When you think of a California beach vacation images of surfers and waves come to mind. Add family and kids into the mix and images of sand castles and beach umbrellas come into the picture. All this plus truly spectacular cliff top view of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island with top-notch service is what families find at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
Located in Southern Orange County, an hour from Los Angeles and San Diego, the resort is a convenient location for day trips up and down the coast. It’s well-suited for families that want activity or relaxation (or both). Foodies will enjoy the emphasis on high-quality fresh ingredients while parents appreciate the amenities available to entertain kids.And Fido? He’s welcome too. There’s even a “Yappy Hour” the first Thursday of the month for guests and local dog owners and their pooches.
Working together! during an Ambassadors of the Environment eco-adventure
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is located on a cliff surrounded by three miles of beautiful Californian coastline. The beach has a snack bar, restrooms, large grassy lawn area and walking paths that connect to canyon trails – all are paved and good for any type of stroller. If you have tweens or teens, this is the local summer hangout and the place to “be seen”.
As a guest of the hotel you have access to the complimentary beach butlerservice. The hassle of trekking from the parking lot to the beach, loaded down with gear vanishes. Beach butlers drive guests down to the beach, set up chairs, umbrellas and even a tent for your little ones and they’ll build sand castles with your kids on request.
Enjoying a big pool where siblings can have their own space
The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Nigel sees many families pass through their doors and their focus on family-friendly amenities is evident throughout the resort. There are grassy areas for toddlers to run, basketball and tennis courts, a ping-pong tableand a play set withswings and slides for younger kids.
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is also one of only three Ritz-Carlton properties to offer eco-adventures through the Jean-Michel Cousteau affiliated Ambassadors of the Environment program. This is not a kids’ club; these are eco-adventures for kids and families that feel more like a science camp. Instructors are highly qualified and my nine year was impressed by how knowledgeable and “cool” the instructor was – “shooting” kelp bulbs was just one of their adventures.
I knew the three hour program was a winner when the kids took us down to the beach the next morning to “teach us” what they learned. They also brought home the remnants from a dissected owl fur ball – who knew that owls can’t eat fur or bones? Parents receive a DVD and summary sheet at pick up.
A tent, a treat and a cuddly pal greeted the kids in their room
Cries of “there’s a tent in the room” flew out of my kids’ mouths as they saw a tent set up in their room with a little stuffed animal tucked on their pillows to keep them company. My 6-year-old never looked at the bed again; she was hooked on “Glamping.” Tents come with an electric lantern and are available with certain family packages.
Tent aside, rooms are what you would expect at an AAA Five Diamond resort; updated with modern conveniences like an iPod docking station. Note: Some rooms are near outdoor event lawns and noise can be an issue. It may be worth checking what’s going during your stay.
Guests dining at Raya get a coastline view
The main dining restaurant is the Pan-Latin Raya but don’t think burrito, think churros with Kahlua crème brulee (to die for) with a killer view. EnoSteak is date-night worthy and while you can bring the kids, there were mainly adults in the restaurant. The Market Place is just that. A gourmet market and café with a hip TV corner where you can watch a variety of sports games. The Dana Pool Café has a smaller menu filled with classic sandwiches and salads.
This is my second experience with The Ritz-Carlton Club, the first was at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale and I’m convinced that this can be a great value for families; it’s definitely worth checking the rates. The Club is located on a wing of the fourth floor, accessible only to Club guests. The Club lounge offers light breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks and beverages throughout the day including selected alcoholic beverages. What makes the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel Club standout is the service. Guests are greeted by name and it feels like a “hotel within a hotel” experience.
If you go, don’t miss the melt-in-your-mouth Couva Chocolate Pate with cherries and candied orange at enoSteak. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is the only restaurant in the U.S. that has this estate grown Valrhona Grand Couva chocolate from Trinidad.
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Editor’s Note: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel provided complimentary accommodations, meals and activities on the trip. They did not ask us to express any particular opinion. Photos by Kristi Marcelle
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