Destination Wedding – Ojai, CA!

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What about a destination wedding where the stars go to decompress, and MARRY?  I’m talking about Ojai, California, where I grew up.  Ojai is home to an electic group of people — from the Ultra swank, ‘Ojai Valley Inn and Spa’ to posh prep schools – in order of prominence, 1) The Thacher School, 2) Villanova Prep, and 3) The Ojai Valley School – to religious gurus who prize the small natural valley. (Supposedly it’s the smallest valley where the mountains run east and west AND north and south).

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Photos #1 and #2 via Facebook. 🙂  The bell town to the right of the photo is our post office.

Ojai has been vacation home to the late Larry Hagman and Reece Witherspoon to name a few.  Will and Jada Smith to Kate Walsh have chosen to marry at the world famous Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. It’s one of my favorite, “happy places”, as well as my daughters’  My oldest, KK, celebrated her bachelorette party there.

My family still makes their home still in Ojai, and we try to visit at least twice a year.  We try to get  to OVI’s exceptional spa at least one day a trip.

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Above, the women’s indoor hot tub

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The exterior of the spa at night, and below one of the resort’s beautiful live oaks.

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The last four photos are mine.  Rather proud my photography on those!  While I can not speak on the overnight accommodations, or their wedding packages/options, as I have yet to be a hotel guest or take a ‘wedding tour’, I WILL praise the spa. It is exceptional. I will report in a future post, if I made an overnight site visit and tour the wedding venue options. I’m sure it’s lovely, but not will to speak to what I haven’t thoroughly researched.

Perhaps you wish to marry in Ojai, but your budget is limited.  Tomorrow, I will explore THOSE options for you.

 

Not Just Any Old Fare…World Class Food

 

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Like any 5 star resort, The Hotel Del Coronado serves world class food, but with a twist. It’s not just any old fare… They grow much of their greens, herbs and peppers on property – to be used in their fine dining restaurant, “1888”  (aptly named for the year the resort opened).  If you look at the top photo, (all photos on this post are mine), you see a green grouping of plants in the center.  This is the view from my balcony – I’m looking right.

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The next two photos  show in closer detail the well-loved and well-cared for garden.  Unlike New England, where I reside, the hotel staff doesn’t have to worry about winter freezing the crops, or dreaded deer.  I used to love deer.  It was always a treat to see them.  No longer.  The love to eat my plants, and can be huge road hazards.

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What does this mean for your wedding fare, if you choose to use the Hotel as your venue?  Delicious food, that’s what.  Even if you don’t get to enjoy the kitchen garden, Southern California has the best available fresh produce in the world, all local restaurants use it. You are in for a treat!

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No worries about your wedding meal, and perhaps you’ll want to have your rehearsal dinner on site…or a post wedding brunch the next day.  You will have plenty of options, whether it’s pool side, (see above), or one of the more causal eateries – (see below).  And let’s face it…the view can’t be beat.

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Illumination of the Hotel Del…and More!

The illumination of the Hotel Del Coronado is more than just a way to light a room…it is a work of art.  Not only was great thought, detail and expense put into the lighting of each public room, there is also a fascinating bit of trivia about one special room…

Who among us AND our children has not seen “The Wizard of Oz”?  I’d wager to say.. almost no one.  But do we know who the author was?  Probably my mother does, as she read each and every book. He is none other than L. Frank Baum.  And he has another grand distinction.  He loved Coronado Island!

According to sandiego.com

“Four years after publishing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” a children’s book that would become the first in a beloved series of 14, L. Frank Baum checked into the Hotel del Coronado for a wintertime respite. He and his wife would do so every year but one until 1910, during which time he wrote three more “Oz” books and parts of another. Later, the Baums would winter at a house not far away from the hotel, on Star Park Circle. The house, like the storied Victorian hotel, still stand today. Baum passed away in 1919, but his memory and his legacy in San Diego cultural history live on…So fascinated by the hotel was Baum that he volunteered to design the lighting in what would be renamed, in tribute to his vision, the Crown Room.”

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hoteldel.com Sunday Brunch in the Crown Room.  Look at those gorgeous hanging “crowns”!

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hoteldel.com Coronet Room, an auxiliary room off the Crown Room.  I do not know this for fact, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say Baum designed the fixture in this room as well.

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hoteldel.com Ballroom

The fixtures in the Ballroom are exquisite.  A bride would almost require no more decor than to have these lovelies hanging down from their noble perch!

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Windsor Complex

And how about these art deco creations from the Windsor Complex?  While not my favorites, no one can deny their elegance.

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Lobby

And the Grande Dame of them all, the gigantuan chandelier from the main lobby.  I adore this!

And a last bit of trivial…The Hotel Del Coronado has bragging rights to the oldest continuously running elevator in the United States.  Always run with an attendant, and most often by the famous, gem of an employee, “Andrew”.   He’s been with the resort 40+ years.  Andrew knows more about the Hotel Del than any reference guide.  It was my pleasure to ride with him.  You know a company’s a ‘good one ‘ when an employee chooses to stay so long.

Hotel Del Coronado History

Ah…the Hotel Del Coronado’s History… Did I captivate your interest yesterday?  Are you waiting with baited breath to read about the ghost that supposedly haunts the Hotel Del?

Well, here you go…according to the Hotel’s own “Press Room” on it’s web page,

Kate Morgan, age 24, arrived on Thanksgiving Day, alone and unhappy. According to hotel employees, she said she was waiting for a gentleman to join her. After five lonely days, Kate took her own life.

At the time of her death, police could find nothing to positively identify her, so a description of Kate was telegraphed to police agencies around the country. As a result, newspapers began to refer to Kate as the “beautiful stranger.” After Kate Morgan’s identity was confirmed – she was married but estranged from her husband – it was surmised that she had arrived at The Del hoping to rendezvous with a lover.

Kate had been employed as a domestic in a wealthy Los Angeles household. From there, she traveled by train to the hotel, where fellow passengers reported that a woman matching Kate’s description had argued with a male companion, who then deserted her en route. During her stay, Kate was described as sickly and sorrowful, venturing into San Diego to buy a handgun, and the San Diego coroner later confirmed that Kate had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Ghost of Kate Morgan

According to the hotel’s book, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, since that time, guests and employees have attested to ghostly goings-on. Most have to do with Kate’s original third-floor guestroom, where visitors have experienced flickering lights, a television that turns itself on and off, breezes coming from nowhere, inexplicable scents and sounds, items moving of their own accord, doors that randomly open and close, abrupt changes in room temperature, and unexplained footsteps and voices. The story of Kate Morgan continues to intrigue hotel visitors, and the room in which she stayed is the most requested guestroom at the hotel.”

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hoteldel.com A photo from the hotel’s early days.

And that’s not all…In it’s long history, the Hotel Del has played host to many a celebrity.

The list is extensive: Bette Davis, Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, Judy Garland, Maureen O’Hara, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Rudy Vallee, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Joan Crawford, Walt Disney, Groucho and Harpo Marx, Donna Reed, Dinah Shore, Loretta Young , Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Liberace, Ronald Reagan, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, as well as Goldie Hawn, Sylvester Stallone, and Renee Russo.  Whew!

More current celebs don’t wish to be left out.  They include: Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, Seth Rogen, Robert Downey Jr., Eva Mendes, Will Farrell, Shakira, Al Pacino, Jennifer Garner, Kevin Costner, Jack Nicholson, Oprah Winfrey, Julia-Louis-Dreyfus, Whoopie Goldberg, and Steven Spielberg.  (Press Room, Hoteldel.com)

Several movies were made at the Hotel Del, one of the most iconic?  “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.  HotelDel733

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And really…who WOULDN’T want to visit this gorgeousness?  Tomorrow…let’s talk weddings, and why this might be the perfect place to say, “I do”!   (PS – notice the blue bridge in the background of the above photo.  That’s how one travels by car to reach the “island”)