Crashing surf roars below the picturesque setting of The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Atop a seaside cliff, the property feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco—pumpkin and Christmas tree farms speckle the landscape and a scenic oceanside drive sets the tone before even stepping foot on the property.
At check-in, as appropriate to Californian’s love of wine, a complimentary glass is poured. The warm environment of the “Castle on the Cliff” is cozy with a fireplace, chocolate and silver furniture, and specialty flights of wine offered upon arrival. Home to a Napa Tasting Room, the bar off the lobby melds rich woods with an open and airy seating space nearby overlooking the sprawling golf course and surging surf below. It is a wonderful wader through the lobby sipping the wine of the day while taking in the property.
An hour and a half before sunset, the haunting melodies of a bagpiper makes guests feel as if they have stepped into an Irish romance novel. The central courtyard and gazebo lawn on the ocean side is host to several fire pits which are tended to by attentive staff. Whether enjoying a glass of wine or watching the setting sun, the crisp air and cozy blankets make for an enjoyable pre-dinner chat or star watching later in the evening while roasting marshmallows for gourmet s’mores.
Back inside the hotel, the Conservatory Lounge plays off a bistro atmosphere. Open from 11:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., many guests find themselves enjoying the panoramic views. Recently renovated, Navio restaurant is top of its class. With locally-sourced food, a stunning contemporary nautical atmosphere, and seating lining the large windows looking out to sea, the setting is almost as exquisite as the food. Observing the ceiling, the nautical references continue with the wooden treatment reminiscent of a ship’s hull.
During our meal on property, we left our foodie fate to the chef and sommelier. Starting with a seasonal cocktail called Buddha on a Bike, we knew we were in for a treat. From the signature fresh scallop dish, to the baby octopus sous-vide, the AAA four-diamond rating extends from the culinary creativity to the service. A symphony of fresh flavors coupled with the friendly staff had us laughing and heartily enjoying wine pairings and unique dishes. From the smoke-infused ice cubes for our cocktails to elk capriccio and tomato consommé, weekly specialty ingredients are utilized until they run out, making for a unique culinary experience every time.
Considered one of the Pumpkin Capitals of the world, Half Moon Bay is proud of their pumpkin farms. Throughout the Ritz-Carlton property, pumpkins pepper menus; in the spa the Pumpkin Facial is available year-round, and artisan glass pumpkins and pumpkin-themed artwork may be purchased in the gift shops on property. Local celebrity Farmer John works closely with Executive Chef Xavier Salomon to provide fresh produce to the property’s restaurants, further intertwining the community with the Ritz-Carlton.
The most popular suites on the property are the Terrace Fire pit Rooms. Playing off the “Fire and Wine on the Coast” theme of the property, these terraced rooms overlook the ocean and have direct access to the central courtyard. Light and airy décor meld perfectly with the serene setting, and the seaside décor as calming as the waves—which can be heard into the night with windows flung open. If seeking a beachside walk, the Coastal Trail runs alongside the shore or a 24/7 fitness center also helps to burn off the five food presentations offered on Club Level.
Striving to embody Bay Area luxury, The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is a great destination for those looking to be near San Francisco without dealing with the chaos of being in the city. The hotel sits about a 40 minute drive from San Francisco International Airport and rates start at around $495 per night.