Newport Beach is the adult Disneyland. Perfectly manicured streets guide you through luxury neighborhoods, shopping plazas, and modern office complexes all within view of the nearby Pacific. Sometimes it is easy to overlook the gems like this that have made Southern California so popular. Island Hotel Newport Beach, adjacent to Fashion Island, is a perfect spot to take in all the pleasures this community offers.
When it comes to affluence, only Beverly Hills can top the Newport Beach area. Everywhere you turn you will see Bentleys, Ferraris, and every other toy for the extremely well off. There are mansions galore from the Big Canyon Country Club area to the Newport Coast hills with views across Orange County. This is home to the “beautiful people,” and after you spend some time here, you will probably make another commitment to your workout regimen.
Newport Beach is the crown jewel of the Southern Cal coastline. The best beaches may well be at nearby Balboa Island with a quaint shopping zone for those who just like to look at the water. Did I say shopping? The best shopping malls in the state are right here at Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza. For some, that would be reason alone to make the journey. More rustic beach areas can be found as you move south past the Newport Coast area on to Laguna Beach.
A Room with a View
Island Hotel is part of the Irvine Company’s Coastal Collection, which also includes The Resort at Pelican Hill and Hotel Irvine. The commanding location offers spectacular vistas of Big Canyon Country Club, Fashion Island, and the Newport Beach Harbor. Our corner suite on the 18th floor took all this in as well as the Pacific Ocean with nothing but blue sky during our stay. This is one of the best views in Southern California, and the property is five-star quality.
The rooms are elegantly furnished and actually on the large side, allowing for sitting areas in each room. State-of-the-art electronics will keep even the well-heeled business traveler happy, and the best in down bedding make for a very pleasant night’s rest. Those looking to splurge a bit should inquire about Island Club, which is the hotel’s concierge lounge on the 20th floor. Guests will enjoy a continental breakfast in the morning and light snacks with their “Wine Down” evening service. The floor-to-ceiling windows allow for some of the hotel’s best vistas. For complete details visit IslandHotel.com.
The signature restaurant here at Island Hotel is the Oak Grill, and it is an elegant option. Indoor seating fits into a contemporary wood-and-glass setting, while outdoor seating extends onto a large deck with numerous heaters to keep you warm. They even have outdoor fireside seating to take full advantage of a star-filled evening. Chef Marc Johnson has created a cuisine with influence from California, the American South, and certain global touches.
We started with golden beet soup, the kale and pork belly salad, and the classic iceberg wedge salad. Our entrees were seared Atlantic salmon and roasted Chilean sea bass. All was prepared to perfection. The service, as well, could not have been better.
What about the shopping? Well Fashion Island, which is just a couple hundred yards from Island Hotel, might well be the best shopping plaza in the U.S. Certainly it is probably the most valuable real estate of any plaza set among high-end office buildings and multimillion-dollar homes. Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s all have elegant locations here as do countless other upscale retailers. If you get hungry, the food court puts everything else you have seen to shame. Well-dressed businessmen and businesswomen join the shoppers as they choose from a wide array of dining choices here.
Newport Beach would be ideal for a weekend visit this fall. Rates should be more competitive on the weekend as you will be avoiding business travelers. If I had my choice, I would probably drive down early on a Saturday morning to avoid the heavy traffic and stay over Saturday and Sunday. Midday Monday should be a good time for the return, but make sure you get through the San Fernando Valley before 3 p.m. for faster travel times.