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If you are looking for that "WOW" factor, Bacara has it. Individuals can stay in a room or suite and enjoy the best of the coast with restaurants, bars and cafes overlooking the ocean. Tucked off behind a grove of trees from Highway 101 north of Santa Barbara the resort offers  tennis, spa, launch ramp and beach with Sandpiper Golf Course adjacent to hotel.  We can see why Bacara is so popular. It has the beach, golf and even wine tasting a short trip away. Romantic getaways, anniversaries and birthdays would be happily celebrated at Bacara, where privacy and pleasure are honored. Be prepared to spend $400 upwards per night.

Balboa Inn
This is not a large, luxury resort. What it provides is an intimate hotel with a location that can't be beat in  Newport Beach. Outside your door is Studio Cafe, Balboa Pier, skating, bicycles, surfing, swimming and across the street is Balboa Pavilion. Stay all night here and catch the morning Catamaran to Catalina Island for a day trip. Or take a ferry boat ride to Balboa Island for under $1. Send your kids to the fun zone for some games and take the 45 minute excursion around the harbor to learn about John Wayne. Have lunch at the bright red Crab Cooker, a long time favorite or in the historic Balboa Pavilion's Tale of the Whale. Our favorite meal there is Coquille St.Jacques, chock full of scallops.  Balboa Inn provides a real slice of Newport. 

Beach House at Hermosa Beach
Hermosa Beach is a beloved South Bay city with this great hotel right on the beach.  You can sit on your private deck  and watch the live parade of skaters, bicyclists, surfers and  joggers and smell the fragrance of foods from nearby restaurants.  A stay here is entertaining and lively, yet you still get the creature comforts and quality you experience in your own home.

Carmel Valley Ranch..
Carmel Valley Ranch offers 800 to 1100 sq. ft. suites with fireplaces, separate showers and baths, view decks, a stunning golf course set in the hills and guaranteed sightings of animals such as blue jays, wild turkey and deer. Enjoy warm terry robes in your room and some rooms include private deck jacuzzis. For the largest rooms and suites situated in nature's most beautiful place, throw away the Palm Pilot or daily planner and just relax. This is where my PCS phone went out of range and I quit returning calls indefinitely. Some people even pack up and move to this region because it's just that nice.

Century City Plaza Hotel & Spa
This place is a city unto itself. Presidents and diplomats have stayed in its fine accommodations, seen presentations across the street at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and shopped and dined in the dozens of offerings surrounding and on the property. It's the best of Los Angeles in one fine place.

Courtyard by Marriott (Solana Beach)
Say "Del Mar" where the Surf meets the Turf and people will conjure up images of Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante and famous Hollywood legends who spent many happy times in this region. Courtyard by Marriott is in "Sunny" Beach or Solana Beach where the Amtrak and Coaster trains stop for the free, double decker British bus ride to Del Mar track.  Courtyard offers nice rooms and suites not far from the popular Cedros shopping district with art galleries and Belly Up Tavern, a local favorite. Gated parking and the beach nearby make this one of the best choices for those who love San Diego coastal communities and their intimate feel.

Disney Grand Californian Hotel Resort
Chosen as one of the most popular new hotels when it opened in 2001, it features Craftsmen Style decor reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright.  There's a massive stone fireplace in a beautiful lobby that you won't want to miss. Plus, a stay at this hotel allows you early admittance in to Disneyland theme parks. 

Embassy Suites - Mandalay Beach
Many hotels are across the street or across a parking lot from a beach but few have the on location advantage seen at this property. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, there's sand volleyball, surrey rental, bikes, skates, jogging, swimming, restaurants, a bar/lounge and enough to do in one place that you can leave your car and spend all your time walking, relaxing and exploring.  If your top priority is finding resort with a beach that also offers creature comforts, stay here. You can't go wrong.

Embassy Suites - Napa
Swans glide gracefully along the outdoor pond with it's faux grist mill wheel and old time decor. This lovely hotel has a restaurant with a wonderful wine selection (go figure) and on our last visit, wool throw covers for sofas that were hand chosen by Francis Ford Coppola's wife and sold in the Niebaum- Coppola winery nearby.  This Embassy Suites is friendly, inviting and well located to the road leading to the wine trail. Yet it still has the convenience of being near downtown Napa.  The secret in this region for finding rooms is "go on weekdays". 
Fess Parker Doubletree Resort...
A beautiful setting and great location plus casual California elegance.  A favorite choice on the Central Coast for conventions and meetings, the Doubletree is across the street from the beach, a short walk to the wharf, restaurants and shops, close to a park with a carousel ride and even has  a beautiful outdoor skateboard park nearby. The bus stops in front of the hotel and drives you to the zoo, downtown State Street shops and even out to the Santa Barbara Mission, if you like.
Four Seasons Resort.
If you have to ask how much, don't stay at Four Seasons Resort. This is the finest Santa Barbara hotel and is not for the budget minded. Located across the street from the beach, the views are spectacular.  Surrounded by lush lawns, and pines, the setting is elegant, yet understated. It's California casual, but is perfect for those who need to know that their Mercedes will be there when they return to the valet for departure.  Be prepared to spend $400 upwards per night.

Glorietta Bay Inn
This is a "viewers choice" property.  An historic hotel with colorful decor not far from the famed Hotel del Coronado offers the feel of bed and breakfast mixed with gentility of a Southern Mansion. It's casual comfort causes folks to linger at outdoor tables and on decks, enjoying Coronado's fine weather (some of the best in the world).  Do you want to feel good? This place offers character often missing in California's newer stucco properties. 
Hilton Beach & Tennis Resort....
The use of the word "resort" is not taken lightly at one of our favorite, fun places.  Activities for kids, jogging along the bay, sailboats and even a Hilton Queen yacht, tennis courts, swimming pools on the the bay, a kids fun zone with games, San Diego's Mission Bay parks with swings and slides, plus all the beach you could want are at the Hilton Beach and Tennis Resort. We've not stayed in the more affordable tower but we sure loved our suites in the various oceanfront buildings. Trying at least 5 of them, it's hard to pick a favorite building or room. Entertaining, lively and fun, it's a haven for exercise, sun and sand and is located close to  Sea World. 
Hotel del Coronado...
When "Some Like it Hot" with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe played at a local theater on a recent Sunday Film Classics series, we were reminded of the "Hotel del" where the movie was filmed.  Hotel del Coronado often books up with weddings, conventions and meetings so if you aren't lucky enough to stay overnight, be sure to visit anyway, and see what all the fuss is about.  Lately, we've been staying a few miles south at Loew's Coronado Bay Resort. We love it!

Holiday Inn Ventura Beach Resort
This Holiday Inn is one of the best located hotels we've seen.  Overlooking the Channel Islands, Ventura Pier and even downtown Ventura with Mission San Buenaventura, you can sit poolside and look out to the ocean. There are surrey rentals, shops, restaurants, surfing, the beach, paved jogging paths and the beauty of the islands constantly glistening in the distance as the waves crash against shore.  The Channel Islands are a set of islands preserved in their natural state. You can take a boat ride from Ventura to see them or go whale watching from January through March. 

  Hyatt Newporter
It's not just the Newport Jazz concert that fills this place, it's the weather, location and feel of aloha with swaying palms blowing in the gentle Southern California breeze.  Dignitaries and Presidents have enjoyed the executive 2-floor suites that include private swimming pools, but even us regular folks can sit on a deck that overlooks a gorgeous pool. Fashion Island shopping center is across the street and tennis courts are on property.  This is Orange County's version of Hawaiian vacation.

Hyatt Regency Sacramento
This is our favorite hotel in Sacramento. On three visits over a three-year period, rooms were always handsomely decorated and the staff very accommodating. Catering to the Capitol crowd of legislators, lobbyists and prominent guests, rooms and suites offer views of either the State Capitol Building and City Lights or the Convention Center, which is very pretty at night.  Marble flooring in the bathrooms shine, air conditioning is nice and cold, the bedspreads new, the carpet and decor attractive and the room offers both a desk and a small table and chairs. There are refrigerators in many rooms, same floor ice and vending machines and the elevators are fast. Parking is secured and there are several restaurants and a comfortable bar area on the first floor, plus an upper level entertainment room with bar. There are lots of restaurants, an IMAX movie theatre and shops all right next door.  It's easy to leave you car in the covered garage and walk to most places. 
L'Auberge del Mar Resort & Spa..
As you drive through the gate with gold embossed lettering, you feel you are entering some place special. Del Mar has the feel of a Southern styled Carmel and your hotel is located along the shopping district.  Perched on a hill, suites overlook the blue Pacific.  The views are right out of a travel book, dripping with the richest reds compliments of the beloved bougainvillea plant that loves Southern California. 

La Valencia 
This famous La Jolla hotel is almost always booked.  We love it but it's hard to find available rooms.

Lodge at Torrey Pines
The Lodge has been completely redecorated to compliment a beautiful re-designed Torrey Pines South Course. Ocean views, spa facilities, granite bathrooms, leather easy chairs and millions spent in fine woods, stained glass and stone materials to create the Craftsman feel make this a casually elegant place to stay in one of California's favorite places, La Jolla. Be prepared to spend $400 upwards per night.

Loew's Coronado Bay Resort
We asked people in the travel industry who live and work in San Diego what the best property is. Loew's consistently came in as tops.  Behind the guard gates sits a waterfront property with views in every direction. Wow! Tasteful decor, gourmet food preparation, gondola rides by appointment, sailboats, tennis, swimming and play are in store for your stay at this resort. It's reported that feng shui was used to create proper energy flow in building and room design.  It feels good to us. Casual attire is the norm (it's San Diego).
Marina Dunes Resort
We think this has the most spectacular ocean views of any hotel. The surf just pounds here and lulls you to sleep at night.  Bordering a sensitive sand dunes habitat, Marina State Beach is right at your door, popular AJ Spurs Restaurant is on property and you even get a golf cart at check in for some of the rooms at the top of the dunes. 

Monterey Bay Inn....
We love Monterey Bay Inn but don't be surprised if it's booked. Just keep checking for availability. More affordable than its across the street neighbor, Monterey Plaza Hotel (below), rooms offer  Monterey Bay Views with sunrises to die for. Seals bark in the bay, a wonderful Continental Breakfast is delivered to your room and you get a useful table and share, sofa and small private deck with flowers. 

The Monterey Hotel..
Immaculate and historic, this rivals any bed and breakfast hotel for its appointments and well kept rooms. What's great about this alternative to the popular Marriott uphill from it is the size. You can get in and out of the hotel easily and be right in the heart of downtown Monterey where there are two theaters, numerous restaurants and pubs, a Starbucks and a weekly Farmer's Market.  You might experience a friendly ghost who was once the maintenance man for the property, we're told.  Believe it or not, we enjoy such encounters and can recommend this property, the Queen Mary or many haunts in Ventura, where ghosts average 1 for every 100 residents.
Monterey Plaza Hotel..
Character and Class along the bay with outdoor cafes and dining, kayak rentals on property and stunning Monterey Bay Views await you.  As you drive into the Cannery District, a valet greets you. This property specializes in service and offers beautiful fine wood appointments, a plaza with a dolphin sculpture water fountain and dozens of tasteful touches.  It's very nice and very popular.

Napa Embassy Suites
Queen Mary Ship
The rooms are small but the romance is large here. The ship hold many treasures and pleasures for those who seek an authentic experience aboard the Queen, which is docked in the Long Beach harbor.

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel....
This queen of the Ritz Carlton chain offers a 5 star rating...that's the best.   What does that tell you? It well managed, offers spectacular views, great food, afternoon teas, nearby golf, beaches on site and everything you could want. This is probably one of the most popular hotels for Southern Californians looking for a weekend retreat. Ritz Carlton has captured the art of comfortable, first class service.

St. Regis Monarch Beach
Opulence, country club style. The redesigned Links Golf Course at Monarch Beach is on premise. It feels like golf as you gaze out to the lake and sand traps everywhere. Oh, you can see the ocean, too, but people seem to be stuck in sand traps most noticeably. Be prepared to spend $400 upwards per night. 

Sheraton Four Points Hotel
lf you've never stayed in Ventura, you should give it a try. This hotel has a beautiful harbor that reminds you the Channel Islands charters are right down the road. Nearby beaches, a quaint downtown with gobs of great restaurants and Ventura Harbor with a wonderful Greek place with entertainment are a few of the starters. The hotel is generally quite affordable for what you get. The room is clean, comfortable and the staff was fantastic on our last visit. 

Silverado Country  Club and Resort
This is Napa's answer to resorts, with wine tasting nearby, and a spa voted best in California. But that's not all. On site, there's an award winning golf course, tennis courts and swimming pools. This casual, historic and and elegant property is comfortable and feels like home with rooms and suites offering stunning views of the rolling hills that make this the country's ideal wine growing spot. 
Westin St. Francis Hotel
Westin St. Francis is  a favorite institution in the San Francisco.  Exiting the bustling streets of San Francisco with the dozens of upscale stores and even an outdoor flower kiosk, you find the quiet pace of this historic hotel with its tall chandeliers and warm colors reminiscent of another time. People's eyes twinkle as they recall a high school prom they attended here or a wedding 20 years ago. "It feels like it's never changed," said a woman who relived the magic of her youth.  Heavenly Beds are a featured trademark product the hotel proudly equips each room with.  As you look out your hotel window and see the clouds drift by, it's easy to understand why Westin St. Francis captures the hearts of those who pass through its doors.