by Lissa Poirot
Southern California’s Pacific Coast stretch of beaches between Los Angeles and San Diego has long been a quiet retreat for families looking to enjoy a day of R&R. Dana Point, a coastal town incorporated in 1989, is just one such town tucked away from the hustle and bustle of big cities or theme parks. Its harbor hosts 2,500 boats, as well as 50 boutique shops and restaurants, while its coast provides multiple bike paths and recreational activities. The Ritz stands as a beacon in Dana Point, located on a 150-foot cliff that towers over Salt Creek Beach and the Pacific. It becomes a fortress for its guests, providing privacy and intimacy with activities for all ages, dining and beautiful accommodations that make the resort a destination in and of itself.
To learn more about Ritz-Carlton, please visit Ritz-Carlton.
Our Editor Loves
- Gorgeous setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean
- Kids programs that connect them to ocean life
- Southern California surfing
- Theme Park
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Rooms and suites are plentiful at the resort, ranging in size from 400 to 1,550 square feet. Select from Ocean View, Coastline View, Garden/Pool View or Fireside Rooms. Limited-view guestrooms are available as well. Guestrooms are equipped with Wi-Fi access.
Suite stays include full use of the spa facilities, personal shopping and errand service, and preferred seating in Raya, the hotel's onsite restaurant. The Ritz-Carlton Club rooms provide a lounge with breakfast, snacks, hors d'oeuvres, and beverages throughout the day.
Was excited to spend two nights at the Ritz. Unfortunately it pales in comparison to The Montage just up the street. Rooms were lackluster, pools were generic, lobby was non impressive. Food was over praised ($6.00 for a can of soda) and bland. Ordered a burger rare. It was barely pink.
Stayed there last month, struggled with whether or not to post because it feels a bit bratty to complain about a Ritz- here are my thoughts:
1) Service: feels super-corporate and actually the people are overall not helpful. (Exception: the cleaning woman who zipped my dress because my husband could not)
2) The Facility: feels dated and a bit cheap. Views are gorgeous, but leads down to a public beach. (Again, this is a Ritz...so just expected more).
3) Food: some bright spots, but mostly felt like generic catering food.
4) The Spa: BY FAR THE LEAST POSITIVE EXPERIENCE FOR ME.
-Only positive was the friendly, handsome guy with dreads in the fitness room who answered questions and helped me out.
-My Therapist was sweet, but the service was super-meh (please see below)
-My friend and I were doing yoga on the LARGE lawn behind the building, (I am a certified instructor), the hotel's instructor came over to me and asked if I was "with the hotel". (Um, my husband's company was sponsoring a long weekend there...so you bet I was a guest lady). She asked me to move because apparently my doing yoga with yf friend was "distracting". (She was working with literally two people and they were at least 100 feet away). Additionally, We were also told that we could practice there by other staff members. My friend was gobsmacked.
-I decided to brush off the yoga incident as I relaxed in the waiting room where the therapist for my service was supposed to pick me up. There were two other Women in the waiting room, as well.
A therapist came up to me and said "I'll bet your you is Aisha!". Ummmm...it is not, I am brown and guess what color the other two Women were. (Note: some caucasians have "exotic" names, as well).
-The Laguna experience was a complete RIP OFF. Just a bunch of oils slathered on, only one was effective, a barely there massage and a collagen mask that I could have purchased at CVS. The Facial did NOT INCLUDE EXTRACTIONS- really, for $500+ dollars?
BTW, I casually mentioned the Yoga and Aisha incidents to an assistant manager there who was nice who said that she would give me an "add on". Turns out, it was the limp, 30 second hot stone running down my legs that had zero effect at all.
This Spa also does not carry some of the same excellent merchandise as other, MUCH better Ritz spas.
As luxurious as can be, the Ritz is also very family friendly, with activities and programs geared for children of all ages. Children 5 and up can participate in the resort's Eco-Adventures, a series of programs led by naturalists to provide children learning experiences with the Southern California environment. Programs include Creative Kitchen cooking programs, Explore the Shore environmental programs and Night Krawlers nighttime programs.
Special programs are designed to entertain kids during seasonal vacation periods, such as treasure hunts for toddlers, poolside movies at night, a teddy bear tea and holiday storytelling. Beach butlers will provide sand toys, fins, body boards and noodles at the beach and pool, and kids may use Frisbees, footballs and soccer balls for free. There are also tennis courts with free equipment rentals, basketball courts and a Ping Pong table.
For teens, the resort's spa provides manicures and pedicures, as well as special up-do's.
It's nearly impossible to visit Southern California and not surf! The resort can provide wetsuits, surfboards and other equipment for families to enjoy, as well as surf experiences and lessons. Stand Up Paddle Board lessons and equipment are also available.
Salt Creek Beach
Located adjacent to the cliff side resort is Salt Lake Beach, a public beach with the Ritz' beach butler service providing all items needed to enjoy the sand and sun. The resort's shuttle provides easier access to the beach.
Raya, with its awe-inspiring sea views, is the resort's casual restaurant offering Pan-Latin dining. Sunday brunch is offered 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., breakfast 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until 9:30 p.m. on weekends.
Popular for sunset revelers is 180Blu, an oceanfront-dining lounge with panoramic views. Live music entertains while small plates from Raya are served in the lounge that sits just atop the cliff. Open Tuesday through Saturday night, weather permitting, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Mom and dad can enjoy a quiet dinner alone at enoSteak, an adults-only steakhouse serving locally grown and harvested produce and grass-fed beef. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Marketplace is the resort's grab-and-go cafÃ©, serving up pastries, breakfast items, coffees and desserts daily. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Dana Pool CafÃ©
The Dana Pool CafÃ© is a casual, poolside dining option serving salads, pizza, sandwiches, and finger foods.
Kids' menus are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In-room dining packages for families include "Night at the Movies" and "Totally for Kids," with snacks, popcorn and drinks, as well as DVD rentals for a night in together.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babies are welcome at the Ritz, which will order and have strollers, car seats, high chairs and other necessities available upon your arrival. Local childcare providers recommended by the resort can provide babysitting onsite. Cribs are also available at no charge.
The resort's fitness center overlooks the ocean, with state-of-the-art equipment for strength training, cardio, weight training, yoga and Pilates.
Pets are welcome at the Ritz, which offers a Posh Pooch package. Pets receive a hand-painted water dish, doggie bed, chew toy, dog waste bags and a doggie menu for in-room dining, including tenderloin, fried rice and grilled salmon. All meals are served with Fiji water! Spoiling doesn't come cheap, however. Pets are welcome at a $150 non-refundable pet cleaning fee, and a $50 boarding fee per night. No more than two pets are allowed per room, and pets are only welcomed in common areas on leashes.
The resort charges a nightly resort fee per person to cover the cost of Internet, fitness classes, the Beach Butler, unlimited use of tennis courts, preferred tee times, shuttles to the beach, and use of the spa's sauna and steam rooms. Whether you use any of these services or not, the fee is automatically added to your bill.
The Art of Smart Timing
Southern California is known for its year-round, sunny weather, with moderate temperatures, making the Ritz a destination for any time of year. More children's programs are provided during holidays and summer months, and the resort never feels too crowded, even at peak times.
Dana Point is accessible via John Wayne/Orange County Airport, which is 25 minutes away. Long Beach Airport (45 minutes), Los Angeles International (60 minutes) and San Diego (75 minutes) are also options.
The hotel will help arrange car rentals for pickup at the airport, or will provide limo service. Only valet parking is available at the hotel for a daily fee. The resort's shuttle provides easy access to the beach.
For Mom and Dad
The Monarch Beach Golf Links, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., neighbors the Ritz with sweeping views of the ocean. The Par-70 course is a must for golf enthusiasts.
The resort's spa is also a must with 12 treatment rooms available for massages, body treatments, manicures, pedicures, hair styling and more. Treatments can also be arranged on the beach.