While some vacations are about getting away from it all, Hilton Anaheim’s “Center of SoCal” package is about being right at the heart of it all—in this case, having both close proximity and specialized access to the very best entertainment venues Southern California has to offer. From now through August 31st, Hilton Anaheim is offering summertime pleasure-seekers incredible values both inside and outside the hotel, assuring budget-minded travelers can experience top-notch accommodations as well as the best attractions the region has to offer.
Hilton Anaheim’s “Center of SoCal” package includes accommodations, breakfast for two adults and two children under twelve (a $100 daily value), Wi-Fi (a $14 daily value), access for two to the property’s first class health club (a $28 daily value) and over $300 in savings per person at an array of top-tier Southern California attractions—twenty at my last count. In tandem with this stay-and-play promo, Hilton Anaheim is also prominently featuring a #RandomActsOfSummer program with seasonal activities like hula hoop contests and ice cream carts to thrill everyone in the family. All combined, these programs are fantastic for families, couples or groups of friends seeking to see, do, smile and save when visiting SoCal while also enjoying accommodations where comfort and convenience are paramount.
When I learned of this special summer package I was intrigued. As a mother of two, I know all too well how difficult it can be to keep everyone content and entertained during the summer months, let alone elated—and, if lucky enough to be achieved, how costly said elation can be. Hilton Anaheim’s “Center of SoCal” package presented a rare opportunity to access a myriad of marvelous attractions, some among the most famous in the world, from a single locale and with stellar savings to boot. So I had my family pack their bags and off we went to the “Center of SoCal” for a package experience of our own. And, boy did it deliver!
Arriving at the Hilton Anaheim is somewhat like arriving at a behemoth hotel in Las Vegas. It’s an expansive property with staffers, guests and others bustling all about the lobby area where there are an array of shops and an on-site Starbucks. Most prominent in the lobby is MIX Lounge, the contemporary centerpiece of the hotel’s atrium lobby that serves as a gathering place to enjoy cold beer, signature cocktails, an extensive wine list and delectable appetizers while watching the flat screen TVs or socializing, or both. Adjacent to the lounge is MIX Restaurant, which features an extensive variety of imaginative dishes—many created from organic and natural ingredients sourced in the region. Here you can enjoy a hearty menu or buffet breakfast, a satisfying lunch or an intimate dinner. With all of this action, the lobby has wonderfully kinetic energy befitting the excitement ahead.
With no less than 1,572 guestrooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space, Hilton Anaheim is easily the largest hotel in the Anaheim Resort District, and boasts the most rooms of any property in Orange County. However, rest assured that you will not be lost in the shuffle. Matt Kovac, Director of Sales and Marketing at Hilton Anaheim, underscores, “Our goal is to give the hotel a boutique feel, even though we are a large property, by continually improving with renovations that help guests tailor their stay with us based on personal preference.” Specifically, some of those said renovations include more intimate and comfortable public spaces; a new Chef’s Table designed by HGTV’s host and architect, John Gidding; a reimagined “Mix” restaurant and lounge with three separate seating areas for business or leisure; and a new, sustainable design for the lobby-level Starbucks featuring natural wood and clay tile. Overall, the common spaces are plush and pleasant on the eye with a décor dominated by neutral tones and natural textures interrupted here and there with chic white furnishings, all accented with lighting that’s soft and calming.
The accommodations themselves are also impressive, especially the studio suites that are one of the room options available with Hilton Anaheim’s “Center of SoCal” package. At 620 square feet, the studio suites are twice the size of standard guest rooms. Furnished with either one king or two queen-sized beds, this suite option offers an extra-large multifunctional room that serves as a living room, dining room, and bedroom all-in-one, which is ideal for families or anyone who prefers some extra space. Furnishings include a sofa and a wet bar with refrigerator. Floor-to-ceiling picture windows allow commanding views of either the Disneyland Resort, the pool, sundecks or the surrounding area. Studio suites can also connect to standard guest rooms offering even more flexibility based on individual needs. Each guest room at this property offers a luxurious Hilton Serenity Bed, 37-inch flat-screen HDTV, work desk, and a digital panel that allows guests to connect and charge several devices at once.
Hilton Anaheim is also embracing technology, making it easier for guests to request things at the touch of a button. “We’re focused on the future with a new digital check-in APP that speeds up the check-in process for guests. All areas of the hotel are tech-friendly and ready to accommodate most tech accessories. We are also working on an app that helps our guests navigate around the hotel,” Kovac said.
While there are nearly two dozen activity options as part of the package, with everything from surf lessons to museums to professional baseball to trampoline and skate parks, I customized an action-packed itinerary that I knew would captivate my own family’s imaginations and sense of adventure—one I felt exemplified the grandeur of the “Center of SoCal” package. The complete vacation experience that ensued exceeded all expectations and is assuredly one that we will keep in our hearts and minds forever. Here’s what we did.
Gondola Adventures, Inc.
You don’t need to go all the way to Italy to enjoy a spectacular gondola cruise. Find yourself transported to “The City of Love” right in Newport Harbor, courtesy of Gondola Adventures, Inc. I highly recommend cruising at sunset for a truly breathtaking experience. No matter the time, the gondolier will serenade you as the boat meanders its way through the channels where you can get an up close and personal view of beautiful homes that exude the beach lifestyle. Be sure to steal a kiss with your special someone as you pass under the various bridges. The “Center of SoCal” discount includes a complimentary 1/2-hour ($60 value) in addition to any 1-hour purchase or complimentary bottle of Champagne ($15 value), and kids under 16 ride free with two adults on any non-meal cruise (up to $30 value). Take heed: the maximum gondola capacity is 6 passengers. For an extra special touch (and added cost) you can add various enhancements to the experience like roses and rose petals, chocolates, wine and even a super cool message in a bottle with a decorative box.
Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park
Where else can you go behind the scenes of a real working movie studio and sets from famous flicks; experience some of Hollywood’s best blockbuster movies with incredible immersive thrill rides and shows; and sidle up to a few super-cool movie characters like Shrek and Beetle Juice? Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park is just that place, featuring heart-pounding rides and riveting attractions for movie lovers of all ages, like Fast & Furious, Despicable Me, Transformers 3D, The Mummy, King Kong, Shrek 4D, The Simpsons Ride and, of course, Jurassic Park, The Ride. The masterminds behind each experience have truly outdone themselves, having created attractions that engage and heighten multiple senses and engulf your body and mind—in the best possible way. Also be sure to catch WaterWorld–you’ll see an action-packed show filled with drama, amazing stunts like jumping jet-skiers, perilous plunges, firefights, massive explosions and (spoiler alert) an incredible plane crash. Oh, and prepare to get wet! Center of SoCal promotions for the park include 15% off adult and children’s admission ($28 value). Do note this offer is not valid at the gate and must be pre-purchased prior to arrival. The park’s “Front of the Line” ticket upgrade option allows one-time priority access to each ride, show and attraction, so you spend more time having fun and less time standing in line. I can assure you the related expenditure is well worth it to avoid languishing in the SoCal heat for long periods of time.
Medieval Times Restaurant (Buena Park)
Travel back in time to an 11th century castle to witness knights don authentic armor and compete, joust and sword fight for the honor of their kingdom and the title of King’s Champion. Medieval Times is a family-friendly dinner show that offers up hearty fare (on the evening of my visit: bread, tomato soup, corn, seasoned potato and “Dragon’s Wing”—halved roaster chicken) amid heart pounding action, including truly stunning displays of horsemanship and falconry. Cheer for one of six knights dressed to impress and impale, as an exciting story set in Medieval Spain unfolds. You will gleefully clap, cheer, groan and grumble as the action ebbs and flows and “your” knight attempts to fight his way to victory. It’s a super-fun dinner show unlike any other. Center of SoCal promotions include 40% off an adult ticket and 25% off children’s tickets ($56 value). Also available for an additional $20 per person is the King’s Royalty upgrade which includes VIP first-row seating (all sections) or second-row (center sections); entrance group photo dressed in your choice of royal garb; commemorative program; knight’s cheering banner and one “behind the scenes” DVD per party.
Knott’s Berry Farm
In 1920, Walter and Cordelia Knott moved to Buena Park onto 20 acres of rented farmland. Today, America’s first theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, is 160 acres of hair-raising roller coasters and thrill rides, children’s rides, live entertainment, dining and shopping. Center of SoCal promotions include: $40 adult admission ($67 value) and $30 junior admission ($37 value). Again, spend a little extra to purchase the Fast Lane wristband and skip the regular lines on 12 of the park’s most popular rides. For adrenaline junkies, the roller coasters and thrill rides at Knott’s are no joke. The favorite among my crew is the Xcelerator, on which riders rocket from 0 to 82 miles per hour in a mere 2.3 seconds, launching hundreds of feet into the air before immediately hurtling 90 degrees straight down. On the inverted Silver Bullet coaster, riders’ feet dangle in the air as they climb to a height of 146 feet before soaring down an initial drop of 109 feet that leads to no less than six inversions in a 2 minute timeframe. Then there’s the Supreme Scream, which transports brave, open-air riders straight up to a record-breaking 252 feet in midair, before power-blasting them straight down in three seconds flat at gravity-defying speeds topping 50 miles per hour—after experiencing three seconds of total weightlessness! These are just some of the many rides that’ll delight and fright thrill enthusiasts at this park. But, not all rides here are scary. There are numerous family rides and fun activities like Voyage to the Iron Reef, the brand new 4D interactive ride that encourages you to grab a freeze ray and join the battle to save Knott’s from the mysterious creatures that are emerging from the waters beneath the Boardwalk. There is much to do at Knott’s so try to make a full day or night of it, or both!
In addition to these top SoCal locales, the “Center of SoCal” promotion also includes discounts with LegoLand, Anaheim Angels, Discovery Cube, the Grammy Museum, the Titanic Exhibit and Bodies: the Exhibition, Vans Skate Park, M+M Surf School, Davey’s Locker whale watching, Mission San Juan, Lux Bus America, the Nixon Presidential Library, Big Air Trampoline, Santa Anita Racetrack, Pageants of the Masters and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Amid such special offers, access and accommodations all courtesy of Hilton Anaheim, it’s time to start packing for your own SoCal excellent adventure.
“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***