Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Dana Point, CA - Hotel Review

The Ultimate California Seaside Resort

by Kathy A. McDonald

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is set high on a bluff overlooking one of Southern California's most gorgeous bays
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is set high on a bluff overlooking one of Southern California's most gorgeous bays

Set on a high bluff overlooking one of Southern California's most gorgeous bays, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is a superb resort, with a picturesque dining room, numerous beachy and sporty activities and a glittery, mosaic tiled spa.  Just 25 years old, the Orange County hotel is now the grand dame of the Orange coast, located in Dana Point, directly south of Laguna Beach and the Newport Coast.

After entering via the grand portico, the hotel lobby welcomes visitors with an inlaid marble mosaic and silver leafed rotunda. Guest rooms are somewhat compact, but an interesting design opens the space. Instead of an armoire, the 42" flat screen plasma TV is wall mounted; most lighting is inset in the ceiling with varying dimmer controls.  Desks are oval-shaped with easy access to the power strip, and both the closet and honor bar are set artfully behind closed doors.  An etched glass wall adds to the sense of lightness, colors are subtle and soothing, and each bathroom has a full-length mirror that reflects the double marble vanities. Each of the 393 guest rooms (including 30 suites) has French doors opening to a tidy balcony. Choose between garden/poolside or ocean views.

For those seeking further relaxation and a pretty spot to decompress, the spa has all the answers.  Most popular are the signature facial and the massage utilizing Naturopathica oils.  Both the men and women's lockers rooms have helpful attendants, Ritz-Carlton products, cushy cotton towels and rain showers.

One of the sumptuous Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel bedrooms Restaurant 162' offers up a full service menu and a sumptuous Friday seafood buffet

There's no shortage of ways to stretch and tone the body in addition to spa time. The gym truly boasts a magnificent view: work the elliptical trainer, stationary bike or treadmill and gaze at the ocean (and seasonal migrating whales) via two story windows. Four tennis courts and an on-site professional trainer, ping-pong tables, two swimming pools and Jacuzzis mean there's no excuse for not working out the kinks.  And there's the two miles of beach to walk or jog as well as a Ritz beach butler who will set up beach chairs, umbrellas and towels and provide boogie boards should you request them.

All that physical activity makes for hungry and thirsty guests. Dining options include an open bar on the Club Level, casual dining at the poolside café open weekends and during the summer, and RAYA from chef Richard Sandoval as well as a sumptuous Friday seafood buffet and Sunday brunch (reservations are a must).

A premiere seaside location and an almost infinite variety of activities—from surfing to contemplating the view from an Adirondack chair positioned just so—The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is truly one of Southern California's most comfortable and rarified stays.

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Dr. (Pacific Coast Hwy.)
Dana Point, CA 92629


Going to California? Check out our guide

(Updated: 10/17/12 CT)

Sip your way through wine country with GAYOT's list of charming inns and resorts, featuring vineyards from Napa Valley to Long Island, New York.
Go off the beaten path and explore GAYOT's Top 10 Extreme Hotels, which feature one-of-a-kind accommodations for a truly unforgettable experience.