Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is putting out the welcome mat with scores of special deals.
The deal: A winter lodging special is available at several hotels in Avalon, Catalina's hillside city with Mediterranean-style charm. The deal is coupled with round-trip boat tickets on Catalina Express. The lowest rates are available Sundays through Thursdays.
* Pavilion Lodge: Rates start at $90 per person, double occupancy, and include accommodations, round-trip transportation to the island, a casino tour and choice of a glass-bottom-boat tour or a tour of Avalon. Call (800) 446-0271 (ask for the midweek getaway package), or see http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/. The special expires March 13.
* Hotel Villa Portofino: Rates start at $102 per person, double occupancy, and include accommodations, Catalina Express transportation, taxi transfers, two island tours and continental breakfast. Call (888) 346-2326 (ask for the limited-offer package), or see http://www.hotelvillaportofino.com/. The special expires March 20.
Other deals: Fifty special deals are available in a Chamber of Commerce promotion called "Island Inspirations, a Sea of Values." Included are other lodging specials -- some on weekends -- and bargains on tours, at restaurants, etc. In- fo: (310) 510-1520, http://www.catalinachamber.com/inspirations.
Transportation: Several include transportation on Catalina Express, from San Pedro and Dana Point. Travel time is about an hour. (Service from Long Beach is set to be reinstated Friday, when the Long Beach Landing reopens.)