The last stop on our whirlwind family tour of Northern California was The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay – a 260-room luxury resort set on top of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific ocean. As our final stop for rest and relaxation with no plans whatsoever, The Ritz could not have be more ideal. And, being only 23 miles from the San Francisco airport, could not have been more convenient with a necessary early morning departure on our last day in California.

RCHMB Beach and Resort

While I have heard much praise over the years for the bucolic scenery of this resort that year after year appears on all the top lists, nothing could have prepared me for the utterly breathtaking setting. I felt as if I was transported to Scotland with the bagpiper playing at dusk, the endless emerald green lawn, dramatic cliffs and the fog that rolled in each morning enveloping the resort. It was not surprising to later learn the golf course running through the resort is of Scottish design.

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When we booked our stay (through American Express FH&R), we requested ocean-view connecting rooms with outdoor fire pits – a most desirable commodity here. At check in, I was initially disappointed to learn our accommodations were not in the main hotel but in a neighboring building, the Ocean House.  But the minute we checked into our rooms (which was actually two spacious bedrooms with a shared living room – all ocean-facing), we quickly realized that this was a much better layout. The Ocean House units are next to the indoor pool and fitness center and have a beautiful visual of the hotel and the activity going on at the terrace a 1-minute walk away (we cheated and sprinted across the golf course – a no-no).  If you want ocean-facing connecting rooms with bonfire pits, this is the way to go.

Firepit rooms

Despite our short visit at the resort (really one full day), we were able to take in a pretty good sampling of what Ritz Half Moon Bay had to offer. Still, an extra day would have been ideal to explore more of the resort and the environs.

Reviewing our photos taken over our trip
Reviewing our photos taken over our trip

There is plenty to keep you busy on the property including 2 18-hole golf courses, tennis (6 courts), a 16,000 square foot spa, indoor pool, beach and miles of walking trails along the resort’s coastline.  We enjoyed taking in the good weather by walking down the beach in the morning and watching all the dogs play. The girls enjoyed their first opportunity during the whole trip to swim in the indoor pool while my husband played tennis with one of the resort’s instructors.

If you want to explore the area, the Ritz is situated in an ideal location. Actually, it is in the middle of two eco systems. In one direction, you can go horseback riding on the street, explore the historic main street, or go pumpkin picking if in season (apparently the largest pumpkin festival in the country takes place here every Fall). Turn your head the other way and you can visit the magnificent redwood forests in the area. And yet in another direction, you can make a day of touring the  70+ wineries of the Santa Cruz mountains nearby.

Regardless of how the day is spent, there is no better way to end it then having a drink (the hot chocolate bar with all the fixings you can desire is a hit with adults and kids alike) on the terrace, listening to the bagpiper and watching the sun set.  As the dark settles in, all the outdoor fire pits bring a new glow to the landscape. Memorable!

As with the other hotels we checked out during our trip, we would have loved one extra day here to take it all in.  The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay is an oasis on a cliff top with a bit of elegance and formality in a casual California setting. We couldn’t have asked for better spot to end our week long trip to Northern California.

RCHMB Family Firepit

What We Loved

  • Sitting on the Ocean Terrace, watching the fog roll in at dusk with hot chocolates (with plenty of fixings on top) and Chardonnays in hand, while listening to the bag
    more fixings please!
    more fixings please!

    pipes. Magical.

  • Taking in the panoramic views from every direction. Especially on the sandy beaches looking up at the hotel on the cliffs.
  • My husband raved about his masseuse at the spa and the tennis pros.
  • The service overall was superb and exemplary, with a sincere aim to please and accommodate our needs.
  • Our kids LOVED the Ritz-Kids program. It is a clever way for the children to experience all the resort has to offer  and the girls were obsessed with accumulating their different color bracelets and getting the grand prize at check out (we will keep that a secret).
  • The different treats awaiting us in our rooms each day, from wine and appetizers to these incredible edible chocolate concoctions for the girls.
Waiting in our room…kids hyper-ventilating!
Waiting in our room…kids hyper-ventilating!

What We Didn’t Love

  • We ordered room service the first night as we arrived late. Our dinner was barely edible and a whopping $200. It was unfortunate as the food was excellent the rest of our stay in the main restaurants and on the terrace.  Most likely an off night, but a disappointment.
  • I found it shocking that we were charged $40 for a s’mores kit, especially as we were staying in premium priced rooms with bonfire pits and using the American Express FH&R program. It was the first time we ever had to pay for s’mores in any hotel. No question, these should be complimentary for guests paying for this extra room feature.
  • While the rooms are spacious and comfortable, they felt a bit outdated for new technology. There are very few outlets and those we found were hidden low on the wall and very inconveniently placed. With one laptop, four iPads and two iPhones between us, it was a frustration to keep everything charged.

Rooms To Get

Our suite connecting to bedroom arrangement (#811/#812) could not have been more perfect. You can comfortably fit a family of 6 in this combo. Each spacious bedroom had its own bathroom, sitting area and bonfire patio directly facing the ocean. There are a few ocean-facing bonfire pit bedrooms in the main hotel, but they are not connecting.

Leaving our mark - the perfect way to end our trip!
Leaving our mark – the perfect way to end our trip!

Photo Credits: Jackie Magid and Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

Loved Didn't Love
  • Sitting on the Ocean Terrace, watching the fog roll in at dusk with hot chocolates (with plenty of fixings on top) and Chardonnays in hand, while listening to the bagpipes. Magical.
  • Taking in the panoramic views from every direction. Especially on the sandy beaches looking up at the hotel on the cliffs.
  • My husband raved about his masseuse at the spa and the tennis pros.
  • The service overall was superb and exemplary, with a sincere aim to please and accommodate our needs.
  • Our kids LOVED the Ritz-Kids program. It is a clever way for the children to experience all the resort has to offer  and the girls were obsessed with accumulating their different color bracelets and getting the grand prize at check out (we will keep that a secret).
  • The different treats awaiting us in our rooms each day, from wine and appetizers to these incredible edible chocolate concoctions for the girls.
  • We ordered room service the first night as we arrived late. Our dinner was barely edible and a whopping $200. It was unfortunate as the food was excellent the rest of our stay in the main restaurants and on the terrace.  Most likely an off night, but a disappointment.
  • I found it shocking that we were charged $40 for a s’mores kit, especially as we were staying in premium priced rooms with bonfire pits and using the American Express FH&R program. It was the first time we ever had to pay for s’mores in any hotel. No question, these should be complimentary for guests paying for this extra room feature.
  • While the rooms are spacious and comfortable, they felt a bit outdated for new technology. There are very few outlets and those we found were hidden low on the wall and very inconveniently placed. With one laptop, four iPads and two iPhones between us, it was a frustration to keep everything charged.
Don't Miss Skip
  • Cocktails or hot chocolate at dusk, watching the sun set with the bag piper playing bag pipes!
Rooms to Get Tips
  • Our suite connecting to bedroom arrangement (#811/#812) could not have been more perfect. You can comfortably fit a family of 6 in this combo. Each spacious bedroom had its own bathroom, sitting area and bonfire patio directly facing the ocean.
  • There are a few ocean-facing bonfire pit bedrooms in the main hotel, but they are not connecting.
  • Use Virtuoso for additional perks such as room upgrades, complimentary breakfast (the buffets are exceptional), $100 resort credit and late checkout.
  • You must request bonfire pit (gas-controlled) rooms facing the ocean. It’s worth the extra price if they are available.
  • Download the Ritz Carlton app on iTunes (ritzcarlton.com/app) to find useful information about the  resort, schedules and local area activities.
  • Note that the hotel is an extremely popular place for locals (which includes San Francisco) to come for cocktails during the weekends, especially during sunset. If you want to get a table or seat on the terrace, grab it early!

Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

One Miramontes Point Road,
Half Moon Bay, California

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Why book Virtuoso?

  • Personalized travel assistance
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  • Special rates & exclusive offers
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