There is a place along the coast in Orange County that combines the vistas and grandeur of Hearst Castle along with first class golf rivaling Pebble Beach, the Resort at Pelican Hill. The resort’s villas and bungalows provide a level of elegance unmatched on the West Coast. Spectacular views, opulent pools, and 36 holes of Tom Fazio golf make this Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Rated Southern California Resort.
Tom Fazio is always in the conversation when it comes to golf’s best architects. On this visit, we played the Ocean South Course, which was in excellent shape. Most of the holes offer sweeping Pacific Ocean views as they navigate the canyon routing. Early on the back nine, the layout actually runs right along the Pacific’s edge with two bluff-top, par-3 holes back to back. The course has something for everyone and would be a difficult test from the tips. I would recommend the shorter tees on the first visit.
The Ocean North Course is just as good. Fazio is known for deep greenside bunkers guarding most approach shots, and there is no shortage here. Make sure you practice your high-bunker shots ahead of time. There are no homes on either course, making it a tranquil day filled with pleasant ocean breezes. Pelican Hill also has an excellent practice range with several putting greens also. For further details, visit PelicanHill.com.
The Golf Clubhouse is also home to the Pelican Grill and an excellent choice for dinner even if you’re not a golfer. My pan-roasted salmon and wilted baby kale salad really hit the spot. This venue is very popular with local residents, which is always a good sign to me.
Those fortunate enough to have been guests at Hearst Castle would feel right at home here. Pelican Hill resort is set high in the Newport Coast hills overlooking all of Newport Beach. The Italian-themed resort blends beautifully into the native brush-filled canyons taking full advantage of the spectacular ocean views. The architecture was inspired by the works of Andrea Palladio, a 16th-century Italian architect. The landscape also has a Northern Italian feel with groves of olive trees and rows of lavender, as well as cypress, fig, and pine trees. The finishing touch is 45-foot Canary palms spread throughout. This is an upscale neighborhood with ocean-view mansions on all sides. The property runs from hills all the way down to the ocean fronting the Crystal Cove Beach area. Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach, and Balboa Island are just short drive to the north with Laguna Beach to the south.
Resort at Pelican Hill
A visit to Pelican Hill feels like being a guest at a European coastal estate. The large carport leads to the Main Estate, which opens to 180-degree views of the Pacific. Just below, golfers are finishing their round on the Ocean South Course. Here, guests check-in for a stay at the Bungalows which are just down the hill. This area also houses the Andrea Restaurant, which is the resort's most elegant dining choice. The adjoining Great Room Social Lounge is a great spot to meet or relax. With more than 500 acres and spacious common areas, Pelican Hill resort never seems crowded.
Our Ocean View Bungalow was comfortable with an oversized marble bathroom and a nice-sized patio overlooking the golf with the Pacific just beyond. The bedding and in-room electronics are 5-star all the way. The bungalows start at 850 square feet, so you will have plenty of room. You can actually park your car right outside, which I found to be quite convenient. Those in search of more space can find it at The Villas, which have their own Clubhouse and check-in lobby. These residences come in two, three, and four bedrooms and are popular for longer stays. Each Villa has an unobstructed view of the ocean and golf courses.
The Coliseum Pool is someplace you must spend time. In all my travels, I have never seen a more luxurious pool. It is just like the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, including a million glass tiles and shaped in a perfect circle. We dined here at The Grill which looks out over the Coliseum Pool and much of the resort. The food was excellent, and my seared ahi was perfectly prepared. This is also a popular dining spot with the well-heeled locals who come to enjoy this relaxed setting.
This could be a romantic getaway that neither of you will soon forget. In fact, a tear or two will be shed upon departure.