Luxury Hotels: Something old is new again in the Newport Beach area: The Island Hotel - Newport Beach, a 23-year old cherished property snuggled between the corporate towers in the Newport Beach area, just unveiled its two year, multi-million dollar facelift. It wasn't as if the Island Hotel was at risk of ending it's 17-year streak as a AAA Five Diamond property, but its purchase by the Irvine Company in 2007 foretold a seriously luxurious update was on the horizon.
The Island Hotel sits unassumingly within Newport's corporate landscape; inland from the ocean and Newport's lazy lagoons, but immediately adjacent to the marvelous shopping mecca, Fashion Island. Business executives make up the core clientele of the hotel, but I noticed on my visit that young families, older couples, and well-to-do friends wandered the lush oasis of birds of paradise and palms as if they were in the Maldives or Maui. Two tennis courts, an impressive gym, and a palm leaf shaded 3,000-square-foot pool certainly add to the guests' relaxed dispositions.
Some of the improvements of the sumptuous 295-room urban retreat include Bose 321 audio systems, 300-thread count embroidered Rivolta linens, and contemporary artwork by local artists. My guest and I loved the airy, multi-windowed room that rewarded us sweeping views of Lido and Catalina Islands.
Our favorite experience at the resort was the Palm Terrace Restaurant & Lounge. This is an indoor/outdoor tropical escape drenched in rich green and gold hues. After a fun tour of the kitchen, Chef Bill Bracken spoiled us with an impeccable four course sampling menu, complete with contemporary Macaroni and Cheese, Kansas City Steak, Dungeness Crab tortilla soup, home made shrimp ravioli, and eight more delights. Eating through such variety, I doubted Bill could bat a (culinary) 1000, but he and his gracious staff did just that.