During the shelter-in-place orders necessitated by COVID-19, Americans across the country yearned for a change of scenery outside their homes. Who didn’t fantasize about a luxury hotel stay or a fabulous dinner out with friends? To help people make up for lost moments in 2020, Visit California created the Dreaming On in California contest, and with the help of Marriott hotels, two lucky winners made good on their deferred travel dreams with epic California road trips.
For Colorado resident Nathan Puranaputra, the most challenging aspect of lockdown was the toll it took on his young family—especially his six-year-old daughter Emma. “Life was just not the same for our sweet little girl, who thrived off of being around others and adventuring the world,” he explains.
The Puranaputras were thrilled to win an exclusive Northern California road trip experience with luxury accommodations provided by Marriott. Their trip kicked off at the stunning seaside town of Monterey, where the family biked along the coast with rentals provided by Adventures by the Sea. They spent the night at the Monterey Marriott, enjoying waterfront views and close proximity to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row.
The family then made their way north to San Francisco, where the kids were treated to an in-room fort at JW Marriott San Francisco, located in the bustling shopping district of Union Square. The parents had a blast too, as they were treated to a wine pairing with their dinner at Level III Restaurant. The Puranaputras’ final stop was just a few miles away at San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf, which features easy access to the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39. Puranaputra said the vacation gave his family the opportunity to “dream again.”
Friends Casey Whalen and Maria Arriviello had planned a big national park trip through California for 2020, but their plans were derailed by COVID-19 and a major health scare for Maria. With the two living in separate cities, the best friends weren’t able to see one another for an entire year—but after winning a Southern California Marriott road trip, they made up for lost time.
Their four-day itinerary included a night at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live, including dinner for two at Savoca. “The pool was amazing,” Whalen says. “We sipped margaritas there before going to the restaurant.” Next, the pair headed south to Anaheim for a stay at JW Marriott Anaheim Resort, located close to the Garden Walk.
Their last stop: The US Grant San Diego. “One of our favorite parts of the whole trip was definitely the wine, chocolate, and cheese tasting,” says Whalen. The historic hotel, located in the Gaslamp Quarter, boasts a robust wine library in its restaurant, Grant Grill.
“The hotels, the restaurants, everything was above and beyond beautiful,” Whalen recalls. “The service was phenomenal. It was really just such an amazing experience.”