I wanted to go on a birthday trip and pre-holiday road trip with my parents the week before Christmas. I stumbled on the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay having off-peak redemption availability with points, so I reserved a two-night stay. I’ve wanted to stay at this property since I was a child, as I’ve seen it on the homepage for Ritz-Carlton numerous times. It’s a Forbes 5 Star Hotel, but an AAA 4 Diamond.
This was my 3rd Ritz-Carlton stay, having stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove Miami and the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara. Both seemed to be a bit below expectations for me, so I was curious to see if the third time would be the charm…
I used 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night for a two night stay at the property. As a Category 7 property in the Bonvoy program, off peak awards start at 50,000 points, standard awards are 60,000 points and 70,000 points for peak awards. In March 2022, the Marriott Bonvoy program will eliminate its existing award charts and transition to “Flexible Point Redemption Rates”. This means that prices will go up and down on a daily basis to reflect current room rates.
Cash rates were $850 (not including taxes and fees) for my dates. Looking out into 2022, the lowest rates start at $779 per night.
FORA TRAVEL BENEFITS:
I started working with a travel agency, Fora Travel, and can assist in booking hotel stays. As a travel agent we are partnered with Virtuoso and Four Seasons Preferred Partners to name a few. With this, you can get special perks when booking with us. This specific property features:
- Daily full breakfast for up to two guests per room at the Conservatory
- Hotel/Resort Credit: 100 USD per stay
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
If you are interested in getting these perks and want to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The resort fee is $50 per night, and not waived for award stays. The resort fee includes:
- Glass of wine during check-in (daily at the front desk from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
- WiFi and Business center access
- Unlimited local telephone calls (within a 12-mile radius only)
- Fitness center access
- Bottled water and towels
- Access to The Colony Club’s indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna and Group exercise classes
- Water aerobics equipment
- Family board games and videos
- Putter and wedge for use on practice green from Half Moon Bay Golf Links Pro Shop
- Access to tennis courts, racquets and ball machine
- PressReader, a Digital Newsstand
- Bicycle rentals to explore the Coastal Trail
Additionally, the only parking offered is valet, for an additional $54 per night.
The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is a blufftop resort overlooking the ocean, just 30 miles south of San Francisco. Half Moon Bay is a small town, so you will definitely need a car to drive around unless you plan on pretty much staying at the hotel itself. It’s 3 miles from downtown Half Moon Bay, and 7 miles to the harbor, if you want other shops and food options. We tried La Costanera near the harbor, which offered pretty good Peruvian food for dinner one night. The resort itself has a Scottish vibe, and even has a sunset Bagpiper who plays everyday.
Two golf courses are onsite as well: the Ocean Course and the Old Course.
Arrival and Check-In:
I found the entrance to the hotel to be a bit interesting, as if you’re coming from the north, you first pass a nice gated community, then at the next light you turn right where there’s an abandoned house on one side of the street, and old signs for manufactured homes on the other.
Then as you drive down the road a bit longer, you’ll pass the mobile homes, and then start to pass another gated home community, then arrive at the Front Gate of the hotel.
I arrived a bit before the check-in time, and was told that I was upgraded to a Coastal View room as a Marriott Gold member which was nice.
Standard rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay are on the cozier side, at 450 square feet. Our Coastal View Guest room was on the 5th floor of the main building of the hotel (but 2nd floor on our wing, due to the hilltop design of the hotel). It overlooked the golf course with the ocean in the distance which was nice. We were even able to see the Bagpiper play right outside our room one day.
The room had 2 double beds (smaller than queens), and a chair with ottoman at the window. There was a large desk, and good closet space.
I liked the light ocean tones, and really liked the desk chair. The fancy glass bottles of water provided were a nice touch. A Nespresso machine was provided, as well as a white noise machine which was interesting.
Cleanliness could have been improved, as the lampshade had multiple stains on it, as well as the curtains. Additionally, one of the automatic shades for one of the two windows was broken.
The bedding was of good quality, but all of the pillows provided were quite flat and did not give me the best night’s rest. Even the Monterey Marriott I stayed at the night before had way better pillows.
The bathroom looked nice, with a nice soaking bathtub, single sink, separate W/C and stand-up shower. A negative was that it was a bit cramped in the stand-up shower, both in width and in height. I’m only 5’9 and my head was already to the showerhead, and it was hard to move in the shower without bumping into the walls.
Toiletries are provided by Asprey London, which is standard for the Ritz-Carlton brand. The set here was made in Malaysia, which I found interesting as I’ve gotten China and USA at the other Ritz properties I’ve stayed at.
Rooms for improvement would be that some of the towels were stained, and the wallpaper also had some questionable marks. And, the toilet paper quality was not on point. The day prior I stayed at the Marriott Monterey and that property even had better TP. Interesting that the lower-end sister brand had better TP lol.
The most annoying part of the room was the fact that there was no night light, or a light that we could leave on to serve as a nightlight. All the bathroom lights had a master control “all or nothing” and you couldn’t just leave one light on from the bathroom. The frosted glass doors to the bathroom didn’t help the issue as well. So, we slept with a good amount of lights on as we preferred that to complete darkness.
Guest House Section:
There is a separate section of the hotel called the Guest House, which is a short walk from the main complex. It might be annoying to be assigned a room in that section if it’s raining a lot. Based on how it looked, I very much prefer the main building.
Over here at the Guest House, this is where the tennis courts and the indoor pool are located. Currently, the indoor pool opens 6am Monday through Friday (7am on Saturday and Sunday) and closes at 8pm.
Other Amenities + Service
The resort has a fitness center located on the second floor that is open 24 hours. You have to actually go outside (or through the Spa when it is open). The Spa is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm. Additionally, bike rentals are available from 8am to 5pm.
There is a sunset bagpiper who plays one hour prior to sunset starting at the front drive and ending at the Ocean Lawn. Super cool, and creates the nice ambiance as if we were in Scotland.
They also provide complimentary morning coffee and tea in the mornings in the lobby. On Christmas Eve, they went the extra mile and even set up a little pop up coffee cart with espresso, lattes and cappuccinos. It was super cute and a nice touch!
Service around the property was good, and they are one of the few hotels I’ve stayed at during the pandemic to proactively offer a morning & afternoon housekeeping service as well as turndown service. I didn’t opt for them, but did receive notes on our door as we left the DND sign up a bit. They also sent over a birthday gift of a bottle of Cabernet.
Walking Around the Property:
There is public beach access just a short stroll from the hotel, and there is also a coastal trail with amazing views. Walking around these areas was very relaxing and picturesque. The first day we arrived, the weather was a bit foggy and raining, but the next day we got some more sun.
Navio is the signature seafood restaurant, and it is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, and for weekend brunch Saturday and Sunday. They currently only offer a prixe fixe menu.
The Conservatory is the more casual option right off the lobby and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Currently breakfast and lunch are only available to overnight guests, and dinner is available to non-guests Sunday through Thursday.
The Ocean Terrace is outdoors and has wine, cocktails, a raw bar and light menu Thursday through Sunday from 12pm to sunset (weather permitting). As we had light rain during our stay, the terrace wasn’t open.
In-room dining was also available from 6am to midnight.
We ate breakfast one morning at the Conservatory, and it is a beautiful venue! Thankfully, some of the fog cleared, so the view was amazing. The food was delicious as well, and the presentation was certainly a five-star experience.
My mom tried the Coastal Benedict which had dungeness crab and poached eggs. Certainly a proper dish due to the coastal location of the property. She loved it! I got the omelet which I enjoyed, but if I visit again I will definitely try the Coastal Benedict. The main dishes are all $42 and come with coffee/tea and juice.
We also visited the Conservatory for dinner, and it was pretty good. If I had to choose though, I would say I still liked breakfast more.
I enjoyed my Cioppino, as the broth was tasty and it had a good variety of seafood. I also really liked their onion bread that they provided. My parents thought their dishes were decent as well. And, the Panna Cotta was a nice way to end the meal.
With the beautiful cliffside setting, I truly enjoyed my stay at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. High points included the property grounds, ocean views and the five-star breakfast. However, there were some hiccups, which included the minor cleanliness issues and the quirks of the room. It seems to me that I don’t have the most perfect stays with the Ritz-Carlton brand. But, let’s see if my next one will be!
Have you stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay before? What were your thoughts? Comment below!