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It is easy to overlook the gems that have made Southern California so popular. Newport Beach is a prime example. This is the adult Disneyland where everything seems perfect. The neighborhoods are new, the office buildings are new, and the ocean is never too far away. Whether for business or pleasure, the Fairmont Newport Beach is ideally situated to take it all in.


The town

Newport Beach is the crown jewel of the Southern Cal coastline. The best beaches may well be at nearby Balboa Island with a quaint shopping zone for those who just like to look at the water. Did I say shopping? The best malls in the state are at Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza. For some folks, that would be reason alone to make the journey. More rustic beaches can be found as you move south past the Newport Coast area on to Laguna Beach.

When it comes to affluence, only Beverly Hills can top the Newport Beach area. Everywhere you turn, you will see Bentley’s, Ferrari’s and every other toy for the extremely well off. There are mansions galore from the Big Canyon Country Club area to the Newport Coast hills with views across Orange County. This is home to the “beautiful people,” and after you spend some time here you will probably make another commitment to your workout regimen.


The hotel

The Fairmont Newport Beach property is directly across from John Wayne Airport. We found this to be an ideal location for everything we were planning to do. The hotel is upscale and caters to the business traveler, yet it is also just right for a leisure visit. The Palms Pool and Cabanas keep the atmosphere light.

The Bambu Restaurant and Lounge are the center of social activity located just inside the lobby and on the way to room elevators.

The restaurant offers a fresh California cuisine with the best of seasonal and local foods. Guests might also want to spend some time at the hotel’s Amadeus Spa and Salon, which has been voted one of Southern California’s best by Allure, the Los Angeles Times and a host of other publications.

The hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to Balboa Island, Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza. This is helpful if you need the car for business and your partner wants to do something else. The Fairmont Newport Beach would also be my choice for a trip to Disneyland, which is just 15 minutes away. The hotels around Disneyland are overpriced and the environment outside the park is average at best. If you were just going to do one day at Disneyland, why not come home to the plush setting offered by this Fairmont property? For more information, visit Fairmont.com/NewportBeach.


The golf

Golf options are plentiful and all within 15 minutes of the hotel. The best daily fee option would be found at the Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine. This Tom Fazio layout is always in immaculate condition with tree-lined fairways and multiple waterscapes. Oak Creek also has the area’s best practice facility worthy of a trip on its own. Closer to the hotel, more casual golfers can choose from the Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course and the Newport Beach Golf Course, which is ideal for beginners. Both facilities have night-lighted driving ranges.

Those in search of a more elegant golf experience could make the short drive over to Pelican Hill in Newport Coast. Two championship Tom Fazio layouts await with ocean views from most holes. If you can get an invite, Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach is well worth a visit. The membership is made up of titans from all walks of life and the price of entry exceeds 250K. Newport Beach would be ideal for a weekend visit this fall. Rates should be more competitive on the weekend at the Fairmont, as you will not be competing with business travelers.

If I had my choice, I would probably drive down early on a Saturday morning to avoid the heavy traffic and stay over Saturday and Sunday. Midday Monday should be a good time for the return, but make sure you get through the San Fernando Valley before 3 p.m. for faster travel times.