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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.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Five Laguna Beach hotels undergo renovations

Five Laguna Beach hotels undergo renovations, here's a highlight of what to expect.

Hotel Laguna (949-494-1151) has recently completed a property-wide renovation that includes a makeover of the former Terrace CafĂ©, now named OceanView Bar  and Grill; Lobby Gallery, with rotating artwork; and, most notably, behind-the-scenes photos from the Pageant of the Masters as design accents in the newly renovated guest rooms.

Ocean View Bar and Grill

Inn at Laguna Beach (800-544-4479) recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation which included all 70 guest rooms, the lobby, meeting rooms, and the pool and pool deck. They are also the first hotel in Laguna Beach to implement 100 percent renewable wood key cards, completely eliminating plastic key cards. The Nordic birch wood, used for the key cards, is harvested from certified sustainably managed forests in Europe which reduces the carbon footprint by lowering CO2 emissions. These PVC-free biodegradable wood key cards also help reduce oil-based plastic waste.

Laguna Riviera (949-494-1196) Undergoes Facelift and Beachfront Upgrade - This beach front resort has remained in the hands of one family since its inception in 1948 and offers guests a choice of over 40 rooms and a 1,500 square foot classic 1930s beach bungalow. New pathways to the beach for guests and the opening of sun drenched terraced patios with direct beach access of the Beach Bungalow will result in an additional space for family gatherings, small weddings or company parties. Over the last two years, Laguna Riviera has completed a facelift of the guest rooms. The new room style reflects the attitude of the resort owners and preserves the iconic beach feel of the property. Original paintings and murals adorn the walls of much of the property exemplifying the inspired nature of the artist community for which the city is renowned. A unique, heated salt water pool, Finlandia sauna and bubbling salt water hot tub round out the host of amenities for guests.

Pacific Edge Hotel (800-843-6895), recently unveiled The Deck on Laguna, a 160-seat open-air beachfront restaurant. Guests can nosh on casual beach fare, sip on freshly made cocktails, or catch a sunset. Guests visiting The Deck on Laguna can relax on lounge chairs in the sand, store paddleboards at the beach valet, take a surf lesson, or rent a cabana. The property also recently added five fully private beachfront (indoor/outdoor) cabanas (that open out to a deck with direct access to the beach) and offer a menu of “extras,” including a masseuse, mobile airbrush spray tanning, manicure/pedicure, and a personal photographer/videographer. Available for day use only and you don't have to be a hotel guest to take advantage of this special pampering. Each cabanas can accommodate up to eight people.
Pacific Edge Cabana

 Surf and Sand Resort and Spa (800-524-8621) recently completed its $3 million property refreshment that included guest rooms and suites (including three penthouses overlooking the sea), the pool deck, Aquaterra Spa and Splashes Restaurant. These new design elements have transformed this idyllic oceanfront resort to a more modern aesthetic. The resort features 167 guest rooms that sit terraced above the sea. Its newly remodeled pool, with a modern-chic design, features new cabanas, chaise lounges, a mosaic tile wall designed by a local artist and a newly added poolside bar.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer 2012 Art Festivals

777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
June 29 - September 2
10am-9pm, Sunday – Thursday
10am-10pm, Friday and Saturday

As always Art-A-Fair brings together international, national and local artists for a compelling display of art. Ranging from paintings and photography to ceramics, textiles and jewelry this festival has something for everyone. In the shaded and garden-like grounds of Art-A-Fair it’s easy to get lost in the aisles of artwork that surround you as you explore looking for your next treasure. This year the work of Bonnie Leigh caught my eye. She carves and paints intricate sculptures from gourds. Some of the pieces can take over a year to make, depending on how long it takes for the gourd to dry.

Another artist who caught my eye was Melissa Culley. She creates delicate and gorgeous teapots that look like angel fish. Each one is unique and utterly breathtaking.

935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
June 29 – September 2
10am – 10pm, Daily

The Sawdust Art Festival showcases arts and crafts from 200 artists that live and work right here in Laguna Beach. This year they welcomed  quite a few new artists to the mix.  As I wandered the grounds, I came across two artists I haven’t seen before, Art Zdanowski a photographer, and Michele Holt a mixed media artist.

Art’s eye for capturing the stunning imagery of nature is unparalleled. In fact his photo of the iconic Laguna Beach lifeguard tower won him a blue ribbon at the Orange County Fair in 2011. It took him nearly 8 months to find just the right moment when the clouds formed and the sun began to set behind the tower to capture the perfect image. See this and many other images from around the world at his booth.

Michelle’s work is an eclectic mix of textiles, signs and paintings. All her work has an eastern organic flare to it that is both colorful and vibrant. Michele specifically focuses on the ancient art of batik and dye-making peace flags and hemp pillows.

650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
July 1 –August 31
10am – 11:30pm, Daily

This year Festival of Arts celebrates its 80th year! Again they bring us some of the finest artwork from 140 of the area’s artists. New to this year’s show is the ability to listen to pre-recorded interviews with select artists on your mobile phone. I loved getting a window into the artists mind and finding out what inspires their work and motivates their creativity.  Also new this year is TGIF@FOA which is a celebration of the weekend with craft beer, pretzels and folk music. It’s a fun way to ring in each and every weekend throughout the summer.

Don’t miss a moment of the festivals! Return again and again for the special events and food with the Passport to the Arts. The Passport gets you unlimited admission throughout the summer to all three festivals plus a one-time parking pass at ACT V for $21.50

By Anne-Marie S.