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Mini-moon Bliss

Mini-moon Bliss
Wine amid an ambient fire at the Montage Laguna Beach resort.

Sharing your first moments as Mr. and Mrs. is one of the most special times of your life. But what to do when you're postponing your lengthy honeymoon until later — or don't want to spend your first night of married bliss on a plane?

Plan a mini-moon — a local escape to relax and celebrate your first, official night of marriage: alone together.

Alison and Eddie Salcedo of Manhattan Beach, who were married in 2009, had another reason. "We wanted a nearby destination for our wedding night, so we could easily return to it, to remember our special day for years to come," Alison Salcedo said.

Before the flight

Only 15 minutes north of Los Angeles International Airport, the Jamaica Bay Inn in Marina del Rey offers a luxe West Indian-like escape. Its 111 new and renovated rooms and gorgeous VU Restaurant & Bar sit on the sand with views of bobbing yachts on the sparkling water.

"Newlyweds tell me, 'We feel like we're already on our honeymoon,' " said Wally Moran, VU restaurant's general manager.

A favorite honeymoon choice is the Veranda Suite — a one-bedroom love nest with a circular living room and mahogany-colored shutters opening to 280-degree marina views. The suite also features a spacious balcony overlooking the water and an oversized bathroom with his-and-hers vanities. 

Moran recommends drinks by the outdoor fire pit as a prelude to a dinner of lamb "lollipops" or wild Australian kingfish at VU. 

Twenty minutes south of LAX, the Hermosa Beach House Hotel, located on the Strand in Hermosa Beach, embraces couples in the cozy romance of a Cape Cod-style hideaway.

"It's the rooms that couples like best," said Kevin McCarthy, the hotel's general manager. "They love the layout: an elevated bedroom and bath with a Jacuzzi tub, then two steps down to the living area, with a fireplace and spacious patio or balcony."

Alison Salcedo said the white wood architecture and warm earthy colors helped make it "feel like our room really was a beach house."

Close, feels like far away

The Lavender Inn in Ojai, an eight-room bed-and-breakfast-inn converted from an 1847 school building, is an invitation to romance the picturesque Ojai Valley, 90 minutes north of L.A.

The 1,000-square-foot Provence Cottage is a newlywed favorite — Nora Stewart and John Palumbo of Sierra Madre reveled in the romance of its private garden and French doors for their mini-moon in 2009.

"It's so easy to get to, so quiet and cozy and we love to hike. The inn feels like a little oasis," Stewart said.

Just 120-miles south of L.A. is the ultra-chic Se San Diego Hotel. Its Zen-infused 184 rooms, suites and 2,500-square-foot two-story penthouse (with a two-story glass wall) rise above San Diego's sizzling Gas Lamp District. The Luxe Suites, from the 14th floor up, each with two bathrooms, a Euro kitchen and one or two patios, are mini-moon favorites, said Jerry Parent, director of sales and marketing.

"Couples love the Se Spa [specializing in Asian-style pampering] — and the Suite & Tender restaurant," he noted.

If couples in the Luxe Suites or penthouse want a unique experience, Parent can arrange for a chef to go to their suite and cook a romantic dinner or breakfast.

A heavenly escape is how newlyweds describe Montage Laguna Beach, said Hanae Kalland, resort sales manager for this Craftsman-style resort atop an ocean bluff. "Sipping a cocktail [and] watching the sun set, honeymooners say they feel transported to an exotic beach destination."

Of the 250 ocean-view rooms on 30 acres, Cupid reigns supreme in the resort's 2,000-square-foot Catalina Suite, with a fireplace and Catalina Island views. Rose petals, champagne, oysters and a drawn bath and candles are some of the treats that recently welcomed some L.A. mini-mooners, recalled Ben Pearson, guest relations manager. 

He suggests a Togetherness Massage in the Spa Montage's VIP spa suite, with an outdoor garden and soaking tub, followed by a candlelit in-room dinner.

"We can be as creative as a couple wants: be it dinner on a private lawn with a harpist or — as we recently arranged for a newlywed couple — a custom tasting menu in the ocean-view Studio Restaurant."

                                                                                                                             — Barbara Beckley
                                                                                                                    Custom Publishing Writer