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Resort Hopping in SoCal

 A stunning ocean view from one of Pelican Hill's two golf courses.

I just returned from a few weeks of absolute bliss touring the Southern California coast, from North San Diego County to Santa Monica. Today I want to tell you about my stay on the California Riviera, the stretch of Orange County coastline that encompasses the communities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and tinier towns in between. It wasn’t foreign territory to me. I’ve spent many summers on Newport’s famed beaches, especially at The Wedge—the world famous body surfing/body boarding beach at the end of the Balboa peninsula that creates Newport’s harbor. And thanks to friends with boats, I’ve spent countless hours touring that harbor—with 9,000 boats one of the biggest on the West Coast—sipping cocktails and oogling the yachts and luxury homes that line its channels. During this visit, I decided to go for a big picture look at the area, and traveled up into the hills overlooking the ocean for a stay at Pelican Hill.

The resort's Coliseum Pool.

My colleague Sarah Elbert just wrote about her sojourn in Tuscany and despite the fact that I was in California, I also got a taste of Italy. Pelican Hill was designed in homage to the great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and built to resemble a seaside palazzo. In addition to the spacious hotel rooms, the resort also offers private villas and bungalows for privacy-seeking celebrities, families or guests who desire longer stays.

Pelican Hill is a self-contained paradise. There are two Tom Fazio-designed championship golf courses that are considered among the best in the state. The round Coliseum Pool is something out of Roman legend: the 136-foot diameter gleaming blue orb lined with a million (!) hand cut and laid glass tiles is one of the largest in the world. It offers amazing ocean vistas, as well as private cabanas that can even be used to stage an intimate dinner. The spa is exquisite, with its own line of natural lotions and potions, plus a signature line of organic nail polishes as well. There’s an entire camp for kids on the premises, a sports bar for the guys, a wedding arbor and honeymoon cottage, event/meeting rooms, and acres of beautiful gardens and sitting space to take in views of Newport Harbor, Catalina Island or just miles of deep blue sea. Pelican Hill couldn’t be designed more beautifully.

 Terrace view at Andrea.

If you want to go to the beach, whale watch, kayak or experience any of the other countless water activities available in Newport (plus endless shopping activities at nearby Fashion Island), the resort will take care of that as well. Pelican Hill is packed with amenities.

The culinary offerings include a cooking school and five restaurants. Want a morning latte or an afternoon gelato? Both are made fresh in the Caffé espresso bar. No less than a dozen kinds of fresh pasta are made by hand each day to serve in the resort’s signature Northern Italian restaurant, Andrea. I had the bucatini, and it was simply brilliant.

It would have been so easy to sink into these sumptuous surroundings for the rest of the summer, but other destinations awaited. More on those in my next blog.

Photos courtesy of Pelican Hill


Southern California is a beautiful place and there is so much to do down there. A lot of nice resorts to stay at as well.

vacationsavings on 7/23/2011 3:19:28 PM
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About Sarah Elbert

Sarah Elbert

As executive editor of Delta Sky, Sarah Elbert lassos the best writers she can find to cover the world—as well as contributing some prose of her own. Before coming to Sky, Sarah was editorial director of magazines including Northwest WorldTraveler and Carlson Wagonlit Travel's Postcards. She has been a newspaper editor, a freelance writer and an Associated Press reporter, riding with the White House travel pool (back in the Clinton days) and covering everything from natural disasters to a cat kidney transplant. Sarah has written for The New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Sun—but not the NY Daily News. She now lives in Minneapolis, which she finds lovely and underrated, but does occasionally miss Manhattan and the Staten Island Ferry. Sarah would like to think she could again go backpacking across Europe, and she still loves to travel, but she knows that train has left the station. It's just so much quicker to fly.

About Deborah Caulfield Rybak

Deborah Caulfield Rybak

Senior editor Deborah Caulfield Rybak interviewed the Who’s Who of Hollywood during her years as an entertainment industry reporter at the Los Angeles Times. She still prefers writing about the arts to almost any other journalistic activity, so it’s a good thing we’ve got her on that beat at Sky. She’s pocketed numerous journalism awards and co-written three books.

But that’s just her journalistic cred: she’s also worked as an FM deejay in Aspen, a speechwriter in Washington and an environmental film festival director in Colorado. She considers herself happiest when she’s out of town—and out of cellphone range. She’s hitchhiked across Kenya, spent the night atop a pyramid in Central America, hovered face-to-mandible with giant manta rays during a night dive in Hawaii and hiked the High Atlas mountains in Morocco. Still left on her to do list: Bhutan and marlin fishing.

About Liz Doyle

Liz Doyle

After a few years navigating the trenches of New York's fashion scene as a stylist assistant at Harpers Bazaar, fashion editor Liz Doyle is excited to be back in her childhood hometown of Minneapolis. When she isn't scouting the latest trends in fashion and travel, she moonlights at a local Parisian brasserie where she says "welcome" and "enjoy" a lot and occasionally tries to improve her French. Though her foray to the editorial side of the magazine industry is a new one, she welcomes the challenge and can't wait to see what this new adventure holds.

About Amanda Welshons

Amanda Hoffstrom

Associate online editor Amanda Welshons maintains the web and social media presence of Delta Sky. She enjoys using new media and exploring how different platforms enhance the reader experience. Based in Minneapolis, Amanda has several destinations on her bucket list including London, Paris and Sydney. She just spent a blissful week in St. Lucia for her honeymoon, and can't wait for upcoming trips to Chicago, Seattle, Vancouver and New York. When she’s not in the office, she's a pop culture junkie, soaking up as many movies, television shows and magazines as possible.