Monday, January 7, 2013

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay – scenic beauty, great golf, luxurious accommodations

If the first things that come to mind when you think of Half Moon Bay, California, are pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, the Mavericks surfing contest, seafood, and the rugged beauty of the San Mateo County coast, that’s fine – the seaside community at the junction of Hwys 1 and 92 is justly famed for all of those things. There are two more thing which the mention of Half Moon Bay should bring to mind, however: luxury resort accommodations and great golf.

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Situated on the coastal shelf between the rising foothills of the Coast Range and the crashing Pacific Ocean surf, just off Hwy 1 about 3-1/2 miles south of the town of Half Moon Bay, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay resort provides an unlooked-for luxury destination in the long stretch of ruggedly-beautiful California coast between the Monterey Peninsula and San Francisco.

The 6-story resort hotel features 261 rooms, ranging from the merely luxurious “standard” rooms to top-of-the-market suites – with most rooms featuring ocean views, and many having outdoor firepits.

Situated in a dramatic setting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Ritz-Carlton
Half Moon Bay offers luxurious accommodations, and all the amenities expected of a 
first-class luxury resort.
No first-class luxury resort can aspire to that designation without amenities above and beyond well-appointed hotel rooms and suites, and The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay does not disappoint when it comes to dining, spa facilities, or available activities.

The resort’s main restaurant, Navio, serves coastal cuisine featuring fresh, local ingredients. At the time of my visit to the resort last September the first local salmon catch in three years was brought in by the fishermen of Half Moon Bay, and chef de cuisine Sean Eastwood and his staff certainly did well by this local delicacy. For fine dining – including a wine cellar featuring the finest selections from regional, national, and international vintners – Navio stands with the best that the Central Coast region, from the Monterey Peninsula to San Francisco, has to offer.
Navio, at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, offers fine dining in elegant surroundings.
Other dining options at the resort include the bistro menu offered in The Conservatory Lounge (with live music in the evenings), and informal, fireside dining at Mullins Bar & Grill at the golf course clubhouse. My favorite from the Mullins menu: the smoked ribs. The resort has its own smoker, and the smoked ribs that they serve rival any that you will find in the BBQ capitals of the South and Southwest U.S.

Opportunities for indoor and outdoor exercise activities abound at the resort. The 24-hour fitness center features state-of-the-art cardio- and weight training equipment, daily aerobics classes and a yoga studio, and outdoor activities include tennis, bicycling along the coastal trail, and of course, golf on the two award-winning golf courses.

For those with relaxation in mind, or looking to work out the kinks after exercise, the resort features a complete spa facility with 16 treatment rooms, whirlpools, a co-ed Roman mineral bath and a complete range of massage services, facials, manicure and pedicure treatments, and more.

The Roman mineral bath in the spa at Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is ideal for relaxing after an active day.

No matter which of the services and facilities you take advantage of during your stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, you can be certain that the courteous and attentive staff will do their best to ensure that you enjoy your stay.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links

Though I am as easily distracted by fine dining and luxurious accommodations as the next person, the focus of my visit to the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay resort was golf. The resort features two championship-caliber courses – The Old Course, a classic American Parkland-style course co-designed by Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane in 1973; and The Ocean Course, a true links-style layout designed by Arthur Hills in 1999. Hills was also responsible for major remodeling work on the Old Course, conducted in two phases: on the back nine in 2000, and on the front nine in 2009. I played the two courses on back-to-back days during my visit, and came away tremendously impressed by their playing qualities, their condition, and the professionalism and attentiveness of the staff.

Both of these distinctive courses deserve more detailed individual attention, so look for Parts II and III of this series to learn more about The Old Course and The Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links.

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