You may have noticed that the Travel Diva celebrated a birthday last week. Well the festivities culminated with a tasty trip to Newport Beach. It was a fortutious escape since Los Angeles was awash in torrential rain and the power was out in our neighborhood thanks to a felled tree. So off we drove in the teaming rain to the Orange County to overnight at the Fairmont Hotel.
One of the impressive qualities of the Fairmont Newport Beach is the dedication to protecting the environment enforced by free overnight parking for guests who drive up in a hybrid car—a savings of $28 a night. “It’s part of our commitment to going green,” explained a spokeswoman for the 440-room urban hotel.
Another asset is the food which proved exceptional from a “healthy choice” room service breakfast (perfectly prepared egg white omelette with spinach and diced vegies, turkey sausages, fresh squeezed orange juice, whole wheat toast, yougurt and coffee for $21), to an amazing lunch at the bamboo Restaurant where super chef Chad Blunston came out to greet us and discuss his “lifestyle” cuisine concept which incorporates several sensible eating styles from Macrobiotics and vegan to simply low fat, low salt options.
During this visit Blunston was introducing his Earth Hour 2011 “bambu lunch Quattro” a special tasting menu that included: classic French Onion Soup or chef’s special; ceviche or ruby red beet salad, local poached halibut or rib rye and a special dessert of fruit for $22—each course was tasty and beautifully served.
The hotel houses an Amadeus Spa –one of a chain of popular, award-winning franchises, the largest of which is in Pasadena—a pleasant spot with locker rooms, steam baths, a private sanctuary where you can get a steam and therapy bath for $48, and a full menu of therapies from facials to foot care that range in price from $178 for a signature massage to $228 for a signature facial. Treatments of lesser duration of course cost less, like a 60 minute rub or my sports massage which ran $148.
A 60-minute sports massage with Brandy ranked high on the best rub scale as she worked here magic on the Diva’s sorest spots– as did a gentlemen’s facial with Megan—which Richard raved about with a glowing face as proof of her fine work. An inviting pool and Jacuzzi sit adjacent to the spa.
Our junior suite was nicely appointed with a large flat screen TV, balcony, mini-fridge, coffee maker, bathroom with soaking tub and shower and all the little creature comforts (robes, toiletries etc).
Although the hotel attracts a large business traveler clientele, there’s enough space that you really don’t notice the meeting groups. Lounges are comfy, cozy spots cocktails, which are pretty pricey.
The hotel is a few minutes from Orange County’s popular Fashion Island which houses a branch of favorite happy hour hangout, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, (949) 720-963,www.flemingssteakhouse.com (we frequent the Flemings in Woodland Hills). The bar hosts specials from 5 PM to 7 with generous-sized snacks for $6 each and select spirits and wine for $6. The bacon cheeseburger (made with prime beef) and served with onion rings was worth twice the price, as was a huge portion of carpaccio and another of ahi tuna. The martinis were perfect.
Unfortunately the rainy weather kept us from the pool, but the shopping at Fashion Square and the inviting lounges at the hotel keeps you diverted. The Fairmont Newport shines best as an overnight or two-night stop while you explore this part of Orange County. And you can bring fido (ask about the “Dog’s Delight” package. There’s also assorted spa and golf specials, the Fairmont Newport Beach and the David Leadbetter Academy just down the road, available on the web at www.fairmontnewportbeach.com.
If you’re just passing through Newport, it’s worth a side trip to stop off for lunch or dinner at the hotel or for a spa treatment—you can’t go wrong with a sports massage from Brandy or a facial by Megan.