E.g., 04/20/2018

Catalina Island Company At-A-Glance

Catalina Island Company was established in 1894 by the pioneering Banning brothers, who bought Catalina Island with the goal to transform it into a resort destination. In 1919, after a run of bad luck, they were forced to sell shares of the island to a group of investors that included William Wrigley, Jr. The chewing gum magnate eventually gained controlling interest in the company, investing millions in needed infrastructure and various tourist attractions, including iconic Catalina Casino in 1929. Wrigley created publicity for the island by bringing his beloved Chicago Cubs to Avalon, where they held spring training from 1921-51 in Avalon Canyon near Catalina Island Golf Course. After Wrigley introduced Hollywood to Catalina in the late 1920s, the island became a backdrop for a number of movies and a favorite getaway for many A-list stars. 
In 1972 members of the Wrigley and Offield families deeded 88% or 42,135 acres of Catalina’s interior and coastline to a private land trust, and established the Catalina Island Conservancy. Its stated mission is to "be a responsible steward of our lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation.” Working in cooperation with the Conservancy, the Island Company offers a complete resort destination experience, with hotels, restaurants, Spa, water sports, camping and a host of land and sea activities, tours and adventures that showcase Catalina’s culture, history, rugged wilderness and unique marine ecosystem.
Most people who travel the roughly 26 miles from the southern California mainland to Catalina visit one of the island’s two towns: Avalon near the east end or Two Harbors on the west end.  
Incorporated June 26, 1913, Avalon is the southern-most city in Los Angeles Country, with about 4,000 people tucked into 2.9 square miles of Avalon Canyon. A picturesque harbor, narrow streets and hillside homes give this idyllic seaside community a Mediterranean feel. Visitors can stroll along the waterfront from the ferry terminal at Cabrillo Mole to Descanso Beach just west of iconic Catalina Casino. Along the way, a wide variety of restaurants, bars, hotels, spas, retail stores, art galleries, specialty shops, tourist attractions and other activities offer visitors seemingly endless opportunities to discover island fun, romance and adventure. 
Dozens of campsites, miles of hiking and biking trails and a protected marine reserve make unincorporated Two Harbors a popular spot for outdoor lovers and water sports enthusiasts of all kinds. Two Harbors is also a favorite destination among southern California boaters, offering more than 700 mooring sites in secluded inlets and harbors, including Isthmus Cove, Fourth of July Cove, Cherry Cove, Emerald Bay, Howland’s Landing, Little Geiger, White’s Landing, Moonstone, Hen Rock, Buttonshell, Catalina Harbor and Wells Beach. 
Steps from the beach in Avalon’s historic El Encanto building, Island Spa Catalina blends 15,000 square feet of stress-free space into the island’s only full-service experiential spa designed to heighten your sense of relaxation. From Warm Sand & Ocean Therapy to Citrus with a Twist Body Scrub, the Spa’s unique signature treatments tap restorative powers of local plants and marine extracts to rejuvenate your mind and body. Spa amenities include a Wellness Studio offering yoga and virtual fitness classes, an ocean view relaxation deck, a hail and nail salon, a café and retail sho, nine treatment rooms, soaking pool, hot tub, dry sauna, eucalyptus steam room, and men’s and women’s lockers and shower facilities.                        
Pavilion Hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites tastefully appointed in traditional island style. The central courtyard with beautifully landscaped tropical gardens and comfy chaise lounges is an ideal spot to relax and find your own island rhythm in the cool ocean breeze.
Watch the morning sun bring Avalon Bay to life as you enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast in the ocean-view library. Get your day going with complimentary access to group fitness classes and wellness program at Island Spa Catalina. Start your evenings around the fire with a complimentary wine and cheese reception in the open-air courtyard lounge. Complimentary luggage transportation from the ferry terminal is also available.
Mt. Ada, a Forbes Travel Guide 4-star hotel, offers incomparable views from its majestic perch high above Avalon Bay. Formerly the home of William Wrigley Jr. and his wife Ada, this one-of-a-kind island escape features six en suite guest rooms on the upper level, each beautifully appointed to reflect the elegance and charm of a bygone era. On the lower level, the comfortable living room and cozy den with bar and fireplace offer a relaxed ambiance reminiscent of a private residence. The spectacular wrap-around terrace is a great place to spot one of the island’s bald eagles.
Guests enjoy a host of complimentary amenities, including hot breakfast, seasonal lunch menu, a wonderful selection of appetizers and fine wines served every evening, a 24/7 Butler’s Pantry stocked with assorted goodies, a personal golf cart, access to Island Spa Catalina’s pool, hot tub, relaxation deck and Fitness and Wellness Program, green fees at Catalina Island Golf Course, access to Catalina Country Club tennis courts, tickets for the Behind the Scenes Tour of historic Catalina Casino and round-trip transportation to and from Cabrillo Mole, heliport or Airport in the Sky.
Hotel Atwater has been an island fixture for nearly a century, maintaining its historic charm and reputation as one of Avalon’s best hotel values. With 91 clean, comfortable rooms only a block from the water and across the street from the Tour Plaza, Hotel Atwater is the perfect spot for active people and groups of all kinds to recharge their batteries in between island adventures. Guests receive a coupon each day of their stay for a complimentary breakfast item and beverage at Ben’s Bakery, next door at Shops at the Atwater.
CULINARY EXPERIENCES                   
At the corner of urban chic and island casual, Avalon Grille features premium Angus beef, line-caught local fish and farmstand vegetables, artfully crafted into a variety of regional and original dishes. A spectacular bar serving fine wines, micro-brews and signature cocktails looks out to a wall of windows that opens to create an al fresco dining experience mere steps from Avalon Bay. Open seven days a week.
Located in Shops at the Atwater, Ben’s Bakery offers a tasty assortment of pastries and other sweet treats to satisfy any craving, as well as gourmet Illy coffee, teas and fresh juices. For a quick breakfast or lunch, Ben’s grab-and-go breakfast burritos, biscuits, croissants, salads, sandwiches and smoothies will fill you up and keep you going. 
Descanso Beach Club offers a relaxed open-air setting that defines the laid-back island lifestyle. Just a short stroll past historic Catalina Casino, Descanso Beach Club features Avalon’s only beachside restaurant and bar, serving a variety of appetizers, burgers, wraps, sandwiches and salads, as well as signature dishes and classic Catalina cocktails, like the world famous Buffalo Milk. 
Retro meets modern with a cool beach vibe at Descanso Fresh at Descanso Beach Club, the only place in Catalina where you can get sweet and savory crepes made to order, as well as ice cream and signature treats for adults. Descanso Fresh also features milkshakes, smoothies, fruit juices, and a fresh-and-go selection of acai bowls, salads, sandwiches, cookies and other snacks.
EVENT VENUES                                            
Built in 1929 at the direction of William Wrigley Jr., Catalina Casino has been the island’s focal point of entertainment and glamour since the days of big bands and ballroom dancing. The Casino features the world’s largest circular ballroom, with a 50-foot ceiling, Tiffany-like chandeliers and room for up to 4,500 dancers on its original hardwood floor. An elevated stage, vintage bar and sweeping Avalon Bay views from a wrap-around veranda complete the ambiance of Avalon’s premier event venue. 
Avalon Theatre on the Casino’s lower level is the first designed specifically for talking motion pictures. Exquisite murals adorn the 50-foot walls of this 1,184-seat theatre. A large stage, huge screen, legendary acoustics and state-of-the-art Dolby surround sound system make this the perfect venue for large corporate events and industry conferences.
A short stroll along the waterfront past Catalina Casino, Descanso Beach Club features one of southern California’s last private beaches to offer public access. Amenities such as private cabanas, chaise lounges, huge bar and 7,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor restaurant and meeting space make this beachside venue a popular choice for destination weddings. When reserved in its entirety, Descanso Beach Club can accommodate up to 3,000 guests, including a private outdoor lawn with room to seat 300.
Located at Descanso Beach Club, Catherine’s Terrace is a state-of-the-art facility with a fully-staffed professional-grade catering kitchen and 1,900 square feet of indoor space that can accommodate up to 250 guests for meetings, events, weddings or other gatherings. Large retractable doors open to a 1,900-square-foot ocean-view terrace with a 230-square-foot gazebo. 
Catalina Country Club was once the clubhouse for William Wrigley Jr.’s Chicago Cubs, which held spring training in Avalon Canyon from 1921-51. This historic venue has undergone a unique renovation to preserve its Spanish Colonial ambiance and large collection of sports memorabilia. Several indoor and outdoor spaces can accommodate 15 to 120 guests. Individual rooms or the entire facility can be reserved for meetings and events.
Descanso Beach Club is a secluded getaway where both locals and visitors go to enjoy silky smooth sand, fantastic drink specials and weekend entertainment all summer long. It’s the only place in Avalon where friendly staff serve a great selection of appetizers, entrées and signature cocktails, like the famous Catalina Buffalo Milk, to your table, cabana, chaise lounge or beach towel. Descanso Beach Club also offers a wide range of on-site activities, including snorkeling and kayak rentals, the Catalina Climbing Wall, Snuba undersea adventure, and the extremely popular Zip Line Eco Tour.
Starting 600 feet above Descanso Beach Club, Zip Line Eco Tour takes you nearly three quarters of a mile down five separate lines as much as 300 feet in the air at speeds up to 30 mph. During this two-hour adrenaline-charged tour, guides provide insight and information on the topography, animals and plants that make Catalina Island’s ecosystem so unique.
The Island Company offers nine land tours ranging from 40 minutes to more than four hours. Explore Catalina’s pristine wilderness in an open-air biofuel Hummer. Discover the island’s rich cultural past on a narrated excursion through scenic Avalon. Relive the storied history of iconic Catalina Casino on a walking tour of this art deco masterpiece. Each tour offers visitors a unique perspective of this beautiful island paradise.
The Island Company offers six ocean tours. See a huge variety of fish, bat rays and other aquatic wonders from your own personal porthole on our Undersea Expedition of Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve, where visibility often exceeds 60 feet. Go in search of dolphins and sea lions in the coastal waters aboard  a speedy Ribcraft boat. Experience the flight of Catalina’s world famous flying fish on our Flying Fish Tour. Each tour offers a unique look into one of the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.  
Golf Gardens miniature golf course has been a much-loved fixture of Avalon for nearly 40 years and is the ideal spot for an afternoon of family fun. Surrounded by lush gardens less than one block from the beach, its unique 18-hole design is considered one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in the world by mini-golf enthusiasts.
Built in 1892 by the Banning Brothers, scenic Catalina Island Golf Course is the oldest operating golf course west of the Mississippi, offering spectacular views of Avalon Canyon. Its 2,100-yard design features nine challenging holes with two sets of tees for 18-hole play. A fully stocked pro shop rents clubs and electric and pulls carts.
Banning House Lodge was built in 1910 by the pioneering Banning brothers as the summer home. Surrounded by palm trees on a hill above Two Harbors, the Lodge has been artfully restored and transformed into a charming, Craftsman-style bed and breakfast, offering sweeping views of the Isthmus and Catalina Harbor. All 12 guest rooms have private baths and are individually decorated to capture the character of an early 20th century lodge. The Common Lodge and Sun Room offer cozy places to read a book by a roaring fire, while the beautifully trellised courtyard is the perfect spot to relax with a cool drink and enjoy the beautiful island vistas. Guests enjoy complimentary continental breakfast, served daily in the Lodge dining room. Van shuttle service to and from Two Harbors village is included.
Generous portions, friendly service, casual island atmosphere and large harbor view patio make Harbor Reef Restaurant a favorite gathering place for campers, boaters and locals. Harbor Reef serves a hearty selection of appetizers, salads and burgers, as well as steaks, ribs, chicken and seasonal specials featuring line-caught local fish. Open for lunch and dinner year round. The patio is open for lunch during the summer months.
Harbor Reef Saloon is the heart of the West End social scene. Its patio bar is the place to visit with old friends or meet new ones. Patrons can dance under the stars to DJ tunes on most weekends starting Memorial Day through Buccaneer Days in late October. Catalina’s classic Buffalo Milk , a Saloon specialty, is known worldwide.
Two Harbors Dive and Recreation Center is a one-stop shop for all your land and sea adventure needs. Rent everything from SCUBA and snorkel gear, wetsuits, kayaks, Hydrobikes, and SUP boards to beach chairs, umbrellas, tennis rackets, mountain bikes and more. Dive certifications, guided dives and snorkel tours are also available.
Two Harbor Moorings: Situated on a narrow strip of land called the Isthmus of Catalina, the village of Two Harbors is aptly named for the two inlets – Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor – that flank it on either side. Crystal clear water, sweeping island views and hundreds of moorings tucked in and around its many secluded coves make Two Harbors a boater’s paradise. Moorings can be booked in advance at VisitCatalinaIsland.com.                         
GETTING THERE                                
While some fly to Catalina on helicopters and airplanes, by far the most popular mode of transportation is by Catalina Express ferry boats from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point, or on the Catalina Flyer ferry from Newport Beach. 

For Catalina Express reservations, call 800-429-4601 or book online at www.CatalinaExpress.com.
For Catalina Flyer reservations, call 949-673-5245 or book online at www.CatalinaInfo.com.
Helicopter charters are available through Island Express at www.IslandExpress.com.
Catalina boasts a temperate climate, with average annual temperatures between 54 and 67 F. Average annual rainfall is less than 13 inches. Ocean temperatures range from the low 50s in winter to the low 70s in summer.
  • A young Norma Jean Baker, later known as Marilyn Monroe, lived in Avalon for a year with her first husband James Dougherty, a Merchant Marine who was stationed there during World War II. 
  • Over the years, Catalina hosted many big name stars , including John Wayne, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Errol Flynn, Judy Garland, Henry Fonda. More recent visitors include Barbra Streisand, Nicolas Cage, Rob Lowe, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
  • To generate publicity for Catalina, the island’s new owner William Wrigley Jr. brought his beloved Chicago Cubs to Avalon in 1921, where they would hold Spring Training for the next 30 years. 
  • Founded in 1898, the famed Catalina Tuna Club is the oldest big-game saltwater fishing club in the world and is often credited with giving rise to modern sport fishing.
  • In 1542, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to land on the island, which he named San Salvador after his flagship. In 1602 on the eve of Saint Catherine’s day, Cabrillo’s countryman Sebastian Vizcaino spotted the island and re-named it Santa Catalina. 
  • Some notable dignitaries have visited Catalina throughout the years, including U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge. In 1929, British statesman and future Prime Minister Winston Churchill caught a 188lb. marlin off the coast of Avalon in less than 20 minutes. 
  • Famed World War II General George S. Patton, who spent summers on Catalina as a young boy, met his beloved wife Beatrice here in 1902 when he was 16. 
  • The pueblo-style Avalon home of avid sportsman and author Zane Grey is now a popular hotel, featuring rooms named after titles of his western novels, including The Vanishing American and Riders of the Purple Sage. 

Instagram: @VisitCatalinaIsland
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MEDIA CONTACTS                           
Catalina Island Company
Kristin Metcalfe, Director of Marketing and Communications 
714.305.2522 (mobile) / 310.510.7427 (office) 
Murphy O’Brien Public Relations 
Elizabeth Maxim & Jennifer Evans Gardner
310.586.7131 / 310.586.7157