Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Getaways- The Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay

Rarely does a getaway combine nature and luxury at the same time. Hiking seldom involves cocktails overlooking the beach after. Biking along the sea followed by a gourmet dinner isn't the norm. However, that is the charm of The Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay, which has the best of both worlds. You can commune with nature and feel pampered as well!

Half Moon Bay has been one of my favorite spots in Northern California for so many reasons. I love it's wind-swept beaches with some of the most picturesque dunes and wide-open expanses. The tide pools of Fitzgerald Marine reserve here are the some of the best in the world.  The biking and hiking paths meander for miles over charming bridges, beautiful fields, and around sand dunes and hidden  beaches. The trees alone here charm me. The downtown is unspoiled and uncommercial, still a small sleepy beach town. I love it all. This is also home to Mavericks, location of one of the most famous big wave surfing events in the world.

This charming and romantic spot was a foggy Northern California beach town when the Ritz decided to build a world class resort around an historic golf course and nestle it's property right on one of the prettiest coastal views anywhere. The Ritz here is a destination resort. You go to Half Moon Bay to get away from it all, and the resort coupled with nature is perfection.

The resort attracts a varied group. There are couples getting away for a few days, families hoping to enjoy some quality time with each other, as well as men on golf trips and women doing girlfriends spa getaways. You also get travelers from all over the world, who have heard of the charms of Half Moon Bay.

My husband and I got down here last in October, during the famous pumpkin festival. I loved how festive the resort was with pumpkins and gourds all over. We enjoyed lunch in the Conservatory, overlooking the ocean.  It was one of the nicest days and I knew we had to come back and experience this spot as a family. Last week. during our boy's winter break from school, was the perfect time.

Driving up to the Ritz, you get the feeling of being of being in Cape Cod.

Right away the loveliness of this resort surrounds you...

It's designed like a East Coast shingle style beach home, which I love.

Inside it's all whites and blues.

Cozy nooks to relax are by the many fireplaces.

There are several public rooms that open on to each other that have spots for reading or having a cocktail or cappuccino. It reminds me of the design of the Lodge at Pebble Beach in that way.

We were thrilled about our guest room, which looked over the Pacific and the 18th hole of the golf course.  There was a balcony and quickly everyone got their relax on.

 Case in point.

 Our room was spacious and pretty. There were chairs and a table just right for activities. We really wanted a place to reconnect with the kids and brought cards and games. The hotel concierge has board games as well.

After we all kicked back a while, we explored the property and took in the ocean views.

We ended up at the indoor pool house. The very large pool was great for the kids to mess around.  Max and I chilled in the jacuzzi, while we debated about cocktails by the fire pits after or before sunset.

Walking to the pool.

The Ocean Terrace, with fire pits, is popular for evening drinks or hot chocolates. Their bagpiper plays at sunset every evening. The sunset couldn't have been more beautiful that night!

The Ocean Terrace is alfresco dining and it is open all day for drinks and light bites. The view is my favorite here looking towards a little hidden beach, and you can see golfers finishing their 18th.

When we came back to the room, the boys were excited to find the resort had left them a s'more kit for the fire pits after dinner! A quick dry off and we all headed to the terrace to watch the sunset....

My guys dressed up (California style), for dinner.

 Then to dinner at Navio, the resorts' lovely main restaurant...

 Dinner at Navio, was a treat.  I loved the blues and ocean inspired hues. There is a real feeling of being on an elegant ocean liner, and even the ceiling is curved like a ships hull.

There was so much to choose from, seafood is the specialty and there were many interesting and unique dishes. The boys were excited when the chef, Kevin Tanaka, came out to chat and we got to learn more about some of the original creations on the menu.

Jackson, my gourmet had snapper, and it's his new favorite. I had salmon from Scotland that was finished with a butternut squash and cocoa relish. It was one of the best things I've ever eaten! Max loved his butterfish. Griffin had the macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers that we all stole a bit of.

I also loved my market salad with it's beets, goat cheese and pistachios. I believe this was one of the best meals we have ever had. The view of the ocean was the capper. I was happy to sit there with my champagne all evening if I could...However, the boys couldn't wait to get out there and make s'mores.

Boys + fire+ sticks- Of course they loved it!!

We warmed ourselves by fire pit and made our gourmet s'mores. I have never tried this kit before, but will again! The homemade marshmallows and chocolate plus graham crackers crusted with sugar made for very decadent treat. You can purchase this kit at the Ritz.

I think you can see I couldn't help myself! Thank goodness for the little wipes that come in the set!

Did I mention they also have a wine, cheese and chocolate bar that's called Eno?

Chocolate, wine and cheese? What's not to love? This a perfect spot for a nightcap, dessert or some afternoon wine-tasting after an ocean walk.  Check it out if you are here even just for a day visit. It's right above the Conservatory.

After a day of exploring and a wonderful dinner, we curled up in our cozy room. 

Nothing beats going to sleep hearing the ocean waves.

Even the little door hangers are half-moons.  Love!

We have traveled quite a bit in the past few years and I have to mention the bedding here. Wow, probably the best bed and bedding I have ever slept on. I love the feeling of drifting off on a soft cloud... Fabulous sleep!!

  We woke up to this...

So peaceful! Max and I let the boys sleep in and grabbed some coffee downstairs in the pretty Conservatory.

The Conservatory Lounge has complimentary coffee bar in the mornings. It's another beautiful spot to have lunch or dinner here. On Thursday nights they have Burger, Beer and Jazz event, with local musicians which looked like a lot of fun.

We then took a morning stroll along the beach paths. 

Breakfast where my boys matched the decor, at Navio again.

 Gourmet Irish oatmeal for me. The men partook of the pancakes and waffles. House apple juice is fantastic too. The seafood eggs benedict is supposed to be phenomenal. Next time perhaps...

After our delicious breakfast, the boys did a special bike tour with the Ritz Kids program.

The winding trail that begins along the ocean here, goes as far as 5 miles into the town of Half Moon Bay, and beyond.

The boys went with Sean, a fun guys and great guide who took them for an hour and a half along the trail, across meadows and into the quaint town..

Sean took a pic of Griffin that he Instagramed. :)  They had a blast!

Bikes are available as well as segway tours for adults. The Ritz Kid program has special bike tours and fun activities geared to many ages. They have a kids night out program on Friday and Saturday nights, so parents can dine at Navio or try the wine bar, and have a relaxed evening, while children can get dinner and a movie with crafts. Kind of genius. You can read more about it here.

I was glad to know Jackson and Griffin weren't too old, at 15 and 12, to do something like this and still have fun.

It was great to have some time to play tennis with just my husband and I on their courts.

We even took some time out to hang out on the Ocean Terrace and have our coffee with a view.

Next time, I think I would love to check out the beautiful spa and have a treatment for myself!

 I also want to get to this hidden beach, that is to the front right of the resort...

Some other nice points at this beautiful hotel were the baths. Love the bathrooms! They are luxurious, spacious and have many spots for your toiletries. That isn't always the case.

The products in the bath are Asprey from the U.K. These were totally new to me and I loved the whole mess. I'm especially crazy about the hair products of this Purple Water line.

I didn't get a chance to see if they are sold on site. They are wonderful and I am hoarding the last bits at home now.

 I also appreciated how they designed the room with pretty and roomy closets to store your luggage, jackets and shoes out of sight. So smart. Hotel rooms feel so much more spacious when you can walk about without tripping over someone's bag or shoes, right?

After check-out, (I always hate that part), we popped over to downtown Half Moon Bay to check out some of the cute shops and grab lunch.

 Downtown is home very good bakeries, home shops, a wine and cheese store, a cooking store and a cool spot called Earth Impact with all Earth friendly finds! Always excited to find stores like that.

These cool California cutting boards were at Abode. Also fun is The Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company.

Colorful graphic aprons and more at this darling cooking store, Toque Blanche.

Some of my other favorite stops on the way in or out to the resort are Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, for tide pooling,  The Waterfront Coastside Trail, for bikes or hikes, the Half Moon Bay State Beach for unmatched vistas, and Sam's Chowder House, for world famous lobster rolls and a great beach scene.

You could easily spend a weekend or a week here, so many things to see and do along this coast!

We are all already talking about the next time we get to go back again.

Special thanks to Kaitlin Crawford of Ritz Half Moon Bay for making this trip possible and tailoring it to my family of four! Thanks also to the staff at Navio, and the chef Kevin Tanaka, who made our night. Last, but not least, the Ritz Kids program and Sean, who made some great memories for my boys.  A media rate for accommodation was provided by the Ritz, but the experience and opinions are solely my own.

Photos all Northerncalstyle except for the top and bottom photos, courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February in Carmel & Home

Have you all been glued to the television watching the Winter Olympics? 

We have here, though the boys don't appreciate ice dancing or any ice skating. I'm amazed at all the sports on skis and boards now. So fun to watch and I hold my breath on some of these crazy tricks! 

We are on school February break and enjoying no schedule. 

We took a day trip to Carmel on Sunday and it was lovely.

Lunch at my favorite spot, Casanova for lunch.

Soup is brought to the table in a copper pot and ladled out into your bowl. 

The homemade bread and in house butter were amazing!!!

I love the ambiance.

 It looks small, but goes far back in a maze of winding spots and funky terraces and rooms.

A few snaps from our meanderings.

I can never take enough photos of Carmel.

My Jackson is slowly making me shorter and shorter.

Charming eateries to enjoy the people watching....

This town attracts a very eclectic group.

Funky homes with zillion dollar views...

The fences are my favorites. 

So many unique ones with anything and everything growing on them.

Sorry all these are with the IPhone. My camera is being repaired. :(

The damp fog combined with sun makes everything grow beautifully.

It's a gardener's paradise.

The beaches are pretty amazing too.

This is Carmel River Beach. It is my favorite with it's expansive mountain and sea views.

When I'm here I really believe this is one of the best spots in the whole world.

I feel lucky to be close to all this.

The walk above this beach is fun and you will see some of the best homes in Carmel.

It winds itself along to the Mission, which is one of the loveliest in the California Mission chain, and also Mr Eastwood's Mission Ranch Inn, where you can stop for a cocktail and watch the sheep graze along the meadows. . .


My kids are enjoying some sleeping in and we are made trips here and there to get shoes that need be bought and rackets restrung and replacing pants that have gotten too short!

This week we are going to The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay. I have never stayed overnight and am so excited to share more about this pretty spot with you all..

Curious to know how many of you are on holiday right now?

Any adventures or just enjoying each day?

Have a great week everyone!!

You can follow my trip to beautiful Half Moon Bay and the Ritz on Instagram.


All images northerncalstyle. Please be kind and link back.