The Cliffs Hotel and Spa
2757 Shell Beach Rd, Pismo Beach, CA 93449 • (805) 773-5000
When it comes to California’s Central Coast, Pismo Beach is the epitome of seaside beauty, nestled on an oceanfront bluff overlooking a breathtaking beach. World-class hiking, championship golf courses and some of the world’s best wineries, right outside your hotel window.
Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach
1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629 • (949) 234-3200
Peerless luxury. Beach-club vibe. Perched atop a seaside bluff on 175 acres, this Five Diamond-rated resort is the perfect blend of Southern California’s laid-back luxury and iconic Waldorf. The sophisticated beach-house retreat has indulgence and inspiration, with a private beach club, three pools, oceanfront golf, luxury spa, unique coastal activities, and classic California cuisine.
California Business Journal Hotel Review: Cypress Inn, Carmel By The Sea, Calif.
Situated in the enchanting and ultra-quaint seaside village of Carmel By The Sea, the Doris Day-owned, pet-friendly Cypress Inn is one of the most fascinating vacation destinations that you could ever experience.
When Dennis LeVett approached his business partner, iconic Hollywood actress Doris Day, about purchasing a hotel in the quaint and picturesque Northern California seaside town of Carmel By The Sea, she was adamant about one thing: making it a pet-friendly hotel.
Thirty years later, the peaceful, Mediterranean-styled Cypress Inn is regarded as perhaps the best and most prominent pet-friendly hotel in America.
The fact that it’s situated in the mesmerizing charm of Carmel makes it that much more special — thanks to Ms. Day.
The legendary Hollywood star won the Oscar for her signature song “Que Sera, Sera” in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much” in 1956 and a Golden Globe for the film, “Pillow Talk.” She was voted the top box office female star for four consecutive years during the early ’60s and was among the Top 10 for 10 consecutive years. She was the headline actress opposite such leading men as Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, James Cagney, James Stewart and Kirk Douglas. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush in 2004 and was awarded a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in 2008.
Since leaving her fabled film, television, music and dance career, Ms. Day has devoted herself to the welfare of animals. For half of her life, she has worked tirelessly rescuing, healing and placing thousands of abused or neglected animals in new homes. She started her own organization, the Doris Day Pet Foundation, now known as the Doris Day Animal Foundation. She also established the Doris Day Animal League, which is a lobbying group on behalf of animal rights and is now a part of the Humane Society of the United States. The Foundation has grown into one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the world – and it continues to operate under her guidance, even at the age of 95.
Ms. Day’s love for animals – and especially dogs – is felt everywhere you walk at the delightful and immaculately historic Cypress Inn, which was built in 1929 and was first used as an art gallery and atelier. Today, beautiful and obedient dogs are everywhere you turn at this pet-obsessed hotel, including the dining area.
At this moment, two well-behaved Shih Tzus, dressed alike in blue tulle skirts and hair bows, are sitting up in a baby carriage looking at other dogs and their owners pass by. Five feet away is a beautiful well-mannered black Lab stretched out on the floor, satisfied after consuming her Cypress Inn pet menu choice of chicken.
No matter where you are at the hotel – by the fireplace in the living room, Terry’s Lounge, walking through the hallways, or on the outside dining patio, adorable, loving dogs are everywhere with their doting owners – the kind of dog owners who consider their dogs as a family member and take them everywhere.
Even the Cypress Inn staff treat dogs as honored guests. Rooms even come equipped with pet bowls and plush dog beds.
The Moroccan-inspired and modern décor hotel rooms also come complete with a complimentary crystal decanter of cream sherry (one of Ms. Day’s favorite drinks) atop the wet bar.
The hotel features an endless array of photos and posters of Ms. Day and her films. The television in the dining area regularly plays her films.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, Terry’s Lounge, is named after Ms. Day’s son, Terry Melcher, who was a musician and record producer. He was instrumental in shaping the California sound and American West Coast rock music, particularly during the counterculture era.
By the time Happy Hour rolls around on any given day, the popular lounge is hopping with local people who come by to drink, hangout and eat. The Lounge has a lovely dining room — reservations are a must because of its popularity with locals — that has an eclectic menu of delicious Country-French style seafood and steaks.
The quality, preparation and presentation of the food is impeccable – from its Wild Salmon fresh from Monterrey Bay and Roky Chicken to the Sole Petrale from San Francisco Bay and the close-to-unparalleled Filet Mignon.
The Cypress Inn epitomizes everything that is special about Carmel, easily one of the America’s greatest and most charming towns.
It was established as a laid-back, mystical Bohemian community home to intellectuals, artists and authors like Jack London and Sinclair Lewis and poet Robinson Jeffers.
The enchanting one-square-mile village on California’s windswept Central Coast – it’s only 120 miles south of San Francisco — has no streetlights or sidewalks (except in the downtown commercial district).
Fast-food restaurants, neon signs and parking meters are prohibited.
Carmel’s captivating downtown – with its ecologically harmonious backdrop, gorgeous flower gardens, hidden passageways and secret courtyards – features hundreds of art galleries, wine tasting rooms, unique specialty stores, small art studios, cafes, bakeries, restaurants and clothing boutiques.
The sidewalk-less side streets are highlighted by fairytale houses that look like something out of Hansel and Gretel. In fact, one is named the “Hansel House” and another is named the “Gretel House.” The homes do not have street numbers – only names.
“This town is like a fantasy, like you’re stepping back in time to a period in America when everything was just simple and perfect,” says one Cypress Inn guest who makes a semi-annual trek to the hotel with his two golden retrievers. “Whenever I’m away from it, I dream about it and can’t wait to come back. It’s the most special hotel and city I’ve ever visited.”
Guests are treated overwhelmingly superbly by the Cypress Inn staff – from the front desk and concierge to restaurant host and the servers at The Lounge. They’re all so personable and helpful.
Their wonderful and pleasant attitude is an extension of General Manager Peter Radler, who has had a remarkable career in hospitality worldwide. He once owned his own restaurant, Opus One, in Munich, Germany and was the assistant general manager at Hotel Schloessli in Biel, Switzerland before coming to California, where he was an executive at some renowned restaurants and hotels, including the luxurious Oceana Hotel in Santa Monica and the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills.
“My No. 1 priority is the great attitude of our team,” Radler says. “That’s what I drive. My philosophy is if you have to work, you might as well have fun doing it. We have a lot of fun here and we just love the environment of the people and their pets.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
1 Miramontes Point Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 • (650) 712-7000
Perched atop a rugged oceanside bluff in the San Francisco Bay Area, just 30 minutes from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, sits The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, a 5-star, luxury resort experience.
Timber Cove Resort
21780 North Coast Highway 1, Jenner, CA 95450 • (707) 847-3231
Iconic and reimagined. Perched on a dramatic bluff high above the Pacific Ocean lies Timber Cove. A one-of-a-kind hotel situated within California’s ruggedly breathtaking Sonoma coastline, Timber Cove is a magical place where stately redwoods pay homage before the vastness of the sea. Experience a deep connection with nature, on land and sea. At Timber Cove, warm hues, sturdy timbers, and midcentury accents create a captivating experience with iconic architecture and the authenticity of the 1960’s.
California Business Journal Hotel Review: Del Mar Beach Hotel, Del Mar, Calif.
The 46-room hotel has a vintage ‘60s beach town feel where you can envision The Beach Boys playing on the sand in 1966 surrounded by Mustangs, Corvettes and Camaros.
When publicist Lindsay Brean invited California Business Journal to review the new Del Mar Beach Hotel, we went to the hotel’s website to scope it out.
When we learned it was the only hotel in Del Mar located right on beach sand, well, it took us all of two seconds to say, “Pack your bags.”
We trekked on down to Del Mar to experience the newly renovated hotel that was established in 1968 by one of the world’s most inspiring immigrant stories of all-time. More on that later. We were given the best room in the house with a view of the Pacific Ocean from the bed.
The 46-room hotel has a vintage ‘60s beach town feel where you can envision The Beach Boys playing on the sand in 1966 surrounded by Mustangs, Corvettes and Camaros. The hotel just completed the first of three phases that took 1 ½ years to complete.
“We took the hotel down to the two-by-fours,” says hotel General Manager Ryan White, who couldn’t pack fast enough himself when the hotel owners offered him the job. “You could see the ocean right through the walls. It was bare. Except for the studs.”
The hotel’s neighboring restaurant, Poseidon, was also established in 1968 by Ranglas. At the time, it was a burger joint, but Ranglas immediately saw the untapped potential and value of converting it into a fine dining restaurant with tables with an ocean view and almost touching the sand of the beach. Just like his hotel.
Day 1 was spent at Poseidon for lunch, ordering (1) the Seafood Platter Loch Etive salmon, Mahi-Mahi, diver scallops, jumbo shrimp, asparagus, peewee potatoes, and chimichurri sauce, and (2) Chimichurri marinated Filet Mignon with truffle fries and black garlic aioli. No alcoholic beverages were ordered. Just wanted to experience the food for itself without any other intake distractions. No dessert either. Why spoil an epic meal by stuffing yourself with the sweet stuff? Not us. Dessert can wait — for a few hours.
Anyway, back to the main dishes, created by World-Class Chef Mourad Jamal: Filet Mignon is seldom marinated in chimichurri sauce. Thank goodness Chef Jamal decided to do it his way – sweet and roasted peppers (red, yellow, orange), olive oil direct from Italy, parsley, garlic, onion — all charred and grilled with a tinge of a smokey flavor. The taste is unparalleled – and the quality of the highest-grade farm-to-table streak is nonpareil.
Jamal was already cooking as a young boy in Morocco. He later studied master classic French and Mediterranean cuisine techniques that he brought to Poseidon. His fusion style also incorporates flavor influences from Belgium, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Netherlands.
“Everyone raves about his dishes but it’s also about his personality,” Poseidon General Manager Bobby Daitch says about his chef. “His personality is electrifying and magnetic. He brings a fire that permeates throughout the restaurant through his never-ending energy and ability to create incredible plates.”
While some top restaurants worldwide were forced to reduce the quality of their meats and fish because of the global supply-chain and delivery problems during Covid, Chef Jamal did not. “I refused to compromise our quality for a lower price,” he says.
Day 2 was dinner at Poseidon’s next-door neighbor, Jake’s, which also sits right on the beach with the same magical sunset ocean views.
First, the salads: ever had a Cesar with crumbled focaccia instead of boring, hard, tired croutons – and Manchego cheese instead unexciting, uninspiring parmesan? Or a Roasted Beet Salad with apple cider vinaigrette, spicy and sweet pumpkin seeds, unmatched goat cheese, three kinds of orange, shaved radish, whipped avocado, and, of course, golden red beets.
Thank Master Chef Paul Niles for these. Niles, who previously worked at Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Grill in Manhattan, enhanced Jake’s menu based on the ever-changing culinary trends. One of the dishes he created was Achiote Roasted Fish with Brazilian peppercorn, grains of three wheat classes, roasted tomatoes, shishito pepper, and roasted tomatillo vinaigrette. Hold your dropping jaw as you taste it.
“My style is mixing French cuisine with classic sauces and vinaigrette with a base of traditional sauces such as espagnole brown sauce intertwined with today’s trends,” he says. He also takes Baha cuisine and melds it with Polynesian and Indian cuisine mixed with French style techniques.
Niles’ Filet Mignon with burgundy sauce is his own creation. Calling it dazzling or spectacular doesn’t even do it justice. This dish makes you dream about it continuously – until you return to Jakes. Then, once you leave, the fantasy starts all over again.
“I like the idea of reducing sauces down and incorporating the fruitiness and complexity of the burgundy and adding the sweetness of a balsamic vinegar and red wine with shallots, thyme and peppercorn,” Niles says.
As said earlier, the recreation) of the Del Mar Beach Hotel and Poseidon is The Great American Story of Tom Ranglas, who was born in Greece. He survived war after war in the 1940s before finding his way to El Cajon, California.
First it was the inhuman and heartless Nazis arriving in Greece in 1940 “with tanks, motor cycles and trucks rolling down our streets,” Ranglas once said. “Our people died like flies from starvation. I watched them die. It was horrifying. The Germans shot us with little provocation.”
One day, a sweet and innocent little Jewish girl wearing a Star of David spotted Ranglas’ cross around his neck. She asked if she could have it – “she thought it would save her from the ruthless Germans,” Ranglas says. He handed it to the young girl, whose eyes sparkled with joy. “I’ve always felt that kindness came back to me,” Ranglas said.
After WWII, Britain stormed into Greece and Ranglas was ushered aboard a ship in the middle of the night to – get this – Egypt. He was placed in a camp. He soon returned to Greece and served in the army for two years, during which Greece fought its own Communist Party in the Greek Mountains. As Ranglas walked with his Bren rifle one day, he heard an explosion. “Three of my friends had stepped on a mine and were killed.”
After that war, Ranglas discovered he had an uncle in Spring Valley, California, right outside San Diego and headed to the U.S. His first job paid $1.47 per hour. Ranglas and his mother started a chicken farm in Ed Cajon and later sold it. They then turned that into their historic purchase of the little burger joint then the Del Mar Beach Hotel for $300,000.
606 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672 • (949) 492-7368
A historical Spanish Villa by the Sea built by San Clemente city founder Ole Hanson in 1928.
Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
633 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103 • (805) 564-4333
Upscale oceanfront oasis. Located across from East Beach and one mile from the Funk Zone District. 24-acre beachfront resort with tree-lined pool and tennis courts, on-site wine tastings, salon and spa.
1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405 • (310) 581-5533
Inspired by the Grand Villas of the Mediterranean and the beachy vibe of Santa Monica, Hotel Casa del Mar is a breathtaking oceanfront hotel offering coveted accommodations. Each exquisitely styled guest room and suite showcases local coastal art and residential design, many with sweeping vistas of the coastline from Palos Verdes to Malibu. Three two-story penthouses perched atop the building on their own private floor are the ultimate seaside hideaways. Celebrate being by the sea at Terrazza Beachside Patio, Terrazza Lounge and Catch Restaurant.
1759 S Jameson Ln, Montecito, CA 93108•(805) 900-8388
Set on the American Riviera along one of Southern California’s most beautiful and exclusive coastlines, Forbes’ Five-Star Hotel & Spa Rosewood Miramar Beach offers a captivating estate-style atmosphere and the finest leisure amenities.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
8301 Hollister Ave, Santa Barbara, CA 93117 • (805) 968-0100
Tucked into 78 acres overlooking the Pacific, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara combines the appeal of this coastal city with the beauty of its natural surroundings. Here, you can escape to the tranquility of two beaches, three infinity-edge pools and a 42,000-sq-ft spa.
30801 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 • (866) 271-6953
Perched on a coastal bluff above the Pacific, Montage Laguna Beach is in the heart of a preeminent artist colony. Spanning 30 acres, the beachfront sanctuary features two outdoor pool decks, a 20,000-square-foot spa and three signature restaurants with spectacular views of the California coast.
The Seabird Resort by Hyatt
101 Mission Ave, Oceanside, CA 92054 • (760) 655-1334
Discover a fresh take on the classic Southern California lifestyle at this timeless beachfront resort offers an unrivaled seaside experience.