Striving to make time stand still at Orange County’s most luxurious resort
Let’s do the math: two cities, a pair of longtime girlfriends, two husbands, five kids. Jobs, bills, school, parent teacher conferences, sports teams, coffee dates, dinner guests. Totaling out to terribly long stretches between “girlfriend get-togethers” with a close friend who lives across the county, but might as well be across the country for as infrequently as we seem to be able to catch up in person.
Enter the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Poised on the bluffs above Dana Point, the resort’s casual air lends itself to an oceanfront dream that just won’t quit. Afternoon surf lessons and nearly 400 suites replete with airy layouts and coastal views, on-site gourmet dining at Raya, enoSTEAK, or 180blu to tempt the palate with fresh, innovative cuisine or tapas and cocktails at sunset were more than what my friend and I needed to get away for the weekend and slow down the hectic pace we’ve grown accustomed to.
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 kiddos. 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, 180blú (the Tequila Sangria is a specialty). Raya, however, is the dining experience that mustn’t be missed.
Raya showcases Chef Steve Wan’s 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 a good friend. One of the menu’s most popular offerings, the miso Alaskan black cod is a delicious dish that should not be missed. The New York prime is cooked-to-perfection and 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).
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 @ 180blú
Fridays and Saturdays, music from 5–8pm, sushi from 6–9pm.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 14, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
Thursday, August 9, 2018 | 5 to 8 p.m.
For people and their pooches! Cocktails, beer and a selection of barbecue items available for purchase. Proceeds support The Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence.
Festival of Arts Exhibit:
45 Years of Contemporary Art
May 11 - September 4, 2018
Honoring the oceanfront resort’s long-term partnership with Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, guests are invited to view the exhibit featuring 13 contemporary artworks from the Festival’s Permanent Collection.