By Greg Aragon
The Ranch at Laguna Beach is the best of both vacation worlds. Set in a lush canyon, next to a flowing stream, the resort offers guests a classy, rustic atmosphere. And located a few hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean, it also boasts a California beach feel. In other words, The Ranch is one of my new favorite hideaways.
A friend and I recently escaped to The Ranch for a memorable day and night of luxurious fun. Our getaway began when we got to Laguna Beach, drove down Highway 1 and then turned down a nondescript driveway across from the beach. On one side of the tiny road was a hillside and on the other was beautiful creek, lined with thick vegetation, birds and other wildlife.
When we got to the end of quarter-mile-long road, we found The Ranch, surrounded by hills and tucked into Aliso Canyon like an oasis. We then checked into an elegant Canyon Room, nestled between the pool and the stream.
Boasting 410 sq-ft of country ranch / beach charm, the room featured a comfy king bed, backed by a huge, carved wooden headboard. Surrounding the bed was a large mirror and chandelier artistically covered with cowboy rope. The room also came with complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi and office desk, a 49-inch LCD TV, mini-fridge, coffee maker, universal charging station for phones and tablets, oversized walk-in shower, dual vanities and a shaving mirror.
The suite’s best feature was its patio with table and chairs, overlooking the well-manicured grounds, the pool area and the hillside walls of the canyon that cradles the resort. After unpacking we sipped wine on the patio and watched wild bunny rabbits run from bush to bush.
Once settled in, we walked a few yards to the pool and swam and enjoyed a couple cocktails at the poolside bar. We then strolled along the stream toward the ocean. When we got to the highway, we went through pedestrian tunnel that popped us out right on the sand of gorgeous Aliso Beach Park.
It was a pleasant day at the beach. The weather was about 80 degrees, the water wasn’t too cold, and it wasn’t overly crowded. We found a spot on the sand and laid out our blanket and enjoyed a perfect afternoon in Laguna. After lounging, we headed back to the hotel and changed for dinner. We then caught a free shuttle in front of the hotel lobby that took us to downtown Laguna Beach for dinner.
In the morning, we discovered Harvest, the resort’s signature restaurant. Led by Executive Chef Charles Imbelli, Harvest serves a creative and intensely local take on Californian comfort food. For my breakfast I devoured a memorable eggs benedict creation with a crab cake, english muffin, poached egg, collard greens and chipotle hollandaise. My friend had the American Breakfast, with eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon and toast. We washed it all down with a Green Thumb juice with fresh kale, parsley, cucumber, apple, lime.
While eating we gazed out the big windows and watched golfers stroll past on the property’s 9-hole, GEO Certified Laguna golf course and country club. The course is carved into the naturally dramatic and lush walls of Aliso and Wood Canyons, creating an ultra-private playing experience with stunning views and elevation changes on every fairway.
After breakfast I worked out at the fitness center and had a “Gentleman’s Facial” at the hotel’s 3,000 sq-ft, full-service Sycamore Spa. The 60-minute facial was rejuvenating and moisturizing. It was a balancing treatment designed specifically for men’s individual skin concerns and geared towards skin health longevity amidst sun damage, shaving and other irritants.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach sits on 87 pristine canyon acres, with 97 rooms loosely scattered about the park-like grounds. The resort is a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, a prestigious collection of lodges spanning 30 countries and 6 continents. The Ranch is located at 31106 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651. For more information, visit: www.theranchlb.com or call (800) 223-3309.