Recently named the number one resort in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler readers, The Resort at Pelican Hill is a unique destination. It’s located on the Newport Coast, between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach in Orange County, California on a gorgeous strip of hilly coastline. While not directly on the beach, the resort sits on a hillside that offers spectacular views of the ocean and Catalina Island.
Coliseum swimming pool is 3 foot deep throughout
Pelican Hill is an experience not a hotel stay. You don’t come here because you need a place to stay; you come because you want the Pelican Hill service and ambiance. Guests that stay here know that their every need will be taken care of by exceptional staff. There are 204 bungalow rooms and 128 two, three and four bedroom villas spread out over an expansive 500 acres including a 400-acre golf course that winds around the resort grounds. There is no “hotel” in the usual sense. The reception and check-in area has a restaurant, cafe and shops, but the bungalows and villas are located in other areas of the property. The expansive grounds mean that it can be a long walk from your bungalow or villa to the pool or restaurant so there are shuttles everywhere. Golf carts and black Cadillac Escalades transport guests around the property. If you prefer to walk, request a room or villa close to the walking path although be prepared, there is something mesmerizing about a golf cart ride for kids – ours begged us for these shuttles even when we could easily walk.
Indoor/outdoor living at the Villas at Pelican Hill The Villas The villas are vacation rentals with incredible amenities and services, and they are well-suited for families. The villas are located in a gated area and have their own clubhouse complete with a full-sized pool and lounge area. My family of four stayed in a three-bedroom villa — at 2,500 sq ft it is huge. The living areas and patio with ocean and golf course views are very spacious and have plenty of room for small children to move around. The villas set-up is more akin to a residential neighborhood than a resort; had we stayed longer I have no doubt that my kids would have been playing outside with the “neighbor kids”. We saw children riding bikes and scooters all around the villa streets. The standout feature of staying in a villa is the service that comes with it. All villa guests have access to personal butlers and staff 24/7. Yes, it’s decadent. We weren’t there long enough to need them, but they will grocery shop, make reservations and shuttle you anywhere in the nearby area. There is no request too small or too large. Dining There are multiple dining options here. The top restaurant is the Italian Andrea and this looked lovely for a special occasion or an adult-only dinner. For families, the Coliseum Pool and Grill is a great fit. Get a seat outside with a view of the gorgeous round pool that sparkles with 1.1 million mosaic tiles. If the kids are restless, it’s easy to get up and walk around. If you want to feel like you’ve gone somewhere without actually leaving the resort, take a shuttle to the Pelican Grill which is located at the golf club. This has nice views from the outdoor patio. And for a treat, the Caffé in the main reception area has gelato and they’re happy to let you to let you taste test before you choose.
Family frolic at Crystal Cove
Camp Pelican My kids raved about Camp Pelican. And why wouldn’t they? Being the only kids there on a weekday meant that they got to explore the resort – I had given approval for swimming and on-property walks. This is a beautiful kids club with well thought-out indoor and shaded outdoor spaces. I liked that the kids could easily move outside and play ping pong or do crafts on the picnic tables. The counselor was well trained and I was comfortable with her taking the kids around the resort. Depending on the number of kids, they may go on walking excursions or to the kids pool which is adjacent to the kids’ club. There is also an off-site teen adventure program that can include kayaking and beach excursions or shopping in Laguna Beach. Spa The spa is what you would expect from Pelican Hill – beautiful and spacious with outstanding service. There was always an attendant nearby asking the guests waiting for treatments if they needed anything. While I’m not a big shopper, the spa gift shop is worth a sticky beak. They have unique gifts including horoscope tea of the month and specially blended bath products. Golf The golf course was here before the resort was built in 2008 and Pelican Hill is known as a golfing destination. Golfers here are treated to gorgeous ocean views. There are 36 holes of golf and many options for adult and kids’ clinics.
Crystal Cove A 5-minute shuttle ride takes you down to Crystal Cove beach, located on a beautiful stretch of undeveloped coastline. There are tidepools and biking and walking paths. Pelican Hill guests have complimentary beach butler service when available. There are two dining options for families including the historic Ruby’s Shake Shack for burgers and the more upscale Beachcomber which is located on the beach. This place is busy so reserve far ahead for a table during sunset.
Kristi received two nights complimentary accommodations from The Resort at Pelican Hill. She was not asked to express any particular opinion.
Photos courtesy of The Resort at Pelican Hill and Kristi Marcelle.
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