Newest Southern California Getaways

If you’re one of the 26 million tourists who will visit Los Angeles this year, there’s more reason than ever to pack your bags and get out of town. A quartet of snazzy new resorts has opened, and you can drive to them on way less than a tank of gas.

1. Riviera Resort & Spa, Palm Springs
Miles From Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): 120
Don’t Miss: The rhinestone-encrusted Liberace pool table
Room Rates: $249 and up

This was once the playground of the Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. all performed here, and even Elvis recorded in an on-site studio. The Riviera shut down for a two-year, $70 million renovation and reopened in October 2008, just in time for its 50th anniversary. Located at the edge of Palm Springs’ lively downtown area, the Riviera’s renovation starts with a lobby that features Warhol-inspired prints of onetime guests like Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Debbie Reynolds and Bob Hope.

The 406 guest rooms, spread over several low buildings, are a minimum of 680 square feet and designed in a motif of mid-century meets Hollywood regency -- white leather headboards, Lucite and chrome lamps, armchairs in chartreuse, tomato-red and Kelly-green upholstery. Riviera’s centerpiece is a stunning starfish-shaped swimming pool with spectacular views of the San Jacinto Mountains. At night, the pool deck, with its flickering fire pits and Bikini Bar, turns into the best cocktail party in town. Cure your morning-after hangover with a Javanese Royal Treatment -- featuring a massage, herbal exfoliation and a soak in a tub scattered with rose petals -- at the Asian-inspired SpaTerre.

1600 North Indian Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262


2. The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach

Miles From LAX: 48
Don’t Miss: The morning hikes to Crystal Cove Park with an on-staff naturalist
Room Rates: $695 for ocean-view bungalows

For unadulterated luxury, head down to this resort that sits on a 504-acre seaside bluff above Crystal Cove State Park on the Newport Coast. Built to evoke the vision of the celebrated Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, with rows of arched porticos, soaring rotundas and 750 olive trees, Pelican Hill feels more like a seaside Italian village than a SoCal beach town.

Guests at Pelican Hill live large: The smallest of the 204 tile-roofed bungalows, which are stacked on a hill so that almost all have an ocean view, is 847 square feet. The villas range from 2,200 to 3,600 square feet. The Coliseum Pool -- 136 feet in diameter -- is the largest circular pool in the world; with 1.1 million hand-cut blue mosaic tiles lining the bottom, it’s absolutely stunning. The 23,000 square-foot spa has his-and-hers soaking tubs, 22 treatment rooms and an extensive spa menu that includes everything from pomegranate body wraps to oxygen facials.

22701 Pelican Hill Road South
Newport Coast, CA 92657


3. Hotel Maya, Long Beach

Miles from LAX: 22
Don’t Miss: Sunday’s lively Fiesta Domingo brunch
Room Rates: $139 and up

Don’t have time to head down to Mexico? Consider this boutique hotel with luxurious Latin flair instead. The waterfront Hotel Maya sits directly across the bay from downtown Long Beach -- a water taxi will ferry you there, but why leave when you can relax poolside in a floating cabana? Bring your pooch: The Maya is so pet-friendly, no doggy deposit is required, and canine beds are available.

700 Queensway Drive
Long Beach, CA 90802


4. Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes
Miles From LAX: 20
Don’t Miss: Whale and dolphin sightings from the deck of Nelson’s bar
Room Rates: $270 and up

This spanking new resort is a 30-minute drive from LAX airport but feels blessedly remote. Perched above the tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it offers unobstructed views of the Pacific from almost every vantage point throughout its sprawling 102 acres. There are three ocean-facing pools here: a family pool with a 140-foot waterslide, an adults-only pool with lounges nestled in the sand, and the tranquil spa lap pool. Rouse yourself from your lounge chair, and you can amble down a walkway to a sandy beach cover or take a self-guided hike along the scenic bluffs of the Discovery Trail. 

100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275