A visit to the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, CA, to review spa services, weddings, and high tea.
by Jolene Rae Harrington, Director of Creative Content
My colleague Jan invites me to spend the upcoming weekend with her at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, where she’ll be staying while profiling new locations for Here Comes The Guide. Ignoring her broad hints that I should also accompany her on her whirlwind schedule of venue visits, I nevertheless jump at the chance for some quality Ritz time. It’s a well-known fact around the office that I ♥ the Ritzes. (What can I say? I have a soft spot for superior customer service and a swanky setting!) Another reason I say “yes” faster than an L.A. second is because I know that this particular Ritz puts you front and center in trendy Marina del Rey, where sailboats, sun and a stylish social scene rule. (Too bad I’m already married, because this would be quite the spot for a destination wedding!)
We arrive at the hotel, and apparently I’m not the only one that’s Ritz-crazy: we’re told that we just missed Denzel Washington and several NBA superstars who had all been hanging out in the lobby the day before. Earlier in the week, Britney Spears had shot her MTV awards video around the pool. As it is, the hotel is full up, so after a friendly check-in, we make like Britney and head poolside. Naturally, it’s a hipster’s paradise, with the beautiful (read: thin) people sipping colorful drinks with sexy names against a backdrop of a serene harborscape. Adjacent to the pool is a ceremony courtyard with a gorgeous filigree-topped gazebo. Lucky Ritz brides!
I finally bestir myself for an important appointment: It’s spa time! Jan and I are given a tour, and then settle in with our expert practitioners for some individual pampering. I opt for a customized facial (and get a hand and shoulder massage as a bonus), while Jan unstresses with a deep tissue massage. Spa addict that I am, I extend the indulgence in the eucalyptus steam room. By now I’m feeling both invigorated and rejuvenated, and only reluctantly exchange my soft robe for my street clothes.
That evening, dewy and relaxed, we savor dinner and dessert at the Ritz’s Michelin-recommended restaurant, Jer-Ne. The vibe here is global-eclectic, and the well-prepared cuisine is gourmet-simple, sustainable and hearty.
Before I fade out to a blissful night’s sleep, I call my husband to say, “Wish you were here!”
We meet with the resort’s Wedding Master, Stephen Jackson, and are impressed with his breadth of industry knowledge and his exacting standards. We get the feeling that this professional takes each wedding as seriously as a bouquet toss, and Jan can’t believe he also speaks Farsi (he’s not Middle Eastern).
The highlight of our stay takes place on the Jer-ne terrace. Outfitted with lounge furniture, patio tables and stellar Marina views, the terrace is an inspired place for a wedding shower, post-wedding brunch or bridal tea. And it’s for High Tea that Jan and I are seated at our “reserved” table. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a bit of a tea snob. Not only must the brew itself be delectable, but the entire presentation requires a certain je ne sais quoi in order to be properly enjoyed. And we’re delighted that this afternoon tea exceeds our expectations.
From the Zen-like table settings to each tasty treat, I feel like a little kid at her first birthday party. In addition to tea “comfort food”—cucumber sandwiches and mini scones—there are other culinary surprises, like lemon curd, prosciutto & asparagus and champagne—that keep things interesting. We remark more than once that bridal showers would be so much more enjoyable if they could become bridal teas at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey…
As our elegant repast comes to an end, I lick the last crumbs from my plate, toss a few to the seagulls, and wave a regretful goodbye to the delicious conclusion of another happy Ritz experience.