Why Not Take a Carmageddon "Vacation?"

When the 405 shuts down for 53 hours this coming weekend, it could mean the end of the traffic world or an excuse to get out of the area

By Olga Spilewsky and Vikki Vargas
|  Monday, Jul 11, 2011  |  Updated 6:53 PM PDT
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When the 405 shuts down for 53 hours this coming weekend, it could mean the end of the traffic world or an excuse to get out of the area.

Vikki Vargas, Lori Bentley

When the 405 shuts down for 53 hours this coming weekend, it could mean the end of the traffic world or an excuse to get out of the area.

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Every Los Angeleno is bracing for the worst this coming “Carmageddon” weekend. But, one city is actually capitalizing on the potential gridlock by campaigning for people to head to the “O.C.”

Newport Beach is pushing for people to head south by running ads and offering deals at some of the city’s hotels and restaurants for the weekend of July 15-17. Half a dozen properties are offering 3-day incentives.

The Balboa Bay Club will kick in a breakfast and valet parking, with room rates running around $300 per night. The Marriott in Fashion Island is also rolling out the welcome mat to “Carmageddon” customers. And, officials at the Hyatt say that most weekends 4 out of 10 rooms are usually booked by travelers from Los Angeles, but they think that number will go up this weekend.

“I would look into making a reservation as soon as possible. I do think we’ll fill up quickly,” said Hyatt Sales Director, Tim Mattos.

Hyatt’s deal? They are offering a complimentary Sunday night if you book Friday and Saturday at the advertised rate.

The so-called pending “Carmageddon” begins on Friday night when the 405 Freeway shuts down for 53 hours between the 101 and 10 Freeways.

In anticipation of the potential traffic nightmare, travelers are already starting to hit the road earlier than planned.

“We actually cut our stay a day and we’re going to leave Friday just to avoid the extra traffic that those freeway closures are going to add,” said Carmel Mitchell, who is currently staying at the Hyatt in Newport Beach.

Officials say that 70% of tourists who visit Newport Beach live within 50 miles of the city. And, they are excited for the opportunity to promote themselves to “Ride the waves, instead of the brakes.”

“We’re really looking at it as a test,” said NewportBeach.com’s Vicki Higgins. “We think it’s a great opportunity for people to get out of L.A. and come visit Newport Beach.”

Some resorts in the Los Angeles area are also trying to cash in by offering deep discounts. In Palos Verdes, the Terranea Resort is offering a 40.5% discount on its rooms. And, Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica is trying to lure Westsiders to its beachfront locale.

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