No Boarding Pass Required

by Frank Sabatini Jr.

Not all luxury vacations require plane tickets. Nor should they soak up precious free time in getting to and from your destination. In the face of a crunched economy and with peak travel season upon us, San Diegans are afforded easy options for splendid summer getaways, which in some cases take less time to reach than clearing a security line at a crowded airport. Our destination for sun, fun and relaxation: Home turf -- in and around San Diego.

Bluewater Vacation Homes
From quaint cottages to modernly designed dream homes, Bluewater gives San Diegans a taste of “life on the beach” with numerous shoreline properties located in La Jolla, Mission Bay and Pacific Beach. Or for those seeking an urban escape, the company also offers vacation digs in and around the Gaslamp District. Personalized amenities exceed those found in many big-name hotels, providing “staycationers” the opportunity to disconnect from their daily grinds and rediscover the city like a pampered tourist. Renters can request concierge services such as grocery and beverage stocking, surfing lessons or the rental of bicycles, segways, jet skis, yachts and more. A variety of summer deals and last-minute steals are currently available, with minimal stays ranging from three to 30 days. Available properties can be viewed on the company’s website.
858-605-1497 •

The OCeanfront
Located in choice “seaside villages” throughout Orange County, The OCeanfront properties embody the surf of Huntington Beach, the elegance of Newport Beach, the art colonies of Laguna Beach and the legendary romance of Dana Point. At the recently renovated Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington, for instance, its “Endless Summer” package includes a beach barbecue for two, a buffet breakfast and bicycle cruises around the town’s pier and boardwalk. The cost is $347 per night. Or at Montage Laguna Beach, visitors are afforded spacious cliffside suites adorned in early 20th century décor and vintage California artwork. Also on the property are the internationally acclaimed Studio restaurant and the renowned Loft Cheese Gallery. Call or visit the website for a complete list of properties and vacation amenities.
800-680-1249 •

The Ritz-Carlton • Laguna Niguel
Boasting one of the most luxurious spas in Southern California, The Ritz-Carlton is an elegant and peaceful sanctuary perched atop a 150-foot bluff overlooking the Pacific. Its classic furnishings and lush landscaping rival the beauty of many top-rated hotels seen in places like the French Riviera or Italy’s Amalfi Coast. The hotel is conveniently located in close proximity to several notable golf courses and offers surfing lessons for all levels at the picturesque beach below. Rooms blend classic furnishings with soft earthy colors, a result of the hotel’s recent $40 million makeover. Dining options on the property include artfully crafted California cuisine at Restaurant 162 or a plunge into wine, cheese and chocolate at the stylish Eno.
One Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point
949-240-2000 •

Catalina Island
With nearly two dozen lodges, hotels and high-end resorts speckled throughout this 22-mile-long Island, Catalina sizzles with as much summer activity as what you would find in faraway destinations. Among the highlights this season are Taste of Avalon (May 28), showcasing the town’s latest and greatest restaurants and cafes; the Flying Fish Festival (May 28-31), which celebrates the return of Catalina’s incomparable flying fish; and historical walking tours conducted every Tuesday and Saturday (through summer) by the Catalina Island Museum. The island also features an abundance of oceanic activities plus golfing, shopping and spas. Recommended picks for overnight stays: the craftsman-style Avalon Hotel (310-510-7070); the romantic Hotel St. Lauren (800-645-2496); or the historic, budget-friendly Atwater Hotel (800-626-1496), built in the 1920s. Catalina is located about 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. It is accessible by air or sea.