Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

Striving to make time stand still at Orange County’s most luxurious resort

Let’s do the math: two cities, a pair of longtime girlfriends, two husbands, five kids. Jobs, bills, school, parent teacher conferences, sports teams, coffee dates, dinner guests. Totaling out to terribly long stretches between “girlfriend get-togethers” with a close friend who lives across the county, but might as well be across the country for as infrequently as we seem to be able to catch up in person.

Enter the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Poised on the bluffs above Dana Point, the resort’s casual air lends itself to an oceanfront dream that just won’t quit. Afternoon surf lessons and nearly 400 suites replete with airy layouts and coastal views, on-site gourmet dining at Raya, enoSTEAK, or 180blu to tempt the palate with fresh, innovative cuisine or tapas and cocktails at sunset were more than what my friend and I needed to get away for the weekend and slow down the hectic pace we’ve grown accustomed to.

CloseUpKingBedWhen your goal is to unwind, there is always 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 for an uncomplicated getaway for girlfriends seeking a short respite from the obligations of home, husbands and kiddos. Within a half hour, you’re in paradise, with no need to leave it until you’re headed home.

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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.

Every guest, and every group of girlfriends, at the Ritz-Carlton has a multitude of ways to vacation. Yoga or Pilates classes and an ocean-front fitness center start your days off in wellness; free use of the sauna and steam room at the Ritz-Carlton Spa settles you in for rejuvenation; a Beach Butler Service provides beach recreation equipment including fins, towel service, umbrellas, and beach chairs; access to tennis courts, including rackets, is unlimited.

A girlfriend getaway to the Ritz-Carlton arguably would not even be one without a rendezvous with relaxation at the Ritz-Carlton Spa, where therapeutic excellence meets an ocean-inspired approach, using rich minerals, sea salt, algae and water as common treatment elements. The broader resort is an energetic place; stepping into the Spa, the outside world – even the lively Ritz, even the best of friends – fades away to quiet personal peace. The therapists at the Spa are second to none, providing therapeutic and beauty treatments as extensive as the whole body, or as specific as hands, face or feet. The relaxation massage I received was one of the best I’ve ever experienced.

RC PacPromLawn v3sDining at the Ritz-Carlton is itself a worthy reason to pay a visit any day of the week, but for a girlfriend getaway, you could 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); a late drink at the outdoor, oceanfront lounge, 180blú (the Tequila Sangria is a specialty). Raya, however, is the dining experience that mustn’t be missed.
Raya showcases Chef Steve Wan’s Pan-Latin coastal cuisine, prepared with sustainable seafood, local produce, and natural and organic meats. You can find breakfast and lunch here, but we opted for an indulgent dinner overlooking the Pacific as the sun set brilliantly. At Raya, every detail of each dish is lovely to the eye as well as the palate, and every detail of table service is expertly executed – all a fitting counterpoint to nature’s exquisite display just on the other side of the glass.

Over chardonnay we shared the lobster tacos, Hamachi tiradito (served on a jicama “tortilla”) and petite lamb lollipops, all succulent ways to start a slow meal with a good friend. One of the menu’s most popular offerings, the miso Alaskan black cod is a delicious dish that should not be missed. The New York prime is cooked-to-perfection and accompanied a la carte by the Dungeness crab mashed potatoes (a special recommendation by our server that was the perfect complement to all our main courses).

The cod at Raya, the ocean-inspired spa experience, the floor-to-ceiling views, and the prime beach location are all uniquely OC; but take away the “Laguna Niguel” and you still have “Ritz-Carlton,” which is always a compelling option for a vacation-away-from-vacation – with girlfriends, or otherwise.


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This Summer at the Ritz-Carlton

You don’t have to stay overnight to enjoy the beauty of the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel this summer.

Live Music & Sushi @ 180blú
Fridays and Saturdays, music from 5–8pm, sushi from 6–9pm.

Yappy Hour
Thursday, May 10, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 14, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, August 9, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
For people and their pooches! Cocktails, beer and a selection of barbecue items available for purchase. Proceeds support The Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence.

Festival of Arts Exhibit:
Fantastic Imagination
45 Years of Contemporary Art
May 11 - September 4, 2018

Honoring the oceanfront resort’s long-term partnership with Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, guests are invited to view the exhibit featuring 13 contemporary artworks from the Festival’s Permanent Collection.

I love the concept of consignment - finding a true treasure for which someone else paid full retail and I get the benefit of acquiring the same item sans the depreciation. But I have a friend for whom the word “resale” is synonymous with sketchy deals on Craigslist. Suffice it to say that it took some doing to convince her to explore the offerings of the San Juan Capistrano-based Revel Consignment.

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We were on our way to lunch and had some time before our reservation so we walked in and got so caught up perusing the beautifully displayed furniture, art and home accent pieces that very nearly missed meeting our friends on time. Selling both new and consigned furniture is just the tip of the iceberg; eclectic decor, accessories, and design inspiration ensure a unique and ever-changing shopping experience for each customer who walks through the door.

Owners Kathleen “Katie” Dabney and Sam Gaylord came from relatively disparate backgrounds to start Revel Consignment. Their mutual love of design and flair for creativity blossomed out of years in the finance and marketing industries, reflecting in the detailed care and management of San Juan’s showcase consignment shop.

“We wanted to create a one-of-a-kind store, full of beautiful treasures our customers would be delighted to take home,” says Katie. “We’re upscale, but accessible: and we think that’s the main reason folks love shopping with us.” Revel’s inventory is updated daily, and covers everything you might want in your dream home: from quality furniture, lighting and wall art to accessories such as throw pillows, mirrors, and statement decor pieces.

IMG 20170811 105751 555 resizedSourcing from all over the world, Revel takes only the best, and offers personal and quick delivery right to your home for a nominal charge.

“Some interior design firms offer up only full scale services, costing thousands of dollars,” says Katie. “We bring it home to you: one piece at a time, or everything you want at once.”

20180329 105632My friend is almost never actually looking for anything specific. She is one of those shoppers that seems to perennially window-shop. But, given the reins in this gorgeous store, she shopped like a stealth bomber flies: silent and deadly. We wandered around Revel chatting and laughing as casually as if we were walking down the street, until she saw something she liked. It was all over after that.

“We’re not an antique mall,” Katie says with a laugh. We would heartily agree. My friend walked through Revel like she had been let into a museum full of fine art that she could take home and show off to the ladies in her garden club.


“We’re here providing quality that lasts, for a style and design sense that will survive trends and fast fads. Yes, it is eclectic, and edgy, but there is a piece for every room, no matter what vintage or vision our customers have.”

We walked out of Revel with a pretty pewter serving tray, complete with scrollwork edging and the weight of history behind it. Headed for a life on an antique steamer trunk in my friend’s receiving room, the tray had not one thing to do with her image of Craigslist deals in supermarket parking lots. In fact, you’ll have a much easier time finding brass and crystal accents or the latest spring combinations within the walls of Revel Consignment.

“It isn’t enough to provide a single space with a few beautiful elements. Walking into the home of your dreams requires following the golden rule of decorating from William Morris; ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’”. And my friend and I would agree: there’s certainly no shortage of either here.

Revel Consignment is located at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite E3 in San Juan Capistrano. To connect with Katie and Sam directly, call (949) 388-9070 or visit www.revelresale.com

Assisted Living facilities have struggled with their reputation for a great many years. The emotional understanding of what those facilities actually do is mired in miscommunication. Ivy, or rather Hedera, as it is known in the scientific world, has also suffered from a bad rap for years. An immigrant to the States, Hedera is a genus of 12-15 species of evergreen that climbs or creeps, loves rocks, and is native to western central, and southern Europe, Africa, Asia, Japan, and Taiwan. Making the list of best air-freshening plants, ivy also takes one of the headers in place of non-native invasives that threaten wildlands. But, what things connote aren’t necessarily what they denote, as I learned a number of years ago in my tenth grade English class.

I’m dating myself here, but about the time I was attending that English class, the company dedicated to residential senior care that would eventually become Ivy Glenn opened its doors for the first time. Including the 14 bed home originally opened on Venice Island in Florida, it has been over a quarter century since Ivy began taking care of seniors in Laguna Niguel. Plenty of time to disprove the negative connotations that go hand in hand with assisted living, and plenty of time to perfect each service in its handbook of home assistance. Hospice care, end of life care, Alzheimer’s, and dementia fall under the truest definition of what Ivy Glenn provides. Yet, mention any of these words by themselves and their denotations fall short of the meaning of loving care and kindness, which Ivy Glenn actually specializes in.

Matt Posselt with  Ivy Glenn residentsMatt Posselt with Ivy Glenn residentsThe tagline on their website states simply, “residential senior care reimagined.” Matt Posselt has a much bigger picture in mind than that tagline states at surface level. Matt’s mother Gail, and father Tod lent him the unique privilege of not only growing up in a senior care home but also learning the value of life and family. Growing up in the service field, “I learned how to make the important decisions to keep my elder care homes consistently delivering quality care while working to truly improve the lives of the seniors in my care.”

A job too important to do all alone, Matt relies on the expertise his mother - now retired - has provided him over her time in the industry. “My mother continues to believe that the growing senior community is in desperate need of quality homes,” says Matt. “This means an entirely different thing to us than most.” Setting the benchmark for care in senior living is no small task, and upending the reputation assisted living has garnered over the years? Even larger.
“Ivy Glenn is the pinnacle of my mother’s experience, love, and dedication to her residents,” most of whom are still high functioning. Residents are often still extremely alert and independent when they come to assisted living homes.

“We’re also just equipped and qualified to care for every sort of condition that comes across our plate,” says Matt. Keeping individuality and independence intact is the first task, and maintaining the family’s respect for their care and maintenance as a human being means each one of our residents can continue to live life to the fullest. “I believe, and have heard from our families, that the reason they love Ivy Glenn is due to the fact that we treat our seniors like family; not only living in an environment that feels very much like home, but being taken care of, waited on.”

Residents enjoy a variety of scheduled activities each week and furry friends visit regularly as Ivy Glenn has coordinated with a provider of “pet therapy.” From the beautifully appointed rooms, to the exquisite grounds, you won’t find another home that combines all the amenities of a four star hotel with the comfort of one’s own living room.

“The most important work we do is provide our seniors with a loving home.” Love, like ivy, grows exponentially with the proper care and attention. It can strengthen walls and rebuild that which has begun to crumble. That’s a connotation worth fighting for, a distinction Ivy Glenn finds worth defining.


To connect with Matt directly or to schedule a complimentary tour, call (949) 697-1410 or visit www.IvyGlennRSL.com

There is something powerful about true, deep calm. The spread of quiet. Perhaps the draw of it is why so many seek the peace of the woods, the white noise of the ocean, the exquisite contentment a great yoga class can bring. People are drawn to it, animals can’t get enough of it. Ryan Furlet is the possessor of a powerful calm. With the laid back aesthetic of a Bob Marley fan and the grace of a Zen master, Ryan is perhaps the gentlest soul I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. And what’s even more important than my first impression was that of our family dog Bella.

I have never seen anyone elicit such a serene demeanor out of our otherwise rambunctious labrador retriever pup than Ryan did when we signed on for a Life Center Evaluation, and then a Private Life Center Session. But what sold me on Ryan’s unique abilities was watching him train Charlotte, the six-month-old golden retriever belonging to the owner of the jiu jitsu dojo my kids attend. In front of the dojo, while class was in session. Which means 20-some-odd children were actively sparring just on the other side of floor to ceiling windows while their parents are lined up outside chatting and watching their kiddos work - all of which should have been a major distraction for the pup and an increased challenge for the trainer.

Ryan, who had brought along his own five dogs in order to train Charlotte with the aid of his “pack.” As the pack leader, Ryan put his own pups into “down stay” at one end of the walkway, then sat with Charlotte 15 feet away, murmuring instructions to her. Amidst all the activity and noise, his dogs watched Ryan intently, awaiting his next command. He quietly called each over, one at a time to join he and Charlotte while the remaining dogs held position until it was their turn. Suffice it to say the other parents and I were slack jawed as we watched him work.

From that day forward, the other moms and I referred to Ryan as the “dog whisperer,” which it turns out is an apt moniker as Ryan occasionally assists Cesar Milan as one of his trainers. Ryan truly is a K-9 guru. And he is looking for new pups to join the pack.

“Here at the Life Center, we understand that just as parents may differ in their method of directing their children,” Ryan notes, “so do our pet parents with their K-9 companions.” Their mission is to provide the healing and rehabilitative process needed to improve on the standing expectations between pets and their parents. What is actually reasonable to want from one’s pet? What can your pet expect from you? Ryan is a firm believer that creating better pet behaviors makes a happier home life. Now expanding his services to include nearly the entire South Orange County area, from Aliso Viejo to Laguna Beach, the K-9 guru is literally willing to go the extra mile to help you and your canine compadre reach the powerful center of true, deep calm.

logo KA guruOffering one or two hour private Life Center sessions, group classes, or two or three-hour private sessions at your home, each pet and parent will “move forward from their own foundation, tap into a required understanding, and create positive energy.” Home sessions are built around the balance of communication between pet and parent, and maximizes the training experience by allowing the trainer the insight into the way parents nurture, and pets respond.

And boy, do pets respond. Not many people can take over 10 dogs to the park, off leash, and put just one into stay and walk away with the rest of the pack and have the dog patiently wait until called. Going out of town and want your pup to relax just as much as you are while on vacation? At the Life Center in San Clemente, Ryan will board and train your dog at the same time. Keeping Bella overnight the first time cemented our family’s belief in his methods - Bella came home a more well behaved, more calm canine. So much so, that we regularly leave Bella in Ryan’s care when our family travels.

From a wee pooch to those looking for more intermediate or advanced training options, no dog is too much for the deep well of calm that comes from someone as dedicated to their craft. With 5 rescue dogs of his own, it really is no wonder that Ryan has found himself as the guru of South Orange County when it comes to pups and their parents.


To connect with Ryan, call (949) 449-9618 or visit www.k-9guru.com

My husband recently discovered that there are certain restaurants in our area which have a “ghost menu.” Items the chefs are willing to whip up for guests, but only if you know what to ask for. His immediate request? A grilled cheese sandwich. I couldn’t help but laugh. All the choices in the world awaited, including some of the best kept secret recipes of city’s cooking elite, and he picks a grilled cheese. His response? “You can’t ever go wrong with comfort food.”

EATS MENU ButcherBoard

He was right. And that’s exactly what EATS Kitchen & Bar at the Hotel Irvine offers: except that instead of a ghost menu, the entire regular menu is chock full of comfort-food-gone-gourmet. Forget the stale pub-concept eatery and remix the classics with the chef’s creative take on all your favorite staple foods - his culinary passion is evident in his mouthwatering signature burgers, regional specialties and tapas-style small bites. Right alongside delicious craft beers, intriguing wines, and signature handcrafted cocktails. Featuring indoor and outdoor spaces to lounge and linger, including an outdoor fire pit, EATS takes the foods your Mom fed you on your birthday and family holidays, and serves them up with vibrant decor and a circular bar centerpiece.

EATS Burgers and Brews

Featuring expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, cozy booths and an alfresco patio with fire pit, EATS Kitchen & Bar decor draws inspiration from all over the world. Chef Jason combines international flavors with local, farm-fresh ingredients to create a menu that is decidedly original and delicious. For starters, we opted for the Butcher’s Board - the chef’s selection of artisan meats, grilled sourdough and house pickles.

EATS MENU SteakSalad

The signature EATS burger was worth writing home about - and that’s really saying something since my husband is quite the connoisseur (his burger arrived on a brioche bun with smoked bacon, Tillamook cheddar, house aioli and onion bacon jam - wonderful flavors you might not think to pair. My steak salad was a equally flavorful, inventive blend of organic greens, chimichurri steak, roasted cherry tomatoes, shaved radish, ciabatta croutons and feta cheese with a sun-dried tomato and basil vinaigrette. House specialties range from the house-smoked baby back ribs flavored with a bourbon barbecue sauce and accompanied by house fries and coleslaw to the steelhead salmon with beluga lentils, wilted spinach and lemon caper butter.

Kids (12 and under) eat free every night during dinner time and our kiddos loved digging into some of Chef Jason’s favorite childhood dishes including chicken strips and fries and penne pasta with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese.


EATS Kitchen & Bar in the Hotel Irvine is located at 17900 Jamboree Road in Irvine.
For reservations or more information, call (888) 230-4452 or visit hotelirvine.com

Committed to Helping You Make Educated Choices for Your Loved One’s Care

My grandmother and I used to joke with each other about the subtle difference in meaning between the words ‘subscribe’ and ‘ascribe’ (now that I’m thinking about it, that joke doesn’t seem like a joke at all - at least not in the joking-as-comedy way. Ok, ok, we’re language nerds).

But I think the beauty in each one of those words’ individual meanings gives light to a great many situations I find myself in as an adult, dealing with each day’s new challenges and obstacles. Particularly, when I think on the task of helping to care for my grandmother as she aged. Ascribing to something means to think of it in the sense of belonging- giving a thing qualities, or characteristics. Subscribing, on the other hand, denotes membership: signing up, signing onto a mission, pledging something.

As adults moving through the world, we ascribe to, and subscribe to on a daily basis, typically with little thought to the consequences. Signing up for a newspaper? You get the daily news. Calling someone brave when they kill a spider in the house? They receive a compliment. Put your grandfather, father, mother into a senior home? What could possibly happen? Have you broken down that decision? I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts if you start joking around about ascribe/subscribe, you’ll come to the same conclusions I did: especially when you consider the depth and breadth of services provided by Alliance Eldercare.

Coming from a background of elder hospitality was the first step toward providing the best in senior assistance for Alliance founder Derek Mannion.

“In 1931 my grandmother, Sophie Mannion, opened the first board and care home in Kaimuki, Hawaii,” he says. “My father told me many stories of my grandmother taking seniors into their home and caring for them until they passed.”

Derek was able to witness his grandmother’s legacy in action, as well as the firsthand experience he garnered observing his father care for his aging grandmother in-home until she passed at the age of 91. For over a decade, Derek has been working in the healthcare industry, dedicating his life to helping families find care options for their loved ones that match up with the seniors’ needs.

“In 2014, I completed the Residential Care Facility for the Elderly certification in order to better serve seniors,” he says. “I was blessed to have my father live with me, at the age of 83, and care for him to the best of my ability until he passed away in February.”

car AllianceAscribing gentleness, kindness, and passion to Derek aren’t hard, and those are the first qualities you see when greeted by the staff at Alliance. Their mission: to find the best senior healthcare options available for your loved ones, is simple, and crystal clear. In its fifth year of operation, Alliance Eldercare is your one-stop source to help navigate the myriad of (oftentimes overwhelming) senior care options on the market - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long term, hospice, Parkinson’s, and more.

“I’ve seen every option out there from my grandmother’s boarding house to the in-home I provide for my father and everything in between,” says Derek. “At Alliance, we’re not just searching for an open bed for someone - we’re searching for the right care for your loved one.”

Client Cheri West sent the following to Derek as a testament to his personal approach: “You have gone far beyond our expectations of helping make sure my mom will be happy with her assisted living! You gave her your full attention and listened to her wants and desires and have made sure the place that was chosen was the best place for her. She has depended on you to do things that should have been handled by family, but you wanted to make sure it was handled correctly and followed through to the end. I hope we can keep in contact, I really feel you’re part of the our family!”

Alliance comes to you: to sit and talk face to face. Offering free guided tours of Assisted Living facilities and Board and Care Homes puts seniors and their families in the position to gain a true understanding of the options available to them, as opposed to trying to make a decision based on cold-calling or emailing a laundry list of homes.

“I prefer the personal touch,” he says. “That’s what sets us apart. Seniors need advocates, and we are happy to do our part.” The clincher? There is no obligation, and their service is completely free of charge. “When you do the right thing, word gets out.” Now that’s an idea I’ll subscribe to.


DSC 3289For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com

We all come from somewhere. A city, in a state- a street, down the street from your neighbor. A neighborhood. The concept of which, arising from the social attitudes of the early city planners, crystalized out of the 1900’s when Clarence Perry modeled residential development in growing urban areas. Just another collection of lines on a blueprint; just another place to rest at the end of the day. But what really exists in the places we call home? Shops, restaurants, hotels: the places we meet and connect, work, eat, celebrate. North Park, in San Diego is no different. With a visible history that began more than 100 years ago, around the advent of the term “neighborhood,” the streetcars that lined John D. Spreckels’ San Diego Electric Railway ran along University Avenue and 30th. Creating, passenger by passenger, the heart of the community.

Bringing residents, shopkeepers, and business investors alike, those who came to the neighborhood then and now were greeted by the tallest commercial building on the block: once, the home of real-estate partnership between William Jay Stevens and John “Jack” Hartley, the eldest son in the Hartley family, and whom the 40 acres that lay between Ray, 32nd, University, and Dwight were named after. “Hartley’s North Park” stuck, and has remained the city’s Busy Corner ever since. The neon sign signifying North Park’s Busy Corner hung from 1935 to 1967, and was replaced after years of community advocacy in 1993: bringing light back to a neighborhood containing some of the area’s most beloved art galleries, studios, performing art venues, sushi stops, vegetarian cafes, coffee shops, and brunch spots in San Diego.

The Lafayette Hotel

Bringing the truest meaning of community to Clarence Perry’s “neighborhood”, The Lafayette originally opened its doors in 1946. Only a couple short miles from the world famous San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park’s 1,200 acres of culture and nature, the hotel still holds tightly to the Hollywood charm it brought the area upon opening. An eclectic collection of rooms awaits each eager guest, and an amenities list as long and varied as the sea life in San Diego’s sparkling waters ensures there is no low point in your modern travel experience. Priding itself on being great at everything it does, the Lafayette Hotel boasts great food, great people, and great beds.

Lafayette Hotel poolDive into the historic Johnny Weissmuller-designed Olympic Pool or take a lap around the hotel’s two classic restaurants: HOPE 46 or The Red Fox Steakhouse. Get recommendations from locals on North Park culture and history, and dive into San Diego’s finest with a long list of to-do’s from the Lafayette’s well-traveled circle of friends. And, with over 15,000 square feet of flexible meeting space both within the hotel and without, there isn’t a community space quite like it in the neighborhood.

Lafayette Hotel guestroom

San Diego Zoo Inside Look Tour of Penguins & Friends at the new Africa Rocks exhibit

Entrance to Africa Rocks courtesy Ken Bohn San Diego Zoo

Newest to the neighborhood is the African penguin colony at San Diego’s own Africa Rocks exhibit. With an insider tour offering unique views of the penguin’s home beach and nesting area, guests learn how zoo caretakers are working to conserve the birds in the wild. The zoo, a haven for animals ranging from savannah to sea spotlights the incredible diversity of species found on their native African continent. Penguins are just the tip of the zoological iceberg, joined by the Nubian ibex, ring-tailed lemurs, leopards, meerkats, and West African dwarf crocodiles. A tour for all ages, each takes place under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable guide. If that doesn’t sound like enough of a day to you and the family, plan your trip to the Zoo and Wild Animal Park around an immense list of activities and animals destined to make the most out of your visit.

African penguins at Africa Rocks courtesy San Diego Zoo

San Diego Museum of Man • California Tower

The recent winner of The Nonprofit Institute’s Kaleidoscope Award for Good Governance, San Diego’s own Museum of Man was recognized for celebrating and promoting good governance propelling their organization’s performance and fulfillment of its mission. A huge hit for all ages, guests can explore the human connection in a dynamic environment, reflect on one’s place in the global community, and strive together to push the boundaries of human invention. Exhibits range from the newest, opening in April 2018, to tours of the historic California Tower: reopening after being closed to the public for the last 80 years. Climb seven floors, sneaking glimpses of the beauty that awaits at the top, emerging into the sunlight where panoramic views of Balboa Park, and its majestic history await below. Inspired by the churches of Mexico and Spain, the tower was closed to the public shortly after the 1935 Cal Pacific Exposition: and is now the hottest attraction in North Park for adults and families alike!

Urban Solace restaurant

Stepping into the neighborhood means being welcomed home, and what says home more than a classic American meal, artfully crafted from locally and responsibly sourced seafood, veggies, and meats. If their handmade craft cocktails weren’t enough to welcome you to the table, the hustle and bustle of this North Park favorite serves up some of the most incredible comfort food in town. Having committed years ago upon their first meal to ensure they produced with the most natural ingredients possible, Urban Solace features antibiotic free meats, the best boutique wines, and a unique selection of craft beers. Matt Gordon, chef and owner of Urban Solace, set out on a mission to create a place where he felt good about the product they served, down to the most basic and rudimentary ingredients. Just like his family table at home, Matt and his wife created the menu taking no food item for granted: down to the pure cane sugar that goes into each soda in the restaurant.

The Prado Restaurant at Balboa Park Photo credit The Prado

The Prado Restaurant

Located in the intensely charming North Park community, The Prado restaurant helps set the scene with colorful decor and patio seating, inside a gorgeous Californian hacienda, akin to the newly reopened Museum of Man’s California Tower. Hearkening back to the original Golden Coast charm San Diego has grown famous for, The Prado looks like a castle plucked out of the temperate hills of Spain: with designated date nights, happy hours for the most seasoned vignerons, and a two course theatre menu featuring their very own Prado favorites, like Pan Roasted Sea Bass and Mustard Crusted Pork Chop. Going out on the town has never been so delightful, nor delectable. With weekly live music in the Prado Lounge, the restaurant boasts the height of hospitality, from the first course of the day, to dessert at the very end. Taste historic California in the heart of San Diego one bite at a time, at the Prado Restaurant, Balboa Park.

Hospitality has its origins in antiquity, with the first records of guest baths in Greek villages in early biblical times. Over the last two thousand years, the simple act of offering care for others has grown into a massive industry: from the first French and English rural inns and stables for travelers, to the splendor of the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Caring for others can be complicated, or it can be simple: and the San Clemente Villas are looking to keep it simple.

Co-owners Paul and Aileen BrazeauCo-owners Paul and Aileen BrazeauAileen Brazeau and her husband Paul own and operate the Villas, and they’d like to think that hospitality is simply about listening. Listening to its residents, namely. “If we are successful at providing superior senior care and lodging, it is for that reason - we listen closely to what the residents tell us.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, seniors will represent 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030. As demand for senior housing rises, the Villas are ready to meet it with their signature recipe for success: hospitality.

Villas’ residents enjoy a level of service and care often missing from senior communities. Care plans are specifically tailored to residents’ daily individual needs, and with 24-hour assistance every day of the year, the center fosters as much independence as possible while still maintaining the highest level of comprehensive care. The staff, including an Assisted Living Care manager, Licensed Nurse, and Executive Director are involved on a daily basis with the well-being of each resident, ensuring that the safety, health and comfort of each resident comes first. “The first thing that Paul, I, and our staff focused upon when we opened our doors was that each resident has a story to tell, as well as unique needs. We are interested in their stories, and we care about their needs.”

2016 0309Walking into the “grand hall” of The Villas is like walking onto lido deck of a cruise ship - minus the cruise director and napkins folded to look like chimpanzees. Clearly, Paul and his wife know exactly what they’re doing, and are excelling at it, as there are smiling seniors everywhere you look: chatting amongst themselves, or with visiting relatives or staff. If it isn’t Happy Hour on Tuesday or Thursday, there is bound to be a Luau, or Karaoke Birthday Party. And if that wasn’t enough to keep you entertained, The Villas host an annual “Villas’ Got Talent” show. 

2016 0302Taking a peek into the kitchens is an experience in itself, where a team of chefs prepare several entrees, side dishes and desserts at breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Our residents look forward to every meal”, Aileen states, noting that it is not unusual to see a home baked pie or cobbler on the menu, following a fresh, home-style lunch or dinner. “Casual “cafe-style dining is available, as is formal. Residents can even reserve a private dining room for family visits”. But balance and moderation are keys to offering a tailored care experience, and so the Villas also boast an exercise gym and beauty salon, a library, and a game area. Nightly movies are one of the most popular venues for the residents, showing on the “big screen” in a roomy theater setting.

Like any five star hotel, the Villas rely on the services that an on-site concierge offers. Through telephone and personal interactions, the Concierge provides exemplary customer service: allowing the residents to focus on the meaningful moments they have throughout their days, instead of stressing about what the day’s schedule looks like, worry about how to pick up a prescription off site, or how to challenge themselves to keep mind and body active. The “cruise ship that never sails” couldn’t be more accurate a way to describe the Villas. As cruise directors, Paul and Aileen operate the fully-staffed community. She, her Executive Director, Karen Milroy, along with long-time Marketing Director, Diana Sanchez, work magic in the Public Relations, Networking and Marketing arena, often hosting events at The Villas that are open to local businesses and the community.

On-site presence is what sets this community apart, and what keeps the ship afloat. Most senior residence communities operate through a parent corporation, run by hired representatives. Taking hospitality to the next level, Paul and Aileen have made it a point to keep their offices onsite at The Villas, and can be seen regularly participating in activities during the week. If you see them on-site, say hello, ask a question, and expect to be hosted like you are a part of the San Clemente Villas family.

To learn more about The Villas and its history, founding, beginnings or review a list of available services, be sure to visit the web site at www.SanClementeVillas.com.

 

Quality Service at Performance Haus of Dana Point

A couple of years ago in 2015, automakers topped a 15 year peak, as the confluence of cheaper gas, higher employment, low interest rates and a stronger economy created the perfect storm for auto companies to sell a whopping 17.5 million cars and light trucks.

IMG 3894According to the Wall Street Journal, Americans spent roughly $570 million. Two years down the road on an average new car, and you’re looking at light maintenance: a few oil changes, wiper replacements, maybe a belt or some shiny new tires. But as the years tack on, each one of those 17.5 million cars will begin to wear down. Alternators break. Tie rod ends need replacing. (Let’s not even talk about the fact that I’ve been calling them tire rods this whole time.) So where to take your car for those repairs and routine maintenances?

Performance Haus is here to answer your questions. A mainstay of the Dana Point community since 1974, the Haus specializes in factory scheduled maintenance and repairs for Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus and Volkswagen. Proud of the reputation and history they have in the industry, Performance Haus has recently rolled up their service doors to welcome all domestic brands as well.

“Repair shops just don’t stay in a community as long as we do unless they have provided folks with outstanding service and pricing,” says Ray, service manager. “We don’t believe in making extra profits at the customer’s expense.”

As idyllic as it sounds, the Haus has the gumption and longstanding to back up its lofty promises. Using only original or OEM parts, rest assured knowing that your repairs were completed with the highest quality parts available at the highest level of workmanship on the market.

Offering everything from brake service to suspension and steering, the technicians at Performance Haus have been schooled in industry best practices, and perform all of its services and repairs per factory specifications.

“Quit being a number at your local dealership,” says Ray. “Wouldn’t you rather be treated with respect, courtesy, and loyalty? And our service doesn’t just stop at the door: we have a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty.” Be it tie rods or tire rods, the team at Performance Haus has a fix for you, and they’ll make you feel at home while they’re at it.

Why Choose Us

Experience
We’ve been providing expert auto repair and service since 1974.

Personalized Service
We provide local residents with a convenient shuttle service

Factory Scheduled Maintenance
Peace of mind with our 12,000 mile/12-month warranty

Convenience
Most repairs are finished the same day while you wait.

Nationwide Warranty
through Confidence Plus


Performance Haus is located at 34112 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Dana Point. For information, call (949) 493-3571 or visit www.performancehausdp.com

Brios and EnzoWinner of the Dana Point Times 2017 “Best of Dana Point” People’s Choice Award for “Best Happy Hour” and “Best Bartender” (GOLD) and “Best Overall Restaurant,” “Best Pizza,” “Best Bar” and “Best Take-Out Food!” (SILVER)

I have to admit - I’m pretty particular when it comes to deciding where to go for dinner on date night, out for a family meal or simply stepping out to enjoy a glass of fine wine and live entertainment after work. Lucky for me, I live in Dana Point and am only a stone’s throw from a popular eatery that dishes up all this and delicious Italian cuisine to boot: Brio Tuscany Grille.

A recently unveiled updated menu includes familiar favorites (the signature Crab and Lobster bisque and Brio’s famous Pork Chop), wood fired pizza and specialty pasta dishes. A meat-and-potatoes eater? The Flat Iron Bistecca Pesto starts with a USDA Prime Cut oven roasted, garlic and fresh Italian herbs and freshly made pesto sauce. Prefer poultry? Try the Pollo al Mattone “Chicken Under the Brick” which arrives as a boneless half chicken marinated with citrus, rosemary, sliced fresh garlic and a blend of Italian spices, drizzled with olive oil and lemon sauce - cooked under a brick in a wood-fired oven. All produce is locally grown and organic.

Brios something tartarFor starters, the Antipasto Italiano Platter arrives with an array of flavorful favorites - Prosciutto di Parma, artisan salame, fresh buffalo mozzarella, Tuscan olives, grilled artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers and toasted ciabatta bread. Yum! A seafood aficionado? The perfect complement is the piping hot oven baked baguette, baked fresh to order (think soft on the inside, perfectly crusty on the outside) and served with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

I love the wood-fired pizzas here. They don’t make deep-dish-American-football-sweatpants pizza. No. They serve handmade, thin, crispy, flaky crust pizza. I had “Make Your Own Pizza” with prosciutto and arugula, complete with a soft flurry of mozzarella. You know, the kind of pie you sip wine with, reflecting on the old country while a hot steam of freshness rises poetically around you. Or, as others put it: one heck of a tasty pizza.

20 offBrio Tuscany Grille has an incredible selection of fine wines (and a full premium bar), great nightly specials and the kind of attentive-yet-unobtrusive service that makes any meal that much more enjoyable. Visit briotuscanygrill.com for their menu and catering options or call (949) 443-1476 for reservations. You won’t be disappointed!