The Pelican Hill Resort is located along the serene coast of Newport Beach in Southern California. It captures the essence of an Italian seaside village, terraced on a lush hillside overlooking the Pacific.
The lucky visitors to Pelican Hill get to stay in the hotel or The Villas. The Villas have 2 to 4 bedrooms, on cul-de-sacs named after Italian cities. Features include terraces with ocean views, soaking tubs, and Italian limestone fireplaces.
Two majestic golf courses designed by Tom Fazio offer views of the Pacific Ocean.
The spa has 22 treatment rooms and includes Roman soaking tubs and an herbal steam room.
Dining options include the 4-star Northern Italian restaurant Andrea, and California cuisine at The Pelican Grill. The Piccolo at the Villas offers an international menu.
Our First Impressions
This was my family’s second visit to the Pelican Hill resort. It was booked to celebrate a birthday and was a well-deserved “push present” vacation, so it was purposely extravagant.
Previously, we had stayed in a studio room, but this time booked a three-bedroom villa. Both times we visited after the high season because the residences can cost as much as $2,500 per night during summer.
Driving onto the property is like being transported onto the set of an old Hollywood movie. As you crest the top of the hill, the entire property is laid out in front of you, with the ocean sparkling just beyond it. It’s breathtaking.
The hotel concept recreates Northern 16th-century Italy. The stone walls and Italian columns made us feel like we were walking into a palace. The period-accurate tile roofs transported us to an old Tuscan village with all the conveniences of modern living.
The perfectly manicured gardens have a mature feeling but aren’t overgrown. The contrast of the vibrant green golf against the glistening blue ocean crested white provided a reminder that we were in California.
The designers even imported one-hundred-year-old olive and cypress trees and planted rolling lavender fields.
The décor is understated, more of a casual, old-world style rather than a flashy, designer look like you might see in a more modern setting.
The customer service is above reproach. The staff made us feel like royalty. The front desk, housekeeping, the waiters, every single employee at the resort made us feel like their most important guest.
Our Vacation Experience
We had booked the villa to throw a birthday party and invited a large group. The staff went out of their way to make everything easy for us to host our guests. Everyone was seamlessly directed to our villa, and there was plenty of room for parking. A local baker made the birthday cake and arranged for it to be delivered and served before the party.
All our guests commented on the lovely location and what a good idea it was to host a party there. Everyone enjoyed the ocean and golf course view with an astounding sunset. The party was a great success.
The rest of our visit was just as spectacular as the party. We used room service several times. It’s expensive, expect to pay at least $100 for every meal per couple. Each villa is fully outfitted with a gourmet kitchen, garage, fireplace and soaker tub. We used the kitchen multiple times and had guests park in the garage.
We used the Villa pool in the evenings, which was empty, so it was just like having our own private pool.
The crystal-clear, heated Coliseum pool is the visual centerpiece of the resort, designed as a tribute to Rome’s Coliseum. One million hand-cut glass tiles make it sparkle. Already one of the world’s largest circular pools, it seems even bigger due to the infinity edge.
In the villas, two housekeepers come every day to thoroughly clean the place and restore it to new.
Once while housekeeping was there, I went to move a heavy vase for them, and the housekeeper shooed me away. She wouldn’t let me lift a finger and made it clear she was there to provide every service for me.
Laid-back California vibes blend with old-world Italy at this 5-Star resort.
What to Do At Pelican Hill
You can walk to the beach, or just relax by the pool and enjoy the sea breeze.
If you want to explore the surrounding area, Newport Beach is home to the extravagant stores of the Fashion Center shopping mall and the romantic sunsets of Inspiration Point. Whale watching and dolphin watching tours are popular attractions, as is the Balboa Pier and Boardwalk, which offers lots of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
Pelican Hill is also conveniently located near Huntington Beach, which hosts 11 million visitors each year with world-class surfing contests, beach volleyball, shopping and daily live entertainment at the pier.
The crown jewel of the on-site restaurants is Andrea Ristorante. In keeping with the Northern Italian resort theme, it serves an authentic Tuscan menu as good as any top restaurant.
After dinner, you can make your way over to the Great Room for cocktails and nightly entertainment.
The Golf Club serves a California-based menu on the terrace that’s all locally sourced, and you can get a sweet Italian treat at the little Caffé & Market that serves gelato. If you are looking for a globally inspired menu, the Piccolo at the Villas is perfect.
Live Like Royalty
The chefs and in the restaurants give only the most exceptional attention. My wife was dairy-free during our visit, so the chef went out of his way every single day to make her a new and creative dairy-free pasta dish. It was over-the-top service.
At one time the Villas were fractional ownership, but now only resales are available. The developer is not advertising to buyers.
Pelican Hill will occasionally post discounted rates for rooms, villas, or spa visits. With the year-round temperate weather in California, it’s hard to find a wrong time to visit. We stayed twice in the off-season and received a discount both times.
We wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous setting to get a new family portrait. When we talked to the front desk about having a professional photographer come on site to take the picture, we found out there is a $1,500 fee. So, there are limits to what they are willing to do for you, but this is what keeps the quality of the resort high.
Why You Should Stay
If you ever have the opportunity to stay here, it is a once in a lifetime experience. If you are looking for a luxurious old-world vacation experience to relax and unwind with beautiful architecture, top-of-the-line golf courses, and exquisite views, then this is the resort for you!