Marina del Rey
Ever since I can remember, the Marc Jordan song with the lyrics “Living in Marina del Rey” has been ringing in my head. So when I planned our trip to California, the tune indeed led me to this destination.
Set in the heart of the Los Angeles coastline, Marina Del Rey (http://www.visitmarinadelrey.com) is a waterfront playground with endless harbor views and a relaxed “California cool” vibe on LA’s bustling Westside. Its prime location is four miles from LAX, steps from world-famous Venice Beach and is easily accessible to major Los Angeles attractions like Santa Monica and the Getty Museum.
With year-round sunshine and average temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s, the breezy, cool and Idyllic way of life in the Marina appeals to visitors and locals.
WHERE TO STAY: Tucked along the Pacific coast between Venice Beach and peaceful Playa Vista, The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey (www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/marina-del-rey) is one of the most ideally located luxury hotels near Culver City, to explore Southern California’s most eclectic stretch of coastline. Literally meaning “sea coast of the king,” Marina Del Rey is aptly named, as it is home to more than 7,000 pleasure boats and yachts in one of the largest man-made marinas in the world, as well as shopping and gourmet dining.
The hotel is conveniently located near some of the most sough-after tech companies such as YouTube, IMAX and the future Google campus. It recently underwent extensive guest room enhancements, finishing one of its premier ballrooms that overlooks the marina.
We are big fans of the Ritz-Carlton property in our native Montreal, so it was very exciting to spend the day at this Marina del Rey location and give a private tour of the facility. From private Juliet balconies off of every guest room, or from a restaurant terrace where handcrafted cocktails around a fire pit stir inevitable conversation, this is one of the finest luxury hotels in Marina del Rey. It features 304 guest rooms and suites with private balconies featuring marina and city skyline views. There are Exclusive key-access-only Ritz-Carlton Club® Level rooms, L.A.’s only waterfront pool and whirlpool and a newly renovated lobby lounge. I was thoroughly impressed with the state-of-the-art fitness center, with eucalyptus steam rooms, full showers, restrooms and keypad lockers with safe.
My family and I were escorted the poolside and shown to a beautiful private cabana. Inside there was an extremely comfortable couch, a television with a remote control, a fridge stocked with waters, soft drinks and fresh fruit and a basket full of delicious snacks. On a small table were a selection of nice magazines. Outside the covered structure were three nicely padded lounge chairs with towels and large umbrellas to block the sun. We were provided with a menu to the Waves Poolside Bar & Grill. After one of the staff members brought us a bottle of champagne we placed our order, a superb hamburger with salad, a chicken sandwich and some chicken strips. It all arrived promptly and perfectly prepared.
The pool was refreshing and the whirlpool even more refreshing. Using our pass key, we took a leisurely stroll outside the grounds to admire the marina and the many different boats.
Director of Sales and Marketing Ed Curry gave me a tour of the facility. The Cast & Plow Restaurant off the lobby offers one of the prettier patio layouts I have seen. At the gift shop Curry told me that skateboards actually represent the top-selling item. “We can’t keep them on the shelf long enough before we need to order more,” he said.
Up we went to the 12th floor to see one of the beautiful guest rooms with a view and then down a short flight of stairs into the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Concierge Club Lounge. This beautifully designed room is open to all guests for an extra charge of $250 a day for snacks, drinks and a private place to relax.
This is definitely a hotel I’d like to enjoy an extended stay at some time in the future.
SIXT RENT A CAR: For this trip to California, renting our own car was a priority. In researching all of the different options I came across one I was frankly not familiar with called Sixt Rent a Car (www.sixt.com). After collecting our luggage at Los Angeles International Airport, we headed to the shuttle area where a Sixt van pulled up and brought us to their large garage very nearby. It was seamless check-in process. I was pleasantly surprised to drive away with a significant upgrade – a white Mercedes. This was a first for me. Customer Service Branch Manager Maria Vigil patiently explained the operation of the vehicle. It drove so smoothly, I was very sad to return the keys at the end of my trip. We also met the new branch manager, Amar Tankha, who told us that Sixt also has branches in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
Sixt Rent a Car was founded in 1912 in Munich, Germany, and started out with a fleet of just three vehicles. As one of the first and most important international car rental companies in the world – with over 100 years in operation – the business seems to have earned a trusted reputation as a global leading car rental provider. Sixt was the first car rental company with a website and the first to accept mobile reservations. Today they are present in over 100 countries with branches in over 4,000 locations. You will be able to find Sixt car rental services internationally, in almost every major city and tourist destination worldwide and at convenient locations such as airports, train stations, cruise ports, and hotels.
Sixt expanded to the United States in 2011 and is now present at 50 locations in 14 States. This includes the following airport locales: Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Las Vegas (LAS), Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX), Seattle (SEA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Miami (MIA), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), Atlanta (ATP) and Tampa (TPA). Up next will be San Diego and San Antonio. According to Daniel Florence, the co-president for Sixt USA, operations began at Miami Airport and rapidly expanded both within Florida and to key on- and off-airport locations throughout the US.
The company’s strengths lie in the high proportion of premium cars in its vehicle fleet, the consistent service orientation of employees, and a good price-performance ratio. Taken together, these strengths have given the company an excellent market position. “We are proud to maintain alliances with renowned brands in the hotel industry, well-known airlines and numerous prominent service providers in the tourism sector,” stated Florence.
Sixt has a wide range of categories and models, including SUVs, convertibles, sedans, pick-up trucks, vans, and sports cars. The majority of its vehicles are from premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Cadillac, and BMW.
There is a lot of buzz around hidden costs when renting a car. Which are the advantages of renting with Sixt? “We always say that with Sixt, you can drive first class and pay economy, and it’s really true,” says Florence. “Our cars are generally no more than nine months old, and we offer premium brands at extremely competitive prices. Additionally, the Sixt experience is just unique – our customers are impressed by everything from the sleek design of the stations to our friendly rental agents, who might offer a chilled bottle of water on a hot day. A couple of weeks ago in Miami Beach, we surprised our customers with popsicles, beach balls, sunglasses, and photos. We strive to keep our rates as transparent as possible, and our rental agents are always happy to explain in-depth how our coverage packages and other additional sales products works, so that there are no surprises in the end.”