This is the time of staycations. Everyone is looking to cut back — yet still have the experience of being away. I’ve contemplated the idea of staycations at home, but camping in my backyard is out since I don’t have a backyard. Setting up a tent in my living room just doesn’t cut it, as I still see the stains on my rug and the wall that needs painting. Even my Margaritaville flip flops do not help. So I decided to try a short stay at a hotel close to home that can give me the change in attitude without the change in latitude.

I looked around for a place that is more than just a nice room and big bathtub. I wanted to find a place that would give me the feeling of being far away. I found one in Torrance, (yes, Torrance!) which is just 29 minutes away. The Miyako Hybrid Hotel is right in the heart of Torrance and serves mostly Japanese business people visiting the corporate headquarters of Toyota and Honda. At first glance, it did not seem like this hotel would fit the bill, as I am not a Japanese businesswoman, but after reading about it, it seemed somewhat intriguing.

As we entered the Torrance business district, I was a little worried about my choice. However, my fears quickly turned out to be unfounded. The beautiful Miyako Hybid Hotel, which was built only eight months ago, shone like a beacon in the night. Once you enter the hotel, it is like you stepped into Japan minus the jet lag. It is decorated in traditional elegant Japanese minimalist style, and the modern rooms are set up with Japanese-type showers and deep soaking tubs, Japanese-style oversized beds with down comforters, but with a nod to westerners: with hi-def 46-inch LCD screen TVs and wireless Internet access. The hotel is eco-friendly and LEED certified. Even the water bottles that are supplied in each room are plant based, not plastic!

I loved the room, but the next stop was what really sold me. The Relaken Day Spa offers all types of body treatments including Japanese, Thai and Balinese along, with the more traditional Swedish and deep tissue massages. I had the Ganbanyoku (bedrock bath), which is their signature treatment. Gabanyoku originated in Thailand and is gaining popularity all over the world! I found myself in a sauna/steam room lying on a large smooth rock imported from the mountains of Kyushi, Japan. The stone is said to give off infrared rays, negative ions and minerals used for circulation, detoxification, relaxation and healing. All I know is that I felt amazingly relaxed and renewed after the one hour session, and it was a bargain at only $45.

After the treatment, despite being totally zoned, I managed to get myself to the hotel’s Gonpachi restaurant for a delicious dinner of Japanese California fusion cuisine. The restaurant is elegant without being stuffy, and the food was great with the presentation being the jewel in the crown. All the details that went in to the presentation made the dinner an event, instead of just a meal. Definitely two thumbs up!

Although we stayed over, the spa and restaurant are open to the public, and they also offer spa packages at a reasonable price so you can make this a day trip and still be home in time to walk Cody. This was the first stop on my staycation odyssey, and it was so much more than I had expected from something so close to home. I plan on keeping you apprised of my new local discoveries. Staycations rock!

Carole can be reached at

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