by Kate | May 25, 2011


Ready to board John Wayne's boat, the Wild Goose, for lunch and a harbor tour!


My husband called around 1 pm. “What are you up to?” he asked. “Oh, I’m just having lunch on John Wayne’s boat, sailing through Newport Harbor,” I answered. 

You get to say things like this in Newport Beach, CA, because such grand-sounding activities come together quite effortlessly. In town for Successful Meetings’ and Meetings & Conventions’ Destination CA event, I was also able to explore a fair amount of the Newport Beach area. Aside from our lovely boat cruise, courtesy of Hornblower Cruises & Events and during which you will undoubtedly spend just as much time gawking at the homes of the rich and famous as eating, we also took in a coastal tour, visited a mission, dined at the waterfront Newport Dunes and the glamorous Balboa Bay Club & Resort, and enjoyed the sights of Fashion Island. 



Part of the extensive grounds of the Mission San Juan Capistrano – such a beautiful and peaceful place


A drive along the water took us by the iconic Pelican Hill Resort, past the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Montage Hotel, through the artistic community of Laguna Beach, and ultimately to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. This spectacular and peaceful site offers a variety of spaces for groups—from the Soldiers Barracks Gallery, which accommodates 75 for dinner, to the Central Courtyard, where up to 1,000 guests can enjoy a reception. 



Sunset from the terrace of the Balboa Bay Club & Resort

Our home base for Destination CA was the Marriott Newport Beach Hotel & Spa. The hotel, which recently underwent a $70 million renovation, offers 532 rooms and more than 40,000 square feet of event and meeting space, but perhaps the best thing about the property is its location–just minutes from the John Wayne Orange County Airport and across the street from the shopping and dining outlets of Fashion Island, but also sporting sweeping views of a golf course and the ocean beyond.  

“It’s a hard life,” as Wayne said, but someone has to live it. 

—Kinley Welly