End of summer get-away to Surf City: The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach

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karenyoung110TEXT AND PHOTOS BY KAREN YOUNG

This summer has seemingly sped by with little time for vacation or relaxation. That’s how it goes sometimes.  So when I heard about the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, I decided to take my daughter and son, who are 13 and 16, respectively, for a 24-hour getaway.

I’d never actually thought of Huntington Beach as a vacation destination, although it’s been said that it is the closest you can get to Hawaii in Southern California — and it’s only an hour drive from the San Fernando Valley.

View from the hotel room balcony. Photos by Karen Young

View from the hotel room balcony.

So, off we went — with my 16-year-old new driver (of one week, no less) at the wheel.  Already in the vacation mode, I took a little nap on the way as he chauffeured me and his sister on the 5 Freeway South.

Music lore has it that when Jan Berry and Dean Torrance (Jan and Dean) wrote “Surf City” with the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson in the ‘60s, little did they know that Huntington Beach would become the symbol for California Dreamin’ — wide open beaches, evening bonfires, riding the waves.  And now, celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the beach town is internationally known as “Surf City, USA.”

Surf City here we come!

As we approached the resort on Pacific Coast Highway directly across from the beach, we were surprised by the enormity of its sheer size. If you’re one for big hotels, this is the place for you.

The main pool.

The main pool with jacuzzi grottos and a nearby poolside bar and grill.

We unloaded at the valet and brought our bags in ourselves.  (Note: The valet is $25 a day and there is no other option). At the entrance we saw guests who appeared to be in an Indian wedding party as revealed by the beautiful traditional garb they donned.

The resort lobby itself features an extravagant floral display, woven rugs, and Venetian glass chandeliers. Walking in a little further to check-in, we saw many people milling around and realized that we were at very popular vacation destination.

View from the Pacific Waters Spa complete with koi pond.

View from the Pacific Waters Spa complete with koi pond.

This Spanish-inspired resort is filled with lush green gardens, flowers, fountains designed with mythological sea themes, a koi pond, and fire pits to roast marshmallows and s’mores (they sell ready-to-make kits with sticks for $8). Walk across the pedestrian bridge to a beach bonfire or stay at the hotel and use a pit.

We learned that it is a “go-to” wedding destination with 110,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. We saw four weddings taking place that Saturday, including the Indian affair complete with the mandap, the wedding canopy, with flower petals decorating the ground.

Our balcony room had a view of the Pacific and was nicely appointed with a flat screen TV, a marble bath, a sitting room with a pull out couch, a table, a work desk with internet access and a king bed with luxurious linens. The kids were delighted to find plush robes and slippers in the closet.  The bath amenities were good size, instead of samplers. The décor of the room was done in a palette of rich Mediterranean tones.

The fountains on the Hyatt property are all sea themes.

The fountains on the Hyatt property are all sea themes.

We wandered around and found out about all the activities. We inquired at Toes in the Nose, a surf apparel company which serves as the resort’s adventure concierge offering activities (at an extra charge) for bike and board rentals, surf lessons, stand up paddling lessons, as well as beach chair and umbrella rentals.

Slyders has three slides

The Slyder Activity Pool has three slides and poolside cabanas.

We then strolled through the property and saw the very large main pool with its Jacuzzi grottos. Nearby is Mankota’s Grill, a walk-up bar/restaurant to eat poolside. The newest highlight of the resort is the four million dollar Slyder Activity Pool, complete with three water slides and surrounded by palm trees.  If you want to relax with a bit of shade and privacy, check out one of the poolside cabanas that come equipped with a flat screen television and wireless internet. At a $150 rental fee, it is a luxury.  Shubee’s Bar and Café is onsite for a light poolside meal.

This Indian wedding with the traditional mandap was one of four on one day.

This Indian wedding with the traditional mandap was one of four on one day.

The resort offers visitors a chance to experience the Pacific Waters Spa — a 20,000 square foot spa and fitness center with a full service menu  for women, men and kids.  If you are not staying at the hotel, day passes are available to enjoy the facilities. My daughter took advantage of the SophistaSpaKids pedicure and manicure with special Tahitian lotions.

Lounge

The Red Chair Lounge

That evening we ate at Pete’s Sunset Grill for the special barbecue buffet which included ribs, chicken, hot dogs, cole slaw, corn, potato salad and a variety of desserts ($19.95 adult/$12.95 children). The BBQ continues through September 5 with bands playing on Saturday nights. Pete’s is situated within a mini-shopping center which includes Surf City Grocers, Toes on the Nose, the Game Zone, HB Art Gallery and Surf City Trading Company.  The Aesthetyx gift shop sits off the resort lobby and carries a variety of handcrafted items.

Cabanas are available with flat screens and wireless internet.

Cabanas are available with flat screens and wireless internet.

We didn’t get the chance to eat in The Californian which serves breakfast daily, Sunday brunch and a more upscale dinner. The Red Chair Lounge inside the main building is a sophisticated conversation and drinks area for adults.

King size room

King size room

Although, teens are too old for Camp Hyatt, it is most inviting for families with kids ages 3 to 12, so parents can get a little adult time.  There is an extra cost of $45-$80 per day depending on if it is a half or full day.

So, for me and my two teens, it was a relaxing getaway.  As we were leaving, my daughter commented that it seemed like we were there longer than a day

I guess stealing away for 24 hours is indeed a vacation after all.

Market area

The market area is like a mini-city.

The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach is currently offering a special called “Three for Free” offer, book 3 nights and enjoy the 4th night free, free room upgrade and free daily breakfast for two  from September 8th to December 18th, 2009. For  other special offers:  www.huntingtonbeach.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/offers/offers.jsp

21500 Pacific Coast Highway , Huntington Beach, California, USA 92648 Tel: +1 714 698 1234    Fax: +1 714 845 4990 www.huntingtonbeach.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp.

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TRAVELER’S NOTE:

If you have time and want to leave the hotel for the day, there’s a great deal to explore in Huntington Beach.  Nearby is the Bolsa Chica Conservancy — a non-profit, non-political organization established to ensure the preservation, restoration, and enhancement of the Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach.

Very family friendly is  Huntington Beach Main Street which features a variety of stores, businesses, restaurants and shops for shopping and dining. Every Tuesday night is “Surf City Night ” and Main Street Huntington Beach literally shuts down. There’s street acts and performances, live music, activities for the kids, sidewalk sales from retailers and a farmer’s market.

Down in the O.C. note: This is the last weekend for The Sawdust Art Festival and Pageant of the Masters in nearby by Laguna Beach. There’s a special gala celebrity event (cocktail attire) on August 29 hosted by Angela Bassett. Tickets are still available!

Karen Young is the Publisher/Editor of My Daily Find.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.