CALIFORNIA Travel Guide
‘Tis the season to celebrate and there’s no better way than with a holiday-inspired beverage. And, as we all know, a holiday cocktail a day keeps the Grinch away. For Hotel Holiday Cocktail Week, we’ve scanned the globe for some delectably delicious cocktails that will leave you humming a merry tune that doesn’t include, “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch.”
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California has a 12 Days of Christmas cocktail menu on offer during its 22nd Annual Festival of Lights celebration, which turns the property into a glowing spectacle of four million sparkly lights.
If you’d also like to get a glow on head to the hotel’s Presidential Lounge where the festive cocktail menu includes 12 drinks named for, and inspired by, the classic song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The menu starts with A Partridge in a Pear Tree made with Absolut Pears, lime juice, pear nectar and Baileys Caramel and goes all the way to Twelve Drummers Drumming made with Starbucks liqueur, Godiva Chocolate liqueur, and hot chocolate garnished with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick.
If you prefer to get lit at home, try this recipe based on the most pivotal point of the song - the Five Golden Rings – where everyone gets it together again after flailing about with the rest of the lyrics.
Kimpton's Hotel Triton is known for its vibrant lobby
Interest in the American craft beer scene has never been higher, and a San Francisco hotel is looking to draw in the big drinkers this winter.
Kimpton’s Hotel Triton in Union Square has launched its Triton on Tap package that offers guests individual tours of four San Fran breweries: Magnolia Dogpatch Brewery, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, ThirstyBear Brewing Company, and Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room.
Hotel Reopenings / Hotel Renovations / Pacifica Hotels / San Diego Hotels / Marina Del Rey Hotel / → All Tags
The $20 million renovation has turned the hotel into a four-star property, now with a full-service restaurant, 24-hour room service, concierge assistance, an outdoor, marina-facing pool, sundeck, marina-front wedding venue, and over 6,000 square feet of meeting space.
The guest rooms, shown in the cover photo, have been fully revamped, many now with private balconies. The details of the rooms have also been upgraded to include, among other amenities, Egyptian cotton linens. The new restaurant, SALT, is an indoor-outdoor eatery that will serve contemporary California cuisine and fresh seasonal seafood fare.
We’re looking forward to taking a closer look at the renovations sometime in 2015, and will certainly pass on an inside look when we do. Its location makes it one of the closest hotels in Santa Monica to Venice and LAX, so it should draw plenty of interest. Rates start at $239 a night.
[Photo: Pacifica Hotels]
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Scheduled to open in 2016, the hotel will have just 36 rooms with only one and two-bedroom suite options. The property, which will not be called Montage, but rather Pendry San Diego, will also have two restaurants, a spa, a rooftop pool, a nightclub, and a beer hall. Is it expected to draw both business and leisure travelers with its location three blocks from the convention center in the heart of the city's main leisure district, the Gaslamp.
The hotel says it will "appeal to young, hip guests looking for both superior personal service and high-quality design and amenities," and rates are projected to start between $250 and $300 a night. Few details have been released about the restaurants, nightclub, and beer hall, but the hotel hopes to attract locals as well as visitors and become a destination in themselves.
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Named for its purpose and state of mind, Botlr, the robotic servant is currently at the tail end of a test run at the Cupertino Aloft in California. We told you all about Botlr last month but in case you need a refresher, here's how he/it works:
After receiving a request that needs to be delivered, such as a snack or small amenity, a hotel employee programs the robot by hitting a few buttons. Botlr then uses the hotel Wifi to interact within the hotel and perform tasks, such as calling and directing the elevator to a specific floor. It is programmed with a mapping system that allows it to navigate through the property, the exact same technology used by Google's self-driving cars. Cameras help it avoid obstacles and real people.
When it arrives, it uses a signal to call the room telephone and alert the guest. Sensors allow Botlr to recognize when the door is opened and lift the lid on its storage container. And instead of being silently pressured into giving a tip, guests can enter a review for Botlr on its flat panel display screen. If it's a positive review, the Botlr will do a little dance. Well, that solves our problem of not having enough cash on us.
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You can now stay warm while you chill out in front of your own personal fire pit at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel’s new Beachcomber Fire Pit Rooms and Suites, where temperatures December through February can plummet to a horrifying 50 F (that’s a shout-out to all of you tough northerners out there who can endure -20 F in January – we’re looking at you Fargo).
With direct access to the beach, these four stylin’ rooms all have terraces with private fire pits so that you can roast some wienies or pig out on s’mores in a more civilised way than backpacking with a tent in tow and searching for kindling (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Known for a hotel scene that bears a burden on the budget traveler, Santa Barbara's newest hotel, which is actually a hostel, looks to fill that void. Opened this week in the Funk Zone neighborhood, The Wayfarer is a 31-room hostel that offers both private and shared accommodations.
The opening of the Wayfarer is especially interesting given its location in the Funk Zone. An "artsy" neighborhood filled with murals, a surf museum, wine tasting rooms, breweries, a distillery, and small restaurants, it displayed a touch of grit in its early days that Santa Barbara had always lacked. But as its popularity has grown, so have the price tags on its restaurants and urban wineries.
Last year, our bro Jaunted noted that the local media was concerned that the growing gentrification of the neighborhood would ultimately be what killed it as higher-end concepts and projects, including hotels, looked to capitalize.
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The Canary Hotel will get some company later this summer when Santa Barbara County debuts its second Kimpton property in the form of The Goodland Hotel, set to open in July with 158 rooms and a self-described "Southern California Bohemia meets surf culture design.”
Kimpton’s vibe and localized approach to hotel decor is a good match for Santa Barbara’s laid-back scene, fitting in nicely between the small beachy inns (Hotel Milo) and the bigger, more luxurious hotels (Fess Parker). But one curious thing about the decision is the location of the property, as it will be located outside of downtown Santa Barbara in neighboring Goleta.
Now, there’s nothing “wrong” with Goleta (I used to live there, in fact), but it certainly isn’t a prime location as a tourist looking to experience Santa Barbara. You’re caught nearly ten miles outside the buzz of downtown in a much more residential and strip-mall oriented area, and most of the other hotels nearby are basic, catering to businessmen and parents of university students. Renting a car becomes almost imperative as you won’t be able to walk to any restaurants, bars, or beaches. The website describes the hotel as being "a rollerblade away" from downtown Santa Barbara, but that's unfortunately incredibly deceptive and, to be honest, simply a flat-out lie.
With Memorial Day around the corner, it’s that time of year when hotels take down the scaffolding and show off newly renovated digs in time for the busy summer season. The 126 year-old Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego is the latest to announce a refreshed look with the upcoming launch of a new beach area on May 1st.
Called Del Beach, the new waterfront set-up features daybeds, half-moon cabanas, boogie boards, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayak rentals, and a beach playground for kids. The revamp will also come with new white and burgundy beach towels, and guests can rent chaise loungers and sun umbrellas. A full food and beverage service will offer salads, sandwiches, mai tais, and margaritas right on the beach.
The small town of Ojai often gets lost in the shadows of destinations such as Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, and Big Sur along California's central coast, but after a recent visit to the "Valley of the Moon," we began to understand what has made it a long-time getaway for those looking to escape L.A. and refresh in the powerful, healing aura that our bro Jaunted discovered.
Something that initially seems like a drawback is what turns out to be one of Ojai's best attributes: The fact that it is not located on the coast. Tourists coming to California understandably want to be near the ocean, yet same-state travelers (aka Cali locals) appreciate the change in scenery, change of pace, and the rejuvenating properties that live in the orchard-heavy landscape of Ojai.
The Biltmore, Bacara, and Davy Crockett's Fess Parker get a lot of the attention when it comes to Santa Barbara's hotel scene and full-service resorts, yet a drive through town, especially in the blocks adjacent to the beach, reveals clusters of boutique hotels and small inns that far outnumber the bigger brands.
One such property is the Hotel Oceana on Cabrillo Boulevard, which sits across the street from the beach and the harbor. Featuring a collection of cozy courtyards outside of rooms and between buildings, we were impressed with its colorful landscaping, the blues, reds, and yellows of the flowers and furniture bold against the backdrop of the green gardens. The rooms and views are just as eye-popping, as you will see in the following photos.
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A few weeks ago, we showed you the before and after pics of the Fess Parker's most recent renovation. The revamp ensured that the hotel will remain one of the city's flagship hotels going forward, at least as far as aesthetics go. We love the new rooms, and one thing that hasn't changed is the beautiful ocean and mountain views they provide.
Next week, we'll poke around town and dish on all the hotel news happening around town, including other hotel renovations as well as offerings you can expect from different properties this summer.
For now, enjoy this wonderful view from the hotel's Gardenia Building, and feel free to daydream about the warm California sun as we transition into spring.
[Photo: Will McGough]