Travels with Max: Marina del Rey Getaway Wherein the Doctor & Her Butler celebrate their Silver Anniversary in a relaxing beach hotel with hidden memories ♥
When Capt’n Max, aka “my butler Max,” told the Marina del Rey Hotel concierge that it was our 25th wedding anniversary, we figured we might get some silver-wrapped chocolates or a bottle of champagne. Little did we know we’d be spending our special day (and two very special nights) in a palatial one-bedroom suite fit for a Trump—without the bad taste.
Now don’t go telling them it’s your 25th wedding anniversary—unless it really is. I’m sure the concierge checked out our April 12th 1992 Ketuba (signed by two Rabbis, Gerald Wolpe and Ivan Caine), or at least our Philadelphia marriage license. More likely, he just checked out Capt’n Max’s deep baritone radio voice, which can be very compelling.
Whatever he checked out, when we checked in, we realized we hit the jackpot: a long private corner balcony with a picture-postcard view of the Marina, the floating yachts, the swaying palms, the flickering fire pits and the shenanigans in the bar and restaurant below stretched around our spacious living room. Inside, comfy couches surrounded a table carved from what looked like a shellacked sequoia trunk. Further amenities included a large bathroom with all the sanitary trimmings, California king-sized bed (ideal for romantic frolicking), big-screen TV (for between frolic couch-potatoing), real books with white covered spines facing the shelves (less likely to be pilfered, according to management) and erotic abstract art on the wall. Yes indeed, boobs on the wall! How did they know?
It was large enough to throw a party, but we’d just had a party—a big silver anniversary bacchanal in Bonoboville with friends, lovers and fellow bonobo sapiens. The idea here was to spend the actual calendarian quarter-century marking our wedding day on April 12, 1992, alone, just the two of us. Bonobos or no bonobos, we’re our favorite company. Just being together away, from the everyday, was our gift to each other.
The Marina Del Rey (MDR) Hotel, part of the Pacifica Hotel chain of boutique hotels along the California coast (plus Florida and Hawaii), was perfectly suited to our mission—romantic, comfortable and just luxurious enough, not over-stuffed with glitz like a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons (not to mention less than half the price of these fine establishments), and certainly higher quality than those pretentious, over-sold with too-much-gold Trump Hotels.
Also, something about the place seemed vaguely familiar; it was our first time checking into the MDR Hotel… or was it?
Salt Restaurant Happy Hour
After a bounce on the bed, it was time for a cocktail. Fortunately, we didn’t have to travel far. Right downstairs from our room was the answer to all our gustatory needs for the next 36 hours.
Happy Hour at the MDR Hotel’s casually elegant Salt Restaurant is a quintessential California coastal dining experience. Drinkers and diners sit around fire pits sipping, munching, chatting, relaxing and gazing out at the shimmering sea; the fluttering sails of the yachts, seagulls soaring and calling to each other, calling us out to sea. The harbor reminded us of Port du Cannes, though the yachts are smaller in MDR. Was this the source of that familiar feeling? We knew we’d never eaten there before.
Familiar or exotic, almost everything we ate at Salt was delicious. A luscious aioli guacamole with crisp beets, carrots and radishes so organic that they looked like mandrakes—and certainly tasted magical. The fresh oysters were worthy of Aphrodite and Eros on holiday, and probably, with all that zinc, a real aphrodisiac (or was that the cocktails?).
The “chop chop salad” was veggy-yummy. Melt-in-your-mouth filet-mignon shish kebabs brought out the carnivore in us (and pretty soon we were eating up each other). The smoked salmon pizza was so good Capt’n Max ordered it on two different happy hours. The only bad dish we had was a pasta which looked fine, but was, in fact, over-sauced and rather mushy, especially for a pasta connoisseur like Max, born in Rome and a fervent believer in the pasta-dictum of al dente. Well, four out of five ain’t bad, especially since everything we ate at Salt the next day was scrumptious.
Salted and sated, we tumbled into bed, a California King and his Queen for a Day and Two Nights. There we spent the next couple of timeless hours making easy, sensuous, not-too-athletic, but intensely orgasmic, old-people’s love, toasting our midnight entry into anniversary day with our fast-beating hearts, before calming each other down (“No honey, that wasn’t a heart attack, it was just a damn good orgasm!”), snuggling in and dozing off into the familiar unfamiliarity of the MDR’s crisp sailboat white sheets.
Onward and forward into the night sea of dreams, as our travel motto is and always has been: The Goal is the Journey.
True Déjà Vu
Early to bed (for us), we arose to Sean Spicer apologizing for calling concentration camps “Holocaust Centers,” and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz apologizing for violently removing a paying passenger from what are becoming America’s Flying Holocaust Centers of the Not-So-Friendly Skies, and Trump not apologizing for anything (does he ever?).
It was all very fascinating, like watching a national car accident, but we stuck with our plan to relax, resolutely turning off the big screen, as well as our various small-screen devices and headed down to Salt for a delicious politics-free Bloody Mary brunch with grilled salmon, Caesar salad and the Captain’s salty favorite, fish ‘n’ chips.
We bantered with the locals who seem to flock to Salt for the great food, harbor views and reasonably priced cocktails. One claimed to have “discovered” Kanye West when he was 15. We listened and nodded pleasantly and then giggled as we overheard him loudly repeating the same story to a couple of hot ladies at another table who were so impressed they took selfies with him. We were too busy taking selfies of ourselves and our food.
Afterwards we headed over to the infinity pool for more concentrated relaxing in one of the gloriously retro, open air cabanas. It all felt so familiar, like we were now inhabiting a dream we’d had long ago. Squinting into the windy sun at the palms swaying over the third floor rooms, we had our “Eureka!” moment, and then we realized it hadn’t been a dream. We really had been here before.
It was 2001, in the summer after the coronation of George W. Bush and just before 9/11. Max was staying here in this same Marina Del Rey Hotel (though it was far less lavish, this being over a dozen years before its 2014 renovation). I remember going back and forth between our Bonoboville (then in Downtown LA on Flower Street) and Max, attempting (and somehow succeeding) to run the Institute by day while spending nights with my darling husband.
Perhaps we had kept this memory hidden away in the locked filing cabinets of our brains, because this hotel getaway was really a “hideaway,” and Max was literally “hiding out” from powerful and nefarious forces determined to kill him, annihilate our marriage (then less than 10 tender years old) and destroy our beautiful burgeoning Bonoboville. Suddenly, the memories of this romantic, yet rather stressful time in our marriage, came flooding forth in a great salty sea wave of nostalgia.
We hugged each other tight as we recalled those days of fear and hiding, though we dared not engage in more PDA with several lovely and rather loud children running around the pool area. All that nostalgic excitement climaxed like an emotional orgasm, which put Max straight to sleep (yeah, typical male).
I recovered in the hot tub (those jets are awesome for discreet you-know-what), and then swam a few laps in the infinity pool. The water was refreshing, though the screaming, splashing, whining kids reminded me of one reason I’m happy to be child-free. All these exceedingly well-groomed youngsters seemed terribly spoiled, waited on and fussed over by anxious parents and exasperated governesses, and I admit (with some guilt) that I couldn’t help but wonder which ones might grow up to exert Trump-like terror over their fellow humans.
Still, the MDR Hotel felt even more enchanting now that we remembered that we had stayed there, hiding like fugitives in some of the darkest, scariest hours of our marriage. We felt we were a hidden part of the history of this very special 155-room beach retreat, which was built in 1964, one year before the formal dedication of Marina Del Rey itself. So technically, the Marina Del Rey Hotel was here before Marina Del Rey.
Vintage black and white photos, including a hot California bikini blonde boarding a yacht on tiptoe in roller skates, decorate the corridors of the hotel, bringing you back to times gone-by. Looking at the photos like a glimpse into the past, I wondered how many others had used this little Shangri-la at the end of Bali Way as a hideaway.
The Captain & the Christian
We beamed ourselves upstairs for a little more anniversary sex and a nap (no TV, no devices!), then meandered back down to our favorite MDR restaurant just in time for a sunset Happy Hour.
This time, we were seated around a fire pit with a couple of MDR local single ladies. One joined us in the #Resistance and even showed us some of her anti-Trump art on her phone, including a cartoon of Georgia Congressman John Lewis (the civil rights hero who marched with Martin Luther King, whom Trump criticized based upon “alternative facts” when Lewis questioned his presidential legitimacy) with devil ears, a halo and a caption reading “Good Trouble.”
Her friend wanted to give Trump a chance. A sexy, divorced, voluptuous woman, she hid her curves in her jacket, and proclaimed herself to be a formerly Muslim, Born-Again Christian with an open mind. She not only opened her mind, but also her jacket, revealing her prodigious frontal endowment, when I told her I was a sex therapist. She then explained that she was celibate and “not very sexual.” Men didn’t interest her unless they were “marriage material.”
We nodded politely. Then all of us noticed a tall WASPishly good-looking, middle-aged man sit down with his friend at the fire pit across from us. The Born-Again Christian gal began batting her lush lashes and unwrapping her wrappings even further. We couldn’t help but encourage this, romantic perverts (or perverted romantics) that we are. “Invite him over,” I whispered.
“No!” hissed the Christian lady, and her friend nodded sagely, agreeing that if he wanted to come over, he would.
Figuring that he very well might not, even if he wanted to, I called out to the two single men, smiled and gestured an invitation for them to sit with us. They came over right away, all smiles and drinks in hand. Off went Ms. Christian’s jacket completely so she could snuggle up to her dreamboat, who had just literally sailed his new boat over from Newport to MDR. Wow, a real captain!
Indeed, he looked just like a classic yachting skipper out of central casting (and has played one in some films, of course; this is Southern California). The Christian and the Captain were attracted to each other like seagulls to shrimp. Their mutual friends got along pretty well too, and by the time we all said good-night, everyone had exchanged phone numbers (except us). It felt good to do a little matchmaking for our fellow humans (especially a fellow Captain!) on our 25th wedding anniversary.
That and some more oysters constituted enough of an aphrodisiac to get us going on another round of orgasms in our gigantic room. Three times in 36 hours; not bad for a couple of silver oldies but (apparently still) goodies. Chalk it up to extra virgin coconut oil and sex revolution.
Before we could click our heels, or even put them on (this was a flipflop holiday), it was time for us to return to Bonoboville, the place we love most. There’s no place like home, after all. However, every couple needs a getaway (it’s the Bonobo Way!), especially on a special day, and for that we recommend the seaworthy town of Marina del Rey and this historic, idyllic and very relaxed little hotel hideaway at the end of Bali Way.
P.S. Our giant room/suite may be more magical than we even know… because when we looked for it later online, we couldn’t find it anywhere.
© May 13, 2017. Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For speaking engagements, call 310-568-0066.
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