Before we got married, my husband and I weren’t exactly the vacationing types. Between (all of) our jobs, there was a lot of work to be done. In 2012 though, I was on the brink of burning out in a really bad way. Working seven days week with only a couple weekends off had finally caught up to me. I convinced Tom that we needed a Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getaway to unwind, relax, and focus on each other for a few days. (Newsflash: it worked!) When we decided to postpone our honeymoon due to work, I immediately booked our mini-moon at the Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton. I was determined that we were going to unplug for a couple days after getting married (and I’m so glad we did).
Upon our recommendation, my parents ended up spending my mom’s birthday (and one of their last vacations together) here, and even my dad, who wasn’t exactly a California fan at all, LOVED it. They would send us pictures sitting on their balcony, enjoying the firepits, playing golf, and drinking wine – proving that it was also the perfect romantic getaway for them.
Finally, one of my sweet friends booked her babymoon at the property. They loved it just as much as we do. When she couldn’t get comfortable for a pre-natal massage, they surprised her with a basket of spa goodies that they could enjoy in the comfort of their own room.
In short, this hotel has lived up to so lofty expectations that I can’t help but recommend it as the perfect romantic getaway, and whenever I get stressed out, I imagine being back there.
Getting to the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
The quickest way to get to Half Moon Bay is to fly into SFO and rent a car, though I have also flown into SJC because it was cheaper. Choose whichever works for you; it’s not that big of a difference. For both of our trips, I booked the Treat You package, which included club access and a one-bedroom suite. There are some Ritz Carlton properties where I don’t think club access is worth it, but the Half Moon Bay property is absolutely worth it.
A few days before checking in, I was contacted by the concierge asking if I had any questions or requests. I let them know that it was our first trip in over a few years and that we were simply hoping to relax.
When we arrived around 1:00, the hotel was buzzing with people arriving and departing. I didn’t expect our room to be ready so early, and the front desk agent confirmed that it wasn’t, but if I would wait 5 minutes in the lounge, our room would be ready. I told him that we would just run to the store, but he insisted on accompanying me to the car with the bell staff, and true to his word, they escorted us right up to Room 660.
The suite was very large, looked over the beautiful courtyard, and out to the ocean. In true Ritz Carlton service, there was champagne on ice, chocolate covered strawberries, and a personalized note wishing us a fantastic stay. When we returned from dinner that evening, the bed was covered with flower petals, the lights were dimmed, music was playing softly, and it smelled heavenly. Our Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getaway was off to a fantastic start!
Room Note: We loved being able to open our windows and listen to the waves crash against the shore. The bagpipes were a nice touch each evening, too. There were weddings in the courtyard both times we visited – absolutely stunning backdrop! We were never bothered by any sounds, and I had no problem sleeping.
What Makes the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Special
The Ritz Carlton brand truly prides itself on non-intrusive service, and the Half Moon Bay property does this extremely well. (The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain is another gem in this area.) Here are a few of the things that made our romantic getaway completely stress-free.
Housekeeping never bothered us, particularly when DND was on the door. Have you ever stayed at those hotels where they keep calling you to ask if you want your room serviced or keep stopping by to do turndown service? I appreciate the gesture, but it tends to stress me out. Housekeeping seemed to know when we were out, even if we were just running down to the lounge for breakfast, and they would service the room quickly during those breaks. Turndown service was non-invasive as well.
As I mentioned before, the club lounge access was a nice perk, and I wouldn’t stay here without it! We had breakfast in the lounge every morning, grabbed snacks in the afternoon, and usually had dessert back at the hotel in the evening. (They have the best chocolate chip cookies. I might miss those the most.) It was nice to be able to grab bottled water before heading out each day. One evening, I received a free chair massage in the lounge. I fell in love with the scent of the spa products, and ended up purchasing bath bombs for my evening soaks (though the Bvulgari amenities are perfectly fine, too)!
The valet staff were always quick to help with ideas on where to go, directions if we needed them, and offer bottle water when we headed out. They were quick at their jobs and a fantastic resource when we weren’t sure what we wanted to do.
We didn’t swim or play golf on our trips, but we did check out all the facilities. The indoor pool was full of kids over Labor Day weekend, and the water was warm enough for me. The golf course is lovely, and there’s a public course nearby. My dad played both and enjoyed both. My husband and I are walkers, so we spent a lot of time walking the resort grounds. It’s truly a beautiful place and the slow pace agrees with me.
Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton Romantic Getaway – What to Do / Where to Go / What to Know
As mentioned earlier, I had emailed with Lauren in Guest Relations prior to our stay. She recommended a number of activities for us, and we took her up on several of them. Each one was perfect for what we wanted from our trip.
Monterey Bay Aquarium – We made a day trip here because of fond memories from my childhood. It’s about a 2 hour drive in traffic, but it leads you through some of the most beautiful coastline.
Pebble Beach / 17 – Mile Drive – If you’re going to make the trip down to Monterey, you might as well keep heading south and take one of the most scenic drives in the country.
Marin Headlands / Golden Gate Bridge – I’m an engineer. I wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Approximately 45-minutes away, this is a great place to do some hiking and see the bridge.
The weather is generally cool and the coast gets foggy. It adds to the ambiance, and it is part of the reason I choose this location. It’s particularly nice after a sweltering Texas summer. There is a Safeway 10 minutes from the hotel, but with the lounge access, we didn’t need anything we bought.
Many Half Moon Bay restaurants are closed on Sunday evening, so do your research ahead of time. It can definitely work out, but you don’t want to get hangry driving around downtown. We’ve also been known to have Chinese delivered to the hotel when we don’t want to get out. Sadly, my favorite restaurant Tortellini Originali is closed. This was the least pretentious dining establishment ever, but the rose pasta sauce was out of this world. Please come back, Tortellini Originali!
When we visited on our honeymoon, I bought a vase from Light and Art. It’s absolutely gorgeous and the owner is so kind. Again, it’s one of those things that you have to research and plan for, but wandering the shops in the downtown area is fun.
Overall, a Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton romantic getaway is about reconnecting and recharging with your partner. The slow pace of life and the beauty of the coast is perfect for taking a breather. It’s not a glamorous Southern California resort; it’s almost like being in Scotland or Ireland with the long flight or the passport. It’s pumpkin festivals, art walks, and spending time outdoors (but there’s also that fantastic spa). It’s comfortable, casual, and cool.
Oh, and the hotel has been renovated recently, so I think a return trip is in order, yeah?