Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort in Oxnard is a Five Diamond AAA property located on one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California. Each July, attendees of the Oxnard Salsa Festival gather nearby on the local Historic Plaza Park to savor the best in salsa dancing and salsa recipes. This lively event attracts visitors to Oxnard, many of whom stay at the resort overnight or longer to participate in the festivities.

The Oxnard Salsa Festival

Sponsored by the Oxnard Downtowners, the annual Salsa Festival is now in its 25th year.

It features the region’s top salsa and Latin Jazz bands; non-stop dancing; marketplace shopping; tortilla art for kids; a Salsa Tasting Tent, where visitors can taste salsa from outstanding local restaurants; food courts with a variety of international food options; and salsa dance exhibitions.

Community leaders and celebrities dance for charity with professional dance instructors in a contest that puts a salsa twist on the hit TV show “Dancing With The Stars.” One of the local participants this year was Maureen Shea. A two-time world champion boxer, Shea was Hilary Swank’s sparring partner in the actress’ Oscar-winning performance in Million Dollar Baby.

I was invited to Oxnard to serve as a salsa recipe judge for the festival.

Bliss on the Beach

Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach & Resort is the only all-suite beachfront hotel in Southern California. With 600 square feet one-bedroom units and 1600 square feet two-bedroom units, the units are spacious. My double king suite could easily have accommodated six people.

A spacious suite (Credit: Embassy Suites by Hilton)

A spacious suite (Credit: Embassy Suites by Hilton)

The suites have state-of-the-art bells and whistles, including a comfortable living room with a sofa bed that sleeps two, a chic patio area with a view of the ocean or resort, and a dining area with a refrigerator plus a microwave and coffee maker for in-room food preparation. Neutrogena bath products, and fine quality bedding and bath towels add a nice touch.

The complimentary breakfast buffet includes an omelet and egg station with a chef who honors personal requests (My egg white omelet with spinach and tomato was perfect).

Location, location, location

The hotel sits on an amazing stretch of beautiful beach, where one could get lost for a solo weekend or extended vacation with family members.

With on-property bike rentals available from sunrise to sunset, walking the beach or riding bikes along the four-mile hotel oceanfront path is a favorite past time of guests of all ages.

While at the hotel, I booked a gondola ride on Gondola Paradiso, minutes away at the Channel Island Harbor, where my private gondola cruise proved to be an unexpected restful respite from the exciting festival experience. The gondola looked like those I’ve seen in Italy but was actually made in the USA. I loved the red cushions and Italian looking red and black rug on the floor. My gondolier Mark was just what the doctor ordered; he could even sing! Guests can bring wine and antipasto, lunch or dinner on board to savor while gliding through the beautiful waterways, lined by gorgeous Channel Island mansions, with stunning yachts docked alongside them.

Mark of Gondola Paradiso (Credit: Bonnie Carroll)

Mark of Gondola Paradiso (Credit: Bonnie Carroll)

Fine dining with a view

The Coastal Grill restaurant is a relaxing spot to watch the sunset, either from the dining room or outdoors on the patio. Daily specials are designed by Chef Jacob Bernard and his team. My chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and glazed carrots followed an exceptional soup du jour of mushroom/chicken chowder and nicely presented blue cheese wedge salad. A cold glass of Prosecco was a delightful surprise.

Coastal Grill (Embassy Suites by Hilton)

Coastal Grill (Credit: Embassy Suites by Hilton)

Chicken dinner special (Credit: Bonnie Carroll)

Chicken dinner special (Credit: Bonnie Carroll)

The food was very good; the service outstanding. The respectable wine list includes some California favorites and a few special gems from Europe.

Sinful endings can include a fabulous cheesecake or a choice of McConnell’s ice cream, my personal favorite!

More to come

According to GM Christian Hellot, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Bay Resort will be implementing some exciting new changes with a renovation beginning in the fall of 2019, followed by a scheduled reopening as a Curio Collection Hilton Hotel in early summer of 2020.

What’s appealing to the over- 50 luxury traveler?

  • The next annual Oxnard Salsa Festival is scheduled to take place in on July 27 & 28, 2019.
  • The hotel’s Coastal Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers room service.
  • The property is an attractive option for family reunions and group getaways.
  • There are a number of very good seafood restaurants at Channel Islands Harbor, less than five minutes away, as well as sporting opportunities for boating, kayaking, fishing, and cruising.
  • Hertzog Winery tours and restaurant are 10 minutes away by car.

Take note

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is 65 miles from the hotel (a 1.5-hour drive that could be longer with heavy traffic.)

The much smaller Ventura County airport (Oxnard Airport) is only 5 miles from the hotel (a 3-minute drive). The hotel offers shuttle service.

Disclosure: The author’s visit was sponsored by the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau.


Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort