Luxury travel is exactly what it sounds like. Lavish amenities, superior service, fine dining and uninhibited relaxation. There are a great many luxury hotels and resorts around the world and very few live up to the standards that we have all come to expect. So, it is quite a rarity that a property rises above the rest; the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel does exactly that.
Nestled into Southern California's bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, sits the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Recently renovated, the property is beautiful and serene; an ideal place for a beach vacation. In fact, the beach was the inspiration behind the new décor adorning the resort, a departure from the classic sophistication most of the Ritz-Carlton properties are commonly known for. Rich blues and grays lend the resort a peaceful air that is compounded by enormous windows looking out over the Pacific. The windows work as living art, the dark blue expanse of the ocean stretches endlessly into the distance. An expansive property, it is easy to find pockets of quiet to retreat to, whether it be inside, by the pool, or on the grassy bluffs just outside.
Restaurant 162' is one of best places to enjoy the thoroughly stunning vistas offered at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Tables have been thoughtfully placed so that guests can enjoy the ever-changing views outside, and diners are happy to oblige. Pelicans fly gracefully over the water and in the early morning, surfers dot the waves. This of course is to say nothing of the food. It is quite simply excellent. In fact, the restaurant is truly a destination in itself, for both locals and hotel guests alike. A la Carte Sunday Brunch consists of a variety of options, all substantial in size. An amuse bouche of fruit cocktail begins the meal and three courses follow. I personally sampled the Sushi Trio, New York Steak Salad, Lobster-Crab Benedict and my personal favorite, the Beef Carpaccio, Frisee Arugula Salad, Haricot Verts, Brioche Crouton, Caper Berries, Quail Egg, with a Pancetta Truffle Vinaigrette. For dessert, the Ice Cream Sandwich - Chocolate Chip Cookies, Triple Espresso, Vanilla Ice Cream and Warm Chocolate Sauce - was a grand final note to the meal.
Our room was a haven of muted tones and marble. The bed was plush and uncommonly comfortable. In the bathroom, floor to ceiling marble covered the walls and an oversized tub offered a cocoon of comfort rivaled only by the Ritz-Carlton signature robes hung behind the door. Each room is replete with a flat-screen television, small refrigerator, desk and sitting area. Our room boasted double French doors that opened onto a patio with a second sitting area over looking a lush green lawn and beyond it a view of the ocean. There was something distinctly Californian about the accomodations, a casual and sophisticated environment.
A wealth of amenities and activities are available at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, surfing, whale-watching, wine tasting, yoga, Pilates and more. Yoga and Pilates classes are held outdoors, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As a part of its recent renovation, the fitness center has been moved to also overlook the sea; treadmills and elliptical machines line immense west-facing windows. The spa at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel also underwent a dramatic transformation, expanding to multiple treatment rooms and offering a complete spa menu featuring both classic treatments and more lavish ones, like the Ultimate Ashiatsu: the Four Feet Massage. No visit to the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel would be complete without a visit to the spa.
So what truly sets the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel apart? The staff. While luxury hotels and resorts always offer impeccable service, the unique sensation that the individuals that work here truly care about your experience is novel. From the valet that remembered my name and took a sincere interest in my dinner plans to the bellman who escorted us to our room, every single employee was warm, knowledgeable and passionately eager to make us more comfortable. It is of no surprise the resort holds a coveted AAA Five Diamond Award. Equally unsurprising is that it is this level of dedication to their craft that keeps guests coming back year after year. When they do, a staff who takes pride in arranging their accommodations based on their previous preferences warmly greets them by name. In effect, to many, this property is a second home. Truly, it is the people that work at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel that make this resort an amazing destination.