Perched on a promontory above Salt Creek Beach in beautiful Dana Point, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is the ultimate destination for a So Cal luxury weekend getaway. About an hour south of LA, the Mediterranean-style resort offers coastline views that can compete with anything France or Italy have to offer, best enjoyed from the resort’s luxurious accommodations. Here’s a review of my recent weekend getaway at the luxury hotel:
I had one of the resort’s Ocean View Guestrooms on the fifth floor, directly facing the blue Pacific. There was a nice-sized balcony with a table and two chairs, offering an endless view of the ocean and the coastline, appropriately known as the California Riviera. Both beds were extremely comfortable and fitted with 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. The entire room had a light, contemporary design, inspired by the ocean. The room passes my oceanfront test, I was able to go to sleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, a necessity at any beachfront hotel.
First floor rooms (which I have had of pleasure of staying in) feature private gas firepits on a small patio, where the upper rooms have their balconies. The hotel has a Ritz-Carlton Club (with VIP check-in, concierge services and food and drink service) and offers Club-level accommodations as well.
Two minor details, I would love to have had slippers in the room and not have had to call down to have some sent up. Also, there was no corkscrew or wine glasses, again a call was required. Both were quickly brought upon my request, but I think both should be stocked in guestrooms.
The bathroom was wonderfully luxurious and well-covered in marble with marble floors and walls along with double marble vanities. The marble was nicely complimented by a blue sharkskin-style wallpaper in the lavatory room. Ritz-Carlton does bathrooms so well, with luxe fixtures and handsome cabinetry. Asprey bath products are featured.
Room rates start at $499 per night.
Always a highlight of any stay at a Ritz-Carlton, service is personal, warm and just excellent. All requests were promptly handled and everyone was a pleasure to deal with, from the valet guys to the front desk staff to housekeeping and servers. I must also note the great respect of the “do not disturb” sign, a personal issue with me. Even when room service was ordered, a phone call came to announce the server was outside the door before any knocking, as the DND sign was displayed.
The food and the drinks
The RItz-Carlton really shines here and is a little foodie haven for the Dana Point area. enoSTEAK is the resort’s steakhouse, serving prime and grass-fed, pasture-raised beef, joined with locally-grown organic produce. Raya is what I would consider the property’s flagship restaurant, known regionally for their great pan-Latin food. An innovative menu, fresh, locally sourced ingredients, amazing views and a creative chef keep diners happy and coming back.
Be sure to have a few drinks at 180BLU, the terrace bar. The name accurately describes the postcard view, 180 degrees of amazing Laguna coastline and deep blue ocean. In addition to cocktails, they have large and small plates from the Raya kitchen. It really is a wonderful way to enjoy the epitome of the So Cal lifestyle.
Something else I liked, The Market Place is the Ritz-Carlton’s in-house little coffee shop. And as it’s the Ritz-Carlton, coffee and food are both delicious and unique. Pastries, snacks and sandwiches are made by the hotel’s pastry kitchen. The resort also has a poolside bar and cafe and a separate bar, Bar Raya, adjacent to the restaurant.
What to do
Before doing anything, visit The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Laguna Niguel. The spa incorporates the oceanfront locaiton into the treatments with things like a Beach Stone Therapy treatment, a Beach Comber massage with sea salt and a Marine Facial with seaweed.
Nearby Dana Point Harbor has shopping, watersports like stand-up paddle boarding and is one of the best spots in the world for whale watching. The hotel can assist with a reputable tour boat company. The Ritz-Carlton also has a specialized Eco Adventure Center offering a range of activities from cooking classes to beach clean-ups. The hotel is surrounded by hiking trails and the beach is a five minute walk down the stairs and pathway.
The resort is about an hour from downtown Los Angeles, a few minutes off the 5 freeway. For my getaway, I drove the 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, their new hybrid electric car. With both gasoline and electric engines, the car can use one or the other or both. The whole system operates very seamlessly in the background, allowing you to enjoy the legendary Audi driving experience .
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, CA
Follow luxury travel writer Freddy Sherman on Twitter @luxuryfred and on his blog, luxuryfred.com