Stylish summer getaways

By Pamela Price/Special to the Malibu Times

Here are three ways to put some spa joy into your life. New resorts dare not open without a tantalizing spa in the 21st century. This journey starts in Laguna Beach, with stops in Newport Beach and Phoenix, Ariz. Three mega resorts, diverse in theme and dining shine with world-class spas. They pave the way for treatments bringing rejuvenation to a new level. How about an aroma facial with a wildflower footbath? Or a California Citrus Polish? Hang on to your spa sarong as we visit the crème de la crème of sumptuous retreats.

Peaceful sanctuary

The word is out on Montage, with Bill Tomicki, publisher of Entrée (an uncompromising and confidential traveler’s newsletter), reporting that Montage has the “most comfortable beds in the world, predicting it will be acclaimed as one of the best seaside resorts in the world. Visiting in April, shortly after its opening, we found the turn-of-the-century wood and stone building, in the craftsman style, a nod to the artists who settled in Laguna Beach a century ago.

Undulating over 30 acres (which was once a trailer park), guestrooms are spacious, at 500 square feet with private balconies. Many guests gravitate to the oceanfront spa, impressive with 21 treatment rooms.

Ocean-inspired therapies are over-the-top with thasso baths, marine wraps and an algae cellulite massage. Fitness services get down to business with a personal fitness/lifestyle profile and nutritional consultation. Not to be missed, if you have time for a leisurely dining experience, is the Chef’s Tasting Menu at the Studio Restaurant, with Chef James Boyce preparing a six-course menu with wine for $160 per person.

The Art of Romance offers two nights in an oceanfront bungalow and includes, among a long list of items, a candlelight dinner for two in the privacy of the bungalow, massages in the Spa Montage’s signature couple’s suite and dinner in the loft. The package price ranges from $5,300 to $6,300 through Oct. 21.

Where trendy meets tradition

The “yacht” at heart will revel in the regal decor of the venerable 132-room Balboa Bay Club & Resort in Newport Beach. The official opening on May 14 was an historical event in Newport Beach. For those who appreciate vintage Hollywood, the restaurant, Duke’s Place, was named after John Wayne, former actor and Balboa Bay Club governor.

Built on three levels and a major player in the history of Orange County, this resort, with its legendary 55-year history, has an illustrious guest register, with names we all know from Humphrey Bogart to Zsa Zsa Gabor. The new hotel resembles an Italian Villa, with views of Lido Island framed by neatly parked yachts.

The 20,000-square-foot-spa is honeycombed with treatment rooms. The understated décor has a residential appeal with soft classical columns, natural wood finishes, plantation shutters, and marble and granite bathrooms with sunken tubs.

Rates start at $225 in a bluff view room and top out at $375 for the deluxe bay front category.

Desert drama

In sheer numbers, the 954-room J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is breaking records. Brian Robinson, director of spa operations at the Revive Spa, said this is the largest resort in Arizona. The guestrooms are comfortable without being too corporate and the 28,000-square-foot European style spa has a lot going for it, from a terrific menu of services to a delightful spa café. There are 41 treatment rooms in the Revive Spa, which means a spa menu with something for everyone, from the uninitiated to the well-seasoned spa goer.

The seven-page spa menu has gone gourmet, with a Lime Salt Glow, Avocado Lime Body Wrap and a Pumpkin Enzyme Peeling Masque. And speaking of menus, there are nine restaurants in this lavish resort, from Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine to Mark Miller’s Blue Sage for all day dining. Daily rates start at $295.

These dramatic resorts from sand to sea have it all, from superlative spas, well choreographed service and world class dining to flawless accommodations. Check out their seasonal packages.

Montage Resort & Spa 888.715.6700;

The Balboa Bay Yacht Club & Resort 888.445.7153;

J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa 480.293.5000 or 866.Revive.4U;

Note: In the July travel column the contact for the Manhattan Youth Castle and 1291 Suites in New York was omitted. Try or call 212.397.9686. Ask about the Broadway suites. They are spacious and fully furnished. The $150 daily or $900 rate for seven nights includes tax, local phones, cable TV, and marble bath with Jacuzzi. Ask about their latest concept in New York accommodations, 1291 city homes 212.717.5314;

Pamela Price can be reached at

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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