Just half an hour down the scenic Highway 1 from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay feels a world away; tucked between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this sleepy town still enjoys some of the most spectacular vistas on the West Coast, as well as a distinctly undeveloped and down-home character.
Of course the Ritz-Carlton isn’t exactly a rustic farmhouse inn, but you’ll forgive the shiny surfaces and that new hotel smell as soon as you see this place in person. Positioned atop a bluff at the edge of the Pacific, the Ritz is patterned after a 19th-century Shingle Style seaside lodge. There’s more than a hint of English or Scottish flavor about it, especially surrounded as it is by rocky cliffs and the rolling green hills of the golf course.
Rooms are decorated in a classic style, with English and Portuguese influences, and all are lush and comfortable, with feather beds, goosedown duvets, and expansive marble baths. Two-thirds of the rooms look out over the ocean, some from private balconies, and many come with fireplaces, useful when that cold Pacific fog rolls in.
Two championship golf courses make this a top-class golf retreat; the Old Course was originally designed by Arnold Palmer, and the Ocean Course is patterned after the great courses of Scotland, an illusion made complete on overcast and foggy days—every hole has an astonishing view of the ocean, and only the angle of the sun will remind you this is the Pacific and not the North Sea.
If golf isn’t your bag, you may pass the hours in the 16,000-square-foot spa, with its candlelit co-ed Roman bath or the oceanfront Jacuzzi. And the dining is no letdown either; the signature restaurant Navio and the less formal Conservatory are among the best for miles, and afternoon tea in the Salon is another welcome Anglophilic touch. Hard to believe you’re just across the mountains from Silicon Valley.
On peak weekends, a two night minimum stay may be required.
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