Putting on the Ritz at Marina Del Rey―
Low Key, But Upscale Birthday Cruise & Snooze Celebration
I don't need a huge party for my birthday-- I just want diamonds--five of them to be exact! For less money than a diamond solitaire, you can step out of your ordinary existence to enjoy fabulous accommodations for a birthday bash you won't forget. The AAA Five Diamond hotel on the water at Marina del Rey Harbor
The generous room with two queen beds didn't reflect the theme of its beachfront location but Barbara and I later learned that the decor was in the process of being replaced in a major hotel renovation. Bolder blue, gold and yellow comforters, curtains and and tasteful carpets and wall treatments would eventually greet guests with livelier themes. We took a tour of a suite that included the new decorations. Continuing to enjoy the simple elegance and little things such as free bottles of water on the night stand, plus two gold-wrapped chocolate squares, our cozy room was perfect. Lots of chocolate for me to eat and one enormous chair next to my bed guaranteed this birthday would be loverly. Receiving dinner recommendations at the front desk, Barbara and I left the hotel on foot, hoping to see the surrounding buildings and shops outside the insulated, comfor Ritz. As we strolled along Mother's Beach not far away, the intoxicating smell of food at the Cheesecake Factory caused us to abandon thoughts of eating elsewhere. Sitting on the lovely patio deck overlooking Mother's Beach, we chose from a menu the size of a book. The Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes topped with sour cream, salsa, avocado and Salsa Verde was exceptional. Luau Salad with sliced, grilled chicken breast, mixed greens, mango, crisp wontons, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds and a special, sweet vinaigrette rounded off the heavier appetizer with lighter fare. It was getting late so we settled our bill and strolled back to the hotel in the cool night air. Next to a boat Barbara noticed a Night Tern. I took a photo of it and was asked if I would email it to her? Sure!Back in the room, Barbara said, "Didn't you eat a piece of chocolate before we left?" Though not apparent, someone had come into our room while we were out and replaced the missing chocolate square with another. How much better can life be? I asked myself. We called it a night and slumbered into peaceful sleep while watching School of Rock, the perfect, mindless movie for a Friday night slumber party. Over leisurely breakfast in Jer-ne, on Saturday morning, we enjoyed excellent food preparations and top quality coffee served in individual stainless coffee presses. The wait for room service was going to be 45 minutes so we opted to save time and money by dining in the beautifully appointed hotel restaurant. It was definitely worth it to. The food servers were extremely polite as we asked questions, but were forced to cut the conversation short as we realized we were on deadline. Don't eat too much, I told Barbara. We are going on a Hornblower luncheon cruise around the marina. Hornblower Cruises are popular in California destinations such as Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, San Francisco and South Lake Tahoe. Each boat cruise lasts for several hours and includes a buffet meal served with complimentary champagne. Dinner cruises often feature live music, as well, but during the day, you get to enjoy sunshine and harbor views. Our spectacular luncheon cruise took us near the channel to the Pacific Ocean and past the Ritz-Carlton, where we'd already said goodbye to my Five Diamonds. Barbara had to get back to Sacramento that afternoon and I had to return to Orange County where I would be greeted with laundry, bills to pay and no time to play. "You really need to relax and not work so hard," Barbara told me as we enjoyed the fleeting moments of this brief, but cherished escape. My birthday was over and Diamonds were gone, as I dropped off my girlfriend at LAX and sent her home. For less money than a diamond solitaire, I stepped out of my ordinary existence to enjoy fabulous accommodations, great food, friendship and a birthday I won't forget. By sharing a hotel room, my upscale snooze and cruise totaled less than $300, including transportation and meals. Was it worth giving up a day for this Birthday Bash? You better believe it. Would I recommend this to getaway? Not only would I recommend it, I'd give up a day of work and go again! Putting on the Ritz is easier than I had imagined. The luxury accommodations, close location to LAX and Orange County and beautiful setting in Marina del Rey made me long to return. On the next trip I will check out the great shopping district I saw as Barbara and I drove out of town. And maybe I'll take a stroll along the beach to Venice. For information on planning your very own weekend escape, be sure to contact:Marina del Rey Visitors Bureau.