It didn't take long for The Resort at Pelican Hill to become a dominant leader in the luxury resort space. Just four years old, The Resort already boasts dozens of elite accolades ranging from the Robb Report's World's Top 100 Resorts to Conde Nast Traveler's #1 U.S. Resort in 2011.
I'm a big fan of The Resort at Pelican Hill, having watched it flourish from its humble opening in 2008 to its now established local and even international fanfare. Managed by Southern California's master planners of land use, the Irvine Company, The Resort was always planned to be in a class of its own, guided by the principle of "the possibility of perfection." On a recent visit, I discovered the possibility is now perhaps a reality.
Spa: Like The Resort, The Spa at Pelican Hill balances the grandeur of an Italian palace with the allure of a comfortable home. Details aren't missed in this spa, true to the Italian Palladian style, from the subtle surround sound of music to the euphony from the lobby's stunning waterfall wall (The stone sizes were changed numerous times until the perfect pitch and volume was achieved).
Soon after its opening, The Resort at Pelican Hill lured Liza Esayian, the noted spa sage at the St Regis' Monarch Beach property, to eventually take the helm as Spa Director. It was a solid choice, and I continue to observe the Spa's exceptional offerings year by year. This visit, I enjoyed a fantastic massage, the Amber Gold Signature Massage, which employs dry brush exfoliation followed by a targeted Swedish massage. The dry brush strokes prepped my skin to soak in the rich massage oil and promoted great circulation, much needed on a crisp winter evening.
It was a complete indulgence to enjoy the 23,000-square-foot spa prior to my treatment as well. It is open to all guests staying at the resort. The Spa's state-of-the-art gym and massive hot tub wet rooms are not to be missed by any guest. Increasingly, Esayian has made The Resort's natural setting a focal point for the Spa. Now guests can savor a variety of complimentary classes and activities, such as daily guided hikes along Crystal Cove’s bluff-top trails and Sunrise Boot Camps overlooking the ocean.
Beyond its exemplary level of service and setting, The Spa at Pelican Hill continually attracts guests with several seasonal offerings. Winter is the season for pomegranates, and the Pomegranate Body Gelato scrub and wrap, followed by a ruby red gelato dessert, is an enticing indulgence. Golfers who enjoy the resort's year-round sunshine and award-winning golf courses can opt for the Golfers' Spa Tune-Up. It includes golf balls for pressure maneuvers and is followed by a Olivo Pedicure, Agrume Manicure or the Gentleman's Hot Lather and Straight Razor Shave.
Villas: In all the years I’ve stayed at The Resort at Pelican Hill, I never noticed the long-term accommodations offered just down the hill from the bungalows. For guests desiring weeklong or month-long stays, the Villas at The Resort at Pelican Hill are considered the elite of the industry, and a quick tour is easy to assess why.
Exceptionally private, the 128 Villas are able to accommodate up to 10 guests in the largest 4-bedroom Villa. It’d be quite the treat to arrive at your “home away from home” with a fridge stocked with your favorite meals, the bathroom filled with your choice soaps, and a 24/7 butler awaiting your arrival. A private Club House and immaculate pre-planning services are a few of the amenities of the Villas.
Wedding Bells: There are numerous reasons why The Resort at Pelican Hill is a near mirror image of Italy’s famed coastline: The 750 mature olive trees; the meticulous detail to Italian Palladian principles; and the natural coastal breeze from the ocean to name a few. It seems only appropriate that weddings and proposals have become a specialty of the Resort, and surely the convenience of not enduring a long international flight is a bonus.
I love several of the Resort’s new proposal packages, including the Spa Surprise Proposal. Brides-to-be (or grooms) get whisked away to enjoy a spa facial, manicure, pedicure, hair and make-up styling. Once dolled up from head to toe, the bride-to-be arrives at a private treatment room for a final “bonus” treatment: a surprise proposal toasted with chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling Prosecco. I’m sure brides love this considerate package, as I had girlfriends wishing they were perfectly preened before getting a proposal.
For those celebrating first to golden anniversaries, the Dinner of the Senses at the Coliseum Pool & Grill is a sensual feast enjoyed sans silverware. A five-course chef-crafted menu for two, paired with select wines, is arranged in a private candlelight cabana. Napkins optional.