Thursday, May 23, 2024

California Dreamin’

A trio of Destination Hotels & Resorts properties between L.A. and San Diego captures the SoCal spirit with a bit of old-school Hollywood flair.


Mother Earth is ready for her close-up along the coast of Palos Verdes Peninsula. With the sun gently kissing the horizon, an early evening glow has bathed miles of dramatic bluffs—defiantly withstanding one crashing Pacific wave after another—in the kind of ethereal light for which cinematographers drop to their knees in thanks.

It’s a made-to-order backdrop that belongs on the big screen—but that guests at Terranea Resort in Ranchos Palos Verdes can experience virtually any day of the year.

This is exactly how Southern California casts its summer spell on the East Coast, especially South Floridians dripping and defeated from either 1) relentless afternoon downpours or 2) relentless humidity. SoCal not only gives tourists the best seats in the house for scenes of jaw-dropping natural splendor (and subsequent outdoor activities), it also throws in a little evening sweater weather from July to September. For good measure, it teases with enough Hollywood to keep you wondering if, just maybe, you might catch Clooney and Pitt hatching the plot for “Ocean’s Fourteen” at your hotel bar.

At least that’s what it felt like during a weeklong summer stretch between San Diego and Los Angeles at three coastal hideaways of Destination Hotels & Resorts. In typical Destination style, each property captured the essence of its surrounding area, which, in this case, went a long way toward explaining why the shadow of Seabiscuit looms as large in Del Mar as the memory of Lloyd Bridges in a wetsuit does at Terranea.

Where the Turf Meets the Surf

Long before Bing Crosby started peddling Minute Maid orange juice, he was selling locals in the seaside town of Del Mar on the thrill of horseracing. Crosby was one of the original founders of a track that would be-come an American treasure in racing circles 2015(the site is now called Del Mar Thoroughbred Club). He greeted fans at the gate when the track officially opened in 1937; and his rendition of “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” re-mains one of the track’s slogans.

A year later, in a prelude to the horse’s epic November 1938 showdown with War Admiral, Seabiscuit edged Ligaroti (which was co-owned by Crosby) in a match race at Del Mar that had much of the nation, via the radio broadcast, on the edge of its seats—and 20,000 in the stands doing the same.

What all this has to do with the contemporary comforts at L’Auberge Del Mar may not reveal itself initially, especially as you’re trying to process the relaxed, upscale spaces that unfold beyond the open-air lobby, from the popular “Living Room” bar and chic outdoor deck area all the way to a pool that overlooks the Pacific.

For more on this story, pick up the January issue of Boca Raton magazine. 

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