Click photo to book the Laguna Cliffs Marriott

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The Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, in Dana Point, California, is a place to celebrate life!  I know because I took my daughter there on her annual birthday outing.  We spent three glorious days and nights at the most picturesque spot on the Southern California coastline.

The Elegant marble lobby.

The resort’s red-roofed, Victorian-style architecture overlooks the cliffs above the bay.  With captivating views of the Pacific Ocean and sprawling Gatsby-esque lawns, I felt like we were in the movie “Somewhere in Time.”  Even the winding driveway up to the resort was romantically lit with street lanterns. The shiny wooden lacquered decor was inviting and enchanting with all the elegance and ambiance of a coastal beach house.  A large roaring fire greeted us in the lobby.  Laughter ignited the lounge as the guests shared cocktails and their day’s activities.  Their sounds were relaxed and inviting.   I smiled knowingly at my daughter.  This was going to be a memorable birthday!

Tennis anyone?

As I read the list of activities to my daughter it was no wonder everyone in the lounge looked so happy and content. There was tennis, croquet, kite flying, whale watching, tide pool exploration, waterskiing, sailing, shopping, hot tubs, swimming, picnicking, golf, and most importantly, a SPA!

When the bellman opened the door to our room, we both felt we had arrived at our own private beach bungalow.  The walls were a sunny yellow.  Our beds were accented with turquoise and royal blue striped fluffy duvet covers with a hint of small gold stripes that reminded us of bright beach towels inspired by the blue of the Pacific Ocean. 

Our private seaside bungalow.

The beds felt as comforting as the rays from the warm California sun shining on the sandy beach. The crisp white accent of the wooden head board gave the room a whimsical seaside cottage feeling. We immediately spotted their Bernard waffle-weaved robes and changed into them.  We kicked off our shoes and relaxed and enjoyed the scent of their lavender sachets.  I told my daughter that lavender is the aromatherapy that calms and soothes your senses so you can sleep better.  She’s a manager for the Abercrombie Kids Store in San Diego.  With her hectic schedule and long retail hours, she needed this time and place to unwind and mellow out.  It was her first birthday treat of the trip.

Even though the room was cozy and pleasurable, my daughter’s eye for the corporate traveler immediately noticed the high speed internet access.  She

State-of-the-art technology.

was relieved that she would be able to efficiently send and receive e-mails and use the internet.  She was also delighted with the two phone lines.  She hates waiting for anything and with this amenity she felt immediately at home.  Mom wasn’t going to disrupt her immediate need to use the phone.  I laughed as she gave a sigh of relief.  Being the mom, I proudly assured her that I wouldn’t take her anywhere that wasn’t technologically advanced.  I told her when I booked our room that they informed me that this property caters to even the most sophisticated of the wired generation traveling today.  I looked at her laptop, iPod, wireless Bluetooth, and digital camera, and knew that if she needed to access the state-of-the-art multimedia system that linked the 55,000 square feet of conference space she was in good hands.  This was a birthday retreat, but if she ever needed to come back for a training session I wanted her to know that this place had touch screens, control hidden microphones projectors, and phone and video conferencing for any business need she might have.  Moms will always be moms, as I found myself lecturing her on the resort’s many business qualities.  She politely listened to me, but what really caught her attention was the pamphlet on the SPA.  After all, this was her birthday weekend and being renewed, revitalized, and refreshed were three of her many birthday wishes.

The Richard Henry Dana Ballroom.

As I turned out the lights and snuggled under the cozy duvet comforter, I whispered a quiet thank you for the beauty of this lovely California resort, my precious daughter, and most of all . . . the time to enjoy.  I drifted off to sleep embraced by the cool sea breezes and the hopeful expectation of the good times to come.

Daylight peeked through our patio windows and it was time for the birthday celebration to begin with fresh brewed gourmet coffee prepared in our room.   We sipped our java from clear crystal mugs as I perused the USA Today with a cursory nonchalance about how the rest of the world was spending their day.  My daughter Kyra, was diligently studying the Spa pamphlet. Would it be a Pure Fiji Coconut Body Polish, a Green Tea and Aloe Vera Wrap, their signature massage called the Peaceful Warrior, or the Ultimate Radiance Facial?   There was no question in her mind.

The Laguna Pool.

The Del Mar Pool.

The best equipment.

We decided to stop burning daylight and begin the birthday bash at the SPA!  When we entered the Spa, we were warmly greeted by the Spa Director, Maureen Vipperman, a beautiful and vivacious woman.  She invited us to take a seat in front of the cozy fireplace, as we listened to the sounds of the soothing waterfall.  Her passion and knowledge for the Spa’s unique relaxation and healing services was captivating.  She told us that even though the Spa was less than a year old it had already garnered a reputation for being a place for wellness and healing.  She told us that the spa used a variety of treatments that emphasized therapeutic health and international healing techniques and products.  She didn’t forget a single detail with her caring curiosity.  We savored every second of her articulate attention to our personal needs to create our perfect Spa experience.

Before deciding on our first treatment, Maureen took us on a guided tour of the newly renovated facility.  She was quite proud of their state-of-the-art fitness center that was fully equipped with the latest in Star Trac cardio equipment and Life Fitness strength equipment, complete with headphones and personal televisions for each running and bicycle machine.  This impressive facility rivaled centers twice its size.  Maureen smiled spiritedly when she informed us that the fitness center was open 24 hours a day.  My daughter and I exchanged a guilty glance.  There would be no excuse about not having the time to workout on this retreat.

We made a mental note that we would work out tomorrow for sure.  Right now, our minds, bodies, and souls were looking forward to relieving the stress and exhaustion from our workaholic lives.  Maureen recommended the couples massage for our first treatment.  She thought it would be a great way to start the birthday party.  We noticed that one of the nicest things about the Spa, besides Maureen, the décor, and the treatments, was a comfortable ease and beauty about the facility.  The layout of the spa was intimate, yet the treatment rooms were spaciously light, roomy, and elegant.  The room for our couples massage was breathtaking.  It was large and airy and decorated in gold sandy beach tones.  There were two massage tables facing each other, beautiful white marble floors, and two large Swiss showers with 12 rotating showerheads.  There was a private outdoor patio with a whirlpool tub, and outdoor furniture.  Our therapists recommended ordering lunch after our treatment so we could enjoy the sunshine and fresh ocean breezes in our private garden.

Vibrant decor.

As we prepared ourselves for the massages, I realized this was the perfect way to spend time with my daughter.  It seemed like only yesterday that I looked down into her newly born eyes and dreamed about all the wonderful adventures we would have.  The thrill of sharing this experience of renewing our spirits with this unique massage was beyond my expectations.  In the silence and serenity of releasing the stress from our bodies a strong bond of appreciation created a lasting memory.  After the massage we both took showers and luxuriated in the refreshing feeling of pulsating shower heads cleansing every pore of our bodies.  We slipped on robes that were deliciously toasty from the in-room robe warmer and walked outside to the patio where our lunch awaited us.  All we could do was smile at each other from the inside out.  Our skin glowed as our bodies basked in loving appreciation for the special care.   We savored our delicious lunches, not wanting this day to end.

After lunch, I scheduled the Ultimate Radiance Facial for myself and Kyra’s next gift to unwrap—the signature treatment, The Peaceful Warrior.  Our bodies floated on air, as we were led to our separate rooms.  As wonderful as it was to share the massage experience, trading stories on our individual services was even more exciting.

The spa lobby.

I never knew what the word bliss meant until I experienced the Ultimate Radiance Facial.  It was 90 minutes of nirvana in which every pore of my face cried out in gratitude for each gentle and therapeutic touch.   My cells were rejuvenated  and the after glow was lastingly radiant!  My skin had never looked more youthful or resilient.   It might be my daughter’s 23rd birthday, but I felt as happy as the day I gave birth.

Life doesn't get any
better than this!

Kyra’s treatment, The Peaceful Warrior, couldn’t have been more appropriate for her.  The day she was born she screamed for ten hours straight.  She was born a warrior.  A competitive figure skater and a strong willed athlete, I was anxious to see how this treatment would affect her.  It was truly amazing!  I could hardly recognize my little warrior afterwards.  A transformation had occurred. She actually looked peaceful and serene.  (I wished I’d known about this treatment 23 years ago.)  We sat in the Spa’s relaxation room sipping herbal tea and recounted our experiences.

“Mom,” she sighed, “It was amazing! This massage is based on therapies from 14th-century Thailand and was used on warriors returning from battle.  It began and ended with the ringing of sacred Thai chimes.  Then she used a pressure treatment with a heated pouch of organic herbs that felt like they were melting my entire body.”  She opened a bag that she brought from her treatment and I smelled the sweet scent.  Kyra couldn’t wait to explain every detail of this incredible experience as she continued, “Then she lightly stretched my limbs and body, and applied different aroma therapies.  She told me she was using an Asian massage technique.  And Mom, she used the most incredible essential oils I’ve ever felt and it lasted for two hours!  Wow!  Thank you so much! This was the best present ever!” She leaned towards me and gave me the biggest hug I’d ever received.  Life doesn’t get any better than this, I thought.

A place to feel good.

That night we dined at the hotel’s restaurant, the famous award winning Regatta Grill Restaurant.  Their talented kitchen crew flavors the contemporary California cuisine and created a fine dining experience.   I had a delicious New York Steak, crisp Caesar salad and the best baked potato.  Kyra was thrilled with her Salmon entrée and Lobster Bisque soup.  As Kyra made a wish and blew out the candles on her birthday cake, I hoped she wished for a return visit to the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa.  It’s truly a place that makes you smile and reminds you how good life really is.

— By Janice Wilson, Las Vegas Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent.

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