Photo Courtesy of Ritz-CarltonThere is a formula for perfection, and the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel gets it right every time. Yes, there are many beach resort options, but if you value your time and money, the ROI of Ritz Carlton is a risk free, proven brand. From the moment you drive onto the property, complete with gilded fire hydrant, you know you have arrived. The staff couldn’t be more welcoming and solicitous. After all, they are the ladies and gentleman serving the same.
The breathtaking flower arrangements, changed every four days, are just one small example of the care and detail that go into making your stay memorable. The bellman, who has been here since the resort opened, fills you with a wealth of information as you are escorted to your room. The décor has been updated to reflect the serene elegance of a sophisticated, contemporary sensibility. The rooms are coolly decorated to echo the vibe of the casually elegant oceanside setting with all the amenities at easy reach.
From marine excursions to culinary culture, from forest to garden, there is something for every interest and every age. There are daily activities aplenty for kids and adults that refreshingly resemble the schedule offered aboard a luxury liner. Among the enticements are The Jean–Michel Cousteau AMBASSADORS of the ENVIRONMENT Program that aims to provide unusual eco-adventures to instill appreciation and respect for nature and what it offers in this rich environment.
Each day of the week is dedicated to different aspects of Southern California’s natural wonders — kelp beds, the intertidal zone, the sandy beach, terrestrial ecology, native culture, sustainable living and becoming an Ambassador of the Environment. We toured the gardens with the resident biologist who pointed out the many herbs and vegetables that are grown on the property and used by the culinary team.
Speaking of culinary, the Chef’s Table Dinners and Culinary Demonstration Classes presented by the resort’s culinary team on a monthly basis offer unique opportunities to explore ingredients, seasonality, locality, wine and spirits, as they influence the gustatory experience of the area and the resort. On one such evening called "250 Miles of Cuisine," Chef Jimenez creates a menu utilizing only ingredients harvested, picked or raised within 250 miles of the resort.
Guests learn about what ingredients are available within the region and how they can be turned into a delectable menu. Chef’s Tables Dinners including wine pairings are themed and held monthly in the resort’s Private Dining Room. Check the resort website for specifics on each offering.
The main restaurant, Raya, highlights the dance of Latin Asian cuisine created by Chef Sandoval and executed by Sous Chef Marissa Gerlach. Chef Marissa is passionate about the food she serves her guests in Raya. She is constantly experimenting with ingredients such as togarashi, an Asian seven spice, huitlacoche, a sweet fungus that grows on corn, and pilonillo, which is unrefined Mexican cane sugar that is smoky, caramel-like, and earthy all in one. Each week, her goal is to pair an ingredient like one of these with a fresh, seasonal product to create a new and unique dish.
Dining at Raya is visually stunning as virtually every table has an unobstructed view of the panoramic pacific. The restaurant offers a culinary adventure akin to traveling the Pan-Asian route. Exotic ingredients and clever combinations of flavors offer exciting plates that entice the eye, seduce the senses and please the palate.
Take a deceptively simple chicken dish, the "Chimichurri Jidori Chicken Breast with Cinderella Pumpkin, Caramelized Apple, Wild Rice, Cavalo Negro Kale, Pipian Sauce, and Lime-Pomegranate-Pine Nut Salsa." The presentation, flavor and skillful preparation are enough to elicit swoons of delight. Lobster, duck, seafood and beef are handled so deftly as to surprise and delight the most discriminating palate.
The wait staff at Raya Restaurant embrace the challenge of wine choice with this international menu by presenting thoughtful selections by the glass and half bottles that offer pleasing contrasts and complementarity between the food and wine pairing. For those traditional guests who appreciate straightforward preparations, they are always available upon request and in addition, a steakhouse will soon be added to the culinary offerings in house.
An ultimate experience awaits those discriminating travelers who insist on the Ritz-Carlton Club Level to raise the bar even higher. Anyone who has experienced this class of all-inclusive service will attest to the value proposition therein. With award winning, world class concierge professionals and four different food selections—breakfast, lunch, appetizers and desserts offered at various times of the day, along with a full range of beverages both alcoholic and non—this exclusive option is more than worth the additional charge. Not only will you enjoy the libations and service but you will meet some of your fellow guests if you so desire.
After all of this indulgence, some like it healthy! Imagine working out to the panoramic, unobstructed sights and sounds of the ocean...no need for music or TV here, although it is available. Then there is the ethereal Ritz-Carlton Spa, swathed in white with subtle gold accents and oozing a soothing vibe, just waiting to make your stay sublime.
Choose among the many signature treatments, all executed by the most experienced practitioners and you will be lulled into a state of bliss. Try the Ritz Carlton "Signature Massage" to soothe your cares away and put you at one with the ebb and flow of the ocean, a theme both visually and sensually that reverberates throughout the spa and makes your experience unique and memorable.
Whether it’s a weekend escape or a week in paradise, the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel offers an experience for couples, families and groups that can compete with any world class resort. This is a property that lives up to and often exceeds its reputation for excellence. Stay and play, refresh and renew in the resort that delivers.