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Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort
25135 Park Lantern
Dana Point, Ca. 92629
949-661-5000, 800-533-9748

The Great Gatsby Would Have Slept Here
By Rubin Carson

The Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort, in Dana Point, is closer to Disneyland than New England, but Gatsby would have loved it anyway. Imagine a classic Cape Cod edifice situated on a hillside bluff commanding soul-stirring views of the Pacific. Add 40 acres of well-kept lawns and glorious walks that insulate you from nearby freeways and strip malls. Bunnies dart into the middle of croquet games and miraculously disappear. The resort is only an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles, but a world of its own.

Originally opened in 1987 as the Dana Point Resort, this park-like retreat was acquired by Marriott International, Inc. in 1995, and its 346 guest rooms have been completely renovated. When ushered into a room, you definitely know you're in Southern California surf country and not some Gilded Age relic.

Warm yellow walls depict the sun with splashes of turquoise, representing the ocean. Cherry wood lamps feature a cobalt blue Lucite, luminescent and watery in nature. An unobtrusive sheer window treatment with a swirl water pattern beckon you to the French doors, which open to the balcony and the focal point of it all: the Pacific Ocean. Trumping all the above is the comfortable king-size bed, which appears to consist of a firm support mattress overlaid with grandma's down quilt. Heavenly! (also paralyzingly expensive, as we discovered when inquiring about the make and price.)

There are more than enough recreational opportunities: two heated swimming pools, complimentary health and fitness clubs, tennis courts, and nearby award-winning golf courses. There's also an on-site Kid's Club that keeps children from ages two to twelve busy.Dana Point Harbor Shops and picturesque Mariner's Village are within walking distance. For the even more restless, the concierge plans day trips to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Catalina Island, not to mention sailing and deep-sea fishing.

As a farewell cap to our memorable stay, the GM demonstrated the European tradition of sabering. (Don't try it at home.) He's one of only 21 "Master Sabers" in the world, and a member of Club des Sabreurs, an elite group of swordsmen who used an 18th century sword to perfectly slice the neck off a Moët Champagne bottle with one swoop prior to serving (delicious and shard-free). Gatsby should have had it this good.

Going to Orange County? Check out our guide.

(Updated: 06/25/08 HC)

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