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Laguna Beach, Montage, Stephanie Johnson copy

Hey there – it’s Sarah, Stephanie’s P.R. girl and the editor of this blog, popping in for a guest post!

One of my best buddies calls Laguna Beach home so on a recent July weekend, I opted to beat the 100 degree heat of the San Fernando Valley and head south for the cooler clime of the Southern California coast.  I’ve traveled all up and down the state of California in the 13 years I’ve lived here, and I think Laguna has one of the prettiest coastlines I’ve seen with steep cliffs down to the sea, robin’s egg blue skies, turquoise sparkling water, lush vegetation and pristine beaches.  It’s a popular tourist destination and summer is peak season with art festivals bringing even more people into the coastal town.  Even with packed streets, the sense of tranquil relaxation can’t help but pervade as soon as you hit PCH.  Here are some highlights.


With seven miles of gorgeous coastline and approximately 20 public beaches, hitting the surf and sand is a must.  To make beach-hopping even easier, the city offers a free trolley/bus service between downtown and South Laguna (ending at the Ritz Carlton) that operates during the summer months.  Choose one of the open air trolleys and enjoy the breeze whipping through your hair as you cruise along Pacific Coast Highway.  Ah, summer.

Walk.  There are no shortage of carefully curated boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and breathtaking vantage points along PCH, not to mention insane people watching.  South Laguna boasts the spectacular Montage Resort, with its gorgeous ocean views and acres upon acres of immaculately landscaped gardens.  The perfect spot for a summer wedding, on any given weekend you can catch a glimpse of a bride and groom posing for photographs along the pretty garden pathways.

Laguna Beach, Trolley Ride, Stephanie Johnson copyGet artsy.  Laguna is an artist’s colony and in addition to the countless art galleries that populate downtown, summer also brings in the Sawdust Art Festival (celebrating local Laguna Beach artists) and the renowned Pageant of the Masters, which brings famous masterworks to life in a live stage show.  Expect both to be crowded, and advance tickets are a must for the popular Pageant of the Masters.


If you’re going the luxury route, the Montage is a must-stay.  Set on thirty acres of pristine oceanfront property, the stunning grounds and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean are impossible to beat.  Even if you’re not a hotel guest, indulge in the laidback luxury that’s so quintessentially California with an outdoor meal at Mosaic Bar & Grille or an evening cocktail on the patio of the Lobby Lounge.

Situated halfway between the Montage and downtown, Casa Laguna is a romantic boutique hotel with historic Mission architecture and offering personal touches like an evening wine and cheese reception.  With a maximum occupancy of two per room, Casa Laguna is uniquely designed for couples.

If it’s history you’re after, you’ll enjoy Laguna Beach’s oldest hotel, The Hotel Laguna, situated in the heart of downtown along the ‘California Riviera.’

Laguna Beach, Montage, Stephanie Johnson, Laguna Coral Laura Large Trapezoid and Katie Turq Folding Cosmetic copy


Downtown offers a ton of mouth-watering restaurants and anything with an ocean view will be popular (and crowded).  I like Asada on PCH for upscale Mexican food and a killer tequila bar.  A few doors down from Asada is Nick’s, a trendy bistro with a welcoming atmosphere and lots of delish comfort food options.  Try the fried deviled eggs, a Nick’s original.  No-fuss California cuisine can be sampled at Zinc, while C’est La Vie is a French restaurant and bakery that specializes in delicious crepes.  And I would be remiss without mentioning Taco Loco, a sidewalk taco bar south of downtown with a hippie surfer vibe that stays open late and offers plenty of good, cheap grub.  The vegetarians in the bunch will appreciate the yummy blackened tofu mushroom burger.


If you’re craving luxury but can’t quite afford the price tag, consider signing up for a yoga class at Spa Montage.  On off peak nights (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) $40.00 will get you a one-hour yoga session as well as access to their world class spa.  Totally worth it.

Want more Laguna?  Shop the BRAND NEW Stephanie Johnson Laguna collection, available in Coral, Turquoise, Emerald and Brown, and stay tuned for Style Guide:  Laguna Beach, next week on Style Compass!

Laguna Beach, Montage, Laguna Turquoise Pouches, Stephanie Johnson copy


Chic Traveler:  Mary Alice Haney

Occupation:  Celebrity Stylist

Hometown:  Los Angeles

Mary Alice Haney is a stylist, editor and fashion TV producer with visionary talent.  Inspired by the gowns in old Hollywood films and on the pages of Vogue, Mary Alice earned her MFA from LA’s prestigious American Film Institute and studied at Parson’s School of Design in Paris.  A job at Harper’s Bazaar then led to a mentoring relationship with industry giant Polly Mellen and fashion editor roles for Marie Claire, GQ and Allure.  Appearing in front of the camera as a makeover show host and behind it as a producer, Mary Alice’s range ensures that she understands the nuances of style across visual mediums.  An avid fan of couture and designers such as Balmain and Tom Ford, Mary Alice also possesses the valuable ability to make elite fashion accessible to viewers of The Today Show and Good Morning America, where she has appeared as a style expert.

Dream destination?


What’s always inside your carry on?

Lip gloss, BlackBerry, eye mask for sleeping.  One pair of heels that go with everything.

What’s on your plane play list?

Country or Frank Sinatra

Your guilty pleasure while traveling?

1st class!

The Stephanie Johnson bag/bags that always make the trip?

I only use Stephanie Johnson bags when I travel.  I use them for make-up, vitamins and toiletries.

What’s the most stylish city/locale you’ve visited?  Anywhere in particular where the fashion/beauty/women’s personal style really blew you away?

Paris always blows me away.  The effortless chic that Parisian women embody always amazes me.

Next on your Stephanie Johnson wish list?

A beach bag!

Is there a favorite possession you’ve acquired during your travels?  What is it?

I always like picking up jewelry from different destinations.

Your personal travel style: (Do you like a luxury resort?  A private hideaway?  Do you prefer to lay on the beach?  Explore the countryside?)

I love a luxury resort but get bored after a day or two of lying around.  My perfect vacation mixes luxury and adventure.  Skiing, diving, trekking, safari.

The one thing that you cannot leave home without?

BlackBerry, iPad


Favorite pre-travel or travel-friendly beauty routine?

I choose each outfit and then pack.  I always carry on even when traveling for 2 weeks.

First drink in the air:  H2O, champagne or OJ?


Go-to luggage brand?


Favorite in-flight pastime?

Watching movies and catching up on emails.

Plane food or bring your own?

Bring my own.  I HATE all plane food.

Current favorite getaway?


Any tips for breezing through airport security?

Don’t bring your children.

Your flight’s delayed:  best way to kill time at the airport?

Get a mani-pedi or a massage.

How often do you fly?

Every other week.

Go-to Flying ‘uniform?’

Beyond Yoga yoga pants, J.Crew t shirt, Rick Owens sweater, and running shoes so I don’t have to pack them.

Do you work in-flight or use the time to unwind?



Chic Traveler:  Marlien Rentmeester

Occupation:  Founder, LE CATCH and West Coast Bureau Chief, Lucky Magazine

Hometown:  Los Angeles

Marlien Rentmeester is Lucky Magazine’s West Coast Editor and the Founder of LE CATCH.  Marlien is widely admired for her masterful mixing of high, low and vintage clothing that defines her personal style.  She shares her must-have online shopping finds and her expert advice about how to get dressed on the very shop-able (and addictive) LE CATCH.

Dream destination?

Capri (been there) and Corsica (never been!).

What’s always inside your carry on?

My jewelry case, an extra pair of socks (in case my feet get cold on the plane), Purel, a great book and too many magazines.

Your guilty pleasure while traveling?

Drinking wine at lunch.

The Stephanie Johnson bag / bags that always make the trip?

The Laura Large Trapezoid gets the most play, since my work trips are often a just few days long.  I can squeeze everything into this bag–and feel like I am doing it in style.

Is there a particular destination that inspires your creativity?

New York, Paris, and London for the street fashion.

Any travel misadventures you’d like to share?

Stephanie and I once missed a connecting flight from Madrid to New York by seconds.  I was sad and frustrated because I was eager to get back to my kids and husband.  Stephanie took control of the situation and said, “Let’s make the best of it.”  The next thing I know we’re in a taxi heading to the Hotel Ritz in Madrid.  We checked in, put down our bags, toured the Prado museum next door, went out for a great dinner and caught a flight home the next morning.  It was the best travel misadventure I’ve had to date!

If you were introducing a world traveling friend to SJ for the first time, what’s the first piece you’d recommend they buy?

Anything and everything, because all the prints are chic and every style is super functional. You simply can’t go wrong!

What’s your favorite SJ piece to give as a gift?

One of the pouches because they’re multi-purpose–and incredibly chic.

Is there a favorite possession you’ve acquired during your travels? 

I’ve brought home everything from dishware (I once stuffed my carry-on with a 5-piece set from Paris!) to vintage clothing to a Moroccan rug!

Favorite travel ritual or souvenir?

I love shopping the local flea markets and coming home with an authentic souvenir or ten.

The one thing that you cannot leave home without?

My iPhone–and running sneakers (the best way to see a new city)!

Your happy place / Favorite travel destination?

New York City, my hometown.  The minute I land at JFK I feel my cells dancing!

First drink in the air:  H2O, champagne or OJ?

Water, then some wine to quell the nerves.

Checked bag or carry on?

Carry-on, if I can get away with it–which is infrequently!

On your reading list?

Rules of Civility (just finished Gone Girl–loved it!).

Favorite in-flight pastime?

Reading magazines and the latest bestseller.  I also love watching movies, because I never get to the theater.  Somehow, no matter how cheesy the movie, I always end up crying.

Current favorite getaway?

Napa, Malibu, Aspen, Westhampton Beach.

Window or aisle?


Go-to flying ‘uniform?’

Jeans, flats, some type of heavy cardigan and a cashmere scarf.  I always freeze on plane!

Next on your Stephanie Johnson wish list?

The Laura Large Trapezoid in Turin (I will use it as a clutch), the Jenny Train Case in Turks and Caicos (love the texture and roominess!) and the Malibu Navy Large Pouch (so sleek!).


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