Review: Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

With Marriott having taken over Starwood, I’ve been trying to review as many Marriott-family properties as possible, to get a sense of what we should expect when the loyalty programs are fully integrated. At this point Marriott and Starwood have 30 brands, with Marriott’s highest end brand being Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood’s highest end brand being St. Regis.

While I’ve stayed at a ton of St. Regis properties, I haven’t stayed at that many Ritz-Carlton properties. A few weeks ago Ford and I spent a night at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, which I had heard a lot of positive things about. We had a free night certificate from the Ritz-Carlton credit card that was expiring soon, so this worked out conveniently. I should mention that this was coming out of Ford’s account, and he’s “only” a Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold member, while I have Platinum status. So it’s not an apple-to-apples comparison in terms of elite recognition, since we were staying with his status.

For the night we stayed, a base room at the hotel would have cost $783++ ($905 including the resort fee and tax). Alternatively, we could have redeemed 60,000 Marriott Rewards points, which is the equivalent of 20,000 Starpoints. So using an expiring free night certificate was a great option.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post entitled “Why Do People Like Ritz-Carlton ‘Resort Factories?'” The post gets at my overall confusion with some Ritz-Carlton properties in the US, though in this post I want to provide a more thorough review of the hotel as such.

The Ritz-Carlton is located on Monarch Beach, just down the road from the former St. Regis Monarch Beach, which is now called the Monarch Beach Resort.

Our experience started with having to wait in a line at valet. It’s one thing to have to wait a few minutes, but the line for the valet was so long that you couldn’t even drive up to the hotel, but rather had to wait in a line a dozen cars deep just to be able to queue in the valet line. All for the privilege of paying $40 per night for valet parking. This wasn’t just a one-time issue, but was the case very time we were out front (and clearly it’s not unusual or else they wouldn’t have someone stationed up there to stop people).


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel valet line


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel valet line

We arrived at the hotel at around noon, and quickly found reception, which was located inside the lobby and to the right.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel lobby

At many St. Regis properties there’s sit-down check-in. At this hotel there was a line nearly a dozen people deep to check-in.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel lobby

On the plus side, I thought it was pretty cool that there was a live “beach cam” behind the front desk.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel beach view

Our room was ready even though we were early, and the lady checking us in was friendly. She presented us with a map of the resort, and explained some of the basic features.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel property map

Most of the below lobby pictures were taken late at night, which was the only time that the lobby wasn’t ridiculously overcrowded. The lobby itself is fairly nice, though to me the design seems totally out of place. I’d expect this decor at a stuffy conference hotel, and not at a coastal beach resort.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel lobby

There was a long hallway leading to most of the guest rooms, and the hotel’s bar was just at the end of that.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel lobby bar

There were several guest wings, and the elevator to our room was located down the hallway and to the left.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel lobby

The only lobby decor that made me feel like I was on the ocean were the decorative surfboards on the wall.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel lobby surfboards

The lobby was on the third floor while our room was on the fourth floor, so we took the elevator up a level. There was a nice hallway with lots of natural light that led us to the hallway with guest rooms.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel hallway


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel hallway

Our room, #4511, was located halfway down the hall and to the left.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel room exterior

The room was… fine. It featured an entryway with the bathroom to the right.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room entryway

That led into the rest of the room. On one side of the room was a comfortable king size bed, a nightstand, a desk, and a console with a safe and mini-fridge.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room desk


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room mini-fridge & safe

It’s interesting that the hotel has mini-fridges rather than minibars. I don’t mind that one bit given how much minibar drinks would cost, though this mini-fridge didn’t seem to work. It was turned on, but was room temperature inside.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room mini-fridge

On the opposite side of the room was a daybed, a wall-mounted TV, and a chair with a side table.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room seat

The room had a balcony with a table and two chairs. I couldn’t help but feel like the patio furniture felt a bit cheap for a hotel charging these kinds of rates.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room balcony

Our room had a view of the pool, which was nice enough.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room view


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room view

However, this had to be one of the loudest pools I’ve seen in a long time, to the point that I couldn’t concentrate while trying to work from the balcony.

Back towards the entrance of the room was the bathroom, which featured double sinks (which is a nice feature for a standard room), a shower/tub combo, and a partitioned off toilet.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room bathroom


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room bathroom


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room toilet

Toiletries were from Asprey, which is brand standard for Ritz-Carlton. They’re pleasant enough, though I don’t find them to be anything special.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room Asprey toiletries

Overall I thought the room was fine. It didn’t feel any more luxurious to me than any four star hotel, and I guess that gets at my overall issue with the hotel.

What did disappoint me, however, was the upkeep of the room. One of the lights above the bed was broken, the air vent in the bathroom was dirty, and the alarm clock went off at 6AM, even though we didn’t set it (fortunately we were up by then anyway). We also didn’t get turndown service, which I assume is supposed to be a standard amenity.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room broken light


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel king room dirt

The hotel’s best feature is that it’s on Monarch Beach. You still have to walk down a hill, though this is as close as hotels get to Monarch Beach. And it is a really pretty beach. More on that in a bit.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel view

After checking in we were hungry, so wanted to have lunch at the hotel’s only full service daytime restaurant, Raya. Unfortunately there was a wait of over an hour. I get that the hotel gets busy, but if you’re staying at a luxury, destination resort you should be able to eat without having to wait such a long time, in my opinion. Eventually we were seated.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Raya Restaurant


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Raya Restaurant

At first they just presented us with the $72 per person brunch menu.

We wanted to eat a bit healthier, so after asking we were also given the lunch menu, which had quite a limited selection. That menu read as follows:

We were offered some bread when we sat down, which was stale and tasteless.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Raya Restaurant — bread

The two salads we ordered were very good, though.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Raya Restaurant — ahi tuna tataki salad


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Raya Restaurant — pulled jidori chicken salad

In the afternoon we wanted to check out the beach, which is after all one of the main draws of this resort. There’s a staircase from the resort leading down to a road that goes to the beach.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel walkway to beach


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel walkway to beach

Walking down there took a bit longer than we were expecting, since some staircases were closed due to weddings.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel public areas closed

While we were happy walking, I imagine others would appreciate the cart that goes down. However, due to yet another wedding it wasn’t operating all the way between the lobby and the beach, so you still had to walk most of the way. I noticed some mobility-challenged people who struggled with that.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel golf cart to beach

There’s a hotel hut near the beach where you can pick-up chairs, which are included with the $40 resort fee.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel beach stand

At just about every other luxury beach resort I’ve been to, they set up chairs on the beach for you, etc. Here we were informed that “[we] can wear the chairs like backpacks.” So we did that, and took them down to the beach.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel walking to beach


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel beach chairs

I couldn’t believe what bad conditions the chairs were in, let alone how cheap they were.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel rusty beach chairs

The beach was crowded, though that’s to be expected. I still love Monarch Beach, though find that the North part of the beach (where the Monarch Beach Resort is located) is much quieter.


Monarch Beach

So we set up our chairs and then took a walk to the far end of the beach.


Monarch Beach

The afternoon sun from the beach was stunning.


Monarch Beach sunset

While we were going out for dinner, we were hoping to have sunset cocktails at the hotel. The only outdoor ocean view venue where you can get drinks is the bar off the lobby. By the time we got there it was super crowded, and we couldn’t get seats.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel sunset view 

The hotel also has a coffee shop, which doubles as a convenience store of sorts. They have some reasonably priced stuff, at least relatively speaking — for example, while many glasses of wine in the bars are $15+, you can buy a bottle of the same stuff for $30 here.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel coffeeshop


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel coffeeshop

Best, I could tell, the hotel had two pools. That included the main pool in the courtyard, as well as a smaller pool at the side of the resort.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel pool

The quieter pool was closed for a wedding reception in the afternoon.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel pool

The hotel also has a gym and a spa. The gym has great views of the ocean, so we used that the following morning.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel gym


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel gym


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel gym

I don’t think I can emphasize enough how insanely busy the hotel was. I felt like we were constantly dodging wedding parties, the crowds in the public spaces were insane, and the hotel staff couldn’t really clean fast enough to keep up with guests. This is what several tables in the lobby looked like in the evening.


Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel mess

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel bottom line

There are certain hotels I fall in love with from the moment I arrive, and some where I just find myself shaking my head most of the time. This fits in the latter category, unfortunately. And that’s unfortunately largely my fault, I think.

Here’s the thing — Ritz-Carlton advertises themselves as a five-star hotel chain, so I think my mistake here is taking them up on their word. If this place were a Westin and charged $250 per night, I’d think it’s a pretty nice place. However, the thought of paying $900+ per night for a hotel with no personal service, where you have to wait for everything, where your room isn’t even maintained properly, etc., isn’t appealing to me.

I absolutely wouldn’t return to this hotel, and that’s fine. At the end of the day the hotel can get away with charging these rates because of its location — it’s a quick getaway for many people. On top of that, many people buy into the Ritz-Carlton marketing hype, and pay a premium for it. It seems this hotel is targeting weddings and conferences, rather than individuals looking for a relaxing getaway.

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Comments

  1. Grew up two miles away and stayed here for my high school prom night many years ago. Great hotel (I prefer this to the St. Regis accross the street) but still not on par with the Montage in Laguna Beach which is a short drive up the road.

    Glad you enjoyed your stay and thank you for bringing back memories!

  2. Was this Labor Day weekend or just a random weekend? If Labor Day and this was an exception to what is hopefully better service I could maybe understand. You see similar issues in Hawaii etc over holidays. If just a random weekend, it is sad they think they can get away with understaffing and over-utilizing the property at the guest experience expense.

  3. This resort is awful. Stayed a few times like a decade ago and service was awful. I was traveling with my kids, parents, etc and we ask for connecting rooms for my kids and we get there to find they gave the connecting room for my kids with 2 beds away and put my young kids in a king room across the hall. My kids were young and scared about not connecting and the hotel was awful. Spent 2 hours at the front desk with them and they eventually agreed to move us to the other side (we were originally on club level) to an upgraded ocean suite but still the way they handled it was awful as we had to get my travel agent to push for them to understand the logic that my young kids had to stay separated from us (we couldn’t all fit in one room either because all they had was king beds and were out of cots and gave the queen away to someone else). Never again. Years later stayed at the Montage. 100% better. Very nice big rooms, smaller, much better service, much better maintained, nicer beach where if I remember they do set up chairs. Nice restaurants with not really a wait (more than the Ritz), very nice spa, not long lines at valet and great service. I would be very interested to hear your review of a Montage property as I stayed at both the La and Laguna Beach ones and they are amazing!

  4. IIRC this was Labor Day weekend. As such, I wouldn’t get too hung up on the $/night number. It would be like reviewing the Best Western in Minneapolis Super Bowl Weekend and complaining that it was $500/night*.

    That said, it’s a fair review if you keep in mind that it was a holliday weekend and the hotel doesn’t seem to be staffed to deal with 100% occupancy. It would be interesting to see you review it on a random weekend in May to compare.

    * keeping in mind if there was an Aman Monarch Beach where even on Labor Day Weekend you felt like the only guest, it would be $2900/night not $900.

  5. This resort is great. They can and have gotten away with awful service and you chucks keep going back again and again.

    They are not awful. You are dumb.

  6. I thank te sale ir Ritz-cartón properties. No Meeting expecations. The only one I really like is Cancun because its restaurants.

  7. I do agree with John above in reminding everyone that this was the Labor Day holiday weekend–so crowding is to be expected. That being said, the hotel still should have been staffed better to allow for that, to avoid over-crowded restaurants, etc. The hotel forcing anyone to carry seats to the beach is simply tragic: that isn’t remotely luxury.

    I’m a local who lives nearby in Newport Beach. I agree that this (and many other) Ritz Carlton property is wildly overrated for the price point. I also agree that the Montage Laguna Beach and even the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport are much nicer for the same or comparable price point. But to each, their own. I also agree that too many people stay here and overpay based on the Ritz Carlton branding…which allows them to continue charging so much and delivering so little.

  8. Thanks Lucky. This saved me a ton of money because I was planning to book this hotel using cash for a stay next month. I’ll go with my tried and trusted 4* hotel across from Huntington Beach for $200 and change.

  9. @Lucky, the hotel has 3 pools. There’s an additional partioned off pool for adults only. When I visited the property, it wasn’t busy since I went in the beginning of May in 2016 and therefore I had a better experience. That also meant that the valet line was short and that there was only expensive cars which was a treat (Rolls Royce, Ferarri, etc). Also, the property has a sports area by the pool near your room. (It has tennis courts, table tennis, etc). Sorry you had an unpleasant stay.

  10. @Lucky – Can you do a review of the Montage in Laguna Niguel? (Its not far from the Ritz). I’d love to hear your experence

  11. Hi Lucky,

    Good review. I think you can extend your logic to the entire RC chain. No elite recognition. No personalized service unless you roll in like a royal a**hole. Piss-poor maintenance, because they’re exploiting the brand on both the start and end of the supply chain. I’ve only stayed in RC San Francisco and RC LA Live, but the situation was exactly the same: mountains of people, barely adequate service, poor room conditions. WTF?

    I love Marriott + SPG. While I would say that Marriott should leave this s**t curbside, as you clearly noticed, they are raking in mountains of cash with this. I guess I can’t fault them, but I don’t have to patron this brand, either.

    PS – I still have two RC certificate nights expiring in January 2018, and I don’t even want to use them. When I’m turning away free nights, there’s something seriously wrong.
    PPS – Debit, don’t be a douche.

  12. That hotel seems way too staid and stuffy for me (and I am in my late 50’s). I cannot imagine a 20 something couple finding this dowager-esque brand in any way interesting. Besides the name impressing your OC neighbors on a wedding invitation, why on earth would anyone under 65 choose to stay there? I really have never understood the RC brand and what it is doing at a beach resort anyway. The one in Ft Lauderdale Beach is next door to a Hooters. Nothing says quiet bespoke luxury like a huge resort overlooking a Hooters and Lulu’s Bait Shack.

  13. Are there any RC properties that are decent? I plan on manufacturing platinum status through the ritz chase card, to use mostly at Marriott and Starwood properties, and would like to use the free nights at somewhere worth it. Have a one night stay at Marina del Rey coming up and if it ain’t worth it, I’ll just stay at the Marriott next door.

  14. I’m disappointed to hear that the property is so disappointing. I’ve been interested since I love Half Moon Bay, but it sounds like it’s worth skipping. I find that Marriott service in general has been pretty terrible since the merger. I don’t feel like it used to be quite as bad. SPG, on the other hand, has been fantastic. Marriott could stand to learn from them. Did you see that RC picked up a Santa Barbara property?? I’m hopeful for that one.

  15. I have not stayed at this particular Ritz Carlton….but my problem with all of them…..especially Aspen etc……is if you were to wake up not knowing where you were you’d swear you were in Atlanta or Boston.
    Mass market for the masses….YUCK!

  16. If you stay at the Ritz Carlton in Kyoto, Macau, Hong Kong or Tokyo, it’s like a completely different hotel chain. It’s unfortunate that for every great property like Kyoto they have a US property like Marina del Rey. Bleh.

  17. LOL Thx Ben for heads up & thx @Andrew for putting @debit in his place. I abhor folks who come on here & do this to Ben. If you don’t like the review do us all a favor go away. I don’t care what day it was $900 to be treated like I’m at a Motel 6 is ludicrous. I don’t travel a lot anymore but when I do travel I pay attention to Ben’s reviews. If this were a vacation of mine I would be very upset.The experience he described was HORRIBLE.

  18. This mirrors my experience at Half Moon Bay. I’d say the lounges at urban properties can be a treat – SF, Toronto, but completely agree with most of the sentiments here – it is not a luxury experiene.

  19. ALWAYS ENJOY READING YOUR AIRLINE AND HOTEL REVIEWS. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH LN RITZ CARLTON REVIEW. THE REMODEL IS WORST THAN THE ORIGINAL WHICH WAS NOT GREAT EITHER. THE RC HAS THIS CONCEPT OF NOT BLENDING INTO THE ENVIRONMENT LOCATED. THE BEST ALONG THE COAST IS PELICAN HILL BY FAR EVEN IF ONLY FOR F&B. CLOSE SECOND IS MONTAGE IN LAGUNA BEACH. BOTH WORLD CLASS. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK – KAB LAGUNA, BEACH CA

    PS: YESTERDAY EXPERIENCED NEW SIN-SFO BUSINESS CLASS SERVICE AND WAS ABOVE PAR AS WAS THE CREW. MAYBE THINGS ARE CHANGING.

  20. It’s not just this property, the RC brand is faux luxury. Glad they’re getting called out by Lucky the entire chain deserves it. Some nice properties and folks here and there, but overall it’s a brand to avoid in my book if you care about how you spend your money. I’ve stayed at at least 25 RCs globally and mediocre to awful standards across the board compared to other luxury chains. I’ve given up complaining to the managers or writing feedback. It’s downright laughable they think they’re even in the same conversation as FS, MO or the Pen.

    Just no attention to detail, hoardes of crowds, little things done stupidly wrong, bad service, the list goes on. Many of them feel like factories. No idea who is at fault but the only reason I’d stay at Ritz is if the price is damn cheap. Even when I do that I often find myself regretting it and wishing I’d paid double or triple for FS instead. Something is wrong when that’s happening.

  21. You shouldve stayed at the Montage in Laguna. SO MUCH BETTER.

    Cant wrap my head around how someone would spend $900 a night for a Ritz Carlton like this…you get cheaper better hotels in Thailand

  22. Increasingly, I find J.W. Marriott to be much better. Not only is it nicer than Sheraton, Westin, Marriott or Renaissance properties, but the service is good and in line with expectations whereas Ritz-Carlton consistently disappoints. The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., on 22nd, the Ritz-Carlton in San Juan, the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, and the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas are all very disappointing. Basically just a Marriott with faux luxury decor. At least J.W. Marriott has some exceptional properties, the J.W. Marriott Marquis in Dubai, the J.W. Marriott Hong Kong, the J.W. Marriott Kuala Lumpur, and the J.W. Marriott Grosvenor House in London are all better than a domestic Ritz-Carlton property.

  23. This hotel has been like this for years. The Monarch Beach is better and the Montage the best by far.

  24. Do this to ben?

    I was talking to everyone, including ben, that keep going to that hotel.

    But anyway thanks for saving Ben. You impressed the ladies or the gents as the case may be.

    Pps: don’t jump the gun.

  25. @Marriott Platinum Premier Nick: most of my RC stays are non-US and the chain still is subpar. Disappointing compared to what you can get in the same town at one of the real luxury hotels aka Pen, MO, Four Seasons and in many cases Shangri-La. I’m convinced Ritz gets a “good” name in Asia simply because everyone coming overseas from the US has such awful hotels to choose from there you don’t realize how bad value Ritz still is compared to the competition in town.

    Just thinkin cities I’ve stayed in the last few months. Ritz in Shanghai (both, particularly the older property…complete POS), Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore all are surpassed by the real luxury hotels in town.

    Ritz is just posing and trying to charge similar rates. Thrilled to see them get called out here.

  26. Was considering staying here last week for 4 night stay but rate of $900 (plus resort fee, tzes and parking) was off-putting (even with Citi Prestige credit). Looked at all the high-end hotels in the area. Instead, went to Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad (about 45 minutes south). the Park Hyatt is definitely not as refined, even though it is a former Four Seasons, it is also a drive to the beach, However, rate was about 1/4 of the Ritz when taking into account Citi Prestige credit and Mastercard benefits (free breakfast, resort credit, upgrade). we had a great time and would definitely go back.

  27. Agree with SleepyTron above. Huntington Beach much more interesting with a choice of 3 fine 4* relatively cheap properties. The Klipton Shorebreak, The Paseao, and the Regency Hyatt are both fine 200ish places. (Hilton Waterford subpar). Monarch Beach for $700?….pass

  28. This Ritz-Carlton serves as a cautionary tale about Orange County, as much as anything.

    Orange County, especially this part, is all about classless wealth. The pursuit of money and the ostentatious display of that wealth is an intrinsic part of the Orange County experience. There’s a reason that OC is the epicenter of right-wing libertarian capitalism in the United States.

    I grew up Orange County adjacent and worked there for a time, early in my career. My family had, at various times, owned large tracts of land in OC, including significant parts of what’s now Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and Santa Ana. I was taught that the behaviors regarding wealth that I saw in OC were uncouth and sophisticated people sought out quality and authenticity instead of grandiose displays of ill-spent funds.

    In this way, I’ve always thought of OC as very much akin to the Gulf states…lots and lots of wealth devoid of the experience, education, taste, and culture to put it to good use. Imagine the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel to be a suburban Burj Khalifa and you’ve put the nail on the head.

  29. Close call, helpful post, thanks Lucky. Almost spend a long weekend here last year until I read Tripadvisor. Great time at Aman instead.

  30. Stayed here several times over the years for business events. For a US hotel not the worst but far from impressive. Service is mechanical, very superficial instead of sincere and the design is quite awful. Not what you expect from a beach resort.

    For the price level they charge however it is absolutely 0 value for money. I personally would not pay more than about $200 for it.

    Anyway I have no more business in US and I will certainly not miss this hotel.

  31. Everyone keeps raging about the montage. I stayed there last year and felt the same as lucky did about this place. It’s nice but why is it $700 a night. It’s just not that personal or special

  32. For the folks asking where to use their RC certs or actual good RCs (especially domestically), try the RC Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs, CA. Gorgeous hilltop views of the area, everyone went out of their way to be nice and give true service, not overcrowded or loud, and all this was on a Valentine’s Day weekend a few years ago. It’s a few hour drive from LA (perhaps not much longer than Ben’s drive to Orange County) and you’ll come away feeling like you more than got your money’s worth.

  33. I wonder who really pays these super high rates. Every year I book a meeting in NYC in December and stay a night at the W, prices are always nuts so I use some points. The hotel is always half empty when I stay there…

  34. I’ve stayed here maybe three times and like it well enough. I’d probably never stay on my own dime since I’m just not into luxury travel, but I also have to point out your experience was somewhat atypical from the few times I’ve been. And when I make a reservation at a restaurant, the table is always ready.

    All that said, the places are pricey and beyond my needs, and usually too remote to be of interest as anything but a destination rather than home base. The one property that has a location I like is in Lake Tahoe, but even then I just mostly need a bed and a place to assemble my gear.

    The Ritz makes it a goal to have you greeted at the valet within two minutes. This isn’t always possible, but I don’t think they’ve ever taken more than four with me. Even though I’ve been there during events, they never got this crowded, and the only time I had trouble getting a table was at the ever popular 180Blu. (It doesn’t look it, but one corner of the long lounge can give you a decent view of the sunset if you get the one table there.

    Some of the amenities are pretty average for the price of the place, but others are great. If you didn’t use the shower in the spa, you missed one of the best body salt scrubs. Unlike some resorts, the spa at Ritz properties is always free for guests.

    The one thing I really do admire, though, is that the entire staff is trained to take charge of any issue and almost any need. You rarely get transferred on the phone and most employees can handle your complaints or issues without having to call in a specialist. I got placed in a single bed room when traveling with a friend and the bellman called down, getting me okayed for the correct type of room within a minute.

  35. I think what would aggravate me the most (aside from the long line at valet) would be having pieces and parts of the resort closed off to guests for private events. I get that hotels and resorts make a lot of money with weddings, but if those weddings make the resort less than what it should be for “other” guests, what’s the point?

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