SEEING STARS IN LORETO -- Is Baja getting a bad rap? Until now, I had never been to Loreto, Mexico. If you are looking for wild parties this is not the place for you. However, if you are a nature lover or stargazer, add Loreto to your radar. With nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Loreto, travel is easy.
"I have been coming to Mexico for 40 years," said James MacNair of Glen Ellen, "and I've always been enchanted with Baja California. The wildlife and natural beauty is truly spectacular. We were in Loreto 27 years ago for fishing and I've always wanted to come back. With the Villa Group building Villa del Palmar, it was a nice opportunity to return to the area. The ocean is teaming with sea life and the staff at the resort is very accommodating."
Villa del Palmar for outdoor vacation
As mentioned, if you are looking for exciting night life, skip ahead a little bit to my Las Vegas coverage. If you want an active, outdoor vacation on Mexico's Sea of Cortez, Villa del Palmar, in Loreto, is the place for you. Grab a kayak and paddle to Danzante Island or snorkel and fish by Coronado Island. End the day with a visit to the Sebila Spa or simply relax in a hammock. This family-friendly resort is good for multi-generations, privacy, sun and star seekers of the celestial kind.
Rock Las Vegas like a high roller
Have you ever wanted to pick the songs that make the Bellagio Fountains dance, go backstage at Cirque du Soleil or dive with sharks at Shark Reef, Mandalay Bay? Maybe a cooking class with Aureole celebrity chef Charlie Palmer is more your style, or hanging poolside in a private cabana at Aria? It is, indeed, possible to experience Las Vegas like a high roller with the new "M life" program from MGM Resorts.
It used to be that a trip to Las Vegas meant smoky casinos and cheap, all-you-can-eat buffets. These days you'll find girlfriends enjoying spa days, bachelor parties celebrating a last hurrah at high-end nightclubs and couples enjoying dinner out and a show. And what a show it is, from Cirque to James Bond-style Mixology classes, guests with the M life card earn credits for every dollar they spend in sin city -- casinos included. Those credits enable guests to experience what are called, "M life Moments" like the private cocktail class at Hit Bar & Lounge at Monte Carlo or a party at Minus5 Ice Bar for you and your friends. Next time you look behind the tinted windows in that stretch limousine cruising the strip, it might just be your neighbor rocking Las Vegas like a VIP.
Carmel's Quail Lodge rebirth
One of my favorite things about living in the Bay Area is the ability to road trip to nearby destinations. My husband and I recently drove to Carmel Valley for a one-night stay. We were curious to revisit Quail Lodge & Golf Club, as the resort has recently completed a $28 million renovation.
Ours was a visit long overdue; we held our wedding reception at Quail Lodge 26 years ago. While receptions are popular at this gorgeous Carmel setting, it's also a great place for family reunions. In fact, I spotted several Orinda families at Quail Lodge the morning of our departure. The grandfather and sons loved the 18 hole golf course while others shopped and the teenagers lounged by the pool.
With its 93 rooms and suites priced around $195, Quail Lodge is striving to be the best value on the Monterey Peninsula. I was happy they didn't charge a resort fee for breakfast, Wi-Fi or parking. The property will soon be opening a new restaurant, until then, visit Edgar's at the clubhouse.
MLifeMoments -- www.mlife.com/moments
Villa del Palmar -- www.villagroupresorts.com/resorts/villa-del-palmar-loreto
Quail Lodge & Golf Club --