Nearby Escape from L.A.

California, Hotels & Resorts — By on September 29, 2010 at 6:00 am

By Susan Michals

Every once in a while, you need to get out of town.

But you don’t always have the time to hop a plane – because with that comes the security check, the waiting, the possible flight delay…and suddenly a trip to say, San Francisco becomes a 6 hour ordeal.

If you’re based in SoCal (or even just visiting) there are a number of places to hit without going very far; you just need a couple of hours for driving and your bathing suit.

If you prefer to go North, there’s the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Ojai is Southern California’s answer to Sonoma – dotted with wineries, it’s an idyllic respite from the smog and traffic of nonstop Los Angeles. Ojai Inn and Spa is in the heart of this sleepy little artistic community. Spanish by design (it had a recent renovation a couple of years back) the resort has a little something for everyone.

There’s golf (I don’t), tennis (I do) and a myriad of spa treatments (I totally do). There is an apothecary where you can make your own signature scent as well. But my favorite experience? Creating my Personal Mandala Page, with in-house artist Renate. You sit down with a piece of paper, draw a circle into four quadrants, with one in the middle. It is divided into the four stages of life. Here you are supposed to draw examples and ideas of that timeframe. (Being a writer, she encouraged me to use imagery vs. words to express myself). Suffice to say, it is an emotional and incredibly insightful experience, and not to be missed.


If you’re more of a beach person, best to head South to the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel…when I tell you it’s right on the beach, I’m not kidding. Though it’s only a mere hour and a half from L.A. it’s like you’re in a completely different world. The water’s different (clearer and warmer) and the air is different (cleaner).

Being that the hotel is in a rather magnificent location, there’s bound to be a few soirees in full swing – when I visited, there was a wedding (it won’t last, believe me) and a debutante ball (we were going to crash it later, but my photog and I thought we would stand out too much as we would be the only girls that weren’t dressed in white).

Raya, the main restaurant, just changed hands, (now it is under the tutelage of Chef Richard Sandoval) and suffice to say, the food’s magnificent – try the Hawaiian Seared Tuna or the Miso Black Cod. There’s really no reason to go anywhere else outside this enclave because here, you can really have it all. (We did venture over to the other big hotel – the St. Regis – for dinner – don’t do it – it’s beyond bad).

As always, there’s a spa, but if you’re on a budget, I’d skip it and instead spend your time walking along the beach – with all the Orange County surfer boys out for the fab waves, you couldn’t ask for a better view.

(photos for RITZ are by Karine Weinberger)

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  • Anne says:

    Looks amazing! I definitely agree about the OC surfer boys – one of the highlights of my California road trip!!!

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