SC Mag

SC Mag

Life behind the gates of OC’s Best Retirement Community

Not too long after moving to Reata Glen in 2019 to start an exciting new chapter in life, Katheryn Roberson’s husband, Barry, was diagnosed with cancer. As he started undergoing treatment, Katheryn says the staff at the retirement community in Rancho Mission Viejo rose to the occasion.

“The staff bent over backwards for us, and they’re so supportive,” Katheryn says. “There’s such a sense of family here, and it’s really meaningful.”

Of all the well wishes and encouragement, one of the most unlikely but touching came from a staff member who attended a Los Angeles Kings hockey game. It was a special night at STAPLES Center with a tribute to Hockey Fights Cancer™ where players and fans in the stands had signs saying “I Fight For” followed by the name of someone on each sign.

ReataGlenEditSpread Page 1 Image 0002Barry, who was going through chemotherapy and radiation, was at home with Katheryn watching that game.

“All of a sudden, I received a photo from someone who works here and she’s at the game, standing with a sign that said she’s fighting for Barry,” Katheryn vividly recalls. “Our eyes swelled up upon seeing it, and it was heartwarming.”

It’s just one example of why the Robersons were not surprised that Reata Glen was recently voted in as the “Best Retirement Community in Orange County 2021” by The Orange County Register.

Making strides as a young retirement community and growing fast

“Among other reviews and recognitions, to earn Best of Orange County is an extraordinary accomplishment for us in just two years of being open,” says Stephanie Riggs, director of marketing and sales at Reata Glen. “We are different than other senior living options, and there’s a great deal of pride among both residents and staff here.”

“I went to every senior community in south Orange County to compare when I was looking to make a move,” says resident Kathy Allen, who chose to call Reata Glen home in 2019. “I’m pretty athletic and outgoing, and I wanted socialization. Reata Glen is the future of how my generation acts – we aren’t sitting at home alone feeling sorry for ourselves – we want to be active, healthy and going places. I see Reata Glen as a hybrid between a university, cruise ship and country club.”

ReataGlenEditSpread Page 1 Image 0005Without the burdens of home maintenance and cooking everyday as Kathy enjoys the multiple dining venues at Reata Glen, she now has the freedom and time to getinvolved in what she really cares about.

We want to be active, healthy and going places.

Physical attributes, amenities and an abundance of activities stand out

“You could be busier here than you’ve ever been in your life,” Kathy says with a smile. “More than I ever had been before.”

With a fitness center, indoor pool, pickleball and tennis courts, woodshop, and activity rooms for educational, fine arts and fun classes, residents’ calendars are often full.

“They go full bore for parties and events here, and there’s excellent food, too,” notes Katheryn. “I also walk a lot, go to the gym for a class called crash cardio and also write for the monthly newsletter.”

It’s not just enjoying the activities and amenities on the Reata Glen campus, it’s the people you experience them with.

“In the beginning, I didn’t know anyone,” Kathy says. “Now, it’s like being part of an extended family. I love being surrounded by people and friends and not having that alone feeling.”

Intangibles and culture make the difference

“As much as I love my coworkers, I love residents more,” says Karter Farris, who started as a dining server at Reata Glen, then transitioned to EMT safety officer after schooling. “To win Best of Orange County makes me very proud.”

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Karter’s team oversees security at the community, and she often wears many hats to serve residents’ needs. She’s a resident favorite, and some have labeled her as the happiest, bubbliest person they know.

“The residents always make me smile,” Karter says. “Even if I come in and I’m not in the greatest mood, they say one thing and it brightens my day up, and I forget why I was bummed.”

Recognized as a Great Place to Work by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Karter says the variety of job opportunities and the bonds with residents make it a fabulous place to start or continue a career.

“There’s a spirit here – we care for each other,” Kathy says. “It is a community, and you feel connected.”

Residents say they also feel safe – even during the challenging times recently.

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“Over and over, we’ve said we can’t imagine being anywhere but here when the pandemic hit,” Katheryn adds. “Management did an excellent job, we had peace of mind, and they made it interesting and fun with little surprises and creativity.”

The Reata Glen experience

It’s no coincidence the word Reata translates to a lasso or loop of rope – a fitting representation of the bonds that connect those who live and work at Reata Glen to each other.

Receive an exclusive invitation to attend a lunch presentation and learn about the Reata Glen experience. You can even meet Katheryn, Kathy or Karter firsthand. Call 1-949-529-3134 to find more. State of California License #306005546. Certificate of Authority #840.

By Ryan Burris, Chief Communications Officer, CUSD

The College and Career Advantage (CCA) program offers career-pathway courses aimed at preparing students in the Capistrano and Laguna Beach unified school districts to achieve success in college, careers, and life.

CCA offers hundreds of classes in sectors ranging from engineering, aviation and robotics to design graphics and broadcast journalism.

So when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted virtually all areas of life, CCA had to adapt in order to continue its mission. The program, which is essentially a school district within a school district, didn’t just adapt. CCA found a way to thrive.

At the beginning of the pandemic the CCA Career Technical Education (CTE) classes were offered only online.

That’s not a simple undertaking, considering most CTE students use a variety of tools and equipment and are accustomed to hands-on learning in the presence of an instructor. Students drove to schools to pick up the kits they needed to do hands-on projects at home, CTE Executive Director Pati Romo said.

For the 3D printing classes, for example, 3D printers were sent to students’ homes so they could continue to design and print.

In fact, the 3D printing students have been able to make a difference at a grass roots level to keep health care workers safe.

The students printed more than 1,000 plastic shields for front-line health care workers and distributed them with the help of Providence and other hospitals.

Eventually, CCA employed a hybrid model, where individual classes were held in person and online at the same time and students rotated between virtual and in-person learning.

“Teachers are able to deliver that lecture time during their online classes and then when we are able to bring students in for in-person, they are actually applying that information that they learned in doing projects,” she said.

Transitioning back to the classroom was easy for students in surgical tech and dental assistant classes because they were already practicing scrubbing down and wearing masks, gloves and gowns. Only the safe-distancing element had to be added.

Students in the dental assisting class, for example, usually practice skills on each other, but because of COVID-19, students now practice on typodonts, which are replica models of teeth and a mouth.

“They are getting all the skills they need as well as being able to be here in class and working with the instruments and all the other things that we do,” dental assistant instructor Adrienne Gutierrez said.

Dental assistant student Esthefanie Torres said being able to continue learning in the classroom has been hugely important.

“We get to have the experience of what it would be like to be in the office, even wearing our PPE,” Torres said. “It’s a good thing … and it benefits us in the future.”

Without the in-person element, Torres said she may have dropped the class.

Close to 12,000 high school students and 4,000 middle school students in CUSD are enrolled in CCA classes. CCA high school students can go straight to work after completing their courses, or earn up to 15 units which can be applied to college. And CCA continually changes its curriculum to meet the current needs of the workforce.

“We are constantly adding classes and working with our regional partners to see where the need is,” said Nicole Berkman, K-12 pathway coordinator for the South Orange County Region of CCA. “What we offer this year might be really different from what we offer next year or even years down the road. I think that is really the beauty of our program … that we are bending to what our need is not only for our students but also our future workforce.”

For more information, visit

Ideas for maximizing mental breaks kids can take in between learning tasks

Stratford School’s Mary Kiely, Director of Lower School, and Melissa Sidebotham, Principal

With children on devices for extended periods throughout the day learning at home, it is essential for them to disengage from devices and take intentional brain breaks. It’s also important to find ways to calm minds before and after school. Creative outlets can be an effective way to prepare for the day ahead, as well as provide a meaningful and blissful way to end the day. Here are a few ideas to provide their brain a necessary time out and all while having some fun!

Little Girl Dancing

1. Play with PlayDough!

Try making your own playdough and playing with it! There is something so calming about making a batch of playdough and then having the opportunity to do what you want with it. You can discover the therapeutic qualities that come from rolling it, pounding it, making designs, and yes, you can even make peanut butter playdough and eat it! You are never too old to play with playdough! For those with nut allergies you can use this great recipe with flour at

Peanut Butter
Playdough Recipe
• 3 ½ cups peanut butter
• 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 3 ½ cups honey
• Cream together; the confectioners’ sugar and peanut butter. Beat in the honey and fold in the mixture. You can freeze it until you are ready to use it if you wish.

2. Dance Party!

Turn on your favorite age appropriate tunes and let loose! Spotify, Amazon Music, and XM Radio all have good kid friendly options. Mom/Dad don’t forget to join in. Nothing turns a mood around faster than a good beat and some silly dance moves.

3. Take a Mindfulness Break! is chock full of books, printables, and videos. You can quickly access all 114 videos on their YouTube channel: Fablefy - The Whole Child. Practice a quick body scan, balloon breaths to ease anxiety. They have activities for young children, teens, and adults. Shilpi Mahajan, the founder, is an inspiration.

4. Plan Family Evening Events!

Yes, mom and dad are trying to work during the day, and so are the children. This makes coming together as a family even more significant in the evening. Plan a family magic night. Make an invitation with paper and markers and pass out your invites to your family. Come up with a couple of magic tricks that you will show them at the event. You can invite other family members to show their magical talent as well. If magic isn’t your thing, you can do the same thing with family comedy night. You can tell all of your favorite jokes. For an added treat, Zoom in grandparents to share the show and laugh along with you!

5. Indulge Your Creative Side!

If you are looking for a longer break, a guided Art Date with Miss Kate is just what you need. She has a wonderful YouTube channel called PeaceLove Art with 53 videos that are perfect for students K-8, or anyone who wants to try something new.

6. Dive into a Book!

Looking for an escape from your daily life? Jump into someone else’s for a chapter or two. There are so many great options for picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, and novels these days. Want to check out a publisher that specifically lifts up educators? Look at EduMatch Books! They have some fantastic books that are perfect for an escape but also teach a lesson. Some great titles from EduMatch include One Drop of Kindness by Jeff Kubiak, Play? Yay! Baby Talk by Breann Fennell, Fur Friends Forever by LaTezeon Humphrey Balentine, and the I’m Sorry Story by Melody McAllister. (Also, be on the lookout for a graphic novel called The Lab Coat Kids: Monster in the Hall coming out this fall by Melissa Sidebotham and Jennifer Reagan.)

7. Get Outside and Play!

Feel the sun on your face. Play with the hose. Make a mud pie. For a good socially distant but social activity, go for a bike ride with friends! Wear your mask. You will get exercise, be able to chat, laugh, and interact with people without getting too close.

8. Channel your Inner Chef!

Try being creative in the kitchen. Write down some recipe ideas you have. Ask mom and dad if you can pick up the ingredients the next time you go to the grocery store. When you create a recipe you like, you can write it on a recipe card and add it to your recipe collection. Have recipe swaps with other friends.

9. Help your Community!

Write letters and/or draw pictures for the local senior living center. If you can knit or crochet, you can make some blankets and pillows for the local animal shelter or home for community members in need.

10. Try Scrapbooking!

Pictures are not only fun to take and capture memories that last a lifetime, but they are fun to arrange in unique and colorful ways. You can be creative with fun captions that explain what was happening in the picture. You can draw or cut paper for creative backgrounds. Ask mom and dad if you can have pictures to get creative with. Be sure to get your parents’ permission before using any photos for scrapbooking.

The world has changed in myriad ways over the past year and a half. Culturally, socially, politically: you name it, it has likely been altered in some way.

Residents in South Lake Tahoe aren’t strangers to change, especially those who spend part of their year in another town entirely. Renting out vacation homes has been a long-time means of maintaining second homes, and keeping the year-round tourist business thriving in a city where the fun just doesn’t stop. Full ski slopes in the winter months and an icy blue lake in the summer, there’s more than enough to keep folks clamoring for more no matter the season. But a recent voter referendum banned vacation rentals within city limits, and for the past few months, many owners have scrambled to sort out how they can balance the demand for flexible space with the legal ramifications of such a mandate.

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Enter the newly minted and expanded work (or school!) from home world! With the freedom to take a laptop on the road and have your mobile desk available anywhere you have an internet connection, long-term rentals have literally exploded. Around the world, owners are seeing an enormous spike in requests for month(s)-long rentals. Home, away from home.

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South Lake Tahoe is no different. A pristine, vibrant destination, chock full of possibilities when you can unpack and stay for a bit longer. Through the region's premier vacation home rental agency, Tahoe Keys Resort ( visitors can book their choice of over one hundred properties around the lake available for singles, couples, families and extended families looking for a fantastic getaway with no hassle and days and days of vacation - or work/school in an environment that feels like a vacation - ahead of them. 31-day plus, as a matter of fact. It’s never too early (or too late!) to start planning your next escape. And think - it could be over a month, and just a month away to one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

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Tahoe Keys Resort
599 Tahoe Keys Blvd.
South Lake Tahoe
(530) 523-5836

By Anthony Cupo, TMF

What is behavior modification in the context of mindfulness? For many of us, behavior modification involves changing the way we act in order to live more authentic and enriching lives. But this definition, while somewhat helpful, does not capture the full scope of mindful behavior modification.

The process of changing our behaviors is a scientifically studied technique — one that involves positive or negative reinforcement to achieve the desired outcome. By introducing a reward and punishment system to our everyday behaviors, we can systematically increase the amount of good, mindful behaviors we engage in and reduce the amount of anti-mindfulness actions we take.

This is great news for adults and children alike trying to change their lifestyle habits. If you are a parent looking for a way to reduce the amount of TV your kids watch, or a spouse who wants to reinforce the amount of support your husband or wife gives you, behavior modification can help you do exactly that.

Behavior Modification Defined

Before we go over behavior modification techniques, it is important to understand exactly what behavior modification is and does. The process of changing behavior is a standard therapeutic treatment used by many mental health professionals to reinforce good habits and break old ones.

Based on this, behavior modification uses operant conditioning to change existing behaviors by replacing them with others. With this definition, it becomes possible to start modifying our behavior in pursuit of a specific goal.

The following are three different types of behavior modification tactics you can use to improve your everyday wellbeing and become more mindful.

Modification Method Number One: Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is probably the most commonly understood form of behavior modification. This involves encouraging desired activities through a reward-based initiative.

What does this mean in a real-life context? For adults, this might involve drafting a predetermined contract between the person trying to modify their behavior and the one holding them accountable. So, if you are trying to become more mindful — such as wanting to appreciate and spend more quality time with your spouse — you would agree with your spouse to write up a list of behaviors that qualify as quality time and engage in positive reinforcement every time you correctly display those behaviors.

Positive reinforcement could mean receiving compliments from your husband or wife every time you spend quality time together unprompted. Or, it could take the shape of a weekly reward — a night out on the town or a movie date — if you successfully engage in mindful behavior with your spouse that week.

For children, the process becomes more rudimentary: if you want your child to be more mindful, you might give them a treat or celebrate their behavior every time they engage in the behavior you outlined for them. This might be drawing more, spending more time outside, or even making new friends at school.

Modification Method Number Two: Negative Reinforcement

When it comes to behavior modification, the opposite of positive reinforcement is negative reinforcement. And while many adults think that negative reinforcement involves punishment, the process simply means removing an unwanted enforcer upon successfully engaging in the desired behavior.

For example, until you become more mindful, you might commit yourself to exercising heavily every day — an exhausting process that you do not particularly enjoy. Your incentive is to stop exercising so heavily, and so to remove this negative reinforcer you spend more time with your spouse. This is negative reinforcement in a nutshell: taking away unwanted stimuli once your behavior consistently changes.

A negative reinforcer for children might be taking away additional afterschool teaching once they have successfully learned a subject or improved their grades. The goal here is not to punish the person whose behavior you are trying to modify — with negative reinforcement, the objective is simply to remove an external factor once behaviors have changed.

Modification Method Number Three: Punishment

While positive reinforcement means introducing rewards and negative reinforcement deals with removing stimuli, punishment involves instating something specifically unpleasant as a result of the unwanted behavior. This is the kind of behavior modification most parents are intimately familiar with — factors such as verbal reprimands and early bedtimes are a key part of teaching children that inappropriate behavior is not tolerated.

For adults, punishment is more nuanced. You cannot exactly send your spouse to bed early for their bad behavior. But, if both parties mutually agree upon the principle, you can work together with your spouse to develop a list of potential punishments that can be applied if one of you fails to change their behavior. The most important part of this method is that the punishment should not be done out of spite, anger, or resentment — doing so can undermine the behavior modification. After all, a spiteful child or spouse is not the best recipient of mindful instruction.

Another important thing to remember is that punishment should not be the first behavior modification method you rely on when trying to change your behavior or the behavior of others. Having new tools in your mindfulness toolbelt — such as positive and negative reinforcement — means you have other ways to modify behavior before automatically resorting to punishment.

Becoming More Mindful Through Behavior Modification

It makes sense that mindfulness and behavior modification go hand in hand. After all, mindfulness starts with modifying your behavior to be more present, aware, and appreciative. Introducing reinforcements to encourage that mindset can be a radically transformative way to quickly become more mindful.

The next time you or a close family member is engaging in unwanted actions, consider the prospect of behavior modification — you may just find it helpful. Alternatively, if you want more ways to increase your mindfulness or the mindfulness of others, check out the following books: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

Anthony Cupo is a trained mindfulness facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years.

I was in middle school at my best friend’s house when her Dad got a call one afternoon. It was a complete stranger, albeit an incredibly friendly one, who had taken the time to sort through who my friend’s grandmother was and why she happened to be strolling up and down his street in the middle of the day. On our way over to pick her up, her Dad attempted to describe what was happening in her brain. Over dinner that night, I watched her between bites halfway expecting her to forget which utensil to use for the salad and the soup. But there, surrounded by her family at the dining table she’d eaten at a thousand times or more, she was sharp. Clear. Quick witted and lively.

Not a real specific disease, as I learned later through some of my own research, but more an umbrella covering the impairment of at least a couple of different brain functions; dementia’s group conditions affect memory loss and judgment, often the two most important pieces in the typical motions of an everyday life. Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzheimer's all snug up neatly under the umbrella, as does vascular dementia. At some point, like with my friend’s grandmother later that year, it can become necessary to offer more care than is available around the home. That’s when care in a senior living community like Serra Sol Memory Care in San Juan Capistrano becomes so vitally important.

An Agemark facility, in conjunction with Protea Capital Partners - two of the foremost names in senior residence care - Serra Sol Memory Care prides itself on offering "a truly inspired life" for its residents.

021564878A partnership between Protea Senior Living and Agemark Senior Living - two of the foremost names in senior residence care - Serra Sol Memory Care prides itself on offering “a truly inspired life” for its residents. As with all things, there are homes that feel like sterile hospitals and communities that feel like home. Serra Sol certainly falls in the latter category. Providing exceptional care is the tip of the iceberg at the new South Orange County location, and like most icebergs, the weight of their mission hovers below the surface, imbuing each day with meaning derived from little things that mean a lot. As the management company who will oversee all day-today operations, Agemark creates true communities that are warm and welcoming, and works diligently to give those in their care love, laughter and joy and encourages residents to live life fully - despite the challenges they face.

Renowned for turning the traditional image of an old-folks home into a passionate, engaging, mission-driven community, Agemark's custom touches at Serra Sol include an onsite Director of Nursing, Physician oversight, assisted telemedicine appointments, balanced menus and dining services, on-site physical, occupational, and speech therapy from preferred partners, and regular communication of resident’s assessment and needs with loved ones.



My friend later shared that her grandmother's room at the senior care residence might not have been a replica of her bedroom in the home she lived in for years, but all of the important things were there - photos, cards from the grandkids, her favorite reading chair. At Serra Sol, they understand that in addition to making sure your loved one’s health-related needs are met, equally important is the warmhearted staff who care deeply about their feelings, and the routine and familiarity of place that sparks an awareness of the positive memories they carried in with them.

As far as personalized care goes, Serra Sol has it all. In fact, through the 26 Agemark communities spanning six states, everything from the environment to the friendly faces one sees each day contribute to an elite level of service. The leadership teams are all handpicked, ensuring that each member of the staff exemplify the values they hold close: professionalism, integrity, compassion. Employees assist with daily outings and activities, customizing them to each resident's passions and interests. From social gatherings to individual spiritual practices, crafts, baking, yoga, walking, or trips to local attractions, keeping residents motivated and excited for the day-to-day means stimulating their minds and bodies. After all, feeling engaged combats memory loss, and can even trigger new neural pathways to link old and new memory together.


Serra Sol boasts an incredibly safe and secure environment, keeping those with memory loss top of mind.

frfr1385478Secured entries and exits, alarm systems, and emergency call buttons complement lovely natural vegetation and water features in the residence’s secure outdoor courtyard, perfect for dining or simply enjoying an afternoon chat. Restaurant-style meals are served in a beautifully appointed dining room, and a multipurpose area serves to house crafts, cooking, games, film screenings and more. A state-of-the-art Tovertafel table features a game system providing cognitive stimulation to its players in the form of movement and interaction. Don’t miss the ice cream sundae dipping station in the dining area, where everyone can enjoy a sweet treat. Additionally, activities and outings will be in abundance, with a Life Enrichment Coach on hand to ensure residents are able to cultivate their current interests as well as try new things.

edee4545454Choose one of three floorplans, and enjoy a private or companion room. All feature en suite, private bathrooms, walk-in showers with grab bars for safety, and a bench for comfort. Storage space ensures residents can bring their favorite objects from home - making each suite a welcoming, warm respite at the end of the day. My friend’s grandmother passed away a few years after she moved into the home, at a ripe old 93. I’m told she was surrounded every day by the comforts of her own memories until the end, and remained a hilarious, crisp fighter regardless of what came her way. I understand the perils that a disease like dementia can bring a bit better now that I’m older, but that only amplifies my gratitude for the safety and sense of community that the residents of Serra Sol Memory Care enjoy. Set the standard for care for your own loved ones, at Serra Sol.

SERRA SOL MEMORY CARE 31451 Avenida Los Cerritos San Juan Capistrano (949) 485-2022

Afavorite pre-pandemic pastime for close to home family fun has been to while away a day at one of the region’s many amusement/theme parks. Arguably one of the best that combines attraction, entertainment and education is the recently reopened SeaWorld San Diego ( Park capacity is limited so guests will need to purchase a dated ticket in advance and make a reservation online/through the SeaWorld app, but the process couldn’t be easier and bonus! the marine park is currently offering deals for California residents.

Electric Eel

Rides, shows, eats, drinks, characters and more again await visitors. For the littles, Sesame Street’s Bay of Play is where to be with pint-sized rides ranging from Elmo’s Flying Fish and Oscar’s Rocking Eel to Abby’s Sea Star Spin. For our part, we had a pack of teenagers in tow (ages 13 -15) who couldn’t get enough of the rides designed with them in mind. Inspired by the force and power of the sea the Electric Eel multi-launch coaster boasts high-energy twists, electrifying loops and insane inversions while the Shipwreck Rapids takes tubers along a winding river and rolling whitewater rapids before plunging down a waterfall finale.

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For guests who want to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing seafaring creatures, stroll through over 100 acres of beautiful outdoor grounds to meet orcas, otters, walruses, sea turtles, sealions and more. SeaWorld offers a number of educational and entertaining animal experiences and tours. Enter the chilly Arctic waters to interact with white beluga whales, venture into the Penguin Encounter to watch the playful antics of penguins tall (Emperor and King) and small (Macaroni) or even “pet” a bat ray.

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Although it is best-known for its marine life and thrill-rides, SeaWorld runs one of the largest animal rescue programs in the country. Since the first SeaWorld park swung open its gates in San Diego in 1964 the company has come to the aid of more than 38,000 sick, injured or orphaned animals with the goal to successfully rehabilitate and return every animal to the wild. The small percentage of animals with conditions deeming them non-releasable are given lifelong care at SeaWorld or another accredited facility.

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I’m not certain, but I’d guess that if you mentioned Palm Desert in a conversation anywhere in Southern California, you’d get a few reactions. There’d be a group who’d talk exclusively about Coachella, a massive music festival that takes over part of the desert every year. Another group would probably mention the world-class golf courses. A third might start gushing about the gorgeous resorts, spa getaways and vacation spots located in Indian Wells. They’d all be accurately depicting one of California’s most iconic desert communities.
Founded in 1967, the city of Indian Wells - located in Riverside County - marks the heart of SoCal’s desert resort destinations. City leadership has long spent time ensuring the area boasts the most verdant golf courses, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, and of course, stylish boutiques, delicious restaurants, and premier resort properties.

RenaissanceEsmeralda Couple Dining

Pre-pandemic, our family of avid travelers often sought out unique retreats for spring breaks, summer vacations and long weekends. In the midst of a more restrictive environment over the past year, we discovered a true silver lining in the abundance of local “stay-cation” destinations so close to home. Short on travel time/driving distance. Long on amenity, attraction, recreation and relaxation.

Among our favorite recent finds? Nestled at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains, the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells is a pristine oasis in the desert valley. Following a recent multi-million dollar renovation, the reimagined resort is a distinctive property with a nod to the hotel’s storied legacy and star-studded history, which is incorporated into its intriguing new look. An early home to Hollywood icons from Bob Hope to the Rat Pack, the resort is a favorite among new and up-and-coming generations of icons.

The property showcases 560 luxurious, oversized guest rooms (including 103 spacious suites) - all with balconies and breathtaking views of the mountains, pool or golf course. Design features start in the stunning multi-story lobby (think grand staircase, indoor fountain and cozy workspaces with views of the surrounding lush Mediterranean-inspired landscaping) and extend throughout the resort to a gorgeous outdoor gathering area, an intimate olive tree grove and what is arguably its crown jewel - the largest pool in the desert - complete with cascading waterfall and sandy beach.

RenaissanceEsmeralda Guestroom King

We opted to while away the better part of the day and rented a private cabana – the perfect perch from which watch over the kids as they swam and splashed to their hearts content. The H2O Pool Bar meant that we didn’t need to venture away from the water’s edge for light fare and drinks - and bonus! the umbrellas are equipped with solar panels so you can charge your electronic devices if you don’t want to completely “unplug.”

Farm-to-Table Fare

The resort’s signature restaurant, CAVA, serves up authentic, freshly prepared American cuisine. We dined al fresco on the scenic outdoor terrace with expansive views of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Our kids love room service, so it was a nice opportunity for my husband and I to enjoy an aperitif in The Place Lobby Bar, a lovely open cocktail lounge located in the heart of the property.

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Looking for an active vacation? The Renaissance Esmeralda is surrounded by 36 holes of championship level golf. Indian Wells Golf Resort is one of the few properties to have two courses ranked in the Top 25 “Best Municipal Courses in the United States” by Golfweek Magazine. The Celebrity Course & Players Course AKA “Beauty and the Beast” have hosted Golf Channel’s Big Break and the PGA’s Skins Game.

Adventure seekers can head out for hiking or mountain biking on nearby trails while guests like me looking for a more relaxing retreat will head straight to Spa Esmeralda, a 13,000-square-foot full-service spa that combines intimacy, serenity and wellness for guests. The spa features 11 indoor treatment rooms, eight treatment cabanas, one indoor couple’s suite, men’s and women’s steam rooms and relaxation lounges, as well as a garden courtyard with a plunge pool.

RenaissanceEsmeralda Spa Massage

Be it a romantic, family, business or leisure trip, the beautifully appointed accommodations are waiting to welcome you back at the end of the day. Top up in the morning with a yummy beverage from Cafe Biscotti and start anew with fresh fare from CAVA, or the H2O Pool Bar, with simple offerings and tasty cocktails. Burn it off, soak it up, and everything in between. There’s something for everyone.

Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa
44400 Indian Wells Lane
Indian Wells
(760) 773-4444

We Make Homes Beautiful

Over a half-century ago, a former fabric salesman named Steve Bursten had a vision: an unparalleled interior design catalogue that would match creatives to homes across the US and Canada.

Originally known as American Drapery Consultants, Steve took his dream to the streets, and within a single year, the first franchise was born. Today, with designers scattered across the states and our neighbor to the north, Decorating Den Interiors (DDI) can tackle a single room or build an entirely new home with you. To your style, with your specifications, using the best product possible.


An expert in her field, Interior Designer Bronwyn Gorman is more than a creative mind at DDI. Bringing a treasure trove of style to the table and a pocketful of tricks and tips to build out the most “you” space possible, her methodologies are deliberate and dedicated. “I truly believe that a home should reflect the people who live in it, not the person who designed it.”

A longtime Orange County resident, Bronwyn embraces the unique lifestyle of its population, and the indoor-outdoor spaces that reflect it. Where else can you hit the waves and the ski hill in the same day?

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“A house isn’t just a home, it is your refuge, your sanctuary at the end of the day, and responsible for ushering you into each new one," she says. "I want to promote health and happiness with my designs - from the ease of process to the details in your favorite room.”

Bronwyn's business, a reflection of her personal values and ideals, takes the leap from outstanding customer service into genuine respect and care for her clients. “I’m passionate and motivated to understand each individual I have the pleasure of working with." And it shows in her projects. From bedding to window treatments, furniture to light fixtures, no detail is too small. Once a budget is reached and agreed upon, a final consultation and presentation come to life, and the design of your dreams begins to take shape. Bronwyn’s design services couldn’t be more thorough or more convenient. Because she comes to you, she is able to see the lighting and get a feel for the flow/how things work in your home.

“Feeling like you’re understood and falling in love with your space each time you walk through the door don’t have to be mutually exclusive," says Bronwyn. "It's in our attention to detail and customization that we can truly make a difference, as we can offer options and resources to create a room like no other, one that is uniquely you."

2021 02 04 13.40BRONWYN GORMAN
Owner | Interior Designer
Decorating Den Interiors
(949) 755-2032

I have tried to stop using the word literally over the past few years, especially in contexts when I may simply be using it to exaggerate or emphasize a strong feeling I have about something.

I found myself throwing it in excess of a few times per day, and was having trouble finding circumstances when the subject matter actually lined up with the phrase in its true grammatical sense. That being said, you might find it difficult to believe me when I say I’ve literally found the most comfortable lounge wear on the market, due to my self-proclaimed penchant for naming my strong feelings a bit too, well, strongly. But all you have to do is a quick Google search for PJ Harlow, and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.PJH

The US-based brand has recently found favor in such publications as Fast Company and NY Mag due to their exceptionally comfortable, sensationally soft, washer-friendly/dryer safe lounge pants, nightgowns, pillowcases, and more. If 2020 brought us nothing else, it was the sense that loungewear’s emerging as a bedroom (and everywhere else in the house) staple can no longer be overlooked. Designed for women by a woman, the collection is based in California, and invites you to “take a minute, relax, and feel fabulous.”


Showcasing gorgeous colors, knits, and silky soft satin, the fabrics work together to create what PJ founder, designer, and owner Tina McMillen calls “body harmony.” Promising the ultimate experience in soft dressing, the pieces can be taken from the bedroom to your morning Zoom call in no time. The entire collection flatters every silhouette, and pampers you as you put it on. Be it a spa day or just an extra few minutes before jumping in the shower, every time you put on your matching set you'll feel more relaxed, more comfortable, and more in your own body than you've ever been before. And now, with curbside pickup available at PJ Harlow’s retail location in San Clemente, you’re that much closer to comfort. Literally.

PJ Harlow
154 Avenida Del Mar | San Clemente
(949) 652-1232 |