CURVES, QUIET, COOL: If you've cracked a picture book in recent days, chances are fairly good that the story had a festive theme. Tales set in and around the North Pole, and various toy workshops, abound around December, and while there are many precious prisms to each story, one notable feature is the architecture of Santa's HQ. While some illustrators depict the North Pole as a clutch of tidy cottages, you're also apt to see curved walls and curly-ended eaves and the sort of delightfully daft designs that only a dreamer can dream up. But such whimsical architecture exists here, south of the North Pole, and very much so in that land of dreamers, Ojai. Look to The Emerald Iguana Inn, a destination designed by Julia and Marc Whitman. Places to stay the night don't get much more storybook, and the large iguana sculpture near the front office gives the property an extra ethereal touch. Fantastical art, interesting stonework, and winding paths are straight from the pages of a picture book, too. Is the go, go, go of the December making you wish you could just jump into the pages of such a book? There is a way to pause, and save, on a weeknight at the Ojai getaway.
A WINTER WARM-UP... is the promotion's name, and it involves a couple of twists (like any good book). You'll need to make for Ojai by Dec. 20, and you'll need to decide what suits your schedule more at the moment: Two nights, with a special room upgrade, or three weeknights, with 15% off. Much is made over the harriedness of the holidays, and mid-December is a prime time to feel overwhelmed. So scotch that sensation before it begins and tuck out of town, if you're able. Can't the baking wait? It probably can (and your cookies'll stay chewier, if made closer to Christmas). If you want a different but related feel, there's The Blue Iguana Inn, which also looks like a picture book, perhaps with a Western theme. Giddy up, glad and gleeful people of December, to one of our state's most art-happy towns. Is it as picture-book-y as a story celebrating the curve-y casas of the North Pole? We'll let the eye, and heart, of the beholder decide on that one.