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In person: California


Pacific pleasures T


here can be few things in life more simultaneously glamorous and exhilarating than a helicopter ride.


Especially when that helicopter takes off from John Wayne airport in California’s Newport Beach, used by the rich and famous of LA, some 40 miles away. In fact, I spotted Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant as I waited, champagne in hand, for the OC Helicopters chopper to take off over the bay. It is this natural bay that makes Newport


Beach so special – and so desirable. Even from the air it feels like water is all around, the Pacific winking in the spring sunshine on one side, the Back Bay glistening with sleek yachts on the other. And the water is the reason people come


here – with an average temperature of 17 degrees even in January, visitors can more or less bank on it being warm enough to slip out of the harbour by yacht or take the ferry over to Balboa Island at any time of year. Rather quaintly, the historic ferry – opened


in 1919 – only takes three cars so I ventured across on foot instead. Strolling the boardwalk with frozen banana (a local specialty) in hand, I walked past dory fishermen, seafood restaurants and $1 million-plus beachfront homes, before watching unflinching local surfers take on the Wedge, with its extreme waves up to 30 metres high. More sedate pursuits are on offer back in


town, which is also home to the Island Hotel, with its vast suites overlooking the boutiques of Fashion Island. An afternoon here flexing the plastic at stores such as Trina Turk and Louis Vuitton might provide the perfect preparation for dinner in the hotel’s stylish Oak Grill. Here it is all about the prime rib eye, cooked perfectly pink and served outside under lush foliage on the light-strewn deck.


Coastal living Any visit to the California coast should involve plenty of time on and in the water and so I found myself dipping in once again further south, kayaking in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla.


How to book it America As You Like It has a 10-night fly-drive to California, including flights with Air New Zealand from Heathrow to Los Angeles, fully inclusive economy car hire, three nights at the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, three nights at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla and four nights at the Island Hotel, Newport Beach from £2,925pp, based on two travelling. Tel: 020 8742 8299, americaasyoulikeit.com


Getting there: Air New Zealand flies from Heathrow to Los Angeles from £504 in economy and £1,295 in premium economy. The airline’s unique Spaceseats mean nobody can recline into your space (and no knees in your back mid-flight) and you get upgraded meal and wine choices too, plus a dedicated cabin for more personal service, airnewzealand.co.uk


70  TTGLUXURY.COM  SUMMER 2015  DESTINATIONS


Southern California can be seen in so many ways – whether by helicopter, kayak, paraglide, walking, or simply from a sun lounger – with luxury highlights to be found in Newport Beach, La Jolla and Palm Springs author: Helen Ochyra


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