Travel Agent sat down today with Maris Somerville of Santa Catalina and Redondo Beach, California, and Candice Middleton, General Manager of Catalina's Villa Portofino, to get the scoop on what's new on this Southern California island gem.
Apparently, a lot.
What to Do
First and foremost the island, 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, is debuting three brand new attractions. The first is its Eco Zip Line, which will open in early April. This is a nearly 4,000-foot zip line made up of five separate zips across Descanso Canyon. The adventure ends by the ocean at Descanso Beach. Speeds reach up to 45 miles per hour and each stopping platform offers views of the island interior and ocean.
Also coming up: A Sea Trek, slated to debut in mid summer. This unique tour allows travelers to walk along the ocean floor, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-style, using special diving helmets. No prior diving experience is required, however children under 17 will be required to be accompanied by an adult.
Catalina is also unveiling a GPS Ranger Walking tour, giving travelers a high-tech guide to see the sights at their own pace. Travel Agent was not given any information as to when this tour will debut, but when it does it will be able to accommodate up to six people per unit.
Where to Stay
The best way to experience these tours is to combine them with a stay at Villa Portofino. Starting in the spring guests will be able to book these tours and have their tickets printed right at the front desk.
The hotel is a 35-room, Mediterranean-style hotel, which features courtyard-view rooms, four full ocean view suites, two partial ocean-view suites and two Deluxe king rooms.
The hotel offers a variety of packages for its guest, ranging anywhere from whale-watching package tours to massages.
There is no spa or fitness center on the property, but Catalina is the place for outdoor activity such as snorkeling, kayaking, miniature golf and more. There are also a variety of day spas for guests looking to unwind.
Guests can dine at Ristorante Villa Portofino for classic Italian fare. A nice touch is the hotel's sundeck, where guests can have a private view of the surrounding island and the Pacific.
For reservations travel agents can contact Candice Middleton at (888) 510-0555. Agents will receive a 10 percent commission on room bookings. Visit www.hotelvillaportofino.com.
Getting to Catalina is where the trip begins. Visitors arrive on the Catalina Express, a regularly running catamaran which departs out of Long Beach and Dana Point. While aboard guests have the opportunity to see some great wildlife. (A whale sighting is not uncommon.) Visit www.catalinaexpress.com.
Visit Redondo Beach, a 27-mile stretch of ocean, which is home to restaurants, hotels and plenty of outdoor activity. Visitors can go scuba diving, boating, while watching, hiking and more.
Somerville tells us that this is the original "surf city," a great little beach community that takes you back to what Venice Beach and Santa Monica used to be like during their true "hang-ten" days.