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California Once ensconced in my kayak via Bike and


Kayak Tours, I paddled out from La Jolla Shores, pushing around the honeycomb headland towards La Jolla Cove, poking into hidden caves and peering down into the still Pacific waters to glimpse darting bright orange garibaldi fish and a swaying kelp forest. You’ll see seals basking on the rocks onshore –


La Jolla Children’s Pool, protected by a seawall and originally meant for families, has been taken over by a herd of them – and there is also a chance of seeing the world’s largest group of blue whales, migrating through here from mid-June to September.


The fishy theme continued at surfside


restaurant Marine Room, where luxurious produce such as wild prawns and caviar pearls is conjured up into exquisite dishes by French chef Bernard Guillas, while at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, the seabass comes with a side of lobster followed by artisanal Californian cheeses. Indulgence can be easily worked off here


though, as the next morning I checked in for a paragliding session. I took off from the clifftop Torrey Pines Gliderport, just along the coast from the lodge, and it took mere seconds to be in flight. Attached to my instructor Steve by a harness, my legs swung below as I took in the spectacularly scenic Torrey Pines Golf Course and a scattering of elegant homes. This is probably the only way most people will


ever catch a glimpse inside these mansions, with their basketball courts and pools, and you get a real sense of the landscape too, with undulating sandy cliffs sweeping down to wide stretches of golden beach and the surf beyond.


Spring in your step From such great heights, I moved on to the ultimate low-rise city of Palm Springs for my final stop in Southern California’s luxury triangle. Once the glamorous go-to for movie stars seeking an escape from the film set, for the past few years Palm Springs has been seen as solely the preserve of retirees. But the desert city is now back on the up.


It all started with Coachella, one of the world’s best live music festivals, and last year, its cool status was confirmed when Leonardo DiCaprio decided to buy a home there. One of the best ways to appreciate the highlights is on a tour with PS Architecture Tours, who showed me the city’s collection of mid-century Modernist buildings, their clean lines and expanses of glass rarely rising above a single storey. From there, I headed up high once again on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – the world’s largest rotating tramway – with magnificent views of the San Jacinto Mountains. There is plenty more to do here too, but the


real joy of Palm Springs is unfurling in the sun – best done at the freshly opened Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage, the only hotel in the desert to benefit from an elevated position. Here the opulent rooms open out on to


balconies with mountain views or terraces with open fire pits overlooking the pool. Spending my final days here was the perfect finale, dining on ale-braised short rib and drinking Californian Malbec at State Fare, a restaurant devoted to local produce. And as I welcomed the dawn with coffee on my balcony, soaking up the sunshine and looking out over the Coachella valley, I once again felt like I was soaring above it all.


Pictured 1. Torrey Pines 2. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway 3. Mother and baby seal 4. Kayakers at La Jolla Shores


DESTINATIONS  SUMMER 2015  TTGLUXURY.COM  71


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