Peachhead™ Approved Vacations: Vacation in Newport Beach at the Pelican Hill Resort
I love to take "staycations," because you drive a short distance but you feel like you are miles away. That is exactly how I felt as I drove into Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach. This resort was built in 2008 and you can tell a lot of planning, research, and attention to detail went into building it. You drive through large arches onto the property, very reminiscent of Roman architecture. The lobby is elegant and classy. The hotel has 204 bungalow guest room and suites, as well as 128 two-, three-, and four-bedroom villas. I stayed in a bungalow that was amazing. The room was very large and spacious, with a patio that has an amazing view of the ocean. The room also has a limestone fireplace. In the evening while we were at dinner, chocolates, slippers, and water were left when they turned down our room. I also had the opportunity to visit the 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom villas which are very beautiful and spacious (they range in size from 2,200 to over 3,600 square feet!), with complete kitchens and garage parking. The villas have a separate, gated entry and their own pool and fitness room (although guests are also allowed to use the Coliseum pool). Each villa comes with a personal butler and the option of a personal chef.
Our room was located right near the Coliseum pool, the largest circular pool in the world. It is 136 feet in diameter, and the bottom of the pool is covered in 1.1 million hand-cut, glass mosaic tiles. The resort provides comfy floats to rest on while you enjoy the salt-water. The lounge chairs at the pool have thick cushions that are very comfortable, and they have live music poolside. There are pool attendants who bring towels and restaurant wait staff ready to take your food and drink orders while you relax. The kids' menu, or as it is known at the resort--the Young Adults' menu--offers an incredible deal of all-you-can-eat pizza or pasta, plus gelato, for $10. The pool has 18 very nice cabanas (tiered level so you are sitting above the pool) each complete with a flat screen TV, iPod docking station, refrigerator, ceiling fan, curtains for privacy, and of course a server waiting to take care of your every need.
I love when a resort will allow hotel guests to use the spa facilities even if they are not getting a spa treatment and Pelican Hill Resort offers this amenity. I loved spending time in this luxurious spa, and clearly I am in good company: the Pelican Hill spa is rated a 5-star and 5-diamond facility. Both the spa lobby and the spa lounge have a beautiful wall of water fountain, that with its subtle lighting, sets the tone for your entrance into a zone of relaxation. They offer a few complimentary snacks, such as almonds and dried strawberries, as well as pre-treatment and post-treatment hot teas. One of the spa features is the Acqua Colonnade, which features an herbal steam room, sauna, and luxurious salt water Jacuzzi. It was great visiting the spa in the morning as well as at the end of the day. I had the Amber Gold Signature massage which was so relaxing. They started out brushing me with a soft brush (not a scrub) known as dry brushing and then used oils to massage my skin and put me in a state of complete tranquility. The resort offers retreat packages on selected weekends, and the schedule is built around the theme of Balanced Wellness. The resort's website even suggests a retreat packing list so you are completely prepared for your activities. The spa offers a spa cuisine menu and you indicate what time you prefer to have your lunch and they deliver it to the lounge for you. We had the burrata tomato salad and the seared ahi cabbage…both were fabulous. A glass of champagne was the perfect complement to our light meal.
In the spa complex there is a large fitness room with state-of-the-art equipment and individual TV’s (and iPod docks) on the cardio machines, as well as a spacious studio, in which the resort offers complimentary yoga and fitness classes. One "class" is a daily hour-long brisk beach walk on the famous Crystal Cove beach. Not only is it a good workout, but the instructor provided so much interesting information about the resort, the local beaches, and the area in general that the hour just flew by. What a great way to start your morning. There is also a full-service salon for men and women, including hair and nail care and waxing. On Friday evenings they offer a complimentary spa/art intentions class...you have to see these canvases to believe them. It is like art therapy for the people who participate in creating them.
After spending some time enjoying the view and the sunshine from the comfortable pool chairs, we had dinner at the Coliseum Pool and Grill. We sat outside overlooking the pool and ocean. The ambience is very pleasant (the chairs are very cushiony and the heat lamp is high above you--close enough to keep you warm but far enough away for it to not get too hot). This is a great family restaurant--the restaurant has a wagon full of toys for children to play with, and a good selection of kids' items on the menu--yet this is not your typical pool fare. We started our dinner with the artichoke spinach dip served with grilled bread, which was wonderful. Then we had the soup of the day, corn chowder, and a mixed greens salad, very light and tasty. The crab cake was delicious. For our main course I ordered the grilled Colorado lamp chop and my friend had the butternut squash ravioli. Everything was wonderful. There is a full-time pasta chef on site at Pelican Hill, and the pasta is light and so yummy you feel as though you are dining in Italy. The resort also partners with Irvine Ranch, a local ranch, so many of the fruits and vegetables are grown locally and super fresh. Even the house-made gelato uses the local ingredients--we tasted several delicious flavors. We ended our dinner with the most amazing desserts, a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, served warm and paired with vanilla gelato, and the chocolate-dipped coconut cheesecake lollipop. Yum!!!! The restaurant has a full bar, with many signature drinks offered on the menu. Many of the same food and drink items can also be served poolside. For sports fans, ask to be seated near the 9-foot television screen, and you won't miss a second of the action. We didn't dine at the resort’s signature restaurant, Andrea, but we had a chance to peek inside and it is an elegant dining area that feels as if you are visiting someone's home...beautiful high ceilings (found throughout the resort) yet cozy and intimate. The outside dining area not only has the high heating elements that we so enjoyed at the Coliseum restaurant, but the patio floor tiles are equipped with radiant heating to take the chill off on cooler evenings.
The Pelican Hill kids' club, Camp Pelican, is one of the nicest kids' clubs I have seen. Outside amenities include a private pool for the exclusive use of kids' clubbers and a wonderful bubble jet fountain where kids can splash and play if they don't feel like getting in the pool. Inside the Club Pelican clubhouse are games, art supplies, toys, books, puzzles, touch-screen computers, and even flat screen TV’s for their kids' movie nights and interactive games. This is a truly-stocked kids' camp: they even offer karaoke, microscopes, and a telescope! Camp Pelican campers are given a backpack with toys and games and the teens are given a disposable underwater camera. Staff for the kids' program is 8-1, and Club Pelican is available daily for a reasonable fee. Resort guests who are 4 or younger are invited to use the club facilities with a parent in attendance. Teen guests are given a unique experience, including options such as surf lessons and kayaking in Laguna Beach and local shopping trips.
One of the first things you notice when you enter the Pelican Hill Resort is the lavish architecture. The buildings and decor are all Palladian-inspired. Indoor spaces mesh with the outdoors, and interior spaces are designed symmetrically and with such attention to detail, that even grand open spaces have a feeling of coziness. The Rotunda in the main lobby, and the adjoining Great Room, are two examples of this. Ever Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon, the Great Room offers a traditional afternoon tea. On Friday and Saturday nights, the Great Room hosts a Broadway performer in its "Hot Dancing and Chilled Martinis" event--a fine opportunity to hear great music and socialize with other resort guests.
The Pelican Hill architecture's beauty reflects the area around it. The resort is built on over 500 acres and 36 holes of Tom Fazio-designed championship golf courses. Each golf foursome reservation includes a resort-trained forecaddie to enhance the golf experience--they know the ins and outs of every hole and provide assistance and service on every hole. There are periodic "golf experience" weekends offered by the resort, which is a great time to plan a memorable vacation to enjoy rounds of golf and/or golf instruction. Almost every hole on the 2 courses offers an amazing ocean view.
The resort has 750 olive trees on the property, and they have begun pressing their own olive oil to use on signature dishes at the resort. Coupled with the amazing fresh produce from their local farm, they have truly found a way to blend delicious and sustainable. The resort staff is truly at your beck and call when you are a guest there, and will drive you anywhere on the property in one of the golf carts. The coaches in which guests are driven off-property are comfortable Mercedes vans (the tall ones, where you don't have to duck your head getting in and out), and we were also fortunate enough to get a ride in one of the property Bentleys...I don't think there is one luxury this resort has overlooked. I can't wait to return.
A big thank you to Pelican Hill Resort for hosting my stay.