The OCeanfront

California’s Riviera hotels team up

By: Laurie Baratti

The 42 miles of stunning coastline that make up the beach communities of Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach provide the scenic backdrop that is known around the world to represent the enviable Southern California lifestyle. This area of the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego counties has long kept a rather intimate, low profile among loyal beach dwellers and local big spenders. In recent months, however, the coastal communities have decided to claim their place among the elite of vacation destinations, and show the world what the OC truly has to offer.

Now, these four premier coastal hot spots have joined to create The Oceanfront an exclusive collection of resorts and spas, restaurants, championship golf, art and cultural venues, abundant outdoor activities, world-class shopping and more. The collaboration currently consists of 16 entities, which can all be accessed through a single Web site, These seemingly small seaside towns offer some surprising opportunities to indulge in the worldly and extravagant.

California’s Riviera
Emerging as “California’s Riviera,” Newport Beach is personified by its cozy bays and ocean inlets, bordered by quaint, though affluent, apartments and boutique shops. Always lively and trendy, the scene can also be comforting and neighborly.

The Balboa Bay Club & Resort offers the only full-service waterfront resort in Newport Beach, overlooking the sparkling waters of a small-yacht harbor. In keeping with the marina’s Riviera-style ambience, the resort is reminiscent of an Italian villa, the embodiment of the ideal coastal retreat. Once an exclusive yachting club frequented by big names and movie stars, the Bay Club opened to the public in 2003, with the resort as part of a $65 million expansion.

Guests can dine or shop along the promenade adjoining the slips, where owners can be seen buffing their barks each day in the sunshine or reclining upon their decks in the evening starlight. At night, go to Duke’s Place (named after frequent patron and legendary actor, John Wayne) for live jazz, drinks and dancing overlooking the bay.

Southward along the coast, Laguna’s unique beach culture has sprung from its roots as an artist colony of the late 19th century. Even today, many working artists have galleries and retail shops along the town’s streets. The world-renowned marine artist, Wyland, completed his first mural here and still has his studio and shop along Pacific Coast Highway. Dozens of art and music events are held throughout the year, but the annual Pageant of the Masters, Sawdust Art Festival and Art-A-Fair are among the most well-known of the festivals

Serving the luxury market is Montage Resort & Spa, Laguna Beach a 262-room craftsman-style resort built on 30 acres of bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Incorporating the rugged coastline and the natural beauty which inspired early plein air painters, Montage’s interiors were designed with rich woods and muted color schemes, utilizing period lighting to enhance the relaxing elegance of the space’s “grand estate” ambience. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame panoramic ocean views from all of the hotel’s public areas and guestrooms. One of the resort’s highlights is the Spa Montage, a 20,000-square-foot oceanfront spa with unique treatments and an outdoor Jacuzzi and cold plunge.

Dana Point, perhaps the least consumer-driven of the coastal communities, still retains the feel of a small seaside town. Its lush, rolling foothills and cliff-lined coast make the setting particularly tranquil and romantic. Dana Point offers a wide variety of water activities, including whale-watching, sailing, surfing, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing, and the harbor houses more than 2,500 yachts from around the world.

Sprawling across a high bluff overlooking the majestic Pacific, the AAA Five-Diamond St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach offers an unparalleled view in every direction. Its Tuscan-inspired architecture blends effortlessly into modern works of art. The hotel features works by Picasso and Chagall, and hand-blown designer glass pieces are designed intricately into the interior. Spaces are adorned with polished European stone, finely forged iron, rich wood furnishings and the warmth of natural colors and lighting. Classic Mediterranean elegance is combined with a plush, pristine design to produce a sense of ease and elation.


The OCeanfront Premier Resorts:
Balboa Bay Club & Resort
Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
The Island Hotel, Newport Beach
Laguna Cliffs Marriott
Montage Resort & Spa
Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa
St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort
Surf & Sand Resort