Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
Each morning of our visit started out overcast and chilly, but gave way to postcard-perfect sunshiny days. The beautiful pool around which the hotel is situated looks out to the ocean and is extremely child-friendly, as it is only four feet deep and well-heated. Kids of all ages, even the younger visitors, swim in this pool, even in the early morning, and its shallow dimensions create peace of mind for parents like myself. My kids met several other children in the pool visiting from all over the world and joined in pool games with them. I heard “Marco Polo!” being hollered out in various inflections and accents. There is also a small pool-sized hot tub that overlooks the ocean and could comfortably accommodate approximately 10-12 people.
Other notable family food options within the resort include the poolside Blue Streak, named after the pier’s first roller-coaster, open for lunch or snacks, overlooking the ocean. I also found the room service very accommodating for picky little eaters, with options galore.
The Santa Monica Loews Hotel is located right on the edge of the beach; the only thing separating the hotel from the crashing waves is a narrow span of sand. To ensure that you enjoy their magnificent view, be sure to book a room on the Northwestern side of the hotel, on at least the fifth floor. Eight miles from Los Angeles International Airport, Loews' Santa Monica Beach Hotel is a 4-Diamond, beachfront resort. The eight-story hotel boasts outstanding ocean and boardwalk views and access to the Santa Monica Beach. The hotel consists of 340 rooms, including twenty-four luxury suites.
My room, on the fifth floor, maintained an air of California casual with its bleached rattan and wicker furniture and a color palate of mostly sand tones. When we arrived, it was nice to find freshly cut flowers waiting for us.
My deck, although not private, was very appealing and spacious with a complete patio furniture set (table and four chairs plus two reclining chairs) and plenty of room to sit and read to a baby or toddler or just enjoy the stunning view of the ocean and pier.
Note: Special care should be given to the patio guard and rail, as it is not designed for toddlers to play against. Your children should not be unattended on this patio since the rails do have some gaps that could be dangerous for children. A portable play-yard is recommended on the patio for babies.
In keeping with the southern California attitude, the hotel is receiving its own facelift, insuring that all amenities and architecture remain cutting-edge and not stale. The hotel is currently undergoing a $15 million-dollar renovation. At the time of this writing, the first phase has been completed which included refurbishment of the pool area, poolside furniture, the Papillion lounge, the atrium lobby and the hotel entrance, enhancing the breezy California ambiance of the hotel. Designers hope to amplify the relaxed home-away-from-home style retreat for people to conduct business. Plans for completion of the guest-room renovation include new drapes, wall coverings, furniture and bedding.
For the working parent, rooms will remain "workspace friendly" with contemporary executive desks, Internet capabilities, and in-room faxes. The hotel itself provides 17,000 square feet of space to accommodate groups up to 900, a magnificent spot for conducting business meetings.
The award winning Lavande Restaurant exhibits sweeping ocean views and serves California-Mediterranean cuisine. It remains open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a brunch on Sunday. Other food is served poolside and at the Papillion Lounge, a bar and fireside lounge facing the ocean and pool. Unwind over appetizers, small tapas-style dishes and afternoon tea. Live entertainment and the hotel's "Visiting Artist" series are also set here.
Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa:
A complete fitness center is located in the hotel which includes: eight treatment rooms for body and facial treatment; a cardiovascular room with bikes, cross-trainers, and treadmills; a strength-training room with a life fitness training circuit; a fitness studio for yoga and pilate classes; a full-service beauty salon; steam and dry saunas; and bath amenities in the locker rooms. Both open-air and enclosed sundecks surround the swimming pool and Jacuzzi. High-end clothing items and body and facial products are sold here.
The Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa
"Loews Loves Kids" is a large part of the Loews' campaign. Loews assures its guests that they will "find a greeting at all of our hotels that is kid-friendly and parent-reassuring." I found their creed to be particularly true at this Santa Monica location.
As part of Loews' services, cribs with bath amenities and baby quilts as well as laundry services are available. Kids under eighteen stay free if they are sharing a room with their parents. A second adjoining room, for older children, qualifies for special discounts. Rollaway beds with child sheets and child bathrobes are available.
Children under ten receive a free "Loews Loves Kids" gift bag. My experience here is that you need to specifically ask for this upon arrival to ensure that you receive one.
A child's menu is available both in the restaurant and through room service. The in-room mini bar is stocked with juices and other child-friendly snacks such as cookies. High-chairs and booster seats are available upon request.
"Kid's Kloset": An assortment of baby and children's items are available for use during the stay. Included are electronic games, VCRs, appropriate children's videos, games, books, car seats, strollers, night-lights, potty seats, baby bathtubs, blankets, diapers, and outlet protectors.
"Kid's Concierge": Concierges are ready with information on kid-friendly attractions--museums, zoos and other local events and activities. Also, a list of pediatricians, nearby pharmacies, and bonded baby-sitters are available.
Loews' motto for family travel is "The most memorable travel experiences are shared with those you care about the most. And so, at every Loews Hotel, you'll find a welcome that embraces the entire family. At Loews, our family is dedicated to pleasing yours!" I found this statement to be accurate. During our stay, the entire staff of Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel was extremely friendly and accommodating, much more so than at the Coronado Loews, also included in this site. From the time I checked in until my bags were repacked into my car, I found it very pleasant to be treated so cordially. Bear this in mind if such treatment is a priority for you.
The view from my fifth floor room.
While the resort is certainly child and work-friendly, its beachfront location also makes it a prime romantic destination. The coveted view I enjoyed from my patio, with nothing obscuring my premier view of the Pacific Ocean with the added bonus of the boardwalk's ferris wheel, is extremely hard to come by in the Los Angeles area. My daughter, fourteen months-old at the time of my stay, also enjoyed sitting on my lap on the large patio gazing at the nearby Santa Monica Pier which juts out above the ocean and lights up at night, situated just two blocks from the hotel. Visitors will definitely find this environment highly conducive to romance.
The hotel is within strolling distance not only of the Pier but also of Palisades Park, the Third Street Promenade, and Main Street Santa Monica. Its location on the Santa Monica Beach affords multitudes of amorous possibilities for the romantically inclined, especially in the evenings, as lovers can gaze at the lights of the pier reflecting on the pristine ocean.
The Page Museum is located at the La Brea Tar Pits, about 45 minutes from Santa Monica in the historical Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles. My kids were fascinated by this child-appropriate museum, just as I was as a kid. It is just right for kids--not too expansive inside, yet surrounded by paths, grassy areas and gardens on which kids can burn off steam after their indoor inquiries are satisfied. The Page Museum is also situated within walking distance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) so families can wander over there afterwards, if time permits.
Also of interest are the working laboratories which can be viewed through the windows inside the museum. Kids and adults can enjoy seeing scientists cleaning, examining and working with the fossils.
You might not think of it as a kid-attraction, but the Getty Villa is fun for kids! Almost hidden in a narrow, wooded canyon in Pacific Palisades, the villa is an amazing re-creation of a first-century Roman country villa. It houses collections of classical Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art and antiquities including ancient Aztec sculptures, vessels, coins, gems, glass jewelry, and a real mummy. The kids’ activity room entertains young visitors for a long time with its hands-on activities such as vase decorating and shadow theatre. The atrium offers lovely gardens and stunning ocean views.
El Cholo Restaurant:
Oh, the pleasure of indulging in an authentic L.A. Mexican restaurant! What could be more relaxing than enjoying the servers dish up sizzling meals in their costumed mariachi attire. El Cholo in Santa Monica was established in 1923 and though situated in the midst of trendy Wilshire Blvd, pulls you through a lovely time-warp to Old Mexico once you enter its doors. The old mission-styled adobe building is accented by colorful servers in big hats and hoop dresses. At the time of my visit, summer 2010, kids can order any item for $6.25: nachos, beef taquitos, quesadillas, cheese enchiladas. I enjoyed smoking hot shrimp fajitas, cooked to perfection. My kids were given the same red, white, and blue Popsicles for dessert as the ones sold on the ice cream trucks I remember as a child chiming through the L.A. neighborhoods.
Santa Monica Pier:
This landmark pier, built on wooden planks, originally opened in 1909. It is home to many seafood restaurants, souvenir retailers, street performers, a vintage merry-go-round, and a marine aquarium. Very pricey, but the kids have a ball on the rides that range from kiddie-paced to upside-down thrillers. My kids enjoyed a moderately fast roller coaster, the famous Ferris wheel, and a huge pendulum ride.
During Christmas time, a ten-foot Christmas tree extends up to the cathedral sunroof, while rows of pines grace the lobby below.
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