Stunning Palladian-inspired Italian architecture overlooking the Pacific Ocean
Fully-equipped Villas come with gourmet kitchens and access to a private pool, restaurant, and concierge
Bungalows feature private terraces, fireplaces, and Italian linens
Breathtaking Coliseum Pool features ocean views and a casual restaurant
Gorgeous 23,000 square-foot spa with Roman-soaking pools
Modern fitness center includes Matrix and Precor equipment, plus free wellness classes
Six excellent restaurants and 24-hour room service
Two Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole golf courses with ocean views from every hole
Free Wi-Fi throughout and free parking in front of Bungalows; free garage parking in Villas
Activities like pasta-making and princess teas (for a fee), plus Camp Pelican for kids and teens
Several meeting and event spaces both inside and out, including a gorgeous Italian wedding rotunda
Not directly on the beach and about a 20-minute walk to the water
Some Bungalows have garden views
Some features are only for Villa guests
Sprawling property means guests have to take the free shuttle to get from one spot to the next (or walk a lot)
Past complaints of maintenance issues in the Villas
When pulling up to the five-pearl Resort at Pelican Hill you might think you've taken a wrong turn on the Pacific Coast Highway and somehow wound up in Italy. The buildings, pools, and spa were inspired by famed Italian architect Andrea Palladio and the 504-acre grounds look positively Mediterranean. The resort is perched on a hilltop overlooking its championship golf courses and the mighty Pacific Ocean, but it's about a 20-minute walk down to the water. The 204 Bungalow guest rooms are tastefully decorated and include Italian limestone fireplaces. For ultimate luxury, the 128 Villas come with a personal staff and gourmet kitchens. There are six gourmet restaurants, including Andrea for homemade pasta and Caffe for gelato and pastries. You won't find anything nearly as luxurious in Newport Beach, but the Montage Laguna Beach is about a 20-minute drive south and right on the beach. Otherwise, book a flight to Italy.
Italian-style architecture and Mediterranean landscaping overlooking the Pacific Ocean
The Resort at Pelican Hill was built in 2008 as a resort-style luxury village inspired by the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. His work was based on strict attention the rules of symmetry and proportion, and extensive details found throughout the 504-acre property include grand rotundas, stately colonnades, and barrel vault ceilings. The hilltop location means sweeping views of the resort's golf courses that meander down to the Pacific Ocean. Landscaping is no less impressive, and includes ordered Mediterranean-inspired grounds filled with palm trees, succulents, and native plants. Bungalow guests check in inside a palatial lobby set with a massive fireplace, fringed sofas, and open walls that lead out to a breathtakingly beautiful verandah. Villa guests have their own private reception area (and pool, restaurant, and concierge) located about 1/4 mile down the road. This section of the resort is more exclusive and intimate, but no less grand.
Guests truly include everyone from families with small kids to honeymooners and business travelers. Thanks to the massive size and large number of pools, rooms, restaurants, and facilities -- there's space for different kinds of visitors to have the luxury vacation they want. Note that getting around the property is usually done by the free, on-demand shuttle service.
Overlooking the Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach
Snuggled between super-affluent Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach (one of the most famous surfing hot spots in the world), Newport Beach is home to beautiful mansions overlooking the water and top-notch restaurants and shops, but you can still find quaint bars and surf shops by the beach.
Eight-minute drive to Corona Del Mar beach
10-minute drive to Balboa Island
11-minute drive to Laguna Beach
12-minute drive to Fashion Island for upscale shopping
14-minute drive to Orange County Museum of Art
15-minute drive to John Wayne Airport
18-minute drive to Balboa Pavilion's shops and restaurants (and the Fun Zone)
Bungalows or Villas with Italian trimmings and some ocean views
Guests can choose between 204 single-story bungalows with private terraces or 128 Villas with up to four bedrooms and private garages. The Bungalows are lined up on perfectly lovely streets with gardens, parking spaces, and some ocean views -- almost like a gated Italian community. Bungalows can come with one king bed or two queen beds, and Bungalow Suites upgrade to separate living areas and two bedrooms. Decor is consistent and includes a neutral beige color palette, hand-hewn vaulted wood-beamed ceilings, and low-pile carpet. Beds are made with Italian linens. Standard amenities consist of a gas Italian limestone fireplace, 42"- to 50"-inch flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, safe, telephone, mini-fridge, and coffeemaker. Bathrooms are equally luxe. Each has a marble walk-in shower and deep soaking tub, plus granite countertops. Toiletries, robes, safes, and slippers are provided. Private terraces furnished with sun loungers are a given, but some are more private than others and not all terraces have ocean views.
Villas are located in a separate section about five minutes away from the main resort. The villas range in size from two-, three-, or four-bedrooms and have either one- or two-car garages. Each Villa comes with a private staff of a butler, concierge, and (upon request) personal chef. Decor is similar to the Bungalows, with a neutral color scheme and contemporary furnishings. These luxe units come equipped with a gourmet kitchen with Sub-Zero refrigerators, Wolf oven and cooktop, granite countertop, and a wine refrigerator. The living room features hand-hewn wood-beamed ceilings, a limestone fireplace, and up to a 60-inch flat-screen TV, plus a DVD player. Bedrooms have an additional TV and DVD player. Spacious bathrooms provide sufficient room for a marble walk-in shower and deep soaking tub. Full washers and dryers are excellent perks. Private terraces feature patio furniture, sun loungers, and gorgeous ocean views. Past Villa guests have occasionally complained about wear and tear. Guests in the Villas get access to a gorgeous outdoor pool, Piccolo restaurant, and a small fitness center -- plus they're welcome to use features at the regular resort.
Six restaurants, the Coliseum pool, luxury spa, and two golf courses
Features at Pelican Hill are as luxurious as the grounds. Dining is truly gourmet with the standout restaurant of Andrea Ristorante & Bar. It's the resort's signature Northern Italian restaurant for homemade pastas and a curated wine list. The Coliseum Pool & Grill offers more casual poolside dining, indoors and outdoors. The menu offers seafood, salads, and pasta dishes. Caffe, just off the lobby, is a delightful spot for espresso, pastries, and gelato. Caffe II and Pelican Grill & Lounge are offered at the resort's golf club. Villa guests get access to Piccollo, known for it's small plates. Room service is available 24 hours.
The Coliseum Pool is a perfect circle at 136 feet and decorated with more than one million glass tiles that were cut and laid by hand. A whirlpool, sun loungers, and rentable cabanas make the space ideal for relaxing. The Spa at Pelican Hill is home to 22 treatment rooms and a huge menu of luxury treatments. Sauna, steam room, and Roman-soaking pools are designed with Italian details. The fitness center is a bit small, but has Matrix and Precor equipment, plus free wellness classes.
Camp Pelican offers two youth programs: one for kids 4 to 12 and one for teens ages 13 to 17. The club has a kids' pool, tons of toys, technology, and supervised activities. Golfers take advantage of two championship Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole golf courses with ocean views from nearly every hold. The Clubhouse has a full-service golf shop and locker rooms for men and women.
Weddings are popular at Pelican Hill and there's a gorgeous wedding gazebo with ocean views. There's over 23,200 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space. Concierge staff can assist with sailing excursions, theme park tickets, and ocean activities. A free shuttle brings guests down to the Crystal Cove beach on a schedule. Parking and Wi-Fi are free.
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