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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stepping Back in Time

Hotel Laguna was the first hotel in Laguna Beach, opening its doors over 100 years ago. The original structure burned down only 60 days after opening and was rebuilt in 1888. A more modern structure was built in 1928 and they re-opened their doors in 1930, as the structure that we know today. In 1985, Hotel Laguna was refurbished and became known to locals as the ‘Grand Old Lady.’

The hotel features several amenities that will make your stay convenient and comfortable. Home to two award-winning restaurants, Claes Ovation, a gourmet dining establishment with views of Main Beach, and  OceanView Bar & Grill a casual dining spot with seating both inside and out.  As part of the hotel, visit  the exclusive bath and body shop, Bubbles of Laguna for gifts, bath salts and other souvenirs. There is also a section of the hotel lobby that has been recently transformed into an Art Gallery, The Group of Four,’ highlighting four skillful southern California artists.

On my recent stay at the hotel, I thoroughly enjoyed taking a leisurely walk down the “Historic Hall” just off the lobby of the hotel. Here, the walls are lined with historic photos of Laguna Beach dating back as far as 1898. There are several photos of the Hotel from the ‘30s thru to present day. In some, you can see the old neon “Hotel Laguna” sign that used to sit up on the roof that I remember seeing as a kid. This was removed in 1996. I particularly enjoyed gazing at the photos of the hotel from the 1940s when it was the hideaway for the Hollywood elite including Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. Along with the hotel photos, are memorable moments in Laguna history. You can find photos including  the 1936 Laguna Beach Rose Parade float that won first place, a picture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s motorcade on PCH in 1938, the old Laguna pier in 1927, pictures of the infamous Laguna greeter Eiler Larson and images of the world-renowned plein air painter, William Wendt at work. The historic hall is truly one of the gems of Laguna that you don’t want to miss.

Hotel Laguna offers a variety of accommodations for the perfect relaxing getaway, including mini suites, corner ocean front rooms, garden view and village view rooms and even connecting family suites. On my stay I enjoyed one of the mini suites that was spacious and had a walk-in closet, tub, and king size bed. The suite featured a flat screen TV and framed photography from the famous Pageant of the Masters.  With any stay, guests can enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast, access to the full service private beach club, complimentary high-speed wireless Internet and valet parking at $10.00 per day.

Hotel Laguna is located right on the Pacific Ocean and is just steps from downtown restaurants and shops. With its European flare and long standing history, the ‘Grand Old Lady’ is the perfect escape for your next getaway.

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Laguna Beach Uncorked - An International Wine & Food Fest, Raises $20,000 for CHOC Children’s Hospital

Laguna Beach Uncorked! An International Wine & Food Fest, took place last Saturday, March 10 and brought both food lovers and wine connoisseurs together to experience a unique and intimate celebration of food and wine ... all for a worthwhile cause, CHOC Children’s Hospital.

The Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau is pleased to present CHOC Children’s Hospital with $20,000 as the charitable beneficiary of the Laguna Beach Uncorked event.

Laguna Beach Uncorked welcomed an estimated 700 guests who experienced tastes from 24 wineries from around the world, a local brewery, a sake producer and samplings from 24 Laguna Beach restaurants. All attendees received a commemorative wine glass.

VIP ticketholders experienced a special two-hour wine seminar with Orange County’s first Master Sommelier Peter Neptune (sponsored by Rohl), early entrance to the tasting event and a Laguna Beach tote bag.

“The overall level of wine quality at the event was superb,” said Peter Neptune, Senior Vice President of Corporate Training & Wine Education for the The Henry Wine Group. “I was impressed by the range of wineries from Old World to New, with an emphasis on family-owned, boutique producers and a sustainable/organic approach to farming. It all tied in nicely to my morning presentation. I look forward to being a part of next year’s event.”

“All of the guests seemed very engaged with the restaurants and winemakers throughout the day and many said they were looking forward to attending next year’s event,” said Karyn Philippsen, Laguna Beach a la Carte Committee Chair.

“This event wouldn’t have been possible without our dedicated sponsors, participating wineries and restaurants, and the many volunteers,” said Judy Bijlani, President & CEO of the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau.

Laguna Beach Uncorked! is the signature event of Laguna Beach a la Carte – A Food & Wine Experience, that took place in Laguna Beach, March 8-11, 2012. Many Laguna Beach restaurants held sold out winemaker & chef table dinners, prix fixe menus, special events and offers over this four-day celebration of food and wine. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Music in Laguna

Laguna Beach Live is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the top talent in  classical, jazz, chamber music  to Laguna Beach. Throughout the year a variety of concerts are hosted in town that attract visitors from all over the state and country.

The signature event is the week long festival that just wrapped up last month, The Laguna Beach Music Festival. This year was the 10th anniversary of the festival and it was spectacular. Edgar Meyer, Sam Hawood, The Calder Quartet, The Calidore Quartet and Joshua Bell were just some of the featured artists. The festival continues to bring music lovers of all ages together in  Laguna Beach. The entire week the town is buzzing with talk of all the artists and what spectacular new music can be heard. Beyond the professionals that are featured, local musicians also play at Hotel Laguna, roundtable discussions artists are open to the public, and even a fundraiser for future music festivals featuring one of a kind painted  artful violins”.

Enjoy music throughout the rest of the year with events like Gospel Brunch on March 11th, Blues at the Beach on June 9th and Bluegrass and BBQ  on September 16th.
Enjoy Jazz Wednesdays which happen in the Winter and Summer months at Hotel Laguna. It is an intimate atmosphere where you can enjoy some to the top jazz musicians from the surrounding Los Angeles area. First Sundays is a FREE series showcasing chamber music at the Laguna College of Art + Design.

Be sure to visit and attend one of the concerts hosted by Laguna Beach Live for you will surely be captivated by the beauty of the music. We are lucky to have such a dedicated organization in Laguna Beach that brings the culture of music to our town!

By Anne-Marie S.