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What you get at a $525 per night hotel (Or: A Girl Could Get Used to This)

May 6, 2013


First off, I never thought I’d find myself in a hotel that has a basic room rate of $525. I have written before about how I love a cheap suburban motel that offers free breakfast because I was raised by my dad to be a skinflint of the highest order.

When I saw the Mom 2.0 Summit was at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel this year with a special conference rate of less than half the rack rate, I got out my credit card and signed up.

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel lobby

I got myself a roommate, too (Schmutzie!), so I ended up paying about what I would have paid for a noisy motel on the highway somewhere, and instead got to stay, for once, at a real five-star resort.

If you don’t make a habit of staying at the Ritz (and I had certainly never imagined that I would), you might be wondering what $525 per night (at least – the suites go up to $2,750) buys you. Well, let me tell you in my own super special helpful bullet point list.

$525 per night gets you:

  • A property so beautiful that it causes a weird little ache behind your breastbone, because it is too much beauty for your eyes to ever absorb all at once, so your heart has to expand to take it all in. When I checked in, the desk had this giant travel poster-type photo behind it. Except it wasn’t a travel poster and it wasn’t a photo. It was a giant screen with a live feed of the beach view from the hotel itself, complete with glassy green waves dotted with surfers.

Isabel Kallman and Georgia Getz relaxing on the lawn furniture

  • A staff that will really do everything they can to make you happy. No really. Really. If you’re used to customer service in the everyday world, prepare to have your socks knocked off – and then washed, pressed, and returned to you wrapped in tissue paper tied with a bow, because that’s just how they would do it there. If you ask someone for directions, they will walk you where you need to go. The staff will call you by name. They will clean up your room not once, but twice per day. They will hand you towels, pick up after you, make messes disappear and ensure you are happier than you have been since your mom wrapped you in a sun-warmed towel after you got out of a cold swimming pool when you were four. (If you asked, they would probably even do that, too, but please don’t. It’s kinda creepy. And their pool is heated to 88 degrees, so you’ll be nice and toasty when you get out anyway).
  • A staff that is way better looking than you. No insult, but they are. The person who brings your mojito or iced tea will be as beautiful as the location, which is stunning. Memorize their names, because someday when they pick up an Oscar, you can muse “And to think, he was the towel boy at the Ritz when I met him.”
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    The pool area. One of them. Sigh.

    • Food that doesn’t taste like hotel food. It’s expensive, but it also makes your tastebuds stand up and applaud. We had little trays of sea salt chocolate cookies delivered to our rooms one night that had Schmutzie and me counting them so that we didn’t have to have a fistfight over the last one. Even the coffee bar has pastries made by a real pastry chef (Opera Cake!), and fabulous steel-cut oatmeal and Peet’s Coffee. It’s $5 per cup, but you get free refills all day long.


  • An experience you won’t ever forget, unless you’re some kind of crazy rich person who does this sort of thing all the time. This is a Destination resort with the capital D. If you want to make someone you love feel very special, a stay at a hotel like this is a good way to do it.

Gym with a view

The only problem with the Ritz (as I now like to call it, since we’re on a first-name basis) is that is is almost TOO good. Every corner of the place is so beautiful that you want to chop yourself up like a starfish so you can be everywhere at once. The pool area is lush, tropical and fully staffed, so that next icy drink is just 2 minutes away. The beds are so soft and comfy that you feel like you’re floating on the wings of tiny angels. The third-floor outdoor bar has a view that would have made Ansel Adams weep. AND YOU WANT TO BE EVERYWHERE AT ONCE BUT YOU CAN’T, ARGH! That’s a good problem to have.

Sunset at the outdoor bar

Two thumbs up. The Hilton Garden Inn will never be quite the same.

  1. May 6, 2013 19:18

    I feel a little weird about how much I miss it. I can’t believe I got to stay there, actually. Unreal.

  2. Miss Britt permalink
    May 6, 2013 19:26

    I’ve tried to explain this to people so many times. No one does it like the Ritz.

    My daughter says it’s “like Disney World, except you don’t even need to wear a button for everyone to know your name.”

  3. May 6, 2013 19:51

    And I’m so glad I got to share it with you!

    My favourite thing was how they took my exploded suitcase, folded everything, and placed it all squarely back inside. They pack better than I do.

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