When you want to get your Valentines on, skip the crowded airports and long security lines. A quick escape is just what the love doctor ordered for parents needing to decompress from the chaos of family life.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Coastal cool reigns at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, the newest south county private resort and luxury hotel. Secluded within a peaceful blend of canyon and sea, the authentic natural beauty permeates every detail of this unique property. This entry into the world of a Laguna local is literally off the beaten path.
The attentive staff offers an insider’s take on hidden surf spots, shops and specialty galleries to ensure even newcomers get the full experience of one who strolls these picturesque beaches and artsy little tucked away streets on the daily. The hotel exudes laid-back luxury, from barefoot Friday golf with three clubs to a platter of s’mores fixin’s for around the firepit.
A stay at the ranch can be as active or relaxing as fits your mood. Take a meditation or introspection class in the grassy gathering spaces, get your workout in during poolside yoga or a beach-style boot camp. Or take on the world-class mountain biking, sand volleyball, Bocce ball, guided hiking, surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), skim-boarding, snorkeling, tide pool exploration. Or simply spend the day at the beach with a picnic basket before retiring for an evening of cuddling under the stars.
No matter how you chose to spend your stay, the serenity and beauty that sings from every corner of the property will ensure it is a memorable one.
Paséa Hotel & Spa
Located just steps from the wide expanse of sugar-perfect Huntington Beach, this new resort captures the essence of the vibrant and emerging HB and Pacific City community. The hotel is a chic, modern oasis with a level of coastal style completely acceptable to enjoy with sand between your toes. Surfers rule these waters, and the laid back vibe and contentment they enjoy shines through the property. Most rooms and suites celebrate the environment, boasting ocean views, an understandable draw for a stay.
The hotel offers a little of everything, and a whole lot of energy. Relax at Aarna, Paséa’s Balinese-inspired spa with both indoor and outdoor treatment areas. The 5,800 square feet of tranquility includes treatment rooms, relaxation lounge, a private spa garden along with sauna, eucalyptus steam room, and a salt water whirlpool. For a little extra romance, indulge in the Aarna Suite Experience. The 120 minute treatment allows couples to indulge in a warm therapeutic bath with two signature treatments.
Enjoy the incredible colors of the sunset from your room’s idyllic vantage point, and then get ready for the best nightlife in the area. Tanner’s, Paséa’s signature restaurant offers exhibition cooking and communal dining. After a sumptuous dinner (consider the two-person whole roasted fresh fish palate pleaser!) head upstairs for excellent craft cocktails at the Treehouse Bar. Grab a spot around the circular bar, under the glowing “tree” if you can. This hotspot overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is the place to be and be seen, especially when the live music starts.
Huntington Beach | meritagecollection.com/pasea-hotel
Yes, this is a great hotel for couples. The sunset views of the water from the rooftop club lounge (an upgrade we highly suggest you opt for due to excellent service, appetizers and extended wine hour) alone remind you of why you made Orange County home. And the proximity to amazing eats and bars at adjacent Fashion Island make this a fun place to let loose. But sometimes being a parent doesn’t always mean you have plans for Valentine’s Day. And in those cases, it is time for friends to storm the stage and take a hard-working mama for a Girlfriend Getaway on what otherwise might be a less-than-fabulous day of the year. We can’t think of a better place to do so than here.
The elegant hotel not only offers a pool deck with cabanas and palms and served drinks that can take your mind off anything remotely “real life”, but as we mentioned, it is located next to the mecca of retail therapy. With luxury, designer and fashion specialty boutiques in abundance, we are quite sure you can stroll back to the hotel bearing (and possibly baring) the perfect LBD for happy hour.
Because at the Island Hotel, happy hour it is! The Aqua Lounge offers some pretty incredible hand-crafted cocktails – Cucumber Cobbler with fresh green apple and cucumber puree taking the bite out of the Hendrick’s Gin, and the oh-so-gingery Moscow Mule and spicy Jalepeno Margarita are our three faves. Gourmet light bites – charred shishito peppers and burrata fundido disappear in a flash. The service is attentive and the menu of addictive small plates make for a much more enjoyable kick off to the evening than sitting in a restaurant watching couples and wedding proposals.
The next day, you can splurge on a mani/pedi in the spa or just lounge by the pool under swaying palms and soak up the sun, blissfully ready to rehash the Best Valentine’s Ever…with your BFF.
Newport Beach | www.fashionislandhotel.com
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Where do you take your number one guy or gal on Valentine’s? To the number one luxury resort in the US, of course! This warm Mediterranean estate boasts oodles of charm and utter perfection, leading to the recent Tripadvisor high honor.
If you want to spoil your partner, this is the place to do so. The resort boasts a championship golf course (The Grand Golf Club), Five-Star spa, nightspot Club M an easy stroll from your luxurious home-away-from-home and a renowned culinary program enjoyed at Addison, a Five Star, Five Diamond, Relais & Châteaux restaurant under the direction of award-winning Chef William Bradley.
Set amidst Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, the property captures the elegance and ease of an old-world Mediterranean estate inspired by “Spain’s palaces, France’s sun-washed coastal retreats and Florence’s decorative arts”. To put it mildly, the combo works. As does the art of Bradley, whose artisanal approach marries local ingredients with contemporary French influences to create a seasonal feast, easily paired with a Grand Award-winning wine list of nearly 3,500 selections.
The golf course is a stunner, challenging and Tom Fazio’s only San Diego creation. Merely riding along would be a lovely way to spend an afternoon. If the resort’s beauty inspires your inner spagoer, consider the Art for Art’s Sake. This signature facial begins with a 90 minute choreographed sequence of exfoliation, warm aromatic cloths and a nourishing clay mask and scalp massage. Or simply relax by the gorgeous pool and daydream the morning away, before indulging in a Fairmont classic, the Afternoon Tea.
Though it might be your first time to the property, a weekend here will make an excellent candidate for a new annual tradition.
An Excellent Shore Break
You’re a parent. You think of Legoland when you think of North San Diego. But it’s Valentines Day, and you are a lover of romance, too. For that part of you there is a stretch of sandy coastline steeped in ‘60s beach culture, Mexican food and beer, inhabited by surfers and their board shapers who live for neverending, perfectly curled waves. Most OC folks fly down the 5 Freeway to play with their children in the park of plastic bricks and go home, or they blow past the sleepy seaside neighborhoods on the way to San Diego or La Jolla. I know I did. But if you exit the 5 at Carlsbad and get on the coastal 101 headed south you will feel like you entered an Annette Funicello surf movie. Encinitas was picked by National Geographic as one of the 20 best surf towns in the world. This is also the Napa of craft beer.
Set on the Batiquitos Lagoon, the Four Seasons Aviara resort is a serene jumping off point for exploring this stretch. At the Aviara, the staff is friendly, the rooms spacious and secluded, separated from the main lobby and common areas. If a day tasting craft beers and walking on the beach doesn’t decompress you, the views from Aviara and an afternoon lying by the Palmera pool will. Dine at the “Chef’s Table”, where you will make friends as you observe chef Conor Ball create dinner with local ingredients. Work up an appetite golfing, kayaking the lagoon or hitting the spa. Own a piece of Aviara through the Aviara Residence Club, or just book a room, with rates starting at around $300. So don’t let romance hit the (plastic) bricks this Valentines Day and have your own private shore break for two.
— Randall Tierney