Around Town: Laguna Beach

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Places, Prospectives & Happenings

Wanted: Artistic Bike Racks

As the 10th official Transition Town in the U.S., Laguna is committed to implementing practical alternatives to fuel-based economies. With few bike lanes and bike racks, however, Laguna is far behind in the race to adapt alternative modes of transportation. Transition Laguna Beach (TLB) hopes to install a bike rack program throughout town in an effort to transition to Complete Streets—streets safe for walking, biking and driving.

President of TLB, Chris Prelitz, says City Council has approved the first artistic bike rack on Thalia Street, while the Complete Streets Task Force will make further recommendations for bike rack locations. The Planning Commission is similarly working on a general plan that stresses the transition to Complete Streets. “Personally, I ride all over town and love going past the gas station and not putting $100 of gas in my car,” Chris says. For more information about the cause, visit

Surf With a Legend 

This fall, Montage Laguna Beach announces its partnership with Hurley in the Surf With A Legend Hurley Retreat. Taking place at the Montage Laguna Beach from Sept. 14 – 16, the weekend getaway gives guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with two surfing pros. Pat O’Connell is a surf legend and the star of “The Endless Summer II,” and Jon Rose is a professional surfer and founder of Waves for Water. The exclusive weekend event includes a two-night stay at Montage, surf outings with Pat and Jon, and much more. Ten percent of proceeds will go toward Jon’s and Hurley’s foundation Waves for Water, an organization that aims to provide clean water to communities around the world. (30801 S. Coast Hwy.; 866-271-6953;

Shop Laguna

Sun Dance Now Open

With a charming array of apparel and accessories, Sun Dance is a great one-stop shopping destination for women looking for coastal cool attire. Beach-inspired looks are plentiful at the boutique, where customers can find everything from basic tanks and tees to brightly colored skirts and linen blazers. The soft cottons and layering pieces found at Sun Dance are easy to incorporate into your existing wardrobe. (1175 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-4595;

EnviroIngenuity’s Vertical Farm

Aspiring locavores will soon have a place to congregate: Laguna’s forthcoming demonstration center for the Verti-Gro hydroponic vertical farming system dreamt up by the innovative local green energy firm EnviroIngenuity (opening in early September).

“In Laguna Beach, we have many discriminating foodies who demand locally-grown, clean, natural food, rich in essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements,” says EnviroIngenuity’s managing director, Erik Cutter. “I am certainly one of them! And knowing where your food comes from and consuming it fresh greatly reduces disease-triggering processes and strengthens the body’s immune system.”

Efficient, straightforward and cutting-edge, the Verti-Gro system is compact enough for homes without expansive property and simple enough for amateur gardeners. Verti-Gro operates with one nutrient recirculation system, no matter how many pots stack up on top of the tank, thus eliminating nutrient waste. The 5-foot-tall vertical garden cuts out soil entirely, eliminating with it any soil-borne diseases or bugs. Homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs have never felt more within reach.(

Five-Star Salon Experience

The Salon at Spa Gaucin at The St. Regis Monarch Beach recently reopened with two top stylists. Master hairstylist Dennis Lee first studied the art of styling under the tutelage of famed celebrity stylist (and his uncle) Allen Edwards. With long stints at salons such as Salon Gregorie’s, Gods & Heroes and Armando Joshua Christopher Salon, Dennis is in high-demand for wedding styling across the globe. Premier stylist Elizabeth Castillo also joins the salon, having served as artistic director at Vidal Sassoon and styled the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly Ripa, Kelly Rutherford, Jennie Garth and more. What do the experts say is on trend these days? Dennis suggests layers that allow movement and body without looking obvious; the same goes for highlights—bye-bye ombre and hello natural looking color. To protect hair and nix frizz, he recommends a Brazilian keratin straightening treatment. The all-natural version he uses lasts up to six months and has no harsh chemicals.

What may surprise locals is that the prices at The Salon at Spa Gaucin are not out of line with your typical salon, yet the experience at the St. Regis takes the level of service and environment up several notches.

To entice new customers, Dennis is offering a 20 percent discount on your first visit or a free cut with hair color service through July 31. Add a manicure or pedicure to your hair appointment, or combine it with a spa treatment or meal at the resort—complete with some of the best views in the area.

Happy Campers

Summer is the time for kids to experience hands-on learning and enjoy day camps with their friends. For kids who enjoy marine life, Pacific Marine Mammal Center offers Camp Pinniped—a summer day camp for 8- to 12-year-olds to learn how to care for sea lions and other marine life, including arts and crafts activities ( Outdoor adventures can be experienced at Crystal Cove Native American Summer Camp, where kids can learn about Native American traditions, and enjoy crafts, games and camping for one week ( The Laguna Playhouse also offers many kids and teen classes ranging from musical theater workshops to teen acting and ensemble workshops that further enhance skills necessary in collaboration, sharing the stage and acting (

Active kids looking to learn a new sport can take surfing lessons from La Vida Laguna this summer ( Taught by professionals, the classes take place at Thalia Beach and teach ages 8 and up to surf on the slow-rolling tides. Steven Chew (who won “Best Surf Instructor” in OC last summer) also teaches surf classes through the City of Laguna Beach Community Services Department ( Summer programs with opportunities for kids to learn or improve on dance, tennis, ice skating and a variety of other sports are available through the city’s Community Services Department.

Hot Summer Reads

“The Kings of Cool”

Chances are, most Lagunans will be flocking to the theater this month to see Oliver Stone’s “Savages,” not only because it looks damn good, but because the story takes place right here in our hometown. Based on the book of the same name written by Don Winslow, the movie tells the story of damaged 20-somethings who grow pot in their Laguna apartment; their love triangle twists into a tangle with the Mexican drug cartel and crooked cops. If you still haven’t gotten enough of the story by the time the credits roll, pick up a copy of Don’s most recent release, “The Kings of Cool” (Simon & Schuster, 2012). A prequel to “Savages,” the book delves into the back-story of the main characters and how they came to be the way they are.

 “Monarch Beach”

In her debut novel (St. Martin’s Press, 2012), local author Anita Hughes reflects on the emotional journey of a wife who leaves her French chef husband after she finds him tangled in the sheets with his sous chef. With her young son, she finds refuge as a resident of The St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in nearby Dana Point. Amid seeking peace and respite from the drama of her former life, she finds a second chance at love.

 “Hell Camp” 

“My life story was a burning hole in my stomach lining, and thankfully putting pen to paper appeased my inner ‘acid throwing’ demons,” says Laguna author Niki Smart. Her new memoir, “Hell Camp” (self-published), served as a cathartic experience that helped her see the funny side of growing up in South Africa during a turbulent time and with a mother who suffered from borderline personality disorder. “It had its fair share of excitement, bizarreness and flat out madness.” She recounts crazy moments, emotions, struggles—and ultimately, survival.

 “A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends”

From a restless New Yorker who travels to Spain to find a European lover, only to fall for another New Yorker, to two friends who travel to Nantucket to escape their past, only to find it right there on the island, Southern California-based author Stacy Bierlein’s debut story collection (Elephant Rock Books, 2012) tells tales of various female characters and their bizarre and ironic encounters, twists of fate and unrelenting faith in finding love.

All books are available at Laguna Beach Books (1200 S. Coast Hwy. #105A;
949-494-4779; LBM

Float Therapy

To those who dream of traveling to the Dead Sea or outer space to experience weightlessness, look no further. In June, Jeff Brion and Rosanne Ramirez opened the Float Lounge and became the first to offer mineral spa flotation therapy in Orange County. According to the owners, float therapy can help with a wide range of problems, from anxiety and joint pain to sleep and lack of creativity.

“An hour floating equates to about four hours of deep, restful sleep,” Rosanne says. “It has so many benefits other than just detoxifying the body.”

Jeff, who first started using salt baths for athletic injuries, says, “You’re not only getting the muscle and tension relief, but also the relaxation, which is a major stress reducer.”

Float tanks hold 150 – 200 gallons of water and 1,000 pounds of the highest-grade Epsom salt—all of which evens out to 10 inches. Before starting a session, floaters rinse off in a private shower. Once inside the float tank, the goal is to give your senses a rest. The water is warmed to skin temperature, and floaters are encouraged to strip down before floating. Tanks are soundproof, but you can opt to have relaxing music played, and the decision to open or close the top of tank during a session is left up to each floater. The tanks go through a dual-filtration process with a UV light after each float to purify the water. (1891 S. Coast Hwy. Unit A; 949-342-6033;

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