The holidays are here & with the season comes merrily-themed Pandora Stations (hello, Mariah Carey ‘Holiday’), festive garland & those highly anticipated (or somewhat obligatory) Holiday parties. Whether it’s a beloved tradition amongst your friends & family or the annual office gathering, we’ve asked a couple of our expert Marina party planners to share their best tips for organizing a successful (and memorable) soiree that will have your guest buzzing well into the New Year.

New PictureMegan Peery, Special Events Manager
Killer Shrimp Restaurant & Bar

Space: You want your party guests to mingle, but you don’t want them rubbing elbows. The most important factor in hosting your party is that you’re creating the perfect balance of space, tables, food, chairs & people to make the experience relaxing & enjoyable.

Tables: Depending on the event, you may not always need big round banquet tables. A nice mixture of small tables or high cocktail tables allows people to walk around more & interact rather than being stuck at larger tables & setting up a campsite.

Food: Selecting the menu will be subject to the time of your event & your overall budget. The presentation of heavy appetizers & an open bar lends itself to a more mixing & mingling party compared to a dinnertime event that will be catered & best suited for a three-to-five course sit-down meal style.

Atmosphere/Ambiance: You want to set an environment that is visually appealing to your guests (e.g. lighting, textures & linens). Moreover, choose centerpieces that don’t block the view of the guests – create low-lying centerpieces or move them to an area that’s more suitable. Neutral colored linens are ideal as they don’t overwhelm your party attendees’ eyes. Stick with cloth napkins, or if you’re on a tight budget, there is always great looking plastic/paper ware to purchase. Lastly, background music sets the entire tone of your event – choose wisely & have fun!

2411c47Rebecca Milkey, Director of Marketing, Southern CA
Hornblower Cruises & Events

Think theme: One of the best things to do when planning a party is to create a theme. You want something that will get the group talking & excited about what they’re going to wear! This year, nautical is in & you can create nautical holiday decor with navy & white striped linen table cloths & poinsettia centerpieces. You also want to consider giveaways! A cool gift giveaway would be a darling Captain’s Hat with the company logo for each attendee – great for the photo posts!

Happy party planning!

Marina love,

Valerie

While many flock to brunch for endless champagne and the option of pancakes & bacon at 2pm, Cast & Plow at the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey is giving brunch lovers another reason to devour this beloved weekend ritual – a themed dessert station (yes, that’s your sweet tooth rejoicing). Every week, pastry chef Adina River Schaefer & her team of confection wizards will whip up a customized dessert display too large for any standard size menu. No, this specialty spread gets its very own buffet table. And you’re going to want to make a stop (or two…or three…) to satisfy that dessert desire.

I had the pleasure of visiting Sunday brunch Halloween week & was blown away with the spook-tacular display of treats. Think a chocolate chunk tarantula, a mini-cemetery of chocolate pudding, bat-shaped chocolates, and a syringe that oozed raspberry sauce onto a perfectly shaped tart. My group & I “oohed & awed” with each custom creation that was brought back to the table. It was such a fun way to dine & I especially loved the creativity & thoughtfulness that was baked into each item.

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The dessert station’s theme changes each week & I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the holidays – a Santa sleigh of sugar? A caramel-made turkey? I’m sure Ms. Anita & her pastry elves are already putting their little workshop of creative confections into motion.

And, with that said, you can find me at the dessert table.

Happy brunching!

Marina love,

Valerie

Marina del Rey is a waterfront haven for meeting planners. Because we’re located in the heart of the Los Angeles coastline, we’re able to put a creative twist on traditional meetings as we showcase the harbor with unique venues like luxury yachts, on-the-water activities, and waterfront dining. Signature events in the Marina include sunset cocktail receptions, enjoying a private yacht club, and team-building events such as mini-sailing regattas, group rowing, and deep sea fishing.

Recently, Successful Meetings Magazine featured Stephanie Ginzburg of FantaSea Yachts & Yacht Club by sharing her top tips for planning a meeting and/or event on the water. Read on to find out!

Marina Love,

Valerie

How to Hold a Meeting at Sea
FantaSea Yachts delivers some insightful tips for yacht meetings and events

By Stephanie Ginzburg

Meet on the Water

Meet on the Water in Marina del Rey, CA

Warm weather year-round in Marina del Rey, CA makes anything to be celebrated a festive occasion in this city. Who doesn’t love a yacht party and who wouldn’t want to go to a meeting aboard a yacht? Whether it be the annual holiday event or a sales meeting, a yacht event is a great way to spend time with your captive audience while enjoying the beautiful ocean scenery. Here are a few trips for hosting a meeting or event onboard a yacht?

Chart your budget. Hosting an event offers endless possibilities in food, drink and entertainment. FantaSea Yachts offers various packages and amenities that fit every budget.    Prioritize what is most important to your group and state clearly what you need.

Plan for your event needs and space. The number of meeting attendees and agenda for your event will help you in choosing the right yacht, floor plan and set-up.

Don’t sweat the decor.  Need an awesome and unique setting for your meeting? Let nature’s natural beauty be your Designer. Surrounded by the beauty of the blue coastal waters and soft sun kissed warmth of the Marina, a few scattered candles, sand and seashells can do the trick nicely.    This a good way to save money and maximize your meeting budget.

RSVPlease! We all want to do something for the environment – try sending an Evite or Paperless Post Invite to guests. This also helps keep track or your guests and allows up to the last minute responses and comments.

Best of Both Worlds.  FantaSea Yachts can offer you the best of a traditional land based meeting space in our water-front ballroom and then head out after the meeting for a scenic lunch, dinner or cocktail cruise aboard a beautiful yacht.

Enjoy. Front load the work and planning. Hosting a meeting or event aboard a yacht allows you to relax, mix and mingle with your group as you all share the adventure of cruise.

Stephanie Ginzburg has been the creative director of Marina del Rey, CA-based FantaSea Yachts & Yacht Club for more than 20 years. Owner-managed FantaSea is celebrating 34 years of business with an event team that has been together for more than 20 years. The company’s four yachts and waterfront ballroom can accommodate groups that range in size from 12 to 300.

For a glimpse into what it’s like to host a charter or event onboard a yacht cruise in Marina del Rey, CA, click here.

Nothing says weekend quite like brunch, and here in the Marina we’re famous for our waterfront buffets and flowing mimosas. In honor of this momentous (and glorious) meal, Today Marina del Rey rounded up their top picks for brunching along the coast. Click here for the full article or check it out below!

Did your favorite make the cut?

Marina love,

Valerie

Six Sweet Brunch Spots in Marina del Rey

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With spring in full swing, we officially have an excuse to heartily indulge in one of our favorite culinary past times: Brunch! In actuality, we don’t need a formal excuse to dig into plates of eggs benedict, French toast and bottomless Mimosas; we live in Marina del Rey after all. What we might need (if we brunch as often as we dream about) is a Boot Camp membership to prepare for summer…but that’s a whole different topic. Our focus today is squarely on breakfast fulfillment. So let’s take a look at six of the Marina’s most divine brunch destinations. We guarantee that at least your taste buds will be getting a killer workout.

1. Cast & Plow 
4375 Admiralty Way
The Ritz Carlton’s new Cast & Plow restaurant has a fantastic breakfast/brunch available every day of the week.
MUST TRY: Shakshouka (sunny-side up egg, tomato stew, harissa, feta and pita)
Pancakes or Waffles (with Strauss Family Creamery organic ricotta cheese and bing cherry compote).

2. Killer Café
4211 Admiralty Way
Head to the Killer Café (part of the Killer Shrimp restaurant) any day of the week to enjoy gorgeous waterfront views, a great atmosphere and their one-of-a-kind breakfast items.
MUST TRY: Killer Shrimp Benedict (Poached Eggs, Killer Shrimp and Hollandaise over English Muffins with choice of Hash Browns, Home Fries or Fruit) *Fan tip: Choose the Hash Browns.

3. Beachside Restaurant
4175 Admiralty Way
The gorgeous Beachside Restaurant at the Jamaica Bay Inn offers two brunch menus: Weekday and Weekend, but the latter’s menu is the one that goes all-out decadent.
MUST TRY: Country French Omelet (Shiitake mushroom, tomato, asparagus, fresh herbs, garlic, pesto sour cream & truffle wild arugula salad w/ shaved parmesan)
French Toast (Thick cut egg bread, vanilla cinnamon custard, vanilla maple syrup and fresh berries)

4. Café del Rey
4451 Admiralty Way
Café del Rey’s fabulous three-course prix-fixe weekend brunch is definitely an indulgence—and well worth the $38 price tag. Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, Sparkling Wine or Sparkling Cider are all included.
MUST TRY: 1st Course: Fruit Parfait (granola, fresh fruit, berries, fage greek yogurt)
2nd Course: Egg Norwegian (house cured salmon, poached eggs, brioche, arugula salad, hollandaise) 3rd Course: Dulce De Leche Éclair (pastry cream, kiwi coulis, raspberries)

5. Café Buna
3105 Washington Blvd.
Café Buna may say they’re the “Best Kept Secret in Marina del Rey,” but the weekend crowd tells a different story. Head there any day of the week and taste what the fuss is all about.
MUST TRY: Michael’s Corn Bread French Toast and/or Neal’s Cornflakes French Toast

6. Tony P’s Dockside Grill
4445 Admiralty Way
Tony P’s never fails to serve up the goodies—and that goes double time for their brunch dishes. The menu goes on for days so prepare for some serious food decisions.
MUST TRY: House Smoked Salmon (With sunny side up eggs, caramelized onions, garlic, house smoked salmon, fresh scallions & a roasted pasilla pepper hollandaise.)
Crab Cake Benedict (An English muffin topped with crab cakes, two poached eggs and fresh hollandaise.)

Recently, our team took a little field trip to our friendly neighbor, the Ballona Wetlands.  If you’ve never visited Los Angeles or lived in the city, there is a good chance you may not have heard of this nature lover sanctuary.  It’s filled with wildlife, unique vegetation and offers a special sense of serenity, which can sometimes be lost in a bustling city.

Bright flowers peak through the wetlands

Bright flowers peak through the wetlands

The preservation of the wetlands is run by a non-profit called Friends of Ballona. Through this organization, groups can organize tours and volunteer opportunities (we shared our tour with a group of 3rd graders). You can also sign up to train as a docent and participate in monthly restoration activities.

On our visit, we were led by tour guide Patrick who explained the history of the area and how the wetlands current state came to be. Because of its location, the wetlands are an estuary and sees both freshwater and saltwater marshes. What also makes the area so popular amongst nature lovers is its attraction of birds. The wetlands are located right in the middle of the Pacific Flyway  and with 600 acres of land, it’s no surprise that the habitat has seen more than 300 species of birds and is home to such wildlife as the Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egrets. Can you spot one below?

A Great Blue Heron walks through the wetlands

Nature’s Serenity

We had a wonderful time learning about the area and the special history of the wetlands. Be sure to add it to your Marina del Rey “to-do” list!

Marina love,

Valerie