Story and photos by Melanie Votaw
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna-Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629
What makes the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna-Niguel special? It’s set on a 150-foot bluff of truly spectacular California coastline, making it a spot that is great for both weddings and families.
Our room, at 400 square feet, was very small, especially by California standards, and the décor was quite plain. But again, it’s the views and the service that bring you to this hotel. Of course, there are larger rooms and suites than mine available at 784 or 1,005 square feet, and many of them have private patios or balconies with an ocean view. The largest room is the Club Ritz-Carlton Suite at 1,550 square feet with views of the ocean and coast.
The Suite Service includes preferred spa appointment times, a dedicated personal assistant, preferred restaurant seating, personal shopping and errand service, and VIP housekeeping.
The quality of the service and amenities are what you would expect from a Ritz-Carlton, with every room equipped with 42-inch plasma TVs, DVD players, wireless access, and laptop-sized safes. Most rooms have double sinks, and the linens are 400-count Egyptian cotton with goose-down comforters and pillows.
This property is both pet-friendly and kid-friendly. With the beaches and walkways along the water, it’s a lovely setting for animals and children. In fact, in the lobby, we met a woman who had brought her beautiful Irish setter with her. The hotel also is friendly to those who need wheelchair accessible areas. The main entrance, restaurants, and lounges are all wheelchair accessible.
There is a business center, a spa, a salon, and an eco-adventure center, as well as surf experience packages and ocean-front golf opportunities. Apparently, this area is perfect for surfing because it provides consistent “world-famous” breaks. You can’t prove that by me, however, as I have never surfed in my life.
The fitness center blew me away. You can cycle or walk the treadmill while looking out at that incredible view of the coastline and ocean. It’s enough to make you rethink how much you normally hate working out. In the oceanfront gazebo, the hotel also offers wellness classes, such as Pilates or yoga.
There are two tennis courts, and you can take lessons from a pro or use the ball machine. You can also rent a racquet, so you don’t have to bring your own. When it’s time to swim, there are two outdoor pools, as well as two outdoor whirlpools. If you’d rather relax, you can just sit on one of the Adirondack chairs on the lawn and look out at the Pacific.
A $25 resort fee will be added to your room per day for use of the sauna and steam rooms in the spa, the yoga and Pilates classes, unlimited Internet access, shuttle service to and from Salt Creek Beach, beach butler service and beach recreation equipment, preferred golf tee-times, and the daily eco-adventure tour. There are several eco-adventures geared toward different age groups from kids to teens to adults, as well as kids and adults together. These involve learning about the flora and fauna in the area.
The Ritz-Carlton Laguna-Niguel has several places to eat. Raya is a restaurant of Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine under the helm of Chef Richard Sandoval. Organic meat is served here. The steakhouse, enoSTEAK, uses grass-fed, pasture-raised beef and organic produce, as well as artisanal cheese.
180blũ is the oceanfront dining lounge with the same panoramic views that you get in the fitness center. Live music is often playing, and it’s a place to relax with a small plate. In the morning, The Market Place serves coffees, although pastries and Panini’s are sold there throughout the day. Bar Raya is a bar that also has views of the southern California coastline. Then, there is a café by the pool as well for cocktails and casual foods.
If you’re visiting Orange County, I recommend the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, especially if you want a resort experience that allows you to drink in the coast, surf, golf, and avoid the traffic.
© May 2013 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.