In-Home Care and the New! Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center in Laguna Woods Village
Over the past decade, there have been an increasing number of studies examining the effects of stress on the human body - from the immune to metabolic systems, to cell division, diet, hormonal changes, heart rate and of course, cortisol levels. Cortisol, after all, is what floods the body in response to stress. Its main purpose is more far-reaching than was once believed. Systemic effects play a great many roles to maintain homeostasis in the body: which, at a basic level, looks like a greater span of stress-free years. Experts at UCLA, Harvard and the University of Maryland all posit that lowering stress levels leads to healthier mental and bodily functions across the board, which is great for everyone, but can be particularly meaningful for men and women of an advanced age.
Founded in 2002, the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. are dedicated to ensuring the individual care they provide will lessen the stress of everyday life for your aging loved one and their families. Between the two divisions of this Laguna Woods-based family-owned and operated business, seniors have the option of in-home care or respite at the Senior Social Club and Stay Care Center (applications are currently being accepted for participation).
With loving kindness, trained caregivers provide exceptional general care and assist with the basic necessities of daily living in the comfort and safety of a senior’s own home. In-home care encompasses services tailored to the senior’s specific needs and range from meal preparation, medication reminders, doctor visits, grocery shopping, laundry, light housekeeping, dressing and incontinence care to Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related care.
“We have observed that those who are able to stay in their homes are more likely to remain healthy and free from common communicable illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia that are prevalent in nursing homes and assisted living centers due to the high volume of residents and close living quarters,” says Boyd Warner, founder of Your Home Care, Inc.
Understanding that the safety and security of your loved ones is of the utmost importance, the professional caregivers at Your Home Care undergo a rigorous interview process, from reference checks and background clearance to competency training. But that’s just the beginning … equally as important as each applicant’s credentials is their personal philosophy as Warner says “our caregivers want more than a job. They want to make a difference in the lives of those in their care. As a company, our job is to give caregivers the direction and tools they need to fulfill their personal mission of service, as well as our corporate mission of improving the lives of those we serve.”
We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver.
Upon meeting the company’s strict selection criteria, caregivers are insured and bonded before completing a comprehensive orientation process to ingrain Your Home Care corporate policies and procedures followed by ongoing, specialized training on issues that help them develop as better overall caregivers, as well as deal with very specific situations. These issues include medication management and compliance, Alzheimer’s and dementia, osteoarthritis and mobility loss, hypertension/stroke recovery, diabetes, heart disease and cancer recovery.
“We believe that our focus on the individual and family is what sets us apart,” says Warner. “When you contact us, you will receive individualized care that will meet the needs of your family and your aging loved one. Whether you are in need of around the clock assistance, night relief or a short shift during the day to assist with ADL’s, you can rest easy knowing that we have your well-being and that of your loved one as our priority.”
While in-home care focuses on the one-on-one, allowing trust and friendship to flourish between caretaker and patient, the Adult Day facility follows a social model in a “beautiful, warm and inviting place for seniors to gather together and create new friendships and memories.” Different from many other day centers, the licensed caregivers at Your Home Care’s “Social Club & Stay Care” Center oversee all activities and are highly interactive with each visiting senior.
“In a typical day, our clients will arrive at the center, sign in, and enjoy leisure activities in the morning, such as enjoying our reading center, or watching a movie or playing a game with other participants and our caregivers,” says Warner. “We will also provide daily activities that will vary depending on the day, but you can expect to find on our schedule activities such as bingo, karaoke, and knitting caps for the newborns at local hospitals. We will also provide lunch at our facility.”
Warner and his team encourage family members to stop by and tour the facility to see firsthand the advantages of participation.
“Our service will greatly benefit those who find themselves living in multi-generational homes, whose primary caregiver is stretched thin,” says Warner. “We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver. Our mission is to provide a fun, exciting place for your aging loved one to participate in activities that they love and maybe even try something new. Further, this facility allows those who may be isolated from the world an opportunity to open up and create new friendships.”
After interested seniors (or their loved ones) fill out an application for the program, they undergo a medical evaluation from their own doctor, and then a follow up visit with the program director at Your Home Care, Inc., to determine whether participation the adult day facility would be the best fit for their needs.
“We’re very serious about providing a compassionate caregiving service, preserving dignity, ensuring independence, and a higher quality of life,” says Boyd. “We want this to be as good a fit for you as it is for us.”
Taking stress off anyone’s plate is a loving act in itself. Yet, I can see how many selfless acts might feel like a double-edged sword. My mother is the primary caregiver for my 85-year-old stepfather who suffers from dementia. As a result, she has less time for activities she enjoys, spending time with her friends, going to the movies and the infinite other little things that seem to fill the cracks in a single day. When I emphasize the importance of also caring for herself, she brushes the thought away not wanting to be “selfish.”
“Taking advantage of a referred professional caregiver is not giving up on your loved one or being selfish,” says Warner. “On the contrary, you’re being selfless by bolstering your own love and support with professional, quality care while enabling you to spend more time enjoying their company.”
What could be more selfless (and scientific) than helping to lower cortisol levels (yours and your loved one’s)? Eliminating that unnecessary drain on energy can mean restored resiliency, greater access to memory, improved brain function. Selfish? Or selfless? Stress full? Or stress free? Through compassionate in-home care and its new adult day care center in Laguna Woods, Your Home Care is here to ensure that this choice is the easiest you’ve made in a long time.
Connect with Boyd and the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. by calling (949) 215-0004 or visit www.yourhomecare.com.
The Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center is located at 24191
Paseo de Valencia, Suite B in Laguna Woods.
There are 19 tracks on the original motion picture soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Track twelve was always my favorite. Entitled “Christmas at Hogwarts,” it was the amalgam of the two most magical things I could envision as a child: Christmas, and Harry Potter’s castle home. Starting November 17th and running through the first week of January, we’ll all get the opportunity to live the magic in real life at Universal Studios Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Featuring glistening snowfall for the very first time, guests can experience the spirit of the holidays Hogwarts-style, complete with a nightly light show and all the bewitched jingle bells a kid (or, let’s face it, full-grown adult) could ever want.
Beyond the walls of Hogsmeade lie attraction upon attraction. From a brand new state-of-the-art Universal Cinema to Voodoo Doughnuts and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, both making first appearances in California on the CityWalk. There are rides for every age, some a little scary, some hilarious; like Kung Fu Panda’s own Po, taking on The Emperor’s Quest. Our 11-year-old son and his father are adrenaline junkies so they couldn’t get enough of the Fast & Furious Supercharged Experience featured on The World-Famous Studio Tour. They raved about riding along with the cast from the hit movies on an exhilarating high-speed chase that exceeds 120 miles per hour, engulfed in the high-stakes underworld of fast cars and international crime cartels delivered via cutting-edge, hyper-realistic special effects, including 3D-HD imagery projected onto the world’s most expansive 360-degree screens.
Retail stores like Sephora, Lids, Sparky’s and Nectar Bath Treats await for when the kiddos have experienced all of the rides, but are just not quite ready to head home. More than 30 diners, cafes, and quick bites alike will satisfy any palate, especially if you’ve had one too many Butterbeers or Pumpkin Juices at Hog’s Head at the back of Three Broomsticks (or if you’ve spent too much time indulging in all manner of colorful sweets at Honeydukes, including Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons, Peppermint Toads).
Beyond the rides, the restaurants, and the shops lies a real working movie studio, where you can see all 13 city blocks of the historic studio lot. Built under consultation with Steven Spielberg, the four acre entertainment behemoth is open for its world-famous hour-long tram tour. Visit with the toothy star of JAWS, and the smoking ruins of War of the Worlds’ jet crash. Hear from Jimmy Fallon as he takes the whole family behind the scenes where more movies and television shows have filmed than any other lot, anywhere in the world.
On top of everything else, Universal offers California residents one of the best deals in the entertainment world: buy a day, get a year free. It’s hard to pass up a deal this sweet, especially when the holidays are rapidly approaching. A full day of action awaits, all in one place. How magical is that?
To plan your visit or for more detailed information about the park’s attractions, entertainment, dining and shopping options, visit www.universalstudioshollywood.com
I can almost guarantee that everyone reading this has heard the phrase “cream of the crop.” Undoubtedly borrowed from the French, the saying was likely adopted in English-speaking countries for the way it rolls off the tongue.
Alliteration, and all. But the French saying is actually ‘la crème de la crème,’ the cream of the cream. Even better, one might say, and I agree. The top of the top, the best of the best.
The team at the San Clemente-based Talega Dental Group are just that. With a combined 50 years of experience in the office, between just the dentists alone, it’s no wonder that Talega has found such success over the last 14 years. “A healthy smile is a bliss,” says Amir Mozafari, DDS, who operates the practice alongside Steven Edwards, DDS and Pullad Salem, DDS. “The joy of preventing oral disease and decay is a gratifying satisfaction that has dedicated us to our profession.”
Specializing in patients who are afraid of the dentist, dentophobia, as it were, the trio of dentists at Talega Dental Group are determined to prevent everyday folks like you and me from never treating issues that arise because we are too afraid to sit down in the chair.
The consensus is clear: clients are pleased with their approach. Gentleness, state-of-the-art technologies, and doctors that treat you more like a person rather than just a set of teeth. “I recently had to get my wisdom teeth taken out and have been terrified,” says Victoria, a recent client. “I actually thought I might have to go under full anesthesia because the anxiety was too much to handle. The doctors were very sympathetic, put a huge emphasis on pain management (...) and let me know I could stop the procedure at any time if it was too much to handle.”
Donna L. agrees with Victoria’s assessment and adds “I was very impressed with the entire staff from the front desk to the hygienist to the dentists. Every was super nice and very caring. They explained everything before they did the work. The constantly checked to see if I was ok. The knowledge of what my insurance covered was top notch.”
Dr. Mozafari, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Salem are all members of the Orange County Dental Association, California Dental Association and the American Dental Association. Dr. Mozafari has been an active member of all three associations since he graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Dentistry in 1991. He has been practicing in California ever since, and as of late, even serves on the board of the Orange County Dental Society. Having built three successful practices from the ground up, Dr. Mozafari was selected as one of “America’s Top Dentists” by the Consumer Research Council of America.
Dr. Edwards is skilled in nearly everything dental -- from the simplest fillings to full mouth reconstruction and making life-changing smile improvements. Not only does he restore teeth and smiles, but he especially prides himself in helping people get control of their oral health. To this goal, Dr. Edwards has developed a proprietary Oral Fitness program with more than 38 different regimens for fighting issues such as bad breath, sensitive teeth, dry mouth, cavities, gum disease, discolored teeth, tooth abrasion and many more.
Dr. Salem received his Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, Irvine and graduated with a Master of Science degree from Keck School of Medicine of USC. He then perused his passion in dentistry and earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the prestigious USC School of Dentistry – world renowned for its advanced cosmetic and restorative training. During his tenure, he conducted research focusing on cosmetic dentistry with his mentor, the globally known Dr. Pascal Magne, the father of biomimetic dentistry. Today, he is one of the youngest members of the USC Dental School Faculty where he teaches Dental Morphology, Function and Esthetics along side his mentor, Dr. Magne.
“We have the best team. We use the best technology. We’re here to give you the best in care we can,” says Dr. Mozafari. “Comprehensive is the name of the game. From the top down, you’re taken care of.”
Talega Dental Group does regular exams, teeth whitening, dental implants, laser dentistry, veneers and Lumineer. Fillings to full mouth reconstruction. Restoring and keeping smiles bright go beyond the office for all three of Talega’s Doctors of Dental Surgery, conducting research in cosmetic dentistry and helping others gain control of their complete oral health. French or English, cream or crop- it is easy to recognize good service. And the folks at Talega are providing the best, one satisfied smile at a time.
Talega Dental Group is located at 1151 Puerta del Sol in San Clemente. Dr. Mozafari and his team can be reached by calling (949) 369-8300 or visit www.talegadental.net
You think it might be time to consider options for your aging loved one’s future care and quality of life. Easier said than done when the mere thought of navigating the myriad of options - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long-term, hospice Parkinson’s and more - seems a Herculean task.
That’s where a senior placement specialist can prove to be a tremendous resource … and available at no cost to you. Having said that though, you’ll want to make sure the professional you are working with has your family’s best interests at heart, is experienced with key relationships in the senior industry and will advocate for your loved one to find the best fit for his or her needs.
In the following interview Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare, addresses frequently asked questions concerning options, the process and finding the right senior placement specialist to work with your family.
Question: How do I know when placement is needed? What are the signs that my loved one may benefit from placement?
Answer: There any many signs that someone may benefit from being placed in an assisted living environment. Some of the big ones for me are fall risk and fall prevention. Is your loved one safe to be left alone? Does he leave the stove on with an empty pot or pan? Wander and get lost? Is there a need for incontinence care or help with general cleanliness and personal hygiene? Are medications taken as prescribed or does she take a second dose, having forgotten that she already took her medication? These are all signs that someone could benefit for an Assisted Living environment.
Q: How do we determine the best setting for my loved one - what are the differences (assisted living, memory care, board and care, skilled nursing)?
A: To find the best care options for your loved one, we must first complete a Care Needs Assessment to determine the personal needs of an individual. We must evaluate the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), as well as the individual’s mental status. We also need to discuss what a viable monthly budget would be to work within the individual or family’s financial means. We can also look into Veterans Benefits and discuss any Long Term Care policies that the individual may have. Once we narrow down the options that work best for your loved one’s needs and budget, I personally tour the family. Sometimes there isn’t an exact fit for an individual’s needs. This is when we tour the options so your loved one and family members can see for themselves the differences between the types of facilities and options available and what each has to offer.
Q: What should I look for when working with a senior placement company?
A: Not all Senior Placement or Referral Agencies are the same. There are things that families should be aware of and want to have in place. Stay away from online agencies that want personal information in exchange for a list of Assisted Living Comminities. Work with companies that offer Free Guided Tours rather than companies that just want to give you a list of places. If the company offers personal tours, they are likely in the communities regularly. Ask how familiar they are with the specific communities that they are referring you to consider. Ask about their experience, training and relationships in the industry. Are they a licensed RCFE administrator? Ask if they will share your contact information or keep your information confidential. They should never share your information without obtaining your permission.
Q: Do senior placement companies find the best fit for my loved one or do they typically place individuals with the ones at which they have contracts?
A: Finding the best long-term solution is always my goal at Alliance Eldercare Senior Placement Service and should be the goal of any reputable senior placement company. For me, it’s about building a relationship with the community and getting to know the people who run and/or own the facilities. This gives me a better understanding as to what they can and can’t do (or sometimes won’t do). This allows me to better place someone in a Community that fits the individuals likes and needs. It’s not about contracts, it’s about care.
Q: Can a senior placement service work with our family if our family disagrees on the best care for mom or if our loved one has behavioral problems?
A: You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes families don’t agree on things. This is why in our industry we recommend having one POA or decision maker if the loved one is incapable of making decisions for themselves. This is a decision that the senior needs to make while they have capacity. If the loved one has behavioral problems, I would connect them with a neurologist if they don’t have one already and work with the doctor to get the behaviors under control. Getting the behaviors under control can open up more options for care. We can discuss this further during the Care Needs Assessment at Alliance Eldercare.
For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com
The word aloha rolls off the tongue like a tropical breeze at sunset, wafting through palm fronds - lifting the sweet smell of plumeria off its pink and white flowers and sending it tumbling down the street. In Waikiki, Honolulu’s world-famous neighborhood, aloha is everyday. An attitude, a lifestyle: casual elegance at its finest. Oahu as a whole is just that way, with its pristine beaches and iconic bookmark in the pages of U.S. history. So it didn’t take too much convincing to get my husband and kids on board for a vacation on island time at the Alohilani Resort (www.alohilaniresort.com).
This luxuriously modern oceanfront property resides on land held in the Queen Lili’uokalani Trust - the location was previously the site of the beachside residence of the islands’ last reigning monarch. 'Alohilani Resort, meaning “heavenly brightness,” pays homage to Lili’uokalani by bringing her love for the outdoors in - floor-to-ceiling windows flood the neutral-toned guest rooms with natural light and spectacular views of the crystal blue ocean, Diamond Head and city skyline. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, private lanais and the option of one king or two queen beds.
Situated within walking distance to the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, the resort has no shortage of activities to keep the entire family occupied. There are many popular tourist attractions on Oahu - including the Dole Plantation and the Polynesian Cultural Center - but if you’d rather stay in, you only have to go as far as the two-story lobby Oceanarium. 28,000 gallons of saltwater house an incredible variety of native Hawaiian reef fishes, fed daily at 10:30am and 2:30pm. If you’re a diver or just a girl who can’t get enough of Nemo, like our daughter, you’ll be glued to the glass indefinitely.
That is, if it weren’t for the Monkeypod Kids Club. My husband and I stole away to the rooftop Swell Pool. With views of the iconic Waikiki Beach, the elevated infinity pool was named one of the "10 most Instagram-worthy pools in America” by Instyle.com. Fashion meets function here as the decor is defined by insanely comfortable teak lounge furniture, tiered daybeds, cabanas, a hot tub and firepits. Our kids had just as much fun sans parents, making new friends and enjoying hands-on indoor and outdoor play, games and activities that reflected the cultural beauty, traditions and diversity of the islands, including making leis and arts and crafts (the schedule changes day to day including half-day adventures to nearby attractions).
Open to children aged 5-12, the Monkeypod Kids Club is the perfect solution for a family-friendly vacation. The kids pool keeps ‘em splashing and happy until Mom and Dad are ready to tear themselves away the aloha chic ambiance (Swell Bar offers an all-day menu including poke and kalua pork. Don't miss their signature cocktail, Ka Huna Kai, a frozen Mai Tai named for a song written by Queen Lili’uokalani).
Each morning, our family enjoyed an exceptional - and extensive - breakfast buffet in the property’s casual eatery, Lychee. Committed to sourcing products from the islands, chefs here prepare standard breakfast fare (eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausage, pancakes, etc.), but the local specials and seasonal favorites make this dining experience truly stand out. Think sunrise papaya, sugarloaf pineapple, mango and rambutan, as well as locally produced honey, breakfast sausages and preserves.
If you can bear to leave the storied and gorgeous walls of the resort, just down the way is what just might be one of Honolulu’s best-kept secrets: The Street Food Hall (www.thestreetfoodhall.com), located in the bustling International Marketplace in the heart of Waikiki, is basically a nightly street fair-cum-food and wine festival. Created by Celebrity Chef Michael Mina as a tribute to his mother, The Street is infused with a sense of excitement and creativity celebrated in a curious kitchen, with chefs who aren’t afraid to dig in and take risks. Be it a casual lunch or the indulgence of a serious craving, The Street is there for the gathering. When you join The Street Party Hawker Crawl, you have the opportunity to visit up to seven of the 10 hawker locations and three bars to create your own custom dining experience and you have 30 days from the time you use initially use the card to come back time and again (think food festival without the one-day limit).
Sandwiches to seafood. Cocktails to coffee. Ramen to burgers and back with a side of superb music and some savory conversation makes for the cherry-on-top of a destination vacation that just won’t stop rolling out the alohas.
Stairway to Heaven
If you’re looking for a memorable way to work in a bit of exercise on your trip, try hiking the Diamond Head Crater. I have to say, there’s something rather empowering about walking up the inside slop of an extinct volcano. More than 3,500 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit, Diamond Head is a lasting remnant of a volcanic explosion that occurred about a half a million years ago. Ancient Hawaiians called it Laeahi, which translates to “brow of the tuna.” The name “Diamond Head” has more recent roots in the 1800s, when British sailors mistakenly believed that the glistening calcite crystals embedded in the lava rock were diamonds lodged in the lodged in the crater’s soil.
It takes 45 minutes to an hour to reach the summit, and half that time for the trip back down. The trail is a switchback with the mountain on one side and a railing on the other. After a lookout point that doubles as a rest stop, the trail takes a steep upward ascent through a series of stairs and tunnels carved into the mountain. The last set of stairs is a 99-step climb that my husband and kids clamored up with little effort while I took the slow and steady - and decidedly less “in shape” approach - that eventually ends at a World War II bunker. From there, you step out to one of the best panoramic views of the island. We lucked out with the weather which meant that once we summited the crater, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Oahu’s entire leeward side (the side to which the wind is blowing). Entry into the state park is $5 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian.
Sea Life Park
Situated just 15 minutes from Waikiki along a scenic stretch of coast called Makapuu Point, Sea Life Park (www.sealifeparkhawaii.com) is a family-friendly marine-attraction that focuses on educational and interactive programs. Small enough to enjoy on foot, but diverse enough to spend the better part of a day, the park is home to dolphins, seals, stingrays and (small) sharks and features a 300,000 gallon reef aquarium, a breeding sanctuary for the state’s endangered sea turtles, habitats for Hawaiian monk seals and penguins, touch pools, an aviary and seabird sanctuary.
Fall isn’t necessarily a season in Southern California. Temperatures go from nice to really nice, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. Perhaps a little dip in the evening mercury brings some cooler, foggy mornings. All things considered though, it is with certainty the best time of the year to schedule a getaway.
The beaches are deserted, the ocean hasn’t cooled off again yet, and you haven’t quite hit the craziness of the holidays.
Tucked back between the Carmel County Highlands and the Del Mar Mesa Preserve lies one of San Diego’s premier resorts. Stretching from Europe through the Riviera Maya, the Fairmont family of hotels take the concept of luxury to an entirely new level. The Fairmont Grand Del Mar (www.fairmont.com) is no different. From tennis courts and an 18-hole championship golf course to 37 miles of canyon preserve trails and the Pacific Ocean just miles beyond the borders of the resort, there is surely no abundance of activity to fill your every need.
If it is rest and relaxation you’re on the hunt for, and hiking doesn’t really suit your fancy, lounge poolside in the year-round sunlight, or simply soak in one of the deep tubs en suite and order room service while the day slips softly through the resort gardens. Each of the 249 elegantly appointed guest rooms feature spacious marble bathrooms, expansive balconies and terraces, and spectacular views of the grand golf club, gardens, or Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve.
Los Peñasquitos Canyon is a nature preserve with historical significance as the first route from Yuma to San Diego, which is today a beautiful hiking, biking and horseback riding destination. Guests of the Grand Del Mar have access to all the canyon has to offer, with bikes available for pickup at the front desk, and horses at the on-site stables ready for trail riding. For those whose outdoor adventures entail a driver and a putter, the Grand Del Mar features the only Tom Fazio-designed golf course in San Diego, complimented by swing analysis technology services, a SAMPutt lab, specialized practice areas used by some of the world’s top professionals, and more. If you’re of the aquatic persuasion, the property features four pools, three that are ideal for families and one infinity (read tranquility) pool for adults only. Not far beyond pools are the resort’s private beach and oceanic excursions including sunset sails and whale watching. And this only scratches the surface.
For spa enthusiasts, the Grand Del Mar offers one of the most acclaimed in the country. Treat yourself to a day of cleansing facials or therapeutic massages at one of only 60 Forbes rated 5-star spas in the world, with complimentary amenities including use of the fitness center, access to daily yoga classes, wet or dry saunas, and even a couple hours of Explorer’s Club access, the resort’s on-site kids club for ages 5-12. Signature hot teas and an all-organic line of spa products await while the littles are kept carefully contented. You might even have time for a delicious craft cocktail at the Lobby Lounge.
Open daily with live music on the weekends, flanked by warm fireplaces and elegant furnishings, the lounge boasts an intimate sophistication. Taste one of the resort’s signature drinks, like the Margarita Blossom - light and refreshing - or the Chaturanga, featuring coconut water and basil, while you snack on tapas style fare from the kitchen. Or hold onto your appetite and feast at Amaya, the Fairmont’s Mediterranean-inspired gourmet dining destination. Italy awaits at breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner on the terrace, using only the seasons’ most fresh market ingredients. Complete with antique books, stunning views, and two separate inviting rooms, Amaya is open to create a memorable, intimate atmosphere for whatever occasion you can come up with: even a simple staycation.
The working wine cellar is pretty spectacular, providing guests at the resort tastes to compliment any menu combination. Seafood to salad, pasta, risotto, or something from the grill: only the most delectable ingredients make it onto your plate. USDA prime grade beef, both hormone and antibiotic-free, and local, family-owned Assenti’s Pasta make it onto the short list with flavor to spare, providing dishes such as the Prime Tomahawk Ribeye. Bone-in beef with crispy fried house potatoes and farmer’s market vegetables in a cognac-peppercorn jus is enough for two, perhaps with just enough room to spare for the resort’s very own tenth anniversary Grand Reserva Patron Anejo Tequila. But excellence does not stop at Amaya. From its six on-property food and beverage options (including in-room dining) and robust wine program to its seasonal menus and Afternoon Tea, the Grand Del Mar has something for every epicurean.
Even without the crisp weather that accompanies October and November onto the calendar across the country, the resort’s warm fireplaces, delicious seasonal fare, and views of the sun-kissed California coastline are enough to add a little magic to your weekend away, fall or no fall.
California is the home of a number of famous sights. You have all the obvious: the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Disneyland, Hearst Castle. But there are those that are so embedded in the culture and identity of the state that you’d almost never know how famed they were. Chateau Montelena, home to the historic winner of the “Judgement of Paris” wine competition. The Gamble House, American Craftsman styles’ pinnacle example of aesthetics and philosophy under one roof. And then there’s Studio (located within the Montage Laguna Beach), with its own menu of star attractions that pay homage to California’s legendary tastes.
Modern French with its roots deep in California heritage, the culinary team at Studio - helmed by Chef Benjamin Martinek - has worked tirelessly to craft the region’s most sublime dishes from the finest seasonal and artisanal products. Impeccably appointed with an elegantly comfortable approach to fine dining, this Forbes Five-Star Craftsman-inspired restaurant is reminiscent of an elegant, yet charming beach cottage.
Perched on one of Laguna Beach’s oceanfront bluffs facing due west, the dining experience here is replete with ocean breezes and stunning views. Guests can enjoy the private dining room or the Chef’s Table, an intimate room adjacent to the kitchen where the sky is truly the limit for your culinary curiosities. Complete with a fireplace and the attention of Studio’s gifted experts, no pairing is too far-fetched.
Ever-changing a la carte menus, chef’s tasting menus and private dinners at the Chef’s Table, perfectly paired selections from an extensive, carefully assembled wine collection - the concept and overall experience of Studio is dedicated to showcasing the best.
To our delight on a recent evening out for “date night,” my husband and I sampled several of Chef Ben’s newest compelling small plate specialities: an absolutely delectable Roasted Pork Belly with garlic soubise, black eyed peas and sherry cipollini, the literally “melt in your mouth” roasted Mero Arctic Seabass enhanced with sunchoke, matsutake mushroom and Chinese broccoli and tender, cooked to perfection Grilled Beef Tenderloin paired with black trumpet mushroom, mustard greens and potato glass.
A seafood aficionado? There are no shortage of options, including Seared Maine Diver Scallops (with roasted baby corn, miso-potato puree and dashi), Chilled Oysters (paired with hibiscus mignonette, fresh wasabi and cucumber) and Pacific Swordfish (accompanied by tarbais white beans, artichokes barigoule and meyer lemon). More of a meat eater? Try the Superior Farms Lamb Loin or Dry-Aged Beef Strip Loin accompanied by cordyceps mushrooms, sungold tomatoes, fermented garlic and braised parsnip.
Poised at the entrance to the picturesque dining room is the restaurant’s piece-de-resistance, custom-built wine vaults showcasing a more than 2,500 bottle wine collection, a unique, turn-of-the-century bar and a communal bar area offering an interactive dining experience for sampling fine wines or small tastes. Both boutique and esoteric selections combine to create a library of flavors bound to please any palate.
Studio’s sommeliers have assembled the restaurant’s Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine collection to help manufacture the most specialized menu in the nation: with endless pairing options and menus specifically crafted around guests wine preferences. The list features labels from the world’s major wine regions in a variety of formats, with an emphasis on benchmark wines and notable emerging wineries. On hand at every meal, they are constantly educating themselves to offer the finest suggestions and tastes of difficult to acquire vintages. On this night, Beverage Manager and Sommelier Troy Smith and Sommelier Gary poured the perfect pairings to accompany each taste - many of which we wouldn’t have known enough to order if left to our own devices and as such, would have missed out on some rather remarkable vintages including an 1997 Laurel Glen Estate Cabernet and a 2011 Soliste L’Age d’Or Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley.
For any special occasion, celebration or a most memorable date night, Studio is the romantic getaway spot for two: an elegant, oceanfront Craftsman cottage, a rare vintage, unrivaled culinary creations, superior service and a legendary sunset every night. Truly, famously, the best that California has to offer.
Studio Restaurant is located in the Montage Laguna Beach at 30801 Coast Hwy. in Laguna Beach. For reservations or more information, call (949) 715-6030 or visit www.montagehotels.com.
The last time I spoke with Sheri, she was crushing customer service one real estate client at a time in Orange County, managing expectations and maximizing her results.
I noted that it was rare to find something that you were both talented in and passionate about; in fact, despite corporate spending reaching the $100 billion mark last year in training and $1 billion plus in “employee engagement,” a Deloitte Study showed that less than 35% of the U.S. workforce actually felt engaged at work.
That means 68% of Americans feel the opposite, or something close to the opposite of Sheri, every day at the office. “I go beyond what is expected, which changes with each client. Selling or buying a home can be an emotional experience, and making it as positive as possible is my goal.”
Pacific Sotheby’s International has made it their business to enrich the client experience: in fact, even moving beyond borders. “It’s easy to feel satisfied when you’re working toward a shared goal,” Sheri notes, “when your job title is literally Agent of Change, you start to look at everything with renewed meaning.”
A certification that enables realtors like Sheri to build and gift homes to impoverished people around the world, the Agents of Change title comes with a certain set of responsibilities. Every home sold by an agent like Sheri means a donation is given toward constructing the next home on the list; the next home that will inevitably change the lives of those that move into it. Since 2017, Pacific Sotheby’s has already raised over $150,000 to fund the building of homes in Tijuana, Mexico. One of the poorest communities, in one of the most impoverished cities in the world.
Earning top sales awards is one thing. And one thing that Sheri does well, I might add. But “top marks are that much more rewarding when they’re earning floors, and windows, and walls for a family that needs them.” I couldn’t agree more. With a background in negotiation and marketing, Sheri navigates the fluctuations of the market as only a consummate professional would, full time. Having an agent who is bound and determined to help you find the right space is the main difference between buying a house, and finding your home. A disparity much like that between those who feel engaged at work and those who don’t.
“Not all agents can provide that vision. I look for areas I can make the process easier for my clients and actively take things off their plate to reduce stress.” The market can feel out of reach for both buyers and sellers, regardless of what kind of market it is at the time. “The needs of a buyer are vastly different than those of a seller,” she says. “Attempting to forecast what may or may not happen over years to come takes an intuition built from years and years of closely paying attention. That’s where my mission to provide hyper-responsive customer service comes in.”
And her attention to detail pays off. “Down to the last dial and knob, the paint color and the cabineture - each detail means the world to my clients. Additionally, knowing that each decision they are making impacts a family in an impoverished area drives my passion for each day’s work.”
“I’m also uniquely situated to welcome folks in as well, since I was exactly where they are when I first came to Orange County to buy a house for myself,” says Sheri. “Whatever their individual goals, I’m deeply interested in helping my clients find their way into the home they’ll call their own.”
Friends are good for a great many things. Laughing with you, getting out of tight spots every once in a while, bringing hot soup when you’re sick, makeovers: the list is almost endless. Advice, however, is one of those beautiful friend-offerings that can literally be life-changing. For Deb Massey-Arnold, a friend’s recommendation that she look into Rodan + Fields changed the trajectory of her career.
Drs. Rodan and Fields first gained international recognition and acclaim for PROACTIV, the incredible anti-acne miracle. The brand brings to mind commercials with fresh teens splashing cool water on their faces: free of pimples thanks to one of the most popular skincare products of all time. In 2004 Drs. Rodan and Fields went back to the laboratory to work on solutions to issues they found in their private practices. The developed the #1 Premium Skin Care Redefined. After their success with Proactiv, they sold their product to Estee Lauder to distribute in high end stores. When they the did some research, they realized that it was by word of mouth that women were buying their products. In 2007 they purchased back Redefine and completed the line of 4 skin care regimens. In 2008 they opened up in the Direct Marketing arena.
Though she got her start in 2015, there were a few setbacks. “My daughter was finishing her last year in high school, my mother passed away, then my family relocated from San Jose to Orange County. It took a while to get settled back in.” The following year, Deb took her business to social media, meeting new people in the Rodan + Fields family. “I am truly blessed by the people who have supported me physically and virtually. Everyone is so positive and uplifting!” Negativity has little place in a business that has grown exponentially since its inception. 2017 saw the launch of Active Hydration, which uses 3D3P - to provide a reservoir of moisture for the face. “It was a breakthrough to aging in reverse!”
A follow up to the Active Hydration Line, Bright Eyes kicked off Deb’s business. Reducing the appearance of puffiness, dark circles, and tired looking eyes, the products that Rodan + Fields are creating aren’t just remarkable, they’re groundbreaking. Starting with their online solution tool, you can find a personalized skin care regimen. From there, take your routine on the road; whatever and wherever. The promise Deb made is to ensure that her clients can take the healthiest, most beautiful version of themselves wherever they want. Noticeably softer, smoother, and more nourished skin is nothing to brush off, and like a good friend’s advice, goes further than you’d think.
“Our company was established on the principle that living better in your skin means living better in your life,” she says. "We believe everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in their own lives - and in the lives of others.”
No stranger to making an impact in the lives of others, Deb is deeply invested in her community, supporting the Prescription for Change Foundation, and Build On. Helping youth in urban areas that are underperforming in school, they ignite an interest in students to engage in their community by focusing on their grades, in order to help others.
“To speak with these students is a blessing; to see how their thought patterns have changed, and how they are reaching out - out of the county, out of the country. Building homes and community centers.” Another reason for Deb’s love for Rodan + Fields? The organization raises millions of dollars each year specifically to match nearly all the money raised by its consultants to give back to the causes closest to their hearts. After all, giving back is what friends are for.
This month, Rodan + Fields introduced a groundbreaking new product - Radiant Defense Perfecting Liquid Broad Spectrum SPF 30. Formulated with dermatology-inspired skincare ingredients to deliver a radiant, healthy-looking complexion in six natural-looking, lightweight, oil-free shades. Its unique and proprietary RD3 Complex helps neutralize the harmful effects of environmental aggressors, repair skin’s natural moisture barrier and protect it from sun damage caused by UVA and UVB rays.
Rodan + Fields signature line for noticeably smoother, younger-looking skin in three simple steps. Based on Multi-Med Therapy, REDEFINE is a comprehensive skincare regimen that layers cosmetic ingredients and potent peptide technology to help defend against and reduce the visible signs of aging.
To connect with Deb directly, call (408) 250-3439 or visit Debluvsmassage.myrandf.com
There is something inimitable, romantic and breathless about sheer cliffs. Around the world, these dramatic earthscapes draw the eye and make the heart gallop. The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, Molokai’s 2000 foot Kalaupapa Cliffs, Chile’s Torres Del Paine: windswept and rugged. The immense sprawl of land’s end in California, falling from its northernmost point near the border of Oregon, to the seaside bluffs in Big Sur, to Southern California’s sandy overlooks in Laguna Niguel.
Perched hundreds of feet above the shoreline lies the Ritz-Carlton, poised for an endless supply of idyllic sunsets just steps away from some of the most luxurious accommodations on the golden coast. With guest rooms featuring airy layouts and private balconies, the hotel is the perfect location for a romantic weekend away.
Most beachfront hotels will boast “spectacular views” and “breathtaking scenery,” but the stunning views from the bluffs of Laguna define those claims. Emerald lawns and rugged sandstone fall away from the doors of the resort, diving off into the deep blue Pacific. First floor ocean-view rooms have their own fire pits, and the list of other amenities on site are enough to send one into the throes of relaxation even before stepping foot on property.
With all the preparation and waiting that travel requires, vacationing can often be more exhausting than relaxing. After planning an itinerary, arranging papers, booking tickets, prepping sundries, hauling luggage and staying “alert” per the TSA, CHP, FRA, the PA and all the other acronyms – not to mention your better senses – by the time vacation ends it is not uncommon to feel as though you need a vacation from your vacation - exactly the opposite of what my husband, Tim, and I were hoping to achieve on our recent weekend away in celebration of our wedding anniversary.
When the goal is to truly unwind, there is a strong case for a stay-cation, which means there is always a strong case for the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
Since a weekend at the Ritz offers OC locals all the “away-ness” a vacation promises without the attending hassle, it’s an especially attractive option. Within a half hour, you’re in paradise, with no need to leave it until you’re headed home.
Of course, if you find yourself at any Ritz, you find yourself in luxury; but our Ritz has some special advantages. Most rooms offer breathtaking ocean views from private patios or balconies, and the entire southwest side of the property is ocean-facing, with nothing but sand interrupting the space between building and water. This factor alone transports you; but then it’s all the ritzy little things that make it a getaway. As aspiring foodies and oenophiles, the only challenge Tim and I experienced during our stay was in deciding which of Ritz’ array of dining destinations to choose from.
If you are a local, dining at the Ritz-Carlton is itself a worthy reason to pay a visit any day of the week, but for a romantic retreat, you could literally have a different experience for every meal, each appropriate to the moment: a light, casual breakfast at the Market Place (try the quinoa bowel for a guiltless treat); a poolside snack while lounging midday (the fresh pita and house-made hummus from the Dana Pool Cafe is surprisingly finger-licking); craft cocktails and small plates at the outdoor, oceanfront lounge, 180blû (the Tequila Sangria is a specialty) or the fine dining experiences at Raya or enoSTEAK.
With a coastal illuminating facial to start your morning and ocean-view experiences into the early evening, the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel offers romantic, breathless, and inimitable views from the cliffs, far above the sea (and all your worries!) below.
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is located at One Ritz-Carlton Drive in Dana Point.
For information or reservations, call (949) 240-2000 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com