The Northern California coast offers stunning Pacific views and has long been a desirable weekend getaway spot for Golden State residents. However, if you don’t happen to be from the state and are going to be visiting the Bay Area, The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is convenient to extend your trip or an excellent base to visit the region’s many attractions.
Less than 25 miles from San Francisco International and 45 miles Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Airport, it’s within an hour’s drive of both major downtown areas and the headquarters of many of the area’s major companies.
“It is one of my all-time favorite hotels,” says Angela Mullin, a luxury travel consultant with Frosch, adding, “They have a very professional, helpful and courteous staff who will go out of their way to assist with any request.”
The 261-room resort is popular with golfers (with two championship golf courses), and offers abundant activities from hiking to biking, surfing, an extensive spa (more details below), or just relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty, perhaps sipping a glass of wine warmed by your suite’s private fire pit watching the sunset.
Mullin says she recommends the resort for couples wanting a romantic getaway, families, and with 35,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor event space, clients booking meetings, retreats, golf getaways, and private celebrations.
It’s California, so as you might expect, the resort has replaced 100% of guest room light bulbs with low energy bulbs. All rooms and the guest corridors utilize low energy LED bulbs. And yes, the resort offers an electric car charging station.
It’s also pet-friendly. Dogs are welcome with a maximum weight limit of 40 pounds and limiting two dogs maximum per room. The dog-friendly accommodations are located at its Guest Houses, separate buildings that also offer suites (see Accommodations section below).
Rated four stars by Forbes Travel Guide and ranked on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards list of Top Northern California Resorts, it was Architectural Digest’s “Most Beautiful Hotel” in California, November 2017, and Travel Weekly Reader’s Choice Awards 2017 Best Resort Worldwide. It’s also Trip Advisor’s top-rated hotel or resort in the area with 4.5 stars. There were 1,605 Excellent ratings versus 85 Terrible reviews, of which only two were in 2019, one about a power outage.
Who shouldn’t go? Mullin says, “(The) style and décor is very traditional. It’s classic architecture suited for the oceanfront location. If you prefer rooms with ultra-modern design, and restaurants with open ceilings with painted pipes, this is not the place.”
In choosing your suite, first think about whether you want to be in the Main Building or in the guest houses, separate two-story buildings located a short walk away, next to the putting, tennis courts and indoor pool.
Mullen says, “The Main Building is convenient as everything is right there,” adding, “Cottages are a two-minute walk and provide a sense of having your own residence.”
The Ritz-Carlton Suite (1 of this type)
Just renovated, located on the 5th floor, the two-bedroom, the two-and-a-half-bath, 2,000 sq. ft. Ritz-Carlton Suite offers panoramic ocean and golf course views.
There are fireplaces in the living room and both bedrooms, a dining area that seats eight and butler’s pantry area. There’s also a balcony, and you can connect to an adjacent room if you want a third bedroom.
New deécor includes bold blue cabinetry juxtaposed with white marble countertops in reverence to the ocean tides, along with a herringbone backsplash complemented by brass details that echo the geometry of navigational instruments.
The beauty of the local marine life such as coral fans and shells embellish the open kitchen shelving alongside handcrafted white ceramic pottery.
Guests will discover a spa-like master bathroom adorned with soothing wallpaper in hues of blue and white reminiscent of the rolling tides, custom-built dual vanities handcrafted to match the pantry cabinets, an elegant oversized soaking tub, and a separate shower.
Luxury Fire Pit Suite (2)
Located on the Ground Floor of the Main Building, the two 1,000 sq. ft. Luxury Fire Pit Suites offer a private patio, fire pit and Adirondack chairs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Mullins says these are her favorites, and adds, “Cocktails on your terrace while the bagpipe player approaches from the beach at sunset is amazing.”
There is a connecting room option if you want to create a two-bedroom suite, and in addition to a full marble bathroom, there is also a guest toilet, making this suite type perfect for hosting a sunset cocktail party.
Signature Suite (2)
New are the two 1,000 square-foot Signature Suites, located on the 4th and 6thfloors. Featuring a fully refreshed, coastal-inspired aesthetic, the open-concept living room flows into the dining area, which accommodates up to four guests.
The bedroom features a four-post king canopy bed surrounded with views of the coast. Furniture pieces feel as though they belong in the captain’s quarters on an old sailing vessel. The marble bathroom features a soaking tub, separate shower, and blue wooden double vanity, all tied together by new soft blue wallpaper.
Luxury Suite (1)
Also 1,000 sq. ft., located on the second floor, the ocean-view Luxury Suite includes a gas fireplace, marble bathroom with separate tub and shower. There are a separate bedroom and living area divided by French doors.
Courtyard View Suite (8)
The 950 sq. ft. Courtyard View Suites overlook the hotel’s port cochere and have partial golf course and mountain views. Located on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors, each has a separate bedroom and living areas, including a gas fireplace.
Guest House Ocean View Fire Pit Suite (4)
Located on the Ground Floor, the four Guest House Ocean View Fire Pit Suites each measure 1,000 sq. ft. with views of the NorCal coast. The living room and bedroom are separated by French doors, there’s an indoor gas fireplace, and outdoors there is your own private patio with fire pit. You can also create a two-bedroom layout via a connecting room.
Guest House Ocean View Suite (4)
With the same layout as the Fire Pit versions, but situated on the 2nd floor, you’ll enjoy elevated views of the amazing landscapes.
Restaurants and Bars
Named as one of the most romantic restaurants in the bay region and a hotspot for Saturday and Sunday brunch, Gayot notes, “Ask for window table…First and foremost, Navio’s panoramic views provide a striking dining backdrop, particularly at sunset.”
The guide recommends the tasting menu with wine pairing. The current offer is below:
Ahi Tuna Ribbons Mustard Fruit, Black Sesame, paired with Basil Sparkling Rose, AMELIA, Brut, Cremant de Bordeaux, France NV
White Asparagus Goose Egg, Lemon Confit, Black Truffle Albariño with LA MAREA “Kristy Vineyard”, Monterey County, California 2017
Langoustine Chestnut Tortellini, Parsnip, Preserved Mushrooms Grüner Veltliner with VÖCAL “Alfaro Vineyards”, Santa Cruz Mountains, California 2016
Skrei Polenta, Spigarello, Orange with Chardonnay, TESTAROSSA, Santa Lucia Highlands, California 2016
Lamb Loin Pistachio, Fennel, Elderberry with Cabernet Sauvignon, ROSATI, Mendocino, California 2010
Strawberries and Cream Strawberry Cremeux, Lemon Olive Oil Cake, Basil Ice Cream Semillon with CARMES de RIEUSSEC, Sauternes, France 2014
There is also The Private Dining Room with ocean and 18th fairway views seating up to 18, a chef’s table seating eight, and The Fireplace Room, which needs to be bought entirely and can seat up to 40.
Featuring a modern beach house design overlooking the Ocean Lawn and Pacific, Forbes Travel Guide says visit and try one of The Conservatory’s craft cocktails using fresh herbs.
For private dining, The Wine Room is surrounded by a glass-enclosed wine cellar featuring over 4,000 bottles of wines seating up to 14.
The Ocean Terrace
Listen to the crashing waves and taste the ocean with an extensive raw bar, plus fun treats such as a soft pretzel with stone ground mustard, a lobster roll or California cheese board.
Spa and Fitness
The extensive spa includes both local treatments such as its Redwood Forest Ritual (using herbs and wood blends) and seasonal facials using locally sourced ingredients. You can spend the day at the spa enjoying the whirlpool, sauna, steam room and other relaxation facilities. There’s also a men’s menu if you need encouragement.
There’s a heated indoor pool (reserved for adult lap swims until 9 a.m. every morning) or walk down to the Pacific and take a dip. The 24-hour fitness center offers machine and free-standing weights, in addition to cardio equipment.
There are 18-hole, par 72 golf courses, one from Arthur Hills and the other originally co-designed by Francis Duane and Arnold Palmer. Challenge Mother Nature on the 6,914-yeard Ocean Course (70th on The Top 100s list) where every hole has Pacific views and the traditional Scottish design features tight fairways and knolls. The Old Course at 7,001 yards features parkland-style fairways lined with cypress trees.
There are extensive local activities, including using the hotel as a based for day trips to visit wineries, local beaches, and even pumpkin farms and markets Nestled within the picturesque town of Half Moon Bay, Historic Main Street offers year-round sightseeing, shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Half Moon Bay also offers local galleries, boutiques, and restaurants or for a more active afternoon, consider sea kayaking, horseback riding, surfing, or biking, all of which the hotel can arrange.
Meetings and Celebrations
More than 35,000 sq. ft. of event space includes a ballroom (largest on the NorCal coast), meeting rooms, outdoor lawns overlooking the ocean, and16 indoor and outdoor meeting rooms.
Ritz Kids Program
Offered on a full- or half-day basis seven days a week with 24-hour advance notice required the program is for children ages five to 12. Activities include going to the beach, building sandcastles, exploring tide pools, arts and crafts projects, tennis, golf, soccer, and volleyball. Kids Night Out runs from 6 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays so you can combine a family getaway with a date night.