Stay, Play and Chill, Island-Style
Written By: Emilie Kefalas Catalina Island Specials
About 22 miles beyond the shores of Long Beach, cast off enough to forget traffic woes, Catalina Island blossoms in the pleasant privacy of the Pacific. Traveling to this best-kept secret of the SoCal coast is made efficient with Catalina Express’s three ports: Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point.
Every day, Catalina Express offers close to 30 departures as well as year-round service to Avalon and Two Harbors, and every year on average for the last 37 years, Catalina Express transports over 1 million passengers in its cozy arrangements rivaling any domestic airline seating. The commute from shore to somewhere beyond the sea takes about an hour, meaning you could be lounging on the balcony of your “island getaway” suite in less time than it takes to go from Burbank to Anaheim in rush hour.
While on the subject of refreshing island isolation, Catalina’s off-season ironically provides the most appealing packages to turn any busy-body-cell-phone-slave on to a long weekend excursion. Agnieszka Sanchez, Director of Marketing for Catalina Express, explains the off-season experience on Catalina Island is “unique, peaceful and full of adventure ready to be explored. The weather is beautiful and you can avoid all the peak summer and spring crowds,” Sanchez says. “There are many off-season events happening on the Island that draw visitors such as marathons and the famous Annual JazzTrax festival. Catalina Express partners with these events and many hotels in order to offer the visitors a more memorable experience.”
Pre-spring break, take advantage of pleasant weather and lower room rates on Catalina Island through March 28th during which Catalina Express’s Boat and Hotel Package Partners offer combination boat and accommodations packages at 19 hotels in Avalon as part of its high-demand “Best of Winter” benefaction.
Each of these packages comes with round-trip transportation to the island via Catalina Express, and in case you’re not already scrolling through your calendar in search of free time, a majority of Avalon hotels, including the four highlighted in this piece, offer complimentary continental breakfast and wine and cheese hour.
Breakfast? Beach? Boating? If this trinity of paradise has your mouth watering like the waves, carry on my wayward sons (and daughters).
An island getaway would be baseless without a private patio upon which to sip coffee among other concoctions. For over 40 years, Catalina Island Inn has hosted hundreds of leisure seekers on such patios complete nowadays with electric awnings and fireplaces. Their rooms accommodate guests with four-poster King Beds, flat screen TVs and lush decor almost as luxurious as the view the Inn boasts of the ocean. “Catalina Island Inn presents beautiful rooms, as well as suites, [and] it’s contemporary style perfect for everyone,” Sanchez says. Included in Catalina Island Inn’s Best of Winter Package is a one-night accommodation, a round-trip boat for two on Catalina Express, and a round-trip taxi transfer to and from the port of call.
Guests pay only $116.36 per person for a one-night midweek stay in a basic queen non-view room. A king suite comes at $166.75 per person for the first night, and for a second night, add $235.20 which represents 50 percent savings.
Catalina Island Inn
125 Metropole Ave
Avalon, CA 90704
The cream of the crop in a field of “you can’t really go wrong,” the posh Pavilion Hotel looks and feels the meaning of “escape” with its spotless views of the beach adjacent to its exquisite landscaped gardens. Sip some bubbles by the central courtyard fire pit and permit the palms to fan you into vacation mode as you enjoy complimentary wine and cheese. Pavilion’s resort-style amenities allow you access to various island adventures which will make for the best souvenirs upon your return: memories.
“The Pavilion Hotel gives a resort-style vibe and is front and centered on the water perfect for a romantic getaway,” Sanchez says. The Pavilion Hotel’s Best of Autumn and Winter Package includes round-trip boat transportation via Catalina Express, overnight hotel accommodations with a top-notch hot breakfast (did we mention they offer an omelet bar?), an evening cheese and wine reception, complimentary tours and activities, fitness classes at Island Spa Catalina and bicycle access for you to further explore the island. The best part is the rates for double occupancy begin at $111 per person.
513 Crescent Ave
Avalon, CA 90704
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As the saying goes, mi casa es su casa, and Casa Mariquita fulfills that euphemism splendidly in Catalina Island’s city of Avalon. This family-owned and operated hotel resides about a block and a half from the island’s beaches and is just as close to a vibrant village of shopping, dining, and recreational merriment for all. “Case Marquita is located right next to the Catalina Island Museum giving it beautiful views and is near all the local spots of Avalon,” Sanchez explains.
The Best of Winter package for this lovely lodging includes a one-night standard king-bed room, two round-trip boat tickets from Long Beach, San Pedro, or Dana Point, and continental breakfast. Rates begin at $134 per person, per night, not including tax.
229 Metropole Ave
Avalon, CA 90704
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Step into Catalina history at the over 100-year-old Hermosa Hotel. Opened circa 1896 by the Rosin family, Hermosa’s cottages could be mistaken for lodging in Santorini, Greece with their white brick complexions, flower-filled corners, and sweeping mountain-meets-sea views. The hotel was one of very few spared the 1915 fire responsible for destroying most of the island’s structures.
“Hermosa Hotel offers lovely cottages only a half a block from the water, is great for families and is pet-friendly,” Sanchez says. The resort is considered a preferred hotel amongst scuba divers and outdoorsmen/women, which might be thanks to its large units with full kitchens roomy enough for eight explorers. Currently owned and operated by the Malan family, Hermosa prevails as a treasure of Catalina’s origins as a destination for reef-relief-searching-Californians.
When you purchase the Best of Winter package for Hermosa, you get a two-night stay starting at $278.88 for pet-friendly double occupancy. As always, round-trip boat transportation with Catalina Express is included.
131 Metropole Ave
Avalon CA 90704
As Sanchez explains, each of these Catalina-based hotels is known for its unique character and history to the Island. Whether you are looking to spend your vacation indoors or outdoors, she says, the hotels are all customized to the experience you are looking for and will help you make your vacation last a lifetime.
“We want your vacation to start the second you step on the boat where you can forget anything you’re leaving behind, and enjoy your journey over to the Island,” Sanchez says. “If you’re looking for a special experience, look into our Commodore or Captain’s Lounges offering a more intimate experience, priority check-in and boarding as well as a complimentary snack and beverage.”