Once you turn off the stunning Pacific Coast Highway and onto Pelican Hill Road South you are instantly immersed in another kind of beauty in picturesque Newport Beach.
It is a place that combines the best in Italian architecture and décor with a luxurious Southern California setting.
And it starts where you hang your hat and rest your head at night with over 125 two-, three- and four-bedroom villas with magnificent coastal views and an unparalleled array of appointments, immersing guests in the absolute finest of everything steeped in Italian culture. There are also 204 luxuriously appointed bungalow guest rooms and suites with private terraces.
As for golf, the same term, “magnificent,” applies.
“36 Holes of Ocean Front Golf, Pelican Hill attracts players from all over the world with its two Tom Fazio-designed courses, the North Course and the South Course. Both are renowned as much for their stunning vistas as they are for their challenging terrain,” said Rob Ford the resort’s General Manager of Golf Operations, “We have guests visiting from not only Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Australia, but right here throughout Southern California as well.”
Added Sarah Kruer, Director of Branded Experiences: “The demographics depend on the seasons. During the months that is so cold that you can’t golf, we get a lot of visitors from the Midwest. From those climates that just are not able to enjoy golf at that time. Texas is also very big market for us. We also have many visitors from Florida because they like to golf all year round.”
One of the lures to their distinctive links is a new program the resort is offering- The Buddies Golf Getaway.
“We have always been a great destination for Buddy golf trips we had just not packaged it directly,” said Kruer. “We had seen through the villas that there’d been a lot of golf buddy experiences happening that had grown organically, so we saw a great opportunity to connect with that golf traveler and with the product we had the villas and the amount golf we had on the property. It was a really a natural connection so we wanted to take some of the work out of it for the traveler.”
The program basically works like this. When you book a villa on a golf trip, every registered adult receives a daily dining credit, and a round of golf. So, if you book a four-bedroom villa, you would get four daily dining credits then for every night booked, every adult receives a round of golf.
And what golf it is.
“Both Tom Fazio designed. Both top 100 courses the United States since the day they opened” beamed Ford. “I refer to the South course as more of a resort golf course. Both courses have five sets of tees so all levels of play can enjoy both of them. The South meanders down to the ocean right there at sea level. You play wider fairways and the greens are little bit more expansive. But not as undulating as the North course.”
The veteran golf pro explained the different nuances between the two resort courses.
“Guests really like in particular the four holes that are on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway. With two back-to-back par threes right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. That is usually where play slows down because everybody wants to take pictures,” said Ford laughing. “Of course, it is quite beautiful. On the back nine the last four holes will give you everything you want. The 18th can be daunting trying to hit over the canyon. But yes, the South course is fun to play.”
He continued: “The North course plays in the upper plateaus. You have to be able to work the ball right to left or left to right more. A lot more shots hitting over canyons. And ravines. A lot more dramatic views because being up on the plateau there are a wide vista views of the ocean.”
So after your round, you’ll want to dip your feet into one of the most strikingly unique pools anywhere – and the heart of Pelican Hill. Overlooking endless sea and coastal backdrops, there is an iconic “Coliseum Pool,” one of the largest circular pools anywhere with tiered decks and luxurious cabanas thoughtfully appointed with every amenity and personalized food and beverage service.
Another very personalized service, and unsurprisingly one of the most popular sites at the 500+ acres resort, (and one that will get the muscle-weary golfer rejuvenated and ready for their next tee time) is the spa, a special haven within a retreat—a place for wellness, for healing, and for inspiration in a setting of Pacific splendor. It features such celebrated therapies as the Ultimate Detox Glow & Massage and the well-received HydraFacial.
“Whatever stresses, aches or imbalances you’ve brought with you, The Spa at Pelican Hill is where they melt away,” said Scott Brady, the resort’s Director of Operations.
Well now, about this time you are probably hungry right?
With amazing ocean views to enjoy while you dine, The Pelican Grill is not just a top-of-the-line bar-restaurant for the resort guests, but is a poorly-kept secret among locals who flock there to enjoy modern grill flavors with California flair like butcher-cut steaks and wood-fired pizzas as part of a full spectrum menu.
While roasted chicken with its hickory and apple-flavoring options are well-received as are the hamburgers, there’s a great array of seafood offered.
One of the most popular appetizers? How about grilled octopus. Don’t believe me? Ask Kyung Soo Carroll, Director of Culinary Operations, better known simply as Chef K. “I’d say at the Pelican Grill our char-grilled octopus with three different seasonings is a favorite.”
Chilean sea bass, scallops and salmon are just a few of the fish entrees, but since one is ensconced in Italian culture at Pelican Hill, you can’t go home without trying such dishes as Lobster Chitarra and Rigatoni Carbonara that go great with a fine selection of wines.
For many guests that come from abroad and across America they like to also enjoy a “day at the beach” or activities tied into the Pacific Ocean.
“Whale watching, fishing expeditions, surfing, stand-up paddleboard or kayak adventure or simply lying on the beach with towels and an umbrella, with our seasoned concierges, anything is possible for our guests,” explained Brady.
One option is called the Crystal Cove Beach Experience, which is easily accessible with a complimentary shuttle from the Resort. Another is Newport Harbor, which is meant to be explored on the water. Guests can rent an electric Duffy Boat, a local invention, and pack a Pelican Picnic for a gourmet cruise.
Back at the resort, other activities abound which include a private painting workshop to explore your artistic side (maybe creating an ocean vista sketch to take home); a photography class that offers insights about filters, angles and editing techniques. There’s also hiking opportunities that offer dramatic views and beautiful landscape such as the popular Reef Point.
The point is there’s many things to enjoy here and if you come in March you can even watch the pros play as the PGA Champions Tour host their annual tournament just a few minutes way at the Newport Beach Country Club.
“One of the attractions of Pelican Hill is that we are very accessible. You can come back year after year and have a great time exploring the resort and destination of Newport Beach,” explained Kruer. “There’s so much in the area that one’s trip can take on many different aspects with each successive visit. We pride ourselves on being the place that, as you’re leaving, you are already planning about coming back again.”