I was pretty determined to do something to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and when it became clear that Darian wasn’t going to spring for a trip to the REAL Venice (we stayed at the Venetian in Vegas when we got married), I was a little concerned when he announced that he was planning a surprise trip. Now you must understand that as much as I’m a girl who likes fancy things, my husband is the kind of chap who will choose, yes, choose, to stay at a Motel 6. And granted I realized that he wasn’t quite going to make me do that, I certainly was intrigued as to what he had planned. A day before we left, he admitted that it had something to do with a spa, and along with the suggestion of my Facebook friends, I decided that it must be in Arizona. I was excited about the prospect of sun. Despite my intense curiosity, I decided to let him keep a secret, and it was delightful to allow the trip to develop as we got to the airport, the on a plane to Orange County and then to the car hire. I even turned my head when he punched the address into the GPS. Oh, and just as an insight into his personality, Darian for some reason was amazingly excited to drive the new Ford Focus, and spent the entire trip analyzing why it didn’t have a leather steering wheel. That kept him completely entertained. We of course had to stop at our favorite biltong shop (you non-South Africans can reference Wikipedia) which was closed, and then reluctantly stopped at The Africa Hut near Laguna which doesn’t have the best biltong, but had an insane collection of our favorite chocolates.
So there was me, with my chocolate smeared face, clutching my bag of goodies, as we pulled into the Montage Resort in Laguna. First sign: the entrance courtyard was jam packed with Landrovers, Porsches, BMW’s and the occasional Ferrari. I kept muttering that I really drive a Porsche, not a Ford Focus with plastic steering wheel, but I don’t think that the cluster of well heeled Easter visitors really cared. From the moment we checked in, the place was spectacular. Escorted to our room (no, not so that we didn’t steal anything), we were led through a labyrinth of spacious corridors (all of the rooms face the sea, I believe) and could never quite trace our route back. The room was beautiful: furnished in muted Provencal-ish style (yes, I’m sure that’s not an official decorating term), it was appointed with crisp white Frette linens and a huge bed, quite appropriate for an anniversary. A sofa in pale yellow checkered print made a cheery addition to one corner of the room with sliding glass doors leading to a garden shared by the other rooms in this wing of the hotel. The view was scrumptious and we immediately made off for the beach, although Darian had to pry my grubby bag of chocolates out of my hand.
The property is situated on the cliffs above several Laguna beaches, with access to and service at all of them. And I mean service. As we walked along, a yoga class from the hotel set up for sunset yoga, and a group of people gathered to watch a whale loitering in the bay. I mean what other hotel gets a whale to perform at sunset? Brilliant! (Yes I am kidding, sort of). Going back to the room to dress for dinner at the French restaurant housed in a cottage right on the edge of the property overlooking the sea, we were greeted by soft music, champagne, chocolates, and a pair of slippers for each of us, set on a white towel set next to the bed.
It was an amazing weekend, on an incredible property. The spa was divine, albeit hellishly expensive, and it was the attention to detail that really elevated the entire experience. Our couples massage didn’t simply leave us looking at the floor, there was a bowl of floating orchids below, and instead of a washcloth in our bathroom, there was a Japanese loofah and body scrub to indulge in (and yes, I did check, you cynics, and we weren’t charged for them). This is the kind of place where when you pass a staff member in the hallway, the step aside and wait for you to pass. I felt like a princess, from breakfast at the “casual” restaurant with the spectacular view and heavenly omelets, to the blanket I was offered in the lounge after dinner because the waiter noticed I was chilly.
My only complaint would be that there were several scheduling glitches: arriving at our fancy first night dinner, which someone did call the room to confirm, our name was clearly not on the reservation list when we arrived, but the hostess adeptly seated us at a lovely table. Oh, and when I didn’t like my filet, the only disappointing part of a flawless meal, not only did they not charge us, and bring another dish, but they also didn’t charge us for the Rose I had ordered to accompany the filet. That’s classy. There was also a scheduling glitch with my facial, which wasn’t in the computer, although they happily scheduled another for me that afternoon, and we arrived that next morning for a manicure (yes, I made my lovely husband have a manicure, and yes, he loved it, and no he didn’t chose a color), they mentioned that I had a 10am facial scheduled, which clearly was where yesterday’s facial had disappeared to. So yes, a little confused, and the only issue in an otherwise flawless execution. But really, for such a picky girl, that was the only negative I could possibly find, and even then the other delightful elements amply made up for it.
No, it’s not cheap, but we’d love to take the kids back there, especially since there were tons of families frolicking at the heated pool (the spa pool is adult only, and freezing!) and there was a charming Easter egg hunt and petting zoo. We peeked into the kids club, which, compared to the Disney Cruise Ship overload versions, was delightful and quaint.
Lord was it a great weekend, and Darian way, way, way surpassed my expectations. This is why they call me Fancy Pants, people. And I don’t know how the hell Darian is ever going to get me to stay in a Motel 6 ever again.