Hotel Review

Ritz-Carlton HMB wows with service and amenities

By Kathy Chin Leong

When we first pulled our car up to the hotel booth on the outskirts of the premises, a uniformed Ritz-Carlton employee politely asked for our names. And he immediately responded, "Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, Mr. and Mrs. Leong. Enjoy your stay."

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Once we pulled up to the driveway, one valet opened my passenger door to let me out, and another carhop opened Frank’s driver door. Both of them welcomed us by name to the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.

Did I mention that we were staying at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay?

Upon checking in at the front desk, the well-dressed attendant addressed me, Mrs. Leong, with a smile. We were going to be staying overnight in one of the new Ritz spa rooms, expressly designed to be on the same level as the luxurious 16,000 square-foot spa.

THE ROOM

According to spa director Melinda Milner, the seven Signature Spa guest rooms were created last year as a way to offer something unique. Spa rooms are all 504 square feet, a bit larger than the 462 square-foot deluxe room.

They feature a fairly large area for couch potato reading or writing letters at the desk. Guests can choose from a variety of spa packages that bundle a treatment with the room stay. For instance, for $575, you can get a one night stay which includes the room, resort fee, the valet parking for one car, and a 10 percent discount on spa treatments and products.  If you want to go all out, try the $1160 single occupancy or $1745 double occupancy InSpaRation package that gives you all this, four different treatments, plus lunch and gratuities.

The spa rooms are strategically located on the ground floor with an ocean and lawn view. Just yards away from the spa and exercise area, you’ll find many creature comforts that say "aah spa" all over them.

First, you’ll find Kashwere trademarked robes, plush cashmere-like thick yarn fabric so soft and comfortable you’ll want to buy a robe to keep. The same fabric is used on the custom-made slippers, the white blankets, and the pillows on the bed. The mattress is, to quote the famous Goldilocks said in the story, "Just riiight!"

The Ritz has made every effort to provide guests with a full sensory experience in these rooms that feature a calm color scheme of white, beige, and light buttery yellow. I thoroughly enjoyed a morning steeping myself like a giant tea bag in the deep soaking tub as I read the Everyday Calm Book with the provided reading tray. I kicked myself for not bringing my inflatable bath pillow! For the non-bathers, there is also a glass-door shower.

There’s a spa bar in the generously-sized bathroom, a clear glass cabinet filled with exquisite spa soaps, lotions, and shampoos by Zents. Oolong shea butter bar, anyone?

Guests receive complimentary soaps and shampoo and lotion. If you want additional items, you can purchase them from the bar, just like the mini-bar in regular hotel rooms. I still have my fragrant $10 bar of ginseng soap in my linen drawer.

And wait, that’s not all. The room featured a clock/radio/CD combination. And on the nightstand were three CDs with rainforest and nature sounds that we could listen to. Together with the mountain meadow and mediation songs, I would have been lulled to Slumberland and slept for the entire time if I didn’t need to eat.

Near the bed was a dimmer light switch, and the large candles made for a romantic room glow.
And wait, that’s not all. On the coffee table was laid the Spa Book, a Mancala game featuring a wood tray with glass, marble-sized beads, and the pocket-sized Everyday Calm book. I loved the mid-afternoon snack comprised of sliced fruit and juice nectars arranged on what looked like a bamboo leaf on an Asian-themed tray. Later that evening, we were greeted after returning from dinner to a turned-down bed, with chocolates, and also a tiny gift of a pair of fragrant cotton pads to be wet down and placed on the eyelids.

I’m sure Melinda, the spa director, must have gone to town just coming up with spa doodads to show how guests can extend the spa experience to their rooms. What fun! The experience was a complete treat for us. The only niggling annoyance were the gardeners and their blowers in the mid-morning and the lack of an in-room coffee or teapot to warm ourselves up.

THE SPA

It’s good to know that anyone can visit the spa, and you can be a day guest and use the premises to your heart’s content. Believe me, there is much to enjoy. Before or after your treatment you can use the exercise room with breathtaking views of the ocean or steam and shower to your heart’s delight. In this 16-room treatment center with an indoor co-ed bubbling spa and separate spas for men and women, there is enough space here to feel comfortable and relax without the pressure of being pushed out.

The women’s lounge features a fireplace, couches, fruit and a nice array of sweet and tangy elixirs you pump into cups and mix with water to make hot or cold drinks.

The menu of spa services at this 16,000-square-foot-oasis run from basic massages and facials to all-day packages. Expect to spend anywhere from $50 for a 30-minute Pumpkin Hydrotherapy Bath to $792 for a seven-hour spa package. Noteworthy is the signature 45-minute Pumpkin Body Peel and 45-minute Pumpkin and Brown Sugar Scrub ($100 each) , which brings a smile to all those who love coming to this town known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World.

THE RESTAURANT

The Ritz-Carlton’s main restaurant is Navio, an elegant 1,000 square-foot dining establishment that features fresh continental fare, with as many locally grown ingredients as possible. As in everything here at the Ritz, things are pricey, so be ready to spend at least $50 for lunch for two. Menu items feature petrole sole with spaghetti squash for $28 and ribeye steak with carrots, white mushrooms, sweet Italian peppers and roasted garlic for $32. You can do pretty well if you try the $35 per person lunch tasting menu where you get a choice of three items: appetizer, main course, and dessert.

On Sundays, I’m told, the hotel serves a killer $85 brunch buffet which features a sushi bar, dessert bar, dim sum, rack of lamb, seafood, and every imaginable salad and dish under the sun.
With stunning views, decadent spa, romantic spa rooms, and a handsome restaurant with a subtle nautical theme, this is a destination where memories are made.

****
Contact info:
Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay
One Miramontes Point Road
Half Moon Bay
650/712-7880
Spa: 650/712-7040
www.ritzcarlton.com

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