Newport Beach, California Blog

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I often get asked “What is the best way to explore the California Coast between Orange County and San Francisco?”. This is never an easy answer because the truth is…there are MANY ways to do this and each style is a different fit for a different circumstance. So, rather than trying to cover everything, I will share my own experiences from traveling through this area this summer. Most people think that since we own Le Rêve we only travel in luxury. This is true, but I always say “luxury is a state of mind!”. To me, luxury is being able to spend time with my family during defining moments in their lives and the places to stay or means of travel must fit budget, style and needs.

My sister and I had the privilege of joining my niece for her orientation weekend at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo (aka “SLO” if you want to sound like a local). I think this was a lot more fun for my sister and I than my niece…ha! It was during this trip that I realized “I’m not in college anymore!”.

Pismo Beach: This is a great town to stop in and enjoy beach and activities such as cycling, ATVs, Dune Buggies, surfing and more.

Sandcastle Inn – This quaint little inn is literally “on the beach” in Pismo Beach and close walking distance to many restaurants and casual gift shops. The rooms are comfortable and clean enough, but the best reason to stay here is the fresh ocean breeze and ability to step out to the expansive beach for a run in the morning or stroll along the boardwalk at Sunset. Wine tasting is popular in this quaint college town just minutes from Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and Paso Robles. The price is right for a family embarking on college tuition at nearby Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo.

Restaurants suggestions in Pismo Beach:

Giuseppe’s – For almost 20 years, Giuseppe's has been known throughout the central coast -- and beyond -- for great wine and Italian food (they have a sister restaurant in San Luis Obispo). We sat at the bar and enjoyed the cozy atmosphere as we dined on bread, made daily by hand, and specialties indicative to the Pugliese region in Italy. It definitely hit the spot!

Mon Ami – The cappuccino was superb and the crepes are the finest thing outside of France! I have to admit, I’m a Starbucks snob, but would skip it any time for Mon Ami!

San Luis Obispo: For more than 200 years, beginning with the founding of the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in 1772, San Luis Obispo has been a center of activity and life for residents and visitors to California's Central Coast. While the population has grown, the small town charm of San Luis Obispo remains today. Whether your exploring the shops along Higuera street or visiting the Mission, Downtown San Luis Obispo offers many beautiful and exciting experiences at every corner. After perusing the shops, we discovered The Pithy Little Wine Company where they serve their own selection of “just plain good” wines paired with chocolates. The servers were friendly and very knowledgeable about the area. Wine tasting and designing your itinerary for the day/week make for a great combination!

A West Coast Starlight Amtrak Adventure:

My next trip was last minute. I met my parents in LA (they came from Santa Fe) to take the Amtrak all the way up the coast to Eugene, OR to attend my Aunt Ruth’s funeral. Aunt Ruth was once the Mayor of Eugene and their family is at the core of the community. She was responsible for the Bike Trail built in and around Eugene and inspired the behind the beautiful Hays Tree Garden. I was truly impressed with Eugene! Taking the train with my parents was the perfect way to take some time to reflect on the passing of such an amazing woman. Again, this to me was a “luxury”…stopping to be with my family during this time.

Amtrak: The Coast Starlight services West Coast cities on its route from Southern California to Seattle. The romance notion of traveling by train did not disappoint me. In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, the imminent slow pace of traveling by train is refreshing. The important thing is to approach a train trip along the with an open mind. You will meet all kinds of people from all walks of life. We sat for meals with everyone from a cruise director to an airbrush artist who told us stories about Native Indian traditions to a Rock Star who doesn’t like to fly – our server happened to be a fan! Visiting with the other people is half the fun! Take time to reflect and look out the window to see the scenes. I traveled around Europe and across Africa by train as a teenager and some of my best memories are sharing stories with my friends in the privacy of our “cabin” as we watched the world pass by out the window and day turn into night. On this trip we got to see the Harvest Moon over the Cascades…what a site! It’s like stepping back into time when life was simpler and not so rushed. There is even time to have a full conversation! The environment lends itself time to reflect on topics you may never get a chance to cover over dinner in your “usual” setting.

DAY EXCURSIONS: In summary, after some exploring on my own, I think the best way to explore the California treasures is through one-three day excursions from train stations…fellow passenger on my Amtrak excursion helped me come up with this as we were visiting in the Parlor car. Thanks Carl!

Carl and his wife and friends helped me with this itinerary design…it’s not straight forward and simple in the central coast and most people just rush up the coast to San Francisco missing the gems of this beautiful area.

Starting from San Juan Capistrano, stops could include:

Santa Barbara – One day to enjoy the beach and shopping and another day excursion to Solvang. Also, take time to see the Santa Barbara Mission (especially if you have a 4th grade California child…they study the Missions in 4th grade).

San Luis Obispo – Day excursion up the coast to Morro Bay and Hearst Castel stops in Cambria and Paso Robles for some fabulous wine tasting. Stay the night in Cambria or Paso Robles.

Paso Robles – hop back on the train here.

Oakland - One to three days are needed to cover this area, depending on your interests.

· Day trip to San Francisco: Rent Bikes at Fisherman’s Wharf and ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and Tibberon, Lunch at Fisherman’s wharf, then a visit to Alcatraz; ride on a Trolly through China Town and more!

· Day trip to Napa Valley – stop at the Muir Woods (allow time for a hike or horseback riding). There are endless option for Napa Valley, Sonoma and this area. One of my favorites is Meadowood Resort. This is a splurge, but well worth it and it is family friendly plus allows for Dad to play some golf and Mom to enjoy the spa while the kids can be busy with other activities.

· Day trip to Pebble Beach, Big Sur or Monterey

· Head back to Oakland to hop on the train.

Sacramento – If you have elementary school aged children, this is a must stop…old town Sacramento, a visit to the Capital, panning for gold in the American River and a visit to the Gold mines are all worthwhile and educational. You may want to book on to a group tour with a docent to get all the history.

If you are traveling with kids or wanting to add in some adventures some other activities to consider are: Rent ATVs, bicycles, horseback riding, sailing, whale watching.

Helpful Hints for Amtrak Travel: Sleeper cars are the way to go for an overnight and if two people are traveling together it makes financial sense as well because only one pays for the sleeper, while the other pays the coach fare. All meals (3 per day) are included for both people in the sleeper car so that definitely helps make up the cost difference. If you need to watch your budget and travel coach, request a “lower level” seat. These must be reserved in advance, but do not cost anymore. The lower level seats are more private and quiet. Try to get a seat that has a view of the West side of the tracks. There are plug-ins for the phone and computer and wireless service is “free”, however, the wireless doesn’t work so again….prepare yourself to accept that and enjoy the view, read a book or write a letter rather than return e-mails. As I’m looking around, I don’t see many kids, but I know my boys can’t wait to take a train ride and there is an arcade room and a nightly movie in case the pace gets a little too slow for them. Better yet, have them come up with a story as they travel through each town. If your kids are in scouts…this is a great activity to help them with their “traveler” badge!

Don’t expect gourmet dining. The food is good…better than airline food for sure, but there is not a lot of selection and it can get old if you are on a long trip. I jumped off in Sacramento when we had a 30-minute layover and found a Starbucks (I told you I’m a Starbucks snob) and a New York Times.

The Coast Starlight can accommodate wheelchairs and bicycles.

Trains originating from California are notoriously unreliable, commonly several hours late so if you are on a tight schedule the train may not be your best option. This said, we were right on time coming and going, but I like to be realistic.

In case anyone from Amtrak is reading this, I do have a couple of notes for Amtrak from the “Parlor Car crowd” to pass along – add bars on the ceiling for grabbing on to and clean the windows (I’m sure this is no easy task)!

OREGON: There is so much to see and do in Oregon, but for now I’ll just say…it’s worth the trip! Since my Amtrak experience took me to Oregon, I just wanted to mention a couple of quick notes.

Netarts, OR – Carl and friends rented a beautiful home with a group of their high school buddies in this picturesque coastal town, near Tillamook (which they said is also worth the visit!).

Eugene, OR – Eugene is a great city to visit, and to live, for the Arts and Outdoors! It is located in the Willamette Valley, known for their wines. I will be exploring this region more on my next trip!

Lost time can’t be found! Le Rêve is a phone call away from helping you create the memories you dream of. Take a breath from hurried travel and allow yourself to enjoy the ride!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Neiman Marcus & CJ by Cookie Johnson Jeans

Visit Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills on Thursday, December 10 between 1-5pm to try on your new favorite jeans and meet special guest Cookie Johnson. I was honored to be invited to meet Cookie Johnson last weekend at Neiman Marcus to debut her new line...CJ by Cookie Johnson. She is a lovely lady! These jeans are so chic and they fit everyone I saw trying them on like they were made just for them. It's really amazing. You must stop by Neiman Marcus in Fashion Island or Beverly Hills and visit Comtemporary Sportswear to try them on!

Monday, August 17, 2009

What's Coming to the OC Theatre of the Performing Arts

Here in Southern California we are uniquely privileged to be so near one of the world's most incredible Theatre and Performance Halls. Sergestrom Hall is not only known for the amazing symphonies and orchestras that perform there, but also for the incredible architecture that makes it a gorgeous site in its own rite. Whether you are vacationing in California or a local, you are sure to have a wonderful night experiencing the OC Performing Arts Center. Here are a few favorites that are coming up in the next couple months!

Pacific Chorale Festival, 8/23/2009:
Members of the Southern California choral community join forces with Pacific Chorale, Artistic Director John Alexander, and eminent guest organist Frederick Swann in a free public performance of great choral masterworks by composers including Bach, Beethoven, Fauré and Mendelssohn.

Fiddler on the Roof, 8/11/2009 - 8/23/2009:
Topol, the original Tevye, performs the role that made him legendary in Fiddler on the Roof, the Tony Award winning musical that has captured the hearts of people all over the world with its universal appeal. Never has any other musical so magically woven music, dance, poignancy and laughter into such an electrifying and unforgettable experience. Based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, Fiddler on the Roof has been lauded by critics again and again, and won the hearts of people all around the world. Filled with a rousing, heartwarming score, which includes “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” Fiddler on the Roof is a timeless classic. Relive a glorious tradition with Fiddler on the Roof.

Legally Blonde the Musical, 9/8/2009 - 9/20/2009:
The hilarious MGM film is Broadway's new smash hit musical, and now Legally Blonde the Musical is coming to you. Legally Blonde follows sorority star Elle Woods, an underestimated blonde who doesn't take "no" for an answer. When her boyfriend dumps her for someone more "serious," Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law. Along the way, Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style. After turning Broadway and MTV hot pink, this “Feel-Good Song and Dance Juggernaut” (New York Magazine) is “The Best New Musical Around!”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beverly Hills Weekend Getaway.

Beverly Hills is a must-see whether you are a California native or international guest. However, usually your BH stay is simply brousing the stores and looking for stars. With first-hand knowledge of the area, Le Reve has created a truly unique Beverly Hills couples getaway, that will allow you to enjoy the best that Beverly Hills has to offer. For the weekend you will stay at the newly-opened Montage Beverly Hills resort. This incredible hotel will allow you to relax and enjoy a peaceful weekend together. For the day out, you will be chauffeured in style as you enjoy shopping at Two Rodeo Drive followed by dinner at the acclaimed Mastro's Steakhouse.

If you have never been to Two Rodeo Drive, you are missing out. This is one of the prime shopping disticts in California, with beautiful architecture, top brands, and numerous opportunities to catch some of your favorite stars out shopping.

"The stretch of shops and boutiques on Rodeo Drive is only three blocks long. It begins at Wilshire Boulevard on the south, and runs north to Santa Monica Boulevard, where the commercial section of the street gives way to an affluent residential neighborhood. But those three short blocks constitute the most famous shopping district in America.

The most celebrated clothing designers in the world have boutiques here: Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Valentino... The jewelry stores boast names like Cartier and Tiffany. Other nearby stores include I. Magnin, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Yves Saint Laurent, & Pierre Deux.

In fact, Rodeo Drive is home to the single most expensive store in the world: Bijan (at 420 Rodeo Drive). You must make an appointment in advance just to shop at Bijan (which was named after its Iranian owner). On a typical visit, Bijan's average customer spends in the neighborhood of $100,000 on men's fashions, which range from a $50 pair of socks to $15,000 suits.

Located at the northeast corner of Wilshire & Rodeo, the "Two Rodeo" center creates the illusion of two small, parallel streets, cleverly designed so that they both appear to be at ground level. Built at a cost of over $200 million, Two Rodeo attempts to re-create a romantic version of an old European avenue. The short, curving street is paved with Old World cobblestones, and features two & three story facades, with a unique blend of classic architectural styles. There are romantic archways, bubbling fountains, an Italianate piazza, and charming balconies."- Gary-Wayne, 2009.

Whether you are a local or an out-of-town guest, a getaway to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive is the perfect way to spend a summer weekend.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Culinary Arts Experiences

Summer is the time to experience some of those activities that you are too busy during the year to engage in. Whether you want a romantic evening with your loved one, a fun evening of wine tasting with your friends, or a culinary adventure for your kids, here are some culinary options that we know you will enjoy. If you would like more options or further information, you can email us at

Date Night Culinary Experience

Enjoy a romantic dinner with your sweetheart after spending quality time together in the kitchen! After the cooking, we’ll dim the lights in our bistro-style café, and accent the tables with candles.

Adventures in Kitchen Science: A Cooking Camp for Kids
While cooking up delicious snacks in a professional kitchen, your middle-school aged kids will have hands-on experience with science concepts that are part of the California state standards for science: measurement, chemical reactions, states of matter, investigation and experimentation. Maximum of 10 students. Price: $275 per person for the 4 days.

Wine and Food Pairings: Exploring the Old World
This course is designed for people who love wine and want to learn more about it, but are afraid to jump into our certificate classes. Taught by Chef Laurent Brazier, this 3-part series includes basic information about international grape varietals and reading labels, introduction to the major wine growing regions of the world, and each region’s unique classification system, as well as a beginners approach to tasting wine. Six different wines will be tasted in each class.

Elegant French Desserts
Recipes: Chocolate mousse; Twisted puffed pastry cookies; Peach flambée with thyme orange sauce & orange sherbet; Alsatian apple tart. Price: $85 per person.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Tour of Ancient Rome - Great Summer Offer

If you are looking for a way to keep your kids entertained, while giving them a history lesson, this is the perfect opportunity. Adults and kids a like will love this incredible offer to take a journey into ancient Rome. If you attend the Los Angeles Museum of Art, and tur the Pompeii and Roman villa exhibit, you will gain free admission to the Getty Villa as well. Here is a little more information about these two incredible SoCal sites.

"The Getty Villa features Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities arranged by themes including Gods and Goddesses, Dionysos and the Theater, and Stories of the Trojan War, as well as Roman-inspired architecture and gardens."

"The LACMA Pompeii and the Roman Villa exhibit focuses on the breadth and richness of cultural and artistic life in this region. The exhibition, organized by the National Gallery, Washington, D.C., includes works of art from the imperial villa at Oplontis and from aristocratic villas such as the Villa San Marco at Stabiae and the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum, as well as works from the opulent houses of the urban elite in Pompeii, whose very name conjures up ancient Rome and other towns along the bay of Naples.

The objects proposed for this exhibition are a carefully selected group of approximately one hundred-twenty works of sculpture, painting, mosaic, and luxury arts, some of them long-familiar works, others generally unknown to the public. Recent discoveries from around the Bay of Naples that have never before been exhibited in the United States will complement more familiar finds from earlier excavations. In particular, the exhibition focuses on the influence of Classical Greek culture around the Bay of Naples, where wealthy Romans displayed impressive art collections in sumptuous homes."

Enjoy this incredible opportunity. You can also email Le Rêve at to create a fantastic week, experiencing the history and culture that Southern California affords.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ferrari NASCAR TV Show

We thought that this was one of the most unique and just plain cool options out there, either for companies who want to put an inventive spin on their marketing or for people who want to have the VIP insider info on the NASCAR series this year.

Coast 2 Costa Racing (C2C) competes in the Grand American Rolex Series (NASCAR Holdings). C2C is the only race team in the series competing with a Ferrari(F‐430GT), which is easily the most recognizable sports car brand. C2C Racing will begin taping a TV series in the 2009 season. Based on the dramatic events and personalities in exotic sports car racing, the Ferrari team will be the flagship of the show, but will also feature 2 other teams, depicting the element of danger, the stress and the relationships unique to auto racing.

The show through NASCAR Media Group, who will be the Ferrari production company, will be aired on Speed TV. The plan is to film 6 episodes this year starting July 4th in Daytona and air them this Fall. The 2010 season will be 14 episodes. It will basically follow the entire racing season plus a special episode. The show will also have international distribution in over 120 countries.

There are definitely some great opportunities for you and the brands you represent. The permanent exposure of the brands’ logo on cars and in the pit or garage will be something unique and reinforcing that with a brand’s marketing outreach as a story line will have major impact.

For people wishing to obtain VIP access to each of the 6 races this season and hang out with the crew inside the pit, email us by July 10 at

For companies wishing to market their brand through this opportunity please email us at as soon as possible. Here are some of the benefits you will receive.

~spot on Ferrari, Porsche, Mazda
~spot on team apparel, transporter, pit stop & garage
~spot on Ferrari Camera Panel (shots inside Ferrari during race)
~Ferrari Team Naming Rights
~listing as sponsor on Grand American & Ferrari team websites
~Logo on all show and team merchandising