• May 2015
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5 local resorts you’ve got to experience

BY Ashly McGlonePublished: May 01, 2010

We’ve all had them – those weeks when a vacation is the only sure-fire way to decompress after a week of stress. But who has the time? Lucky for us, Orange County is home to a number of fabulous resorts that make for a perfect mini-vaca. Here are five of our favorite resorts guaranteed to provide a weekend of relaxed diversion.

The Island Hotel
Here’s a place (pictured above) that has mastered the art of providing California-style laid-back luxury. The hotel’s contemporary, clean-lined décor – and its 200 guest rooms – set a mood of sophistication in a boutique hotel setting. Perhaps best of all: It’s pet-friendly. There’s even a Pampered Pet Package that guests can purchase to ensure accommodations for their furry little ones. A large pool, spa, palm garden, cabana, fitness center and tennis court complete the property.
And because the resort is located adjacent to Fashion Island, guests are within walking distance to world-class shopping and fine dining – if, that is, you can tear yourself away from the property. That can be tough, especially at dinnertime: Chef Bill Bracken’s palatable creations for the Palm Terrace Restaurant are an attraction in their own right.
Owned by The Irvine Co., The Island Hotel is a short drive away from the beach and its sister property, the über-luxurious Resort at Pelican Hill. 
The Island Hotel’s central location offers a convenient yet intimate getaway that is sure to please.

690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach; 949.759.0808

Montage Laguna Beach
Since opening in 2005, the Montage Laguna Beach has gained a solid footing among the luxury resorts that dot the Orange County coast. Visitors can’t help but fall in love with the 30-acre Craftsman-style property. Its 250 guest rooms – 60 of which are suites – grace the bluffs of Laguna Beach.
A highlight of any visit is a meal at Studio. Guests can drink in the view while nibbling delectable offerings – from Dungeness crab-leg risotto to grilled quail and spring lamb. The impressive menu is the creation of Executive Chef Craig Strong, a James Beard semifinalist.
Access to a white-sand beach, a luxury spa, three swimming pools and lush landscaping make the Montage Laguna a destination that guests want to come home to.

30801 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach; 866.271.6953

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
The name says it all: No place puts on the ritz like the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Here’s proof: The resort was rated No. 1 among the 73 Ritz-Carlton hotels for Best Club Experience for the second year in a row.
Its location along the coast – on a 150-foot-tall bluff – provides for great views of the Pacific, whether you’re sipping cocktails at the Sunset Lounge or working out at the fitness center.
Guests staying on the club level of the resort enjoy 24-hour concierge service, beverages and nibbles, as well as access to a computer station.
Wine connoisseurs can reserve a tasting at the Eno wine room. And food lovers can delight in a menu full of gourmet seafood, steaks and an indulgent Sunday brunch.

1 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Dana Point; 949.240.2000

Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort
A stay at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach puts you right in the heart of Surf City USA.
Hotel guests benefit from unobstructed views of the coastline and all the activities that come with a beach-town destination: surfing, bike rides along the boardwalk, a stroll on the pier and night bonfires on the beach.
Upcoming resort events include Mother’s Day and Father’s Day brunches, in addition to weekly Thursday wine tasting; High Five Happy Hour from 5 to 7 p.m.; and a $30 three-course prixe fixe menu, which touts a different theme each month.
The resort’s signature restaurant and bar, Shades, features indoor dining and a poolside patio that allows guests to enjoy the ocean breeze while savoring a meal. Whatever the activity, the sound of waves crashing in the distance provides a soothing soundtrack at this relaxed resort.

21100 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach; 714.845.8000

The Balboa Bay Club & Resort
Here’s a place where history, modern luxury and a prime location combine to create a one-of-a-kind landmark resort. Founded in 1948, the Balboa Bay Club is the only waterfront resort in Newport Beach. It’s also home to some of the most gorgeous luxury yachts in the harbor.
After decades of catering to celebrities and corporate executives, the Balboa Bay Club has earned a reputation for providing impeccable service in an environment that’s elegant, sophisticated and secure.
Dining here is an international affair. Austrian-born Chef Josef Lageder uses seasonal ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes. The club’s seventh annual Food and Wine Festival will be held June 3-6. The four-day event allows attendees to sample more than 60 fine wines from California to France, along with a special selection of nibbles.
A champagne brunch will be served in the Grand Ballroom on Mother’s Day, and dinner at The First Cabin Restaurant always makes for a special occasion – no matter what day you visit.
1221 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach; 888.445.7153