Less than an hour drive from San Francisco, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay may as well be a world away. Situated atop a breathtaking ocean bluff overlooking 50 miles of rugged California coastline, the resort’s location could be easily mistaken for the cliffs of Scotland. Two surrounding golf courses, jauntily clad bellmen in jodhpurs and paperboy caps, and a weekend bagpipe serenade serve to further cast the Scottish aura.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the shingle style resort evokes the ambience of grand seaside retreats of the past. Designed to blend-in unobtrusively with the coastline, the six-story structure echoes the colors of the sand and sky, towards which every room and communal gathering spot are focused. Here are some of our favorite reasons to add The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay to your travel wish list:

Coastal Aura: Whether it be foggy and chilly, or brilliantly sunny, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is chameleon-like in its ability to envelope guests in its haute, coastal aura. Gray skies? Book a Fire Pit room or suite and gaze at the ever-changing cloudscape, glass of wine in hand, while warmed by flickering flames. Clearer skies call for an Adirondack chair respite, perched above the cliffs towards the sparkling Pacific, or a walk or bike ride (the resort offers beach cruisers) along the adjacent California Coastal Trail. Offering sweeping ocean views and several beach access points, the trail is one of Half Moon Bay’s most treasured aspects. Whatever your daytime activity, make sure to be back in time for the Sunset Bagpiper who Friday through Sunday begins his tune at the resort’s entrance and winds his way to the Ocean Lawn area at sunset.

Fire Pit rooms
California Coastal Trail

Elevated Cuisine: Chef de Cuisine Francisco Simón helms the resort’s destination dining restaurant Navio. Formerly of two Michelin star Enoteca Paco Pérez in Barcelona, Simón serves innovative yet approachable cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the sea as well as prime cuts. Select from the three-course prix fixe menu or Chef Simón’s signature five-course Chef’s Tasting Menu with an optional wine pairing. Menu items might include: Butter Poached Lobster with open ravioli, summer squash, and California sturgeon caviar; Lamb Loin with grilled aubergine, snap peas, and mint; and Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Soup with Farmer John’s pumpkins, California sturgeon caviar, and spiced foam. The Exploration Cocktail Series menu explores the origins of world navigators and transforms them into an immersive beverage experience, while the curated wine list celebrates local and global vintages as well as unique finds. The Ocean Terrace is the perfect spot for lunch and afternoon/evening cocktails, serving raw bar and grilled items along with a brilliant setting sun. And the airy Conservatory, with panoramic views of the Pacific, features a full bar and California comfort cuisine.

Navio Dining Room. Photo: Albert Law
The Ocean Terrace
The Conservatory

Golf: The resort is a golf lover’s dream and is surrounded by Half Moon Bay Golf Links’ two championship golf courses. The historic, parkland-style, Arnold Palmer-designed Old Course features cypress trees and a stunning 18th hole that overlooks the ocean. The Arthur Hill, Scottish Links-style Ocean Course offers more challenging play on rugged terrain with an ocean view from every hole.

Ocean Course, 18th hole. Photo: Dan Miller

Spa: The resort draws from its surroundings for its signature spa offerings, such as the 80-minute Redwood Forest Ritual, inspired by the surrounding California Redwoods. This treatment utilizes a variety of indigenous earthy herbs and wood blends to stimulate the senses and revitalize the soul, leaving guests feeling grounded, complete, and restored. Includes a hot poultice massage and scalp massage. Booked treatments include use of the co-ed whirlpool, sauna, and steam rooms.

The Town: Like any California locale, growth has been slow and steady in Half Moon Bay, but the town retains an old timey, funky, beach village vibe. Boutiques, galleries, and famed restaurants line historic Main Street. Don’t miss Jupiter & Main, a general store that harkens to a bygone era; customers are encouraged to peruse artisan home goods, self-care products, quality barware, fashionable menswear, leather goods, and an extensive apothecary. Feed & Fuel features small, live animals in the back, and Cunha’s Country Store & Deli has been in operation since 1924. For dining beyond the resort, try family-owned It’s Italia, serving delicious gourmet pizzas, house pastas, and creative cocktails since 1997 within its festive dining room and spacious outdoor patio. Walk along the docks at Pillarpoint Harbor and check out the local fishermen selling fresh seafood directly off of their boats. Then stop-in at Mavericks Surf Company, owned by Jeff Clark who surfed the region’s famed waves for 15 years before the area was discovered by the big-wave surfing community.

Additionally, nearly 70 wineries exist within an hour’s drive of the resort. Horseback riding, whale watching cruises, swimming, and surfing are also easily accessible. But perhaps the most favored Half Moon Bay activity is ocean gazing from The Ritz-Carlton’s Ocean Lawn. Featuring three large fire pits, comfy seating, and cozy blankets, the expanse is an idyllic spot at which to put one of the resort’s signature s’mores kits to good use.

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is among the first hotels in the world to become Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide. The comprehensive facility verification helps ensure that guests and travel planners can book with confidence at properties that have appropriate health safety procedures in place. This verification comes with an easily identifiable “seal of approval” – the Sharecare VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide badge – based on a hotel’s compliance with expert-validated best practices that minimize the risk and impact of COVID-19 and potential future public health events.

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