Archive for the ‘Spas’ Category

TAKE US OUT TO THE BALLGAME—BEAUTIFUL PLAY IN THE CALIFORNIA LEAGUE

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Our national pastime can be enjoyed in an unforgettable afternoon and evening by attending a California League game, at one of eight minor league stadiums, such as the wonderful venue in the little town of Lake Elsinore, in Riverside county—halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.

 

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STORM STADIUM, LAKE ELSINORE, CALIFORNIA

There, on the late afternoon of July 2, 2016, the home club, Lake Elsinore STORM, hosted the Lancaster JETHAWKS, for a delightful and exciting game. The Storm won, 3-1, but for a charmed spectator the outcome was less important than the fun of watching major league prospects show their stuff. For example, a right-handed pitcher, Enyel De Los Santo, seen below, may someday soon join the San Diego Padres, as the Storm is one of the Padre minor league affiliates (farm team).

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On this marvelous afternoon The Lancaster JETHAWKS, a Houston Astros minor league club, appropriately named also for its location in the California Antelope Valley, a region long associated with the aerospace industry, was the visiting ball team. Lancaster is about an hour north of Los Angeles.

For a fan who has had the privilege of seeing baseball in many major league parks around the nation and in Canada, this afternoon was as good as most of those experiences. Just to watch batting practice, followed by immaculate grounds keeping work to get the field in perfect playing shape was a treat. As the fans easily strolled into the stadium (with brief stops for what appeared to be serious security checks) the tarpaulins were removed to unveil a mix of perfectly manicured green turf, with brown base paths and a carefully measured pitcher’s mound.

Precisely at 6:05 pm the home plate umpire called, “Play Ball.” (There are two umpires running California League games, compared with four in the majors.) Soon the score was 3 to 1, on an early homerun by the Storm’s Fernando Perez, the designated hitter.

(In the lower minor leagues each team has a “designated hitter, “ a practice first employed in the American League of Major League baseball, giving the pitchers a chance to concentrate on that skill without having to worry about batting.)

As the game progressed—and the fans were clearly patronizing the concession stands for dinner or snacks—the Storm’s efficient media relations specialist, Tyler Zickel, also took to the field between innings to honor local kids and other dignitaries for civic activities. (This also provided a good chance for some fans to ignore the field and get food!)

Lake Elsinore itself, in a beautiful valley setting amid California hills and mountains, was named for a spectacular body of water quite visible from the stadium.   Now somewhat diminished by the terrible California drought, the lake is still a brilliant and lovely natural wonder. Team management schedules almost all games for very late afternoon when the heat of central and southern California has subsided.

If a spectator came to Lake Elsinore early enough to get a look around there were numerous fast food joints, but also three fine restaurants lined up to serve a more discerning taste—a Persian restaurant, next to a really good Mexican place, which was next door to an Italian restaurant with a welcoming and serious menu. For three diners at the Mexican eatery, the total tab came to under $30 for a full and memorable meal. This seemed typical of Lake Elsinore prices.

A nearby Spa advertised serious massage treatment, probably not up to the highest standards of LA or San Diego, but a tired driver could get relief there, before the game. Of course it would be difficult to be too worn out from driving since the time to get to Storm stadium from nearby big cities was a mere hour-and-a-half. Much less driving time would be required if a fan was coming from close in cities in Riverside County or Orange County, both important population centers in California.

The true designation of Riverside and adjoining counties is California’s “Inland Empire,” perhaps a bit of overstatement but one could get the royal treatment at Lake Elsinore just by purchasing a moderately priced ticket and going out to the ballgame!

Luxuriate at Washington, DC’s Best

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

     The Four Seasons is indisputably the top hotel in the nation’s capital and this judgment was proven once again on a recent three-night stay where one felt all the comforts of home and much more.
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The legendary Four Seasons staff hospitality was on display from the moment one walked in the lobby and was there in the Spa—one of the nation’s best—in the dining rooms and from the particularly courteous housekeeping staff. A request for replacement of an unusual blazer button was easily handled by a combination of the concierge and the valet.

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The elegant rooms match any to be found around the globe.

The hotel has opened a new steak house off the main lobby and this provides some buzz that might have been missing in the past. “Bourbon Steakhouse” seems like the right venue for Washington and the night I ate there the room was filled with familiar characters from the Hill and their lobbyist friends.

Located in an excellent WAS_110_screen-hi-resGeorgetown spot at 28th and Pennsylvania this great lodging is hard to beat.

Wild Horse Pass: Dramatic Resort Near Phoenix

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

     This is a huge maze of a resort hotel, too big for highest quality guest services, but with numerous redeeming features.

History and Tradition at Wild Horse Pass Resort

     An avid golfer will find here two superb courses with a unique service: a medically certified physical therapist on hand at the practice putting green to provide cost-effective pre-round stretching services.

Wild Horse Stretch

Cheryl Foutz gives a delightful and therapeutic send-off to play on the Whirlwind Golf Club’s manicured and challenging fairways.

Besides a dramatic desert floor location surrounded by compelling mountains probably the most lasting legacy centuries after the Spanish conquest of the region are the herds of wild horses, descendents of the steeds brought in by the conquistadores. A guest out on a resort-provided horseback ride might catch a stunning view of these unforgettable beasts.

 

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     But most everywhere else at Wild Horse Pass the theme is wait: One morning it took 30 minutes to get coffee and a bagel. The hotel was full for spring break, baseball spring training and two business conferences. The coffee counter was second choice after a guest was told to wait 20 to 30 minutes to be seated in the main dining room. At the coffee place the young servers fell behind and eventually even ran out of food and coffee, with a line waiting for service.

Coffee counter

During this attempt to get some morning sustenance maid service was requested but they were still trying to straighten out the room more than an hour later. Fortunately, the next morning room service did a much better job of serving a tasty continental breakfast.

With a dramatic setting on 2400 acres (of the 272,000 acres owned by the Pima and Maricopa tribes) 11 miles east of Phoenix, just off Interstate 10, this could be an outstanding venue for a large conference particularly with the spacious and fully outfitted ballrooms and conference center. But even for a recent meeting with 350 participants there were not rooms to fit in the whole group and some had to be sent down to a nearby Radison. Of course this would be explained by the delightful Arizona spring weather and all the other reasons guests chose this area in late March, including good prices for the lucky few who reserved early and got the $99 rate, compared to a normal rack rate of close to $300 or more.

The property, managed by Sheraton, is Indian-owned by The Gila River Indian Community and much loving and respectful attention has been paid to this heritage, with beautiful artifacts on display all over including a spectacular circular mural in the ceiling of the main lobby.

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A guest interested in world-class cuisine must be sure to dine at the resort’s high-end restaurant, KAI, a memorable experience.  Advance reservations are a necessity.

Of more than passing interest to dog lovers (more than 40 million American homes have a dog!) is that Wild Horse Pass is extremely dog friendly, almost lovingly so.  Here Charlie enjoys his ride on the resort’s recreated desert river.  

Charlie at Wild Horse Pass

The high quality spa features native American treatments and décor and there is a significant replica “river” winding through the property. Symbolic because the tribes lost their water a century ago when the Gila River was damned upstream, although, after numerous law suits, parts of the reservation have regained substantial flows from other sources, crucial for the Southern Arizona desert.

20 Top Women Golfers Play in Tiger’s Footsteps at Torrey Pines

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

By far the largest gallery at The Samsung World Challenge was following Lorena Ochoa, the graceful and amazingly talented golfer from Mexico. She was one of 20 great stars from the Ladies Professional Golf Association playing a major tournament on the South Course of Torrey Pines at La Jolla, CA. This is the very same venue that saw Tiger Woods win his great victory in the U.S. Open in 2008.

Ochoa did not disappoint her fans, not merely because she had a winning smile for everyone who sought her autograph and for the dozens who stopped her for a photo that would end up proving proximity to greatness.

Lorena Ochoa is a crowd favorite at Torrey Pines

Lorena Ochoa is a crowd favorite at Torrey Pines

More, Lorena demonstrated her great abilities on several holes in the pro-am. On the challenging 18th finishing hole, she powered the longest drive of the day and then dramatically chipped in for a birdie bringing applause and bravos from the assembled crowd. To which we can only add, “Muy Bien y Excelante!”

WONDERFUL RESORTS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

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We have recently visited, in Southern California, two relatively new luxury hotels, each with world-class accommodations, superb golf courses and wonderful spas.  So there is no hesitation in recommending The Resort at Pelican Hill, near Newport Beach, and The Grand Del Mar, in north San Diego County.

Pelican Hill features architecture in the style of the Italian Palladium period.  Rooms come in two classes, bungalows and villas.   Both are pricey, in the range of $700 minimum per night.  The amenities are probably worth the high cost of an overnight stay, although both the golf course, spa and several dining rooms are open to passing guests.

Grand Del Mar is also very fancy, perhaps a little overdone, but really a delight.  One can start at the least costly access by having daily tea in the library (the old fashioned British service) or check-in to splendid rooms costing around under $400.  In any case the Spa at the Grand Del Mar is very deluxe, well worth its expensive service prices.  The hotel’s Addison Restaurant is one of the best in San Diego and the golf course is worth a detour to enjoy its challenge and beautiful features.

We have also had the pleasure of working at the Grand Del Mar in a convention type setting and there was clearly plenty of room for people doing business as well as overnight guests.  In retrospect, while we are happy to share the delights of both wonderful resorts, a visitor looking for luxury at a good rate can do no better than to enjoy a few days at the Grand Del Mar.