Orange County's Coastal Towns Beef Up Hotel Options

October 29, 2018

From new boutique hotels to renovated resorts that can host over 2,000 for a meeting or event, the diverse offerings along Orange County’s 42 miles of coastline are more welcoming to groups than ever. 

Huntington Beach 

New developments and resort renovations in Surf City USA do not seem to be slowing down. The past few years of change and growth along the Pacific Coast Highway resulted in the HB Collection: four oceanfront resorts within walking distance of each other, the Huntington Beach Pier, Pacific City mixed-use complex and the city’s Main Street.

“Huntington Beach is not only a location you visit to go to the beach,” said John Ehlenfeldt, executive vice president of sales and administration for Visit Huntington Beach. “Attendees here live the beach lifestyle with all of its toes-in-the-sand, laid-back luxury grandeur.”


The most recent news is from the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, which completed an expansive renovation that included the resort’s 517 guest rooms, the addition of two new room categories and a revamped pool area. The resort’s main pool, Mankota’s, now offers expanded seating, tropical landscaping and space for special events. At press time, the 110,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space refresh was on schedule to wrap up in November, according to Ehlenfeldt. 

Also part of the HB Collection is The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel, which completed its $140 million expansion and debuted the Twin Dolphin Tower late last year. The 152-suite tower added 20,000 square feet of meeting space, Offshore 9 Rooftop Lounge, which can be used for private gatherings, and an event lawn. 

Lido House Topside Bar, Newport Beach
Lido House Topside Bar, Newport Beach

The 250-room Pasea Hotel & Spa joined the HB Collection when it opened in 2016. Rounding out the HB Collection is the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, which completed a surf-inspired renovation of its outdoor spaces, lobby and all 157 guest rooms, and opened its Pacific Hideaway restaurant, with two private dining rooms. 

“Kimpton Shorebreak Resort recently launched new restaurant menu offerings, and they are now part of the IHG Rewards Club offering special Rewards Club Bonus points,” Ehlenfeldt said.

Newport Beach

Whether on a sunset cruise, Duffy boat tour, joining a sailing lesson or getting wet surfing or paddleboarding, taking in Newport Beach’s charm and picturesque views from the water is the way to go. 

“The best way to take in the essence of Newport Beach is with a narrated Duffy boat tour showcasing Newport Beach mansions and Newport Beach yachts and sailboats, highlighting celebrity history and a drive-by of John Wayne’s estate and yacht, The Wild Goose,” said Michelle Donahue, senior vice president of sales for Visit Newport Beach. “Or better yet, get your meal to go with a bottle of bubbly or wine and enjoy it onboard as you watch the sunset. You also can’t go wrong with a dinner or lunch cruise on a privately chartered yacht.”

Back on land, the number of hotels and resorts has grown and many of the local properties have recently been reimagined and renovated. 

The Duke Hotel (formerly the Fairmont Newport Beach) rebranded to the Renaissance Newport Beach Hotel late this summer. Under new ownership and management, all 44 guest rooms, lobby, restaurant and 27,000 square feet of meeting and event space were renovated for the conversion. 

In late spring, Autograph Collection Hotel opened the doors of Lido House hotel steps from Lido Village, Newport Beach’s marina, retail and dining destination. Set on the site of the former City Hall, the 130-room hotel also features five residential-style, three-level cottages; Mayor’s Table Pacific Pub & Kitchen; full-service Boost Spa; and 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space.

“With the debut of our newest hotel, Lido House, came not only 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space but also the introduction of Newport Beach’s only rooftop bar, Topside,” Donahue said. “Capitalizing on the endless California summer atmosphere, Topside is a captivating, chic scene that features fire pits, communal seating and a full slate of libations, including craft cocktails, fine wines and local brews. With spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, it makes a memorable location for an off-site event.”

Additional updates include the Hyatt Regency John Wayne Airport Newport Beach, formerly Carlton Hotel Newport Beach, which is also nearing completion of a multimillion-dollar renovation. The property’s 28,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space is now equipped with updated wireless technology and multiple built-in Smart TVs. Over at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, the event and meeting space was recently redesigned and includes inspiration from nearby nautical and beach landscapes. 

After an 18-month transformation in which all 295 guest rooms and public areas were updated, Island Hotel is now Fashion Island Hotel. The hotel boasts the largest ballroom in Newport Beach at 8,700 square feet and has capacity for 600 guests. 

Laguna Beach

Nestled between Dana Point and Newport Beach, Laguna Beach is known for its picture-perfect coastline of coves, beaches and bluffs. It is also popular for its artist community and 20,000 acres of protected land that can be explored through hiking, biking or even docent-led tours. 

The city’s iconic property, Montage Laguna Beach, is undergoing a renovation of its 250 guest rooms.

The redesign is inspired by the property’s surroundings and Craftsman architecture, using a natural palette and modern furnishings. The oceanfront resort regularly hosts wine dinners in a private dining room or outdoors on the 4,500-square-foot Pacific Lawn.

It offers three dining destinations, two of which can be used for private dining or events in addition to the 16,000 square feet of available function space, including four outdoor venues that overlook the Pacific Ocean. 

The Ranch, laguna beach
The Ranch, Laguna Beach

The Ranch at Laguna Beach was recently awarded two highly distinguished accolades. Architectural Digest named the property among its top 18 new hotels in the world and the hotel was invited to be a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, a collection of boutique hotels around the world that is committed to sustainability. The property is the first hotel in California to receive the invitation-only membership, and is one of only six member lodges in the U.S. 

The Ranch boasts indoor and outdoor space for meetings and events, including the Sage Ballroom, which can accommodate 350 guests, and its adjacent Sage Patio, which has capacity for an additional 350 people. Groups can also hold events on the first or ninth fairway or at Scout Camp, a revitalized and environmentally preserved site in a eucalyptus grove that was a Girl Scout Camp from the 1920s through the 1950s.  

Hotel Joaquin opened this past summer above Shaw’s Cove in Laguna Beach. The oceanfront property was designed as an escape and a place to unplug. Vinyl record players replace televisions in the guest rooms and the property’s private beach encourages guests to take advantage of the Southern California location. 

The hotel’s Adventure Outpost offers guests all-access to surfboards, hiking and diving gear, bicycles and games, from corn hole to dominos. On-site all-day restaurant Saline serves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. 

Complementing the restaurant, The Bar at Saline uses fresh ingredients for its cocktails or spritzers that pair with the food or can be enjoyed poolside. The resort is available for full-buyout, pool-side cocktails or for courtyard events.

Dana Point

In southern Orange County, Dana Point is well known for its cliffs overlooking the Pacific, as well as its surf, harbor and resorts. 

Dana Point’s Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa wrapped a renovation in September that included a complete makeover of the 378 guest rooms. A new restaurant, Outer Reef, headed by Chef John Tesar, a four-time James Beard nominated chef, and a two-time contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef, is currently slated to open first quarter of 2019. The $1.5 million reconcepted and renovated restaurant is inspired by Tesar’s critically acclaimed former Dallas seafood restaurant Spoon Bar & Kitchen and his Dallas steakhouse concept Knife. 

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, Dana Point
Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, Dana Point

The Dana Point property offers 50,000 square feet of function space, including 15 meeting rooms and a 10,000-square-foot ballroom that can accommodate nearly 1,000 people.

The Monarch Beach Resort completed a $40 million expansion in 2016 and this past spring added Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina restaurant that is available for private dining and events. Dana Point is also home to The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Doheny Beach - Dana Point.  

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Kate Cripe | Former Content Developer, Departments/Features

Kate Cripe worked with Meetings Today for over eight years as a Sales, Marketing and Content Coordinator. She then moved to the editorial team where she writes and edits feature, destination and news articles.