La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

 Family Travel Contributor – Hillary Helsing

This week, we welcome our first Family Travel Contributor, Hillary Helsing, as she takes us to sweet SoCal for some stelllar family fun. No stranger to surf luxury, Hillary, an ex-pharmaceutical sales executive and one-time Quiksilver employee, resides in Huntington Beach and lives for luxe family vacations that don’t always break the bank. If a destination is going to cost a pretty penny, she believes that quality must reign supreme. After all, her little darlings are worth it.

Grilling with the Family

Location, Location, Location… with laid back luxury in kiddie heaven! A historic icon, La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club first opened in 1927, but today still carries with it that classic clout. With newly renovated rooms and suites, I recommend the north end of the private cove and an ocean front suite. The suites all have full kitchens (make bottles, pb&j, butter noodles… because I hate paying for that crap), and living/bed rooms all have cruise ship views.

Don’t expect opulence or marble tubs – sandy feet are welcome. The club includes: kiddie pools, big pool, private beach, hot cabana boys, best tennis ever, pitch and put 9 hole golf, minutes to downtown La Jolla, a playground with swings and slides and all the other resort hoopla you would expect. Leave your Burberry bikini at home and save that for the Montage in Laguna when you’re on vacation with your nanny. To stay here you have money, but there’s no need to flaunt it.

Wear your kid friendly outfit, forget the bling because you’re going to want to hit up the complementary sand toy box and dig in the sand with your kids. Reserve a BBQ (they set it up for you on the beach) grill away and go buy the s’mores kit from the gift shop. Your kids will love it! If I am going to leave the OC with my kids it better be great, and this is, in one word, great!

La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Rates from $339-$1629/night

Doing Business. Croatian Style.

Hotel Lone's Sexy Pool

Check it out, ballers! Hotel Lone, Design Hotels™ first member in Croatia, is now open. Okay, yes, we’re obsessed with Design Hotels, but we’re also obsessed with Croatia. Not only did we rub elbows with the ex-PM’s daughter in Grad School (talk about a stunner!), but we also think Croatian men are hunks. So, what better reason to hit the road, Jack, then to head to the 248-room property located in the picturesque Mediterranean town of Rovinj, in the exclusive Monte Mulini neighborhood. Built to resemble a sleek white ocean liner floating on the hillside, the hotel also offers a range of places to wine and dine including three restaurants, three bars and… you guessed it… a night club. It also features a Mediterranean-inspired wellness center, a 600-seat auditorium and nine other meeting and conference spaces with state-of-the-art technology (since those of us who’ve had to put on events know just how critical good A/V equipment can be). So we say, Hotel Lone’s design focus, together with first-rate event and leisure facilities, create the perfect symbiosis of work and play.

Hot Tubbin' It at the Hotel Lone

As Design Hotels explain, “The ancient woodlands and wave-lapped coves of Croatia’s Adriatic coast have long been attracting sun-hungry tourists, leaving business travelers with no choice but to seek refuge elsewhere. Now though, after years of meticulous planning, there’s a proper design-focused place for them to stay in. The Croatian architectural firm 3LHD teamed up with Studio Numen and freelance conceptual artists to create an exterior and interior that ooze tailor-made design.

Wrapped by the emerald trees of the Zlatni Rt forest, and marked out by seductive minimalist curves, Hotel Lone is a conference hotel with a difference. Owned by Croatian hotel company Maistra Inc. and just a 10-minute walk from one of the most picturesque towns on the Mediterranean, Rovinj, it bends away from the coastline in a distinctive Y-shape, which means all 248 rooms and suites have views of the island-speckled coastline. Some of the hotel’s six meeting rooms benefit from this unusual profile, too, with high ceilings and wide spaces giving guests the freedom to think.” And, when you’re off galavanting around Europe for work and play, that’s exactly what you need.

The Swanky Spa

Locally grown rosemary, lavender and olive oil only add to the temptation of the Mediterranean-inspired wellness spa, while the open-plan lobby – decked in mirrors and cool white stones – allows the outstanding natural beauty of the surrounding area to flood inside. The project, led by Croatian architect Silvije Novak of 3LHD and inspired by the typology of 1970s Croatian hotels, brings the idea of terraced hotels with large lobbies to the scene and all rooms have spectacular sea or park views, with a dramatic hotel lobby opening up towards the sky with an atrium spanning six levels.

Hotel Lone's Infrared Spa

From Gastronomy to Wellness
With seven restaurants and bars, each with a different concept and cuisine, the hotel is a must-visit for food and wine enthusiasts. A la carte restaurant “L” offers traditional Croatian cuisine and over 200 old and new world wines. “ON” focuses on Mediterranean and central European cuisine through buffet and live cooking stations. Restaurant “E” features traditional Eastern cuisine infused with Mediterranean flavors; a highlight is the seafood tapas.

The Wellness Center boasts eight treatment rooms, some with large glass walls with stunning views. The offerings are varied including facial and body treatments, massages, invigorating baths and sauna with scented steam, Finnish, Turkish, salt and infrared sauna options. Infrared, what? That’s right… infrared sauna. We don’t skimp on our suggestions now, do we?

Inside the Wellness Center is also a gym, an aerobics room, a relaxation room, water beds, experiential showers and a swimming pool with hydro-massage therapy. There is also a specially designed space dubbed “sunken room” where guests float on hydro massage beds and chairs. LOVE sunken rooms. You too?

A View from the Hotel Lone

Bespoke Art and Furniture
Hotel Lone also features a collection of furnishings from renowned designers like Patricia Urquiola, Richard Schultz and David Rowland. Specially commissioned visual art installations can be found throughout the hotel’s public spaces. “We wanted guests to feel comfortable in vast spaces without being intimidated,” explains Croatian artist Silvio Vujicic. On the walls as well as along the lobby, spatial mixed media installations draw guests into the story and concept behind Hotel Lone. The rooms and suites are also decorated with graphics by Vujicic. As a screen-printing, textile and mixed media impresario, Vujicic drew his inspiration from Istrian cultural heritage and 15th century frescoes.

Location and Rates
With a private location near the sea of the Golden Cape Nature Park, Hotel Lone is surrounded by the historical Mediterranean Park Forest Zlatni Rt and is a 15 minutes walk from Rovinj’s historic town center and marina.

Rates range from EUR 186 – 1813.

The hotel is currently offering a 3 for 2 Summer Special. Available for a short time only, from now until September 1, 2011, guests booking three nights will only pay for two.

Porto, Portugal: A Palacio Among the Trees

InterContinental Hotel Room: Porto, Portugal

We say, “Drink Port, hang in Porto.” And now… there’s even more reason. The first InterContinental hotel has opened in Porto! After a $43 million-dollar renovation… that’s right, $43 million bones, the InterContinental Porto-Palacio das Cardosas is the first upscale hotel in Porto. Designed by Russian architect, Alex Kravetz, and situated in the city’s main square, this fine palacio is housed in a refurbished 200-year-old palace with 105 guestrooms and 16 suites. How suite is that? We must also admit… it’s the little things in life and we love the fact that there’s free WiFi throughout the property (because we think EVERY hotel should have FREE WiFi). You hear that, stingy hoteliers? We also like their re-opening 20% discount, late check-out, and complimentary breakfast from July 14th through the end of September 2011.

Located in the heart of Porto and within the boundaries of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, InterContinental Porto-Palacio das Cardosas is in an area brimming with historic cathedrals, markets, museums, local bars and restaurants. And I can say this much… I’ve known quite a few Portuguese in my time and they’re some of the warmest, most beautiful people around. Often a niche vacation (due to the proximity of their bull-toting neighbor), Portugal – and her people – are the next big thing. The property is a quick distance – 30 minutes by car – from the international airport Francisco Sá Carneiro as well as the Ribeira, where travelers can enjoy – if they do desire a little Spain in their trip – a cruise up to the border to explore the wine-producing cellars for a scenic tasting. Pssst… “port” wine historically takes its name from Porto from which it was shipped.

Why we also like the Porto Palacio das Cordosas? Because they’ll also be taking part in InterContinental’s new and unique ‘Insider Collection,’ offering eco and wine excursions, personalized guided tours, helicopter trips, access to personal shopping services, and more. So we say, get thee to Portugal (and pick up a bottle or two of port, just for us).

Romance & Luxury: A Four Seasons Los Angeles Steal

The Four Seasons Los Angeles Entrance (Sigh)

One of my favorite all time LA classics is The Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. Oh sure, I could tell you why it’s one of my personal favorites (random run-ins with Sean Penn and Liam Neeson over drinks, the time I sat at a table with Kevin Spacey to watch the Golden Globes, or when Janet Dickinson cracked jokes and munched on an apple in her black monokini by the pool). Hell, there’s no shortage of stories or a scene, but it’s not one of those typical LA obnoxious attitude laden places. Here, business really does get done and the staff always treats you with respect. In short, it’s a classic staple for the Hollywood working crowd (even if you don’t drive a Bentley). You really can’t go wrong with the Four Seasons no matter where you are in the world. They just know service. It’s their ‘thing.’

They also don’t hand out specials willy nilly so, when they do, I’m there (and they’re worth it). To that end, they’ve just launched a new summer ultimate romance package called “Just the Two of Us,” which includes (read it and weep): four hours of spa treatments, dinner at Culina with wine, a poolside cabana, cocktails at Windows Lounge, unlimited mini bar snacks, pajamas, and more!  As Kim Kessler, their Director of PR says, “It’s unlike any package they’ve created in the past and represents a 40% savings!”

The Pool (and where the magic happens)

Their award-winning restaurant Culina, Modern Italian also comes with the Maitre D’s choice of wine, daily breakfast or Sunday brunch for two, a Tory Burch gift set, valet parking, in-room movies and all local and domestic calls.  Wait. Did they say Tory Burch gift set? OMG. Spa treatment selections include massage, facial, manicure, pedicure or personal training session.

The other best part? “Just the Two of Us” is tailored for each couple.  Prior to arrival, the guest relations team creates an itinerary based on specific preferences.  Upon arrival, guests may enjoy aromatherapy candles, pillow spray, pajamas and optional romance kit and couples books complimentary.  The team can also arrange excursions to top Los Angeles attractions such as museums, concerts, restaurants, night clubs and shopping.  

“This is an exceptional package for couples to reconnect and enjoy all that Four Seasons Los Angeles has to offer,” General Manager Mehdi Eftekari purrs. We agree, Mehdi. Couples, take note, because it doesn’t last long. And Angelenos… talk about a great Stay-cation!

Starting at $995/nt it’s valid through August 28, 2011with a two-night minimum stay.

So, it may not be peanuts, but it is super savings in a super swank place (where you’re bound to make super sweet memories).