Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

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 (

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.

Alohilani ResortAlohilani ResortSituated 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.

IMG 3817That 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 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).

IMG 2312Each 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.

View from Diamond Head Crater View from Diamond Head Crater 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 (, 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).

International Marketplace / Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Blake Bronstad

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.

Area Attractions

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 ( 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 ( 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.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar Resort Pool 1Los 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.

Chef Benjamin MartinekChef Benjamin MartinekPerched 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.

MLB Architectural Studio Interior EveningTo 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.

Mero Arctic SeabassMero Arctic SeabassA 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.

Roasted Pork BellyRoasted Pork BellyPoised 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.

Roasted Filet of BeefRoasted Filet of BeefStudio’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.

Roasted Filet of BeefRoasted Filet of BeefFor 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

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.”

34122 Chula Vista Drive, Dana Point34122 Chula Vista Drive, Dana PointA 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.

normandin2Earning 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.”

28412 Camino La Ronda, San Juan Capistrano28412 Camino La Ronda, San Juan CapistranoAnd 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.

Screenshot 1Though 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!”

Screenshot 2A 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.

PastedGraphic 9This 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.



PastedGraphic 7Rodan + 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.





IMG 0004To connect with Deb directly, call (408) 250-3439 or visit

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.

Oceanfront lounge at 180bluOceanfront lounge at 180bluPerched 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.

RCLAGUN 00507When 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.

RCLAGUN 00370If 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

There are very few places in the world with such consistently phenomenal weather as La Jolla, California ( Check out the weather charts if you don’t believe me. The temperature graph is virtually a straight line. Almost no rain, and the slight bump in highs and dip in lows at the tail ends of the year are mostly due to the marine layer coming off the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. Waterfront restaurants wend their way down the coast, and world-class shopping awaits. Just minutes from downtown San Diego, the village has been a haven for artists and tourists alike since the early 1900’s.

La Jolla beaches Photo credit Brett Shoaf Artistic VisualsLa Jolla beaches Photo credit Brett Shoaf Artistic VisualsHotels dot beach breaks all the way up and down the coast, but few come close to matching the verve and excitement you’ll find at the La Jolla Shores Hotel ( Smack-dab in the middle of California’s most beautiful weather lies one of Fodor’s top 12 family friendly spots in the nation. You can choose to stay in - the accommodations here are gorgeous and designed to be “an extension of the sprawling Pacific Ocean” just steps away. The decor and ambiance of the 128 rooms and suites (19 with kitchenettes) are inspired by California’s laid back attitude and movies on-demand en suite for the kids (or use the DVD player and lending library). Or you can opt for outdoor endeavors on property at the pool or jacuzzi or … as the beach is literally your backyard, enjoy spectacular front-row views of sand, surf and sunsets; complete with seaside service and complimentary chairs, umbrella and towels.

La Jolla Shores HotelTry out the Shores Restaurant where award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Percy Oani incorporate the best seasonal and local fare into every menu (dishes showcase the finest regional ingredients from around La Jolla and San Diego, including fresh-caught seafood). Popular entrees include almond butterfish accompanied by fingerling potatoes, sunburst squash and lobster cream and sesame salmon paired with zucchini noodles, beechwood mushroom, sweet peppers and yuzu butter. More of a meat eater? Try a grilled to taste craft Angus burger or tender Angus short ribs. Chef Guillas also serves up “finger-lickin’” good meals for foodies 10 and under. The Marine Room offers an intimate date night overlooking a seaside panorama.

World-famous Waterfront Attraction

Just down the way, one of the area’s most famous attractions provides a taste for everyone’s palate: family friendly fun with some of the coolest critters around. SeaWorld ( Rides, shows, eats, drinks, characters and more await at one of the country’s most famous theme parks. For the older kids, try the newest Electric Eel coaster, with insane inversions, energetic twists, and incredible loops. Got the little ones in tow? Elmo’s Flying Fish in the Sesame Street Bay of Play is the place to be. From the gondola to the rafts on the river, SeaWorld has something for every age.

La Jolla Shores Hotel La Jolla Shores Hotel For guests who want to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing seafaring creatures, SeaWorld offers educational and entertaining animal experiences and tours. Enter the chilly Arctic waters to interact with white beluga whales, venture behind the scenes for a face-to-beak encounter with a penguin, take a trainer-led poolside trek to touch and feed bottlenose dolphins or have a face-to-face connection with majestic killer whales. In all encounters, behaviorists share personal stories and unique facts about the animals.

La Jolla Beach & Tennis ClubLa Jolla Beach & Tennis ClubWhile you’re in town, catch Clyde + Seymour spoof your favorite TV show, or learn more with your little environmentalist about the award winning rescue team through Sea Rescue, available in the Mission Bay Theatre. Killer whales to dolphins, beluga whales and penguins, every animal has a special place in the blue waters of the most playful park around.

Girls viewing Orca Whales Courtesy SeaWorld

Squarely in our middle-age, my husband, Tim, and I often joke about the attendant aches and pains that seem to accompany growing older. But when sciatica set in (for him) and a pulled muscle post-exercise had me favoring one leg over the other, it became decidedly less of a laughing matter.

A wrestler in high school and an outdoor enthusiast in adult life, my husband swears by the “RICE” method recommended by his coaches and physicians over the years. Short for “rest, ice, compression, elevation,” the steps have been stock-standard in our home for as long as I can remember. When I sprained my ankle, his advice? Stay off of my ankle, ice it 20 minutes on, 20 off, wrap it up, and prop it up on a few comfy pillows. In past years, however, American physicians have been tapping into a new “I” in that equation - or “C,” rather. Cryotherapy.

Submitting the body to cold temperatures, be it a polar plunge into an alpine lake, an ice bucket challenge, or just a sprained ankle in a Home Depot bucket on the sidelines, works to reboot the body’s sympathetic nervous system. Responsible for triggering the “fight or flight” response, our nerves can bring rest and relief or rage; stress or serotonin. As the first Orange County-based whole body cryotherapy center (and one of the first in nation), Cold Rush Wellness Cryotherapy in Laguna Niguel is a full service, physician-run cryostimulation clinic dedicated to whole body health, starting deep in the core of its clients.

A Historical Perspective

Developed in its current form by Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi in 1978 to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) quickly gained recognition in the Japanese - and subsequently European - medical communities for its benefits beyond treating arthritis. Physicians began using WBC to treat a broader range of ailments including chronic inflammation, fibromyalgia, psoriasis and to revitalize skin. In Germany, for example, cyrosaunas are available in 60 hospitals for the treatment of autoimmune disease and post-surgical recovery.

Unlike traditional ice baths, WBC is a dry process - because dry cold doesn’t penetrate the body like cold water or cold air with moisture, WBC temperatures are able to be much colder than what the human body could normally tolerate without extreme discomfort. Patients step into a cryotherapy sauna to expose their body to hyper-cooled air -200 degrees to -240 degrees Farenheit, triggering the body’s natural healing mechanisms as though it were freezing. Blood accumulates in the body’s core in order to warm itself and capillaries expand to nearly four times their normal diameter. This allows white blood cells to flow through the body faster, accelerating the healing process. During the two to three minutes your body is exposed to these extreme temperatures, the brain triggers the release of endorphins, adrenaline and other hormones for an increase in energy, a boost to the immune system and promote overall healing.

“Cryotherapy centers in Europe are all physician-run and deemed safe by the medical community,” says Owner Scott Young, D.C. who relocated his chiropractic and rehabilitative practice to Orange County over four years ago after 20 years in The Netherlands. “Benefits include decreased inflammation, improved athletic performance and rapid recovery from workouts, improved post-surgical healing and pain relief, faster healing of strains and sprains, improved metabolism, increased energy and is particularly helpful in relieving the symptoms of chronic skin conditions such as shingles, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and dermatitis. At Cold Rush Wellness, we adhere to the European model and take all precautions to keep it a safe and effective treatment.”

Dr. Young, who operates his holistic health practice by “finding the problem, fixing it and leaving it alone,” discovered the benefits of whole body cryotherapy for himself while living in Amsterdam. He found the health benefits rejuvenating and importantly, backed by sound science.

With years of experience treating such varied conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, post-surgical rehabilitation, strains, sprains, eczema, shingles, and dermatitis, it is no wonder that Cold Rush Wellness has been embraced by a growing number of patients.

Personal experience

One of the benefits of publishing South County Magazine is that it affords me an opportunity to share my own experiences at local businesses or in meeting business owners and entrepreneurs in the area. In this case, my husband and I both decided to give WBC a try. Over the course of 30 days (with treatments three times per week), I can personally attest to increased energy levels and surprisingly better sleep. For his part, my husband has long suffered from low back pain resulting in significantly decreased range of motion. A month into treatment, he can bend and stretch further than he has been able to in years without pain and feels “much less stiff.”

Athletes swear by it for a boost in metabolism and rapid recovery from strenuous workouts. Given the results Tim and I have experienced, I’m anxious to see how we feel in another 30 days. I’ll tell you one thing though … so far, WBC has proven to be quite the upgrade from a bag of frozen peas on my ankle.

IMG 4994Scott Young, D.C. can be reached by calling (949) 281-6853. Cold Rush Wellness is located at 30251 Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel.

For more information, visit

Backstreet Home Decor 0081Looks can definitely be deceiving. From the road, Backstreet Home Decor appears to be a small storefront, its windows displaying beautiful decorative items, jewelry, handbags and accessories. Step inside, however, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll discover that you could literally spend hours looking at all of owner Susan Smith’s wonderful offerings, which range in style from Old World to contemporary.

Each piece is reflective of Susan’s keen eye for color, quality, texture, design detail and style - a fact not lost on the scores of professional designers who regularly shop here to decorate their client’s homes.

Homeowners who have taken advantage of Susan’s in-home consultation rave that she was able to suggest just the right furniture, decor, florals and color palette to create the look they were dreaming of - a fact that I can personally - and happily - attest to.

IMG 3473When our family moved from San Clemente to San Juan Capistrano, Susie’s showroom the first and only stop I needed to make for the decorative items and accessories that would make our new house a “home.” Susie’s vision of color, texture, line, shape, natural proportion and balance resulted in the beautiful floral arrangements and wall hangings that adorn our home, along with just the right accent and “statement pieces” to visually tie everything together.

While everything in her store speaks of high quality, her prices are surprisingly affordable. Because of longstanding relationships with vendors from the top decor lines across the county, Susan is able to acquire furniture and accessories at substantial discounts - which she in turn passes along to her customers.

IMG 0358“We only LOOK expensive,” she says. “What sets us apart is that all of our florals are custom designed on the premises. We work with our clientele to create exactly what they want. We really try to come up with the unusual - unique items that you just won’t find in every single store.” That philosophy extends to her holiday offerings - from gorgeous decorative items and seasonal specialty home accents and ornaments to fun pieces like her holiday gnomes.

Connect with Susie by stopping by the showroom at 307 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente, by calling (949) 498-2210 or visit

I’m about to date myself, but maybe not in the way you think. I grew up watching Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. I missed out on the classic western shows of the fifties: like Gunsmoke, Marshal Dillon, The Roy Rogers Show. “Happy trails to you, ‘till we meet again,” sang the theme to Roy Rogers, wishing godspeed and goodwill to all who watched. That song came to mind when I stepped through the doors of the 11,000 square foot retail space that American Horse Products occupies in San Juan Capistrano.

IMG 5338Launched in 1999, right around the time Roy Rogers celebrated its 42 year anniversary, American Horse Products opened its doors to the public. Having recently sold their handheld computing company, it was a pivotal year for owners Jim and Diane Carter as they contemplated their next career path. "Diane’s love was horses and on occasion, she referred to me as her ‘Cowboy from Oklahoma,’ so it seemed a natural fit to pursue these possibilities in a new business,” opening their original 2000-square-foot store location that year in Laguna Niguel.

Pictrue3Diane was uniquely suited to stocking the store with products she had personally used and preferred. The pair also asked customers to help test products, a tradition they still employ today, to ensure that “if we were to provide a service to the horse community, we should offer merchandise that went well beyond their guarantees and provide a customer experience that would make folks want to come back.”

Toward that end, store associates are all horse people that “you can really talk to” about all things equine - from issues and concerns to products and more. As the company grew, the couple discovered that there was an even larger horse community just a few miles south in San Juan Capistrano so they expanded their family-run operation into an 11,000-square-foot space in the Capistrano Center in 2007.

Image 1That year, their eldest daughter Brooke graduated with a degree in Agriculture Business and Marketing from Cal Poly San Louis Obispo. After cutting her teeth in the industry for a few years, the team roping enthusiast came home to join the management team and currently serves as the store’s general manager.

Offering the largest inventory of English and Western products in Orange County, they’ll get you set up with everything from the newest turkey tail supplement, an upcoming Grand Prix at the Riding Park, or even a new trail to explore. Along with throwing out a “happy trails” to you each time you’re in, the knowledgeable staff will ensure they inject a little excitement into the equestrian world. Going so far as to install a corral at the San Juan Hills Golf Course, they’ve ensured that all the bases, and basics, are covered. From allergies to boots, breeches to hoof oil, they’ve got what it takes to make the trail a little happier, guaranteed.

American Horse Products is located at 31896 Plaza Drive, Suite C-4 in San Juan Capistrano. To connect with Jim, Diane, Brooke or their team, call (949) 248-5300 or visit