Laguna Beach spreads down the coast with eight miles of beaches for year-round enjoyment. From surfing to tide pools, there’s 30 coves and beaches waiting to explore. Off South Coast Highway near Aliso Beach, you’ll find The Ranch at Laguna Beach, a hotel and spa nestled in 84 acres of Orange County’s Aliso and Wood Canyons.
The idyllic location makes for a lovely retreat or winter getaway: the relaxed vibe, cozy rooms featuring artwork by local artisans and ocean-themed decor is an alternative to standard luxury hotels. Once I’m checked in, I follow one of the ‘ranch hands’ in my car down the road to one of several buildings along the creek that house 97 rooms (including 33 suites).
Building 3 faces out to the mountains and to the hotel’s outdoor sand volleyball court. Onsite is a golf course, pool and bar, full-service spa and fitness center, event and meeting spaces, each one featuring unique interior touches.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach began as a ranch with a 9-hole golf course that was sold in the 1950’s to Ben Brown. After renovations, the hotel (then known as Aliso Creek Inn) opened in 1962. Ben still plays golf every Friday afternoon on the premises.
Current owner Mark Christy (of Hobie surf store fame)’s sister/interior designer Laurie Alter created coastal chic rooms and event spaces in keeping with the true Laguna Beach vibe (Alter owns Tuvalu Home, a beach-inspired furnishings shop in Laguna Beach).
Half my Canyon room is bleached wood, the other half is carpeted. The bathroom’s shower and toilet are through the door on the left, with a double sink and large mirror in the center of the room. On the right is a closet. The main part of the room is where my cozy bed sits with two wooden end tables on either side. A wooden desk by the sliding balcony door sports a retro style luxo lamp.
A chest of drawers above the flat screen TV is mean to look weathered and contains adorable drawer pulls. An antique enlarged postcard of Laguna Beach hangs above the desk. A pair of interesting fish prints are framed above a beautiful dark wood headboard. Maritime-themed chandelier and mirror add to the atmosphere.
At night, a strong breeze enters the room, the result of a high-intensity storm front that’s unusual for these parts. Still, I get the canyon and breezes to enjoy as I sit and get some writing done at the desk.
The bed is super comfy and I sleep well during my stay here. The resort imposes a strict 10 pm quiet policy as walls between rooms aren’t soundproofed to larger hotel standards.
In addition to the pool, spa, fitness center and volleyball courts are daily resort activities, listed on a sheet covering the week of my visit. Choices include campfire and cocktails (weather permitting), rise and shine stretch session at Sycamore Spa, cardo-sculpt training and if I’m lucky, an appearance from the local deer during a drum circle at dusk.
By pressing 0 on the phone in my room, I got a ranch hand pick me up in a golf cart and take me down towards the beach for sunset.
The resort’s signature restaurant is Harvest at The Ranch, a beautiful wood beam open space open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. California’s history of organic farming, brewing and oenology are held in high esteem here, as local ingredients are key on the menus.
At breakfast, I enjoyed a bowl of steel cut oats and a side of eggs with fruit, good basic fare to get the day started. You can also opt for in-room dining (offered from 6 am to 9:30 pm daily).
In a small building near the main lobby, Pro shop and golf course is Ben’s Pantry, offering homemade energy bars, coffee, teas and snacks. They’ve also got sandwiches for a picnic at the beach.
The Ranch at Laguna Beach is located at 31106 South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, California. I was a guest of The Ranch at Laguna Beach. Opinions, as always, are my own. Non-watermarked images courtesy of The Ranch at Laguna Beach.