DESTINATIONS: California Dreaming At The Mandalay Hotel & Beach Resort In Ventura County

by J.B. Lester
Publisher/Editor Healthy Planet magazine

My 85-year-old father-in-law loves four things, family, friends, work and golf. And even after being diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago, the resilient Kay Inaba still finds time for everything he loves.

My brother Bill and I recently flew out to the Los Angeles area to visit and play a couple rounds of golf with Kay. Our family affectionately calls him “Ojii”, which is Japanese for grandfather. Even in his mid 80s, Ojii (who has earned his PhD in Industrial Psychology) is still working as an IT specialist for an international biotechnology company. Due to his chemotherapy-suppressed immune system, doctors have ordered him to work from home to stay clear of large groups of people and the viruses they might inadvertently share.

Ojii lives with my wife’s sister and her husband, in Camarillo, north of Los Angeles. My brother and I stayed in nearby Oxnard where I was the guest of the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort, a Hilton property. The sprawling Spanish Mediter-ranean-style resort is located right on the beach of the Pacific Ocean offering a fantastic destination for any occasion. This area of Ventura County offers numerous gourmet eateries and popular golf courses. One night we ate at a local certified oraganic restaurant called The Whale’s Tail overlooking the Channel Islands Harbor and enjoyed a delicious catch of the day. The area boasts many seafood restaurants, but you can find numerous great steak houses and ethnic eateries as well.

The Mandalay Beach Hotel and Resort offers a variety of 248 well-appointed suites including many with beautiful ocean views. Guests will enjoy the complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast and nightly “Evening Reception” offering free beverages and light appetizers for both adults and children. Dining includes the Coast Grill offering casual resort dining with an American fare. The Cabana Lounge located near the pool area offers a great spot for lunch, snacks, cocktails and weekend evening entertainment.
The resort grounds and courtyard are tropically designed with palm trees, swimming pools, waterfalls and lagoons — a perfect backdrop for many movie and TV settings over the years. In fact, during our visit, we unknowingly walked into the hotel lobby in the middle of a live location shoot of NCIS. The cameras rolled while we tried to hide in the middle of the room with actors donned in Bahamas attire moving around us. The hotel had been magically transported from Oxnard to the Bahamas overnight. This is the life of people in or near “Tinsel Town” but for us it was an exciting experience. A day in the life of La La Land. Not sure if we will be in the scene, but it was fun. Look for us on the small screen, we will be the two wide-eyed golf tourists trying to hide behind a pillar in the lobby.

After our brush with t.v. fame, my father-in-law invited us to experience his “home golf course” Rustic Canyon, where Ojii had his first hole-in-one at age 83. And of course he has since shot his age or lower on more than a few occasions. Some would argue a golfing milestone more difficult than a hole-in-one. Despite his current challenges, Ojii shot an 87 while we were there, and still criticized himself for not doing better. The second day we played a beautiful links-style course called Olivas Links where we met up with Ojii’s good friend Jim Kanter. Olivas Links is well known for having Adirondack chairs on each tee box for the pleasure of the weary golfer. I currently wear a hat from that golf course with its signature Adirondack chair logo. It reminds me of Ojii who conserves his energy well by assuming the “lounging position” whenever possible for a cat nap or two. This is the cap I will wear in his honor while he continues his battle with cancer.

I have always been amazed and a bit star struck at whom you bump into when you visit friends or family in Los Angeles. Over the years, playing golf with my father-in-law, I have met or played with people like writers for the Love Boat TV series, and the movie Roger Rabbit. I met Jamie Farr (who played Clinger on MASH) on the driving range and movie actor Powers Booth on the putting green. And so it goes for Ojii’s good friend Jim Kanter who played in with us. Yes he is famous, too. You would not recognize his face or maybe his name, but you have heard his clarinet in the musical scores from numerous Disney movies and famous films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Hercules, Mulan, ET, Benny and Joon, Nine Months, Schindler’s List, As Good As It Gets, and many more. To all of us Midwesterners, these are stars in their fields, but to my father-in-law, they are just friends and fellow golfers trying to win a skins game. Camaraderie at its best. And that’s what Ojii is all about, family, friends, work and golf. The loves of his life. I am already planning our next golf adventure. And I bet this time Ojii scores lower than his age… and if he does, that will be money out of my pocket, and you know what, I will consider that money well spent!

The Los Angeles area is a great place to visit… and Ventura County has much to offer just north of LA. The Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel and Resort is located between LA and Santa Barbara, so this would be a great destination for either a vacation or holding a business event, outing or meeting. Numerous gourmet restaurants and unique attractions are nearby including the Channel Islands National Park. Ocean, foothills, beaches, recreation, great food, and sightseeing are all here for you to explore and experience. You won’t be disappointed.

For more information please check out the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel and Resort: 2101 Mandalay Beach Road, Oxnard, California, 93035, 1-805-984-2500 or http://embassysuites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/california/embassy-suites-mandalay-beach-hotel-and-resort-OXNCAES/index.html. You can also visit: http://www.ventura-usa.com for more tourism information on the area.

Enjoy your California Dreaming!