These have been a busy couple of weeks for me. Delightfully so! I have been lucky enough to enjoy overnight stays at four terrific properties, all of which should be on the list of anyone planning meetings in Southern California. My short forays included Surf & Sand Resort, Laguna Beach, W Hollywood HotelIsland Hotel Newport Beach and The Resort at Pelican Beach.

You’ll be hearing more about these outstanding hotels in future issues of the magazine. For now, I just wanted to share a few of the extraordinary amenities I enjoyed at each.
 

  • The Poolside Bloody Mary Bar and the do-it-your-way Pancake Bar on the 15FiftyFive patio at Surf & Sand Resort was a wonderful way to begin a Sunday. Fortunately, there’s an experienced bartender to mix your cocktail if you make it, let’s say, a tad too spicy on your own. The hotel has a relaxed, though luxurious, beachside vibe that makes it a huge attraction for meeting groups as well as locals.
  • Chocolate "caviar" was a witty and tasty in-room amenity from the W’s "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" menu. A sweet interpretation of the traditional presentation of caviar, it included caviar beads made out of chocolate, pound cake triangles in place of toast points and whipped cream subbing for crème fraiche, along with a perfectly chilled bottle of Prosecco.
  • The tour of the pastry kitchen at Island Hotel included bites of just-baked macarons, lollipop cakes, mini cupcakes and the most delicious almond confection I’ve ever tasted. Along with several other meetings editors, I was presented with a personalized apron, which just might inspire me to try my own hand at baking.
     
  • I could easily rave about the strawberry soufflé with crème anglaise that Chef Derek Brooks prepared for us at the Pelican Grill or, later that day, the pleasures of enjoying pappardelle that’s housemade in the temperature-controlled pasta room at Pelican Hills’s Northern Italian restaurant Andrea. But I recognize that there’s more to life than food. So, I’ll mention instead that the Amber Gold Signature Massage that I enjoyed at the resort’s gorgeous spa (voted #1 spa in California by Conde Nast Traveler ) was an absolutely dreamy antidote to the minor fender bender I’d suffered while driving down to Newport Beach on the 405.

What wonderful places have you visited lately?

Shelley Levitt
Editor
California Meetings + Events

It’s not too early to start thinking about holiday gifts. One that you’ll want to keep on your radar is the three-bottle gift pack of grape-based mixers from Stolen Fruit. The Sonoma-based company launched just a few months ago with five different alcohol-free blends, for both cocktails and mocktails, made with a blend of verjus—the fresh-pressed juice from green grapes—varietal grape juice and grape skins. The holiday pack ($54) includes Lemongrass Ginger Sauvignon Blanc; Blood Orange Muscat; and Hibiscus Grenache.

 

Up on the roof there are Instagrammable views, fresh air and uncomplicated food. 

 

Donut Farm’s vegan doughnuts are becoming the indie treat of choice at Silicon Valley tech events and, with the opening of a new Silver Lake shop, the latest indulgence for Los Angeles hipsters. “People are embracing vegan doughnuts because they want sustainable, organic ingredients. It’s a clean doughnut,” says Josh Levine, who founded Donut Farm as Pepples Donut Farm in Oakland in 2007. The pastries are not just vegan, but also organic, non-GMO and, often, exotic.