Monday, July 26, 2010

South Coast Plaza = Mall Heaven

Not to dwell on the past, but to understand me a little better, it is worth telling you a little bit about my youth.  Growing up, the mall closest to my house was referred to as “the worst mall”.  Full of stores that had no relevance to me or my friends.  I would go there and wonder how I could be so unlucky.  Ironically, the mall located closest to my beach house was, if possible, an even worse mall.  That mall had wall to wall carpeting.  Need. I.  Say.  More?  I dreamed of growing up and living near a really great mall.  Ok, I realize I sound shallow and snobby.  Realize that: 1) this was me, as a kid, thinking these things, 2) of course I had other goals and 3) this is my blog and I can say whatever I want.

When I walk into South Coast Plaza I want to throw my arms in the air, twirl around and then lie on the marble floor and make snow angels.  Oh, my, mall!  How is it possible so much fabulous retail exists in one walkable locale?  I was really lucky to attend South Coast Plaza’s recent Blogger Event along with a number of LA and Orange County fashion and travel bloggers.  Our schedule kicked off in the VIP ACCESS Suite, located in the Saks Fifth Avenue wing on level 2.  VIP members receive free valet parking and membership in the suite which provides guests with a place to relax, store purchases and enjoy refreshments.  The suite also has a Zen Room and a Sports Lounge and is attended by a concierge who will handle personal requests including dining reservations and event tickets.  When I was in here I couldn’t help but think that certain people who get dragged to go shopping would love hanging out in the VIP ACCESS Suite whilst the other members of their party shopped!  We were briefed on our agenda, given our lovely canvas gift bags and {{{woosh}}} the fashionistas in the group swept me up and out the door towards our first stop, the Tumi Boutique.

As a multi-lingual, globetrotter, having lived in a few different countries, I have been on a search for the perfect piece of luggage since I got my first passport at age 5.  I suspect I’ll always be looking but I must say Tumi certainly sets the standard for innovation, creativity and understanding the needs of the modern traveler.  The staff at Tumi demonstrated packing techniques (see video) showing us how to use some of their packing accessories including the packing cubes and flat folding packs for optimum efficiency.  All the bloggers were thrilled when we found out Tumi was giving each of us a Just In Case Tote which is the perfect bag that zips up into its own pouch and turns into a sturdy, handy tote bag when you find out you “over-shopped” or were “over-swagged” and need an extra bag for the trip back home.  Tumi gets major stars for a really useful blogger gift!

Next stop was Spa Nordstrom Escape for a Blogger Bronzing Session using St. Tropez air-brush spray tanning process.  We had our faces done and I was really impressed with how quickly the results appeared and how natural it looked.  The tan lasts for several days and can be maintained for weeks with at home application of the St. Tropez products.  The spa offers a menu of services and is a really nice offering that I had no idea existed at Nordstroms.  The staff is really warm and friendly and gave us tours of the treatment rooms.  I noted that they have showering facilities which is a nice amenity to have available for clients.  All tanned and refreshed, but, sadly, no time to shop for shoes…We did a fashionista march to our next destination: Henri Bendel.

I can’t say it any better than describes themselves: “Henri Bendel is a girls’ playground, where Bendel girls go to find the new and the next in accessories, cosmetics and gifts.”  You know how you felt when you were about 8 and walked into a candy store?  Ok, now you get it.  The other thing is that things there can be splurge-y, yet at the same time, incredibly practical.  Plus the price points allow absolutely anyone to have something from Henri Bendel.  I personally was digging the “Disturbed Stripe” Collection, especially the The Disturbed Stripe Beach Towel.  I want that towel.  Will someone please give me one?  I’m not picky, but if you are asking, I’d like the one with the red trim.  Thanks.  The Travel Candle Collection is coming back by popular demand at the end of this month.  Available in stores and online, in scents like Lemon Verbena, Peony and Vanilla Bean and only $15, it’s a nice way to bring a travel friendly candle on your summer vacation.  I could have spent hours in Henri Bendel, but we needed to continue our mall crawl.

Next stop: Intimacy, bra fit stylists.  The newly opened boutique is part of a chain of “life changing” stores that help women find the right bra, show them how to care of their bra and often transform them physically and mentally.  I don’t know the exact statistic, but I’ve heard that something like more than half of all women wear the wrong size bra.  At Intimacy, the associates are highly trained in their product lines, made up mostly of European brands and work to figure out what your lifestyle and wardrobe needs are.  Then figure out what bras are right for you.  Pretty cool.  They also have sports bras, tanks with built-bras, all kinds of bra accessories and laundry care products.  Quite a brilliant concept to find exactly the right bra.

My blogger pal, Rockin’ Mama and I made a quick stop into Molten Brown, the British based chain that carries personal care products like soap, shampoos and body washes as well as candles and room sprays.  They gave us a cute little sample pack of body lotion, bath and shower gel and liquid handwash.  With names like Coco de Mer, Wilde Fairyfleur and Naran Ji, you really have to visit to revel in the cocktail scents the Molten Brown geniuses have created.  On a funny note, I asked the staff where they had other stores and they said only in New York.  A few days later, I was in New York for the Kelly Ripa Ovarian Cancer Benefit Event and found a Molten Brown a block from my hotel.  I ducked in for a quick purchase.  I’m not a huge fan of heavy perfumes, but I do love shower gels.  Molten Brown scents are perfectly scented and yummy!

All the bloggers met up at AnQi by Crustacean, the restaurant owned by the An family of the famous Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills, of which I am a fan.  We sipped cocktails and had a delicious special menu that was prepared for us.  Then the restaurant lights dimmed and the catwalk lights brightened and the La Perla Summer Fashion Show began.  La Perla is best known for lingerie, but they do have a line of bathing suits and cover ups.  It was lovely to have Elizabeth An, third-generation of The House of An, stop by our table for a chat.  I knew about the “secret kitchen” in Crustacean and asked if there was one at AnQi.  She confirmed that they did indeed have on there as well.  It was so nice of AnQi to give all the bloggers gift certificates to return to AnQi for another visit.  I can’t wait to take Surfer Guy.

Well, what a day we had at the best mall ever possibly imagined.  South Coast Plaza is a destination mall…People travel from all over the world to shop there.  I’m so lucky I’m just a quick minivan jaunt away from a childhood dream realized: a really great mall.  For my readers who aren’t as lucky as I am, there are some hotel packages being offered this summer in partnership with South Coast Plaza: The Montage Laguna Beach is offering the Shopping Spree Special and The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has the Pack Your Bags Shopping Package.  For full details on South Coast Plaza, visit  I’d like to thank South Coast Plaza for inviting me to this excellent event and for the lovely “South Coast Plaza Loves Bloggers” gift bag I was given.  I love South Coast Plaza back!

Photo Credits: Caryn Bailey of Rockin’ Mama and Crush Studios

1 comment:

Used Cars Orange County said...

SCP is the best mall in the world. I am also, just 20 min away from SCP in my luxury car (sorry, I won't trade it for a mini van ever :)). My favorite store there is Sephora; I buy so much makeup that I am a VIB. I've never been to Crustaceon before but it sounds good. I always eat at Vie de France; they have great croissants.