Staying close while getting away at Orange County’s most luxurious resort
With all the preparation and waiting that travel requires, sometimes vacationing can be more exhausting than relaxing. After planning an itinerary, arranging papers, booking tickets, prepping sundries, hauling luggage and staying “alert” per the TSA, CHP, FRA, the PA and all the other acronyms – not to mention your better senses – by the time vacation ends it is not uncommon to feel as though you need a vacation from your vacation.
When your goal is to unwind, there is always a strong case for a stay-cation, which means there is always a strong case for the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.
Since a weekend at the Ritz offers OC locals all the “away-ness” a vacation promises without the attending hassle, it’s an especially attractive option for an uncomplicated getaway for girlfriends seeking a short respite from the obligations of home, husbands and little ones. Within a half hour, you’re in paradise, with no need to leave it until you’re headed home.
Of course, if you find yourself at any Ritz, you find yourself in luxury; but our Ritz has some special advantages. Most rooms offer breathtaking ocean views from private patios or balconies, and the entire southwest side of the property is ocean-facing, with nothing but sand interrupting the space between building and water. This factor alone transports you; but then it’s all the ritzy little things that make it a getaway.
Every guest, and every group of girlfriends, at the Ritz-Carlton has a multitude of ways to vacation. Yoga or Pilates classes and an ocean-front fitness center start your days off in wellness; free use of the sauna and steam room at the Ritz-Carlton Spa settles you in for rejuvenation; a Beach Butler Service provides beach recreation equipment including fins, towel service, umbrellas, and beach chairs; access to tennis courts, including rackets, is unlimited.
A girlfriend getaway to the Ritz-Carlton arguably would not even be one without a rendezvous with relaxation at the Ritz-Carlton Spa, where therapeutic excellence meets an ocean-inspired approach, using rich minerals, sea salt, algae and water as common treatment elements. The broader resort is an energetic place; stepping into the Spa, the outside world – even the lively Ritz, even the best of friends – fades away to quiet personal peace. The therapists at the Spa are second to none, providing therapeutic and beauty treatments as extensive as the whole body, or as specific as hands, face or feet. The relaxation massage I received was one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
Dining at the Ritz-Carlton is itself a worthy reason to pay a visit any day of the week, but for a girlfriend getaway, you could have a different experience for every meal, each appropriate to the moment: a light, casual breakfast at the Market Place (try the quinoa bowel for a guiltless treat); a poolside snack while lounging midday (the fresh pita and house-made hummus from the Dana Pool Cafe is surprisingly finger-licking); a late drink at the outdoor, oceanfront lounge, 180blũ (the Tequila Sangria is a specialty). Raya, however, is the dining experience that mustn’t be missed.
Raya showcases Chef Richard Sandoval’s signature Pan-Latin coastal cuisine, prepared with sustainable seafood, local produce, and natural and organic meats. You can find breakfast and lunch here, but we opted for an indulgent dinner overlooking the Pacific as the sun set brilliantly. At Raya, every detail of each dish is lovely to the eye as well as the palate, and every detail of table service is expertly executed – all a fitting counterpoint to nature’s exquisite display just on the other side of the glass.
Over chardonnay we shared the lobster tacos, Hamachi tiradito (served on a jicama “tortilla”) and petite lamb lollipops, all succulent ways to start a slow meal with good friends. One of us ordered the miso Alaskan black cod, one of Chef Sandoval’s most popular offerings, and all of us benefitted – it’s a dish that should not be skipped. The halibut and New York prime were delicious, too, accompanied a la carte by the Dungeness crab mashed potatoes (a special recommendation by our server that was the perfect complement to all our main courses). Dessert was an adventure – the churros were an obvious choice, but we were also glad our server suggested the pineapple upside down cake with homemade coconut ice cream, which was like Maui on a plate.
The cod at Raya, the ocean-inspired spa experience, the floor-to-ceiling views, and the prime beach location are all uniquely OC; but take away the “Laguna Niguel” and you still have “Ritz-Carlton,” which is always a compelling option for a vacation-away-from-vacation – with girlfriends, or otherwise.
This Summer at the Ritz-Carlton
You don’t have to stay overnight to enjoy the beauty of the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel this summer.
Live Music & Sushi
Fridays and Saturdays, music from 5–8pm, sushi from 6–9pm.
Thursday, July 27, 5–8pm
Thursday, August 24, 5–8pm
Thursday, September 28, 5–8pm
For people and their pooches! Haute hounds enjoy lapping up libations, thanks to water in his favorite flavor – bacon, chicken, beef or vegan – while human guests relax with a glass of Mutt Lynch Unleashed Chardonnay, Merlot Over and Play Dead, or Chateau d’Og Cabernet Sauvignon. Cocktails, beer and a selection of barbecue items available for purchase. Proceeds support The Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence.
Italian-Inspired Seafood Celebration
Friday, July 28, 6–9pm
Along with the fresh seafood, a cheesemaker will hand select cheese, as well as educate guests about different cheeses and how to incorporate them into a menu. A selection of wines will complement the evening. $95/person.
A Taste of Baja Experience
Friday, September 8, 11am–2pm
This food and wine experience will highlight tapas-style tasting dishes along with 15 boutique wineries from the Baja region of Mexico. $95/person.