent sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean for which the hotel is famed,” she said.
Santa Barbara is the quintessential resort town, with a compact, walkable downtown area full of art galleries, boutiques and fine dining. It’s the Southern California equivalent of a Norman Rockwell painting.
“One thing you’ll want to try and do is the art walk on the beach on Sundays. It’s free and there is gorgeous art to see and buy from local artists,” says Luxury Link Marketing Manager Zoe Bo-Linn, a former Santa Barbara resident, .
“I also recommend checking out the new Urban Wine tour downtown and pairing that with the Art Walk to make a Sunday to remember.”
After a restful evening in your bungalow guests can get their day started with breakfast and a trip to the spa. Make sure and request a late check-out to maximize your time, unless you want to get an early start on the final part of your Golden State tour…
Big Sur is the ultimate immersion-in-nature destination. Located about three hours north of Santa Barbara along windy Highway 1, this is the ideal place to finish your California coastal trip. You’ll discover beauty and serenity in the redwood-covered hills perched high above the rocky coastline that spans nearly 100 miles. Camping is incredibly popular in Big Sur, but being Luxury Link, we recommend you indulge in the rustic luxury of Ventana Inn and Spa.
The Ventana features only 60 guest rooms and suites and has everything you’ll need to make the transition to becoming one with the natural environment. The property features complimentary yoga classes, pilates classes, guided property walks and Japanese hot baths.
However what travelers will be most taken with are the legendary views from atop the mountain. Guests can gaze out over the Pacific and feel like they are on top of the world, and at the edge of it all at the same time.
When in Big Sur, bring – or rent – a bicycle and go for a trail ride, admire the towering trees, and find a spot where the forest clears and you'll see the amazing and expansive ocean. It is a truly breathtaking experience and a view that stays with you long after you leave.
Between hiking, mountain biking and visiting Big Sur’s hidden beach coves, you’re bound to get hungry. What better way to fully immerse yourself in the moment and the location than by eating from Ventana’s organic, locally grown menu?
After making stops all over the California coast you’ll want to take a moment and savor in the memories you’ve created. You’ve seen big cities and bright lights and experienced true natural beauty that the imagination can’t compete with, but like all the travelers who’ve “gone west” before you, you’ll make the California coast your own.