Glitter Travel: Pelican Hill, Orange County’s Hidden Gem

Take a peek inside this hidden gem on Newport Coast, California. From a distance, the Resort at Pelican Hill is nestled above the Pacific Coast Highway directly across from the beautiful sun-drenched Crystal Cove Beach. Pelican Hill is located on the most pristine, serene and protected coastal enclave remaining on the Southern California coast. You can easily miss it if you blink. Upon a closer look, you will notice the dramatic entry bridge which is modeled after the Roman aqueducts and feels as if you are “entering another world from another time.”

I made sure to put them on my checklist to visit, but I had no idea that I was in store for such an outstanding destination. I’ve been to many five-star resorts around the world and before I read that they are “one of the world’s finest Five-Star, Five-Diamond destinations,” they showed me that they indeed were from the moment we pulled up to the concierge. Pelican Hill knows what five-star means and it’s reflected in every member of their staff. They go above and beyond, catering to each guest from the concierge and room service and drivers for their fleet of black Mercedes SUV’s to whisk you around the property, to the on-call butlers for each villa. Pelican Hill boasts that they are… “the Possibility of Perfection™,” and we cannot find the lie. Pelican Hill was designed after the vision and principles of Italy’s most renowned Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio and they came through on creating a property that exudes sophistication but is not at all stuffy.

Pelican Hill is made for rock stars, literally. You may have peeped the news that Chance the Rapper just got married at the resort when photos surfaced of the couple posing in front of the iconic rotunda overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It was a stunning, outdoor ceremony covered in white florals and its inspiration comes from the folly structures found in an Italian garden. The hip-hop star wed his longtime girlfriend Kirsten Corley on March 9th. Guests included comedian Dave Chappelle and gospel star Kirk Franklin, Take a peek inside this hidden gem on Newport Coast, California. From a distance, the Resort at Pelican Hill is nestled above the Pacific Coast Highway directly across from the beautiful sun-drenched Crystal Cove Beach. Pelican Hill is located on the most pristine, serene and protected coastal enclave remaining on the Southern California coast. You can easily miss it if you blink. Upon a closer look, you will notice the dramatic entry bridge which is modeled after the Roman aqueducts and feels as if you are “entering another world from another time.”

A little history on what makes this resort so breathtaking and serene: Pelican Hill is inspired by the architectural style of Italy’s Andrea Palladio, the most acclaimed architect of the High Renaissance whose work was based on the classic building principles of ancient Rome and Greece. It’s built upon the philosophical pedestal that humans are uplifted by striving for perfection. Pelican Hill is all about the details and they have become unsurpassed in the resort world.

Some of the details that make Pelican Hill’s design such a masterpiece include, specialized artisans brought in to create classical doors and windows, crafted of wood and bronze, hand-cut and carved limestone from Italy is sourced for all fireplaces, herring-bone design brickwork from the main square of Siena, Italy, is replicated throughout the Resort in arrival areas, entry courts to the Villas and Bungalows, walkways and loggia and millwork, including moldings, crowns and column capitals, which are true to the Renaissance period.

The lobby is breathtaking and serene. You may wonder why the area is so quiet, lacking the hustle and bustle of most major resorts. Well, the lobby area is not connected to any of the bungalows or villas. Guests are either at the pool, playing golf, or enjoying the scenic views from their villa or bungalow. When they do come to the lobby it’s to enjoy the Pacific Ocean view, the gift shops, café or the amazing dining options. It makes for a more elegant stay when you do not see crowds of people everywhere. You have a better chance of looking around and enjoying the captivating beauty of the architecture and some of the furnishings and décor.

The resort boasts 204 Bungalows Guest Rooms & Suites, and 128 Villas. The Bungalows range in size from 847 to 2,486 square feet, and are lavished with luxurious amenities for the perfect ambiance which include hand-crafted wood-beam ceilings, fireplaces framed by Italian limestone, deep soaking marble tubs, 40-inch flat screen televisions, wet bar, Bose sound systems, MP3 ports, wireless Internet, 500-thread-count sheets, and private terraces with unobstructed ocean panoramas. Need we say more? Now we know why the lobby is so serene. Why would you ever want to leave your villa? Reminiscent of an Italian village, Mediterranean landscaping is used throughout the resort, mostly notably approximately 750 mature olive trees. We enjoyed champagne bubbly along with in-room dining on our terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean with our own medley of olive trees. Falling asleep was easy after a day in the pool when you have a crackling fireplace and a luxurious bath with Pelican Hill’s signature spa products.

About that pool. Inspired by Rome’s famed landmark, the Coliseum Pool is among the most striking swimming pools at any resort. Perfectly circular and 136 feet in diameter, it’s one of the world’s largest circular pools and is spectacular with its radiant blue bottom created by 1.1 million hand-cut glass mosaic tiles and an amphitheater of terraced decks, offering private cabanas, sunbathing areas, dining, and fabulous ocean views. The furnished cabanas at the Coliseum Pool are suite-like with private servers, wet bars, Bose audio systems, and flat-screen HDTVs and include 12-foot ceilings, dining tables, chaise lounges and draping curtains for privacy. Yes, you will indeed feel like JLo in one of these cabanas.

Pelican Hill has more luxury, ocean-view home accommodations available for daily rental than any other resort. Want more pampering? The Villas are more residential and adored by larger families traveling together and even celebrities wanting a home away from home. You can even stay for a year or more if your heart desires. They offer a personal butler on duty 24/7, and a staff of chefs, concierges, housekeepers and others who can be available 24/7.

The dining options at Pelican Hill mirror the rich Italian tradition of its architecture. Dine at an array of options including Andrea Ristorante, The Coliseum Pool & Grill, Pelican Grill, Villa Clubhouse, Caffe & Market, or Great Room Social Lounge. We made sure to visit Andrea Ristorante and enjoyed the truffle risotto made for two tableside. They boast Northern Italian cuisine with Tuscan influences and they did not let us down. From creating a one-of-kind, temperature-controlled Cucina della Pasta (pasta room) to sourcing the finest 100-year-old Balsamic vinegar, the restaurant goes to extraordinary lengths to recreate the most authentic Northern Italian cuisine. Another bonus, they offer pasta making classes, so grab a girlfriend or two or even that date on Hinge.

Whether you are a pro or a beginner, Pelican Hill Golf Club is one of the nation’s premier golf clubs and is also like a private club for Resort guests, who enjoy preferred tee times and dining reservations, privileges at the luxurious clubhouse, and more. They offer golf lessons along with 36 holes of championship golf.

Last but not least, you simply must visit The Spa at Pelican Hill which is open to the public. The resort’s world-class spa is heavenly. Literally. Barrel vaults are “the closest thing in architecture to clouds.” The domed and vaulted ceilings were conceived to create the heavenly feeling and the architecture was designed “sequentially” so that the visitor has specific experiences while walking through the lobby, waiting rooms, hallways and treatment rooms. “Laylights” are used to create lighting effects; they diffuse light so that you see natural light filtering, as if through clouds. For any treatment, you can enjoy a full day enjoying the spa amenities and get lost in a dream-like atmosphere. Included are 22 private treatment rooms designed for quiet comfort and deep relaxation.

After our treatments we were blessed after turning a corner where we were met with the epitome of luxury, an array of facilities including men and women’s Acqua Colonnade with herbal steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and soaking tubs. The spa takes inspiration from the Roman baths of ancient times, specifically the Baths of Caracalla. You’re greeted with the fresh scent of the Mediterranean and drenched in luxury while pampered with champagne while relaxing in their 23,000 square foot facility. They also have a state-of-the-art fitness center; a full-service salon; a sumptuously appointed Spa Suite; and a boutique. What more do you really need? You are welcome to enjoy spa snacks by the whirlpool or prance over to one of the restaurants on the property for lunch or dinner. Makes a perfect girl’s night out or bridal party event.

Whatever you choose, The Resort at Pelican Hill has the options to whisk you away into a luxurious Mediterranean daydream. Make sure to check out what they have to offer for yourself at PelicanHill.com.