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EPISODE 6: LUXURY

Six Ways to Spoil Yourself

San Diego - Visit California/thatgirlproductions.com

For ultimate luxury in California, visitors won’t have to look very far. Home to the rich and famous, with spectacular natural backdrops, chic cosmopolitan cities, and an emphasis on wine and wellness, luxury is at your fingertips in California. 

Here are some ways your clients can spoil themselves:

  • For star-gazing, and we’re not talking astronomy, head for super-service hotels in Hollywood, Bel Air, and Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills Hotel, nicknamed the “Pink Palace,” has a guest list that includes Richard Gere, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, and Michael Caine, among many others. Another famous star haunt, the boutique Hotel Bel-Air, has undergone a major renovation, and is as posh and service-oriented as ever.

  • Outside L.A. is the desert oasis of Palm Springs, where golf and spa retreats abound. The Parker Palm Springs is set amid landscaped gardens. Visit Norma’s, the resort’s restaurant , and tuck into a Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata, with eggs, lobster, and 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar–all for a cool $1,000. At La Quinta Resort & Club, features include a full-service spa, 41 cabana-trimmed pools, 53 whirlpools, and world-class golf.

  • California is packed with luxury that tells a story as well. The spectacular Hotel del Coronado on San Diego’s Coronado Island was immortalized in the 1959 Marilyn Monroe classic, Some Like It Hot. The former transatlantic ocean liner Queen Mary is now permanently moored as a hotel and tourist attraction at Long Beach, west of L.A. Surround yourself with natural beauty, as waterfalls and granite monoliths in Yosemite National Park frame the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee), built in 1927.

  • Consider an epic and jaw-dropping drive through Big Sur, which makes a spectacular setting for overnight stays. Check into Post Ranch Inn, lauded as one of the country’s top lodgings, with glass-walled cottages tucked into the cliffs, and evening views of nothing but sea and sunset. Ventana Inn & Spa is another five-star option in Big Sur, as is Hyatt Carmel Highlands. 

  • Try for luck at some of California’s major casino developments, which offer luxury accommodations such as Harrah's Resort Southern California in San Diego County, and Agua Caliente near Palm Springs.

  • Luxury can also encompass environmental awareness, and California has some of the country’s most beautiful eco-conscious hotels. Consider Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee, near Lake Tahoe; luxurious Montage Beverly Hills near L.A.; and the Pacific Blue Inn in downtown Santa Cruz. All have taken major steps to incorporate green materials and practices into their facilities.

For some additional ideas and information click here before moving on.

Hotels and Resorts

The Garland hotel - photo Visit California/Max Whittaker

Whether it’s an oceanside resort or a lush urban retreat, California has some of the country’s (and the world’s) most exclusive hotel addresses. Here are a few destinations in California to keep on your luxury radar.
 
Beverly Hills is a veritable posh playground for the Hollywood elite and America’s rich and famous—home to opulent estates, Rodeo Drive, lavish hotels, and stretch limos.
 
South in Orange County, coastal luxury is the standard, from spas and dining to hotels. Clients can relax on their private oceanfront balcony at the Mediterranean-inspired Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, or unwind in a contemporary suite at St. Regis Monarch Beach. Oceanfront Montage Laguna Beach sits perched on an oceanfront bluff, showing off the town’s rich artistic history by displaying works of notable California artists. In posh Newport Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill is evocative of Tuscan luxury with over-the-top amenities, such as villas with butler service and a private clubhouse.
 
Santa Barbara boasts laid-back luxury, with settings ranging from hilltop areas to secret bungalows to edge-of-the-sea surprises. Consider booking Belmond El Encanto, with terraced gardens and views of the Pacific. For a touch of romance, try San Ysidro Ranch, nestled in the Montecito foothills. This retreat has an A-list past, with names like Vivien Leigh, Sir Laurence Olivier, and then-Senator John F. Kennedy and his bride, Jackie. Santa Barbara is also home to Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, where five-star service is the norm. The waterfront property has onsite tennis courts and provides access to nearby golf destinations. Guests can also use the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club across the street at Butterfly Beach. 

Spas

Massage, The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa - photo Visit California/Hub

Health and wellness are paramount in California, so it’s no surprise that the state has a lengthy list of high-end spas and wellness centers. 

Whether you’re checking in for an hour or for a week, California has a luxury spa experience to fit the bill, from celebrity-style day spas to chic spiritual centers that lie off the grid.
 
As a home to international A-listers, it’s no surprise that L.A. has an abundance of extravagant spas. Visitors can treat themselves like stars for the day at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles Spa, or embrace Hollywood glamour at the Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie. The spa at the Peninsula Beverly Hills is a rooftop retreat and one of Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite haunts. At the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, Ciel Spa is a visual and sensory stunner.
 
Raise the level of relaxation on a wine country weekend with a trip to one of Sonoma County or Napa Valley’s sumptuous spas. The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa has what is undoubtedly one of the area’s most indulgent and classic spas: The Willow Stream Spa is famous for being one of the few luxury spas in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water. Other opulent spas to consider are Spa Solage at Solage Calistoga, and the Auberge Spa at Calistoga Ranch.
 
Perhaps one of the most exclusive spa addresses in California is the Esalen Institute—a retreat center and spa perched on an oceanside cliff in Big Sur. Its legendary visitors have included Bob Dylan, Ansel Adams, and Deepak Chopra, among many others. Esalen is more than just a spa: It is a spiritual experience with 500 workshops and thermal, cliffside baths.
 
Other destinations in California known for their spas include San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs.

Golf

The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa

Golfers are already familiar with the Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill, both of which are the sites of star- and pro-studded AT&T National Pro-Am. These high-end golf splurge getaways provide unforgettable bucket-list moments for avid golfers.
 
But even novice golfers will have plenty to keep them occupied in Monterey and Carmel, with many other outstanding fairways dotting the region, offering price points and styles for all. Del Monte Golf Course is the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi. The courses at Bayonet and Black Horse offer sweeping views of Monterey Bay.
 
The resident list at Palm Springs features golf luminaries like Robert Trent Jones Jr., Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, and Jack Nicklaus. These top pros all have designed championship golf courses in the Palm Springs region. A staggering 110 courses dot the Coachella Valley, and some of the best include La Quinta’s PGA West Golf Club & Resort and Indian Wells Golf Resort.
 
San Diego County is also a golfer’s paradise with perfect weather and challenging courses. Many of the world’s leading golf companies, like Titleist, TaylorMade, and Callaway, have offices or headquarters here. Visit Aviara Golf Club, designed by Arnold Palmer, which is one of the region’s premier golf options. Maderas Golf Club, designed by Johnny Miller and Robert Muir Graves, also wins praise for its long greens and landscape of rocky hills, arroyos, and chasms. Or visit Torrey Pines Golf Course, described as one of the prettiest golf courses in America.
 

Wellness

Visit California/Robert Holmes

In California’s deserts, pampering comes with the territory and the term “roughing it” hardly applies. Across the desertscapes of SoCal you will find resorts in all styles, from lavish opulence to sleek modernism, with many lodgings reflecting the era in which they were built.
 
Palm Springs is famous for its day spas, with their natural hot springs, mineral pools, and native plants with healing properties. Resort towns dot the Coachella Valley, peppered with excellent spas.

  • One celeb hotspot to know is Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs, an oasis with palm-fringed pools and a menu of holistic treatments.

  • Head southeast from Palm Springs to the sprawling Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, a 38,000-square-foot wonderland of posh pampering. Highlights include dozens of private treatment rooms, a salon, a bistro, a VIP suite, a fitness facility, and a saltwater pool.

  • For a more intimate experience, consider Agua Serena Spa at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort. 

  • Other options include The Parker Palm Springs, once the ranch of singing cowboy Gene Autry, and the flower-filled courtyards and red-tiled casitas at La Quinta Resort & Club.

  • Enjoy the terraced gardens at The Willows Historic Inn, once a millionaire’s private retreat.
 
As far as SoCal spa luxury goes, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is at the top of the list. This 31,000-square-foot spa village caters to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The stucco-and-Moroccan-tile Mind & Body Studio features a tranquil lap pool and an upscale fitness center.

  • Try out the Kuyam chamber, an updated sweat lodge where you’ll breathe in lemongrass-infused steam after being coated with mud and herbs.

  • Follow this with the Petals package—a rubdown with powdered roses followed by a rose-gel shower and finished with a rose-oil massage.

Unique VIP Experiences

Smoked beef brisket, spare ribs, and sausages, Barrel & Ashes - photo Visit California/Max Whittaker

And then there are luxury experiences that are truly created for the ultimate VIP travelers. California knows how to deliver when it comes to pleasing the most discerning A-listers.
 
Those with a need for speed, in style, will want to visit Thermal to experience the new BMW Performance Driving School. The 30-acre site features an exclusive paddock, track area, and a 1.6-mile road course. Get behind the wheel, host a corporate event, or enjoy a BMW Track Drive.
 
Anyone can enjoy a great California wine, so why not raise the bar and change up the scenery? Rather than sipping and savoring in a traditional tasting room, go to Napa and Sonoma counties to visit caves that have been outfitted for dinners and tastings. Winemakers have long used underground caverns for their perfect atmospheric conditions in the wine-aging process. Find out how it’s done and arrange for your clients to experience it firsthand at one of the many venues in Napa or Sonoma. 

Consider the California Academy of Sciences’ weekly after-hours parties, where stilettos, short skirts, and craft cocktails are the norm. These Thursday night events are ultra-popular with San Francisco’s young and hip. Each week the staff figures out new ways to shed light on cool topics, such as the secrets of animal migration or how creatures see in the dark. Live music keeps thumping, and designer drinks that match the theme are served.
 
At Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll definitely feel like a star with the VIP Experience. It includes valet parking, a private entrance to an exclusive lounge where you meet your expert guide, and an up-close tour of sets, including a stop in the massive prop warehouse. The tour includes gourmet lunch, as well as front-of-the-line privileges for all rides throughout the day and prime seats at all shows.
 
California camping comes with all the benefits of the great outdoors, but with a little extra luxury. Get ready to enjoy starry nights, campfire stories, a cozy sleeping bag, and California’s natural wonders, all without lifting a finger. Glamping, or glamour camping, is all the rage along the West Coast, with locations overlooking the Pacific, tucked into national parks, and more. 

Luxury Shopping

Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive - photo Visit California/thatgirlproductions.com

Shopping is both an art and a sport in California. Are your clients looking to indulge in the latest designer wear? These iconic and high-end shopping districts and malls will have them red carpet ready in no time.
 
The Beverly Center is the largest shopping complex in Los Angeles–a veritable treasure trove of designer boutiques and specialty shops for fashionistas. It’s not uncommon to catch glimpses of stars like Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt browsing the racks.
 
Nearby, the famous Rodeo Drive of Beverly Hills epitomizes luxury shopping, from Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. to Gucci and Versace. Together with its neighboring streets, this part of town forms the Golden Triangle shopping district. West Hollywood’s Design District attracts savvy buyers like Halle Berry, Johnny Depp, and Leonardo DiCaprio in search of quality home design pieces, fine art, and fashion.
 
In Orange County’s Costa Mesa, luxurious South Coast Plaza is packed with top shops like A/X Armani, Balenciaga, and Cartier. It is so big that it has an adjacent hotel, Westin South Coast Plaza, so shoppers can literally shop ‘til they drop.
 
San Francisco’s Union Square ranks as one of America’s premier shopping districts with boutiques, an enormous Macy’s department store, restaurants, theaters, clubs, and the nearby Westfield complex. The town’s Fillmore District and Hayes Valley area offer chic shops, boutiques, designer looks, and cafes. Ghirardelli Square on the waterfront has lots of boutiques and restaurants, and live entertainment around a splashing fountain.
 
Farther north in Napa Valley, stroll St. Helena’s Main Street for charming galleries and quality gifts. Gold Country towns like Sonora and Murphys yield antiques and wine shops.

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Please explore and enjoy the other sections of sales information to further reinforce your knowledge and confidence for selling California. Benefit from visiting the Supplier Directory to discover a sampling of Hoteliers and Tour Operators to start matching clients preferences, and Sales Toolbox when presenting to clients.