ZOLTAR AT THE CASA DEL MAR

Remember the movie Big, when Tom Hanks enlists the magic of Zoltar, the animatronic fortune teller, to realize his dreams? Well, perhaps you have no desire to leapfrog a generation, but still wonder what the future augurs. In which case, if you happen pass through the lobby of Santa Monica’s hotel by the sea, Casa Del Mar, enlist their vintage Zoltar to tell your fortune. Yup, he’s the real item, with the gold earrings and gold turban, so take a shot. But as valuable and esoteric as that experience may be, it’s not the only reason to visit the fabulous Casa Del Mar.

Once called “the grandest beach club of them all,” for decades Casa del Mar fell short of that title. First, the drug rehab cult Synanon moved in. Then, during the 1980s, diet guru Nathan Pritikin called it home. But after a $50 million rehabilitation in 1999, recreated the look and feel of the 1920s with its blend of Mediterranean and California Mission details. Boasting the best hotel beachfront in Los Angeles, with no boardwalk or roadway separating guests and sand, sixty of the Casa’s 129 airy rooms have full or partial beach views.

Santa Monica Bay’s sheltered waters draw every stripe of surfer, and the beach still attracts its bizarre mix of bodybuilders and strongmen—vestiges of Santa Monica’s once popular Muscle Beach. But steps away Santa Monica Pier offers great fishing, a Ferris wheel, video game arcade, and carnival-style amusements. A 20-minute stroll brings you to the shops and restaurants of the Third Street Promenade.

You’ll need wheels to visit Venice Beach’s skateboarders, surfers, and hip eateries, but it’s only a 10-15 minute drive away, as are Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. Ditto with Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, Hollywood Boulevard, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and LA International. 

Along with Zoltar the Fortune Teller, the lobby has an arcade photo booth for a few old timey chuckles. And on Mondays a mixologist with a little cocktail trolley peddles yummy gluten-free drinks. The gluten-free theme continues at the hotel’s fine restaurant, Catch. Chef Jason Bowlin dazzles patrons with fare like swordfish and prawn spiedini.

Pets are welcome, so long as they behave. 

Casa Del Mar •1910 Ocean WaySanta Monica,CA 90405/ 1-888-897-2807

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