Ritz Carlton (Laguna – Niguel, CA)

Advice on how to get the most out of your travels!

  • $540/night
  • King

Great For:

  • Romance
  • Relaxation
  • California Coastal Views

Overall Rating (4/5)

  • Marriott
  • Winter 2016
This Thanksgiving we decided to spice up our visit to my Husband’s sister in Dana Point, California by spending two nights at the Ritz Carlton Laguna. Located a mile from his sister’s house it offered the perfect luxury compliment to spending the day with the family. As it turns out, this hotel takes the holidays very seriously and Thanksgiving proved to be a great opportunity to see the hotel in its full festive glory. We booked our room through American Express’ Fine Hotels and Resorts which meant that our rate included a daily $60 breakfast voucher, $100 towards incidentals and 4PM checkout. This program is available to holders of the American Express Platinum Card.


The Ritz is located on the coast, in Dana Point, California. In fact, the views include one of the most active surfing spots in Ocean County; we enjoyed watching the surfers during breakfast each day. The hotel utilizes the views well, the photo below is from the patio bar.


The location on a cliff above the ocean ensures that many of the rooms and essentially all of the common areas have stunning views.


Service was generally excellent. For most requests, the staff go above and beyond. As you can see from the photo below, even a simple order of latte comes with a special treat 🙂 But then again, what would you expect from a $7 latte?


We had a couple of requests called in from the room and those took a bit longer. For example, our fire pit went out both nights and we had to wait 30 minutes to get it ignited. The second night with the same issue was when the maintenance man finally discovered that the battery was dead. Staff also missed the memo on our 4PM late check out (part of the Fine Hotels package) and our keys stopped working at noon. It took 20-30 minutes to get back into our room in that case, that is time we can never get back.


We had a typical King room, and thankfully were upgraded to oceanview terrace level thanks to my Gold status. The bed was very comfortable and I really liked the addition of the day bed at the foot of the bed, perfect for lounging.


I was of course able to partake in my favorite luxury hotel activity, bath! The soaking tub was nice, note that if you plan to bring your own bath salts in your carry on (I never leave home without them) you may need to get them tested during the security process. The procedure was quite scientific and fascinating; in the end we were cleared.


The best part about being on the terrace level is that each room comes equipped with its own fire pit.


If you don’t want to spend $7 on a latte, you have the option of making your own complimentary coffee in the room. I must admit that I had a bit of trouble operating the machine, but a quick call to the concierge cleared that up. The coffee offering is an area were the Ritz falls short of the St. Regis. I love that some St. Regis hotels have illy espresso machines, this machine is more of a typical drip coffee maker.

The toiletries were Asprey, the brand featured at all Ritz Carlton hotels. I’m definitely going to sound a bit snobby here but I much prefer the toiletries at the St. Regis chain. I have dry skin and love me some fancy lotion, but the Asprey lotion is not very effective and the fragrance is too strong.



The hotel features six options for drink and dining. We booked using the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts package which came with free breakfast daily for two. We enjoyed both breakfasts at Raya oceanview restaurant. The food was delicious, the $70 check for breakfast, however, was only palatable when highly subsidized by your room rate.


Hands down the best amenity of the resort is the proximity to the coast. The hotel does not have its own private beach, instead has a private entrance to the Salt Creek Beach. Complimentary shuttle service is offered down the pathway to the beach but I recommend taking the 10 minute stroll yourself if able bodied.


I didn’t work out on this trip, but can’t say I wasn’t tempted by the looks of the gym! Sadly even that view was not enough to get me sweating, but hey, its the holidays!


If you are not a beach person, the hotel has two pools. Each with lots of seating options, including more fire pits!


The Dana Pool shown below is the larger and more family friendly of the two pools.


By and far my favorite amenity of all was my room’s private fire pit terrace with sunset view.



Not a location for value shopping, you get luxury and you pay a luxurious price for it at the Ritz Carlton. If you are looking for a way to score a free  stay at a Ritz Carlton, check out the Ritz Carlton credit card. Current offer at the time of publication is that after $4,000 of purchases in three months you get a signing gift of two nights at any level 4 or lower Ritz property. The bulk of properties fall into this category, including the Laguna Niguel!

And because I could not resist one more shot of the fire pit. The photo below pretty much sums up my perfect morning.


Do you have a favorite luxury holiday getaway spot?


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