The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay: The Standard of Luxury

Written by | Travel

It’s not often that I use the adjective incredible to describe a hotel, but that’s the word I used when I wrote about The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay 12 years ago during my first visit. It is a truly incredible hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton

When it was built over a decade ago, it set a new standard for casual sophistication and service in a state renowned for its world-class resorts. Since its inception, it has maintained that high standards. (In fact, I noticed that they improved some of the facilities like their gym and their spa!)


The hotel is dramatically set upon a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the only golf course by the sea in the Bay Area. The architecture can best be described as an oversized beach house in the Hamptons. It’s very understated and casual but elegant.


My favorite part of the property is the communal fire pits on the lawn surrounded by adirondack chairs that overlook the jagged cliffs, pristine golf course and the Pacific. There are several fire pits to keep the guests warm as they watch the sunset and the golfers. It is conducive to relaxation and people watching.


When you’re here, it seems like you’re worlds away. But it’s only 23 miles from the San Francisco Airport. Half Moon Bay’s region offers many secluded beaches, surfing, hiking, and oceanfront dining. Californians have been known to protect their coast from development so resorts like this is rare. There are not many hotels, homes and businesses in the area – and that’s a good thing. I recommend staying a few days – it can be your most active vacation with so many activities around, or your most relaxing.


A few tips if you’re planning to stay a few days:

  • 1) Try their 16,000-square-foot spa. It’s quite decadent. They only have 16 treatment rooms, so make sure you reserve ahead.
  • 2) There are many hiking trails along the coast. There are many choices of trails along the coast for all levels from sand dunes, prairies, redwood forest, and private beaches (Bring a light jacket, this is Northern California, the fog sometimes rolls in unexpectedly).
  • 3) If available, get an ocean view room. Absorb the morning fog or the sunset each evening from the comfort of your bed or balcony. My favorite are the rooms on the ground floor that offer outdoor fire pits and doors that open up to the golf course and the ocean. They’re very romantic (and convenient).
  • 4) Bring your golf clubs … the resort offers world class, seaside 36-holes of championship golf. Trust me on this one.
  • 5) Pack some snacks and drive south towards Pigeon Point Lighthouse some 19 miles away. The view of the coast is quite spectacular. The lighthouse is definitely worth the trip.


Immerse yourself in casual, luxury living at The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. For more details, visit:


Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each Tuesday and Thursday.

Last modified: April 17, 2018