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We arrived at LAX Wednesday afternoon and were looking forward to getting down to Laguna Beach to the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel.  After a little bit of traffic, we made our way onto the Pacific Coast Highway.  Unfortunately, it was already dark so we did not have a fabulous scenic drive alongside the ocean.

Upon arriving at the Ritz, we were greeted by Deanne French, Director of Public Relations.  After checking in and getting settled in our rooms, we met Deanne in ENO, the Ritz's wine, cheese and chocolate tasting room.  We had a fabulous time indulging in all the above!  I chose to try to Lasting Laguna Reds wine flight, which included a sampling of three red wines presented in order of lightest to heaviest.  My favorite was the Ahnfeldt Merlot, which was perfect.  Next, we sampled the cheese flight, which included cheeses from across Europe.  I loved the Spanish brie made from goat's milk...delightful.  Shannon was so helpful and informative and an absolute pleasure to have assisting us with our decisions.  She recommended we try a sampling of meats as well, which include roasted chicken, ham and shaved pepperoni, along with olives and flatbread.  I was thinking that I should not have already eaten dinner!  Once again, everything was wonderful and the wine and gal pal chit chat kept flowing.  Soon we were ready for dessert, and Shannon presented an absolutely wonderful chocolate flight to our table.  The "must try" was the caramel sea salt covered in chocolate cocoa...yum!  

Not only is the food and wine at ENO amazing, but the atmosphere is as well.  With a full floor-to-ceiling glass wine tower in the middle of the room, and the surrounding high-top tables are perfect for socializing in any size group.  In one area, they feature great wine gifts, such as books, glasses and wine-related items.  

Of course everything is wonderful at the Ritz, and we had the most perfect time chatting with Deanne and gaining interesting information from Shannon.  Many thanks to both of them for making our Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel evening spectacular!
Located about an hour south of Los Angeles, the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel (www.ritzcarlton.com) is an amazing property with every bit of the perfection you expect from the Ritz Carlton brand.  Situated on top of a 150-foot bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the grounds and view could not be any more serene and wonderful.  On a clear day (which we enjoyed), you can even see Catalina Island.  Guests on a girls' getaway will enjoy the on-property spa, which features 12 treatment rooms (each one features a crystal chandelier and tranquil water amenities.  There is also a salon and (for the die-hard exercise queens) a fitness center complete with gorgeous views of the ocean.  Highlights for us (in addition to ENO) were the Adirondack chairs on the back lawn of the hotel that overlook the ocean, as well as the dining room with a complete view of the ocean via floor to ceiling windows.  Both were perfect for total relaxation and for checking out the hundreds of surfers in their wet suits.  The resort also offers wellness classes, such as yoga, pilates and T'ai Chi.  For the adventurous girls, the resort can also arrange for surf lessons and whale watching excursions during the peak whale migration season.  

As we trekked down to the ocean, we made new friends and enjoyed the scenic flora and fauna of the area.  Despite the cold temperatures, we wanted to make sure our toes hit the water.  After running in and out of the tide, we made friends with some surfers to get the surfing scoop.  Sean the Surfer was gracious enough to answer our questions (and even be interviewed on video...stay tuned for the video clip).  As we had our fill of surf and sand, we hiked back up to the hotel and convinced ourselves that the hike up was strenuous enough to be our daily workout.  We sadly packed up, said our goodbyes and headed to the town of Laguna Beach.

For anyone who has watched MTV's Laguna Beach show, you've seen snippets of this quaint seaside community.  Although I have seen the show, I never realized that Laguna is such an artist haven.  Locals say that artists began arriving more than a century ago, as they were inspired by the wonderful weather and picturesque beauty of the area.  Visitors (and celebs) from around the world come to Laguna Beach to enjoy the numerous art galleries, cozy restaurants, and idyllic resort atmosphere. During our time in town, we stopped by the flagship Wyland Gallery (www.wyland.com).  Wyland is the world's leading marine artist and has been internationally recognized for his marine conservation efforts.  I was aware of Wyland due to his gallery in Key West, and the opportunity to check out this gallery was not to be missed.

After strolling through the galleries and quickly around town, it was time to head back to LA to get ready for our conference.  Although our time in Laguna was brief, it was a fantastic girls getaway and revived us for our upcoming meetings.

Next time you are traveling for business, take a few days either before or after your meetings to enjoy some down time and R&R with your favorite gal pals!

For photos from the trip, visit www.facebook.com and find Casey Wohl.  You can also follow me on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/GetawayGirl.



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