Photo by anjibee on Flickr.com.
The O.C. has ‘it’ factor.
It starts with its catchy initials name and continues on through prime southern California location, surf and beaches, ritzy homes and hotels and a lifestyle of sports cars, parties, botox, and boob jobs.
“You know, no one ever called Orange County The O.C. before that show,” said Deirdre Michalski of Balboa Bay Club & Resort, the swankiest hotel in the The O.C.’s swankiest community – Newport Beach.
Michalski, of course, is talking about the red-hot Fox-TV nighttime soap The O.C., which ran four seasons 2003-07, and was set in Newport Beach.
Orange County, with its proximity a half hour south of Los Angeles, has always been a playground for Hollywood elite and the area’s rich. But The O.C. – both the TV show and the resulting tourism promotion gold it provides – has taken it up a notch. People from around the world now arrive wanting to go to the beaches, pier, restaurants and neighbourhoods The O.C.’s cast of beautiful teens and adults frequented.
Adding fuel to the tourism fire are TV hits Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and The Real Housewives of Orange County. With such a build-up, it was only fitting that on a recent visit at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort, not only were we upgraded – but super- upgraded – to the presidential suite.
Delayed at the airport, we arrived late on a Friday night at the 160-room hotel to find it was overbooked because of the nearby Grand Prix car races in Long Beach and the about-to-start Newport Beach Boat Show. So we were escorted to the top accommodation – a 3,000 square foot apartment with grand piano, four-poster canopied bed and terraces galore overlooking the mega-yachted bay.
Just for one night we felt what it was like to be rich and famous – or lucky and unknown as the case may be.
Sadly, the pampering could only last so long.
The next day we walked by the mega yachts to board a Duffy boat – often called a golf cart on water for its electric motor and slow speed – for our tour of Newport Harbour with Carolyn Clark of Newport at Your Feet. The harbour is full of eye candy from the aforementioned mega yachts, John Wayne’s former party boat, multi-million dollar mansions and palm trees.
Dropped off at the Balboa Fun Zone we walked past the carousel, Ferris wheel, and cotton candy sellers to Segway O.C. The stand up motorized personal vehicles are like riding a magic carpet – the perfect mode of transportation for whipping up and down the pier, along the boardwalk and past yet more mansions, sunbathers and lapping ocean.
Air Canada has launched a new daily non-stop flight from Toronto to John Wayne Airport in Orange County’s Santa Ana. www.aircanada.com. Air Canada and WestJet also fly non-stop to Los Angeles from Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Steve MacNaull is a business reporter for the Kelowna Daily Courier who loves to travel and write about that too. Find out more about Steve at www.bctravelwriters.com/macnaull.