If you want to indulge — and have the cash to do it — you can find some distinctive offerings by beach hotels that are getting creative.
Don’t want to haul umbrellas and chairs to the sand? Don’t worry, a beach butler will do it for you.
Too much trouble to claim a fire ring and sit by it all day? If you’re staying at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa in Southern California, you can have the hotel set up a personalized fire ring for you and your friends, complete with a s’mores kit and firewood.
Sure, going to the beach can be a simple, cheap outing if you just want to lie down on a towel and relax. But if you want to spoil yourself — and have the cash to do it — you can find some distinctive offerings by beach hotels that are getting creative in an effort to woo customers as summer approaches.
Miriam Gin of Tustin, Calif., showed up on a recent day at a blogger meet-up in Laguna Beach at the Pacific Edge beach bungalows, where five oceanfront rooms have been transformed into event spaces for everything from company team-building outings to bachelor parties to baby and bridal showers. Sometimes, the spaces are rented by families who simply want a place to lounge if they need a break from the sand.
Most Read Life Stories
- The best dinner-for-two deal in Seattle: a bottle of wine and 2 pasta entrees for $35
- Off the grid: Exploring the San Juans' most remote islands VIEW
- Bad Travelers: A harrowing boat crossing to Victoria leads to a lesson — trust the professionals
- 12 new bars in Seattle and on the Eastside, from a spot in The Spheres to one on a rooftop
- After a career spent inhabiting other characters, Sally Field finds her own voice in her new book, 'In Pieces'
“I was just telling the girls, ‘I don’t want to work,’” said Gin, who writes a fashion and beauty blog called simplyxclassic.com. “I just want to sip Champagne and enjoy the view.”
The hotel decided a few years ago to transform the oceanfront rooms into bungalows with wooden decks looking out to the Pacific Ocean. The hotel also teamed with local brands to give each space its own personality. The Billabong room, for example, has a surfy feel splashed with ocean art, while the motor sports brand Fox room is more edgy with gray walls, leather couches, animal skin rugs and a table made of tires.
Each room has a flat-screen TV, a bar area and a private bathroom with a shower to rinse away sand. While the rooms provide customers easy access to the ocean just steps away, they’re on hotel property and don’t prevent public access to the area.
Pacific Edge General Manager Thomas Lee said the hotel needed meeting space, so managers had to think creatively about how to offer something that would set it apart from other hotels.
“A lot of hotels have beach access, but they’re not right on the beach like us,” he said. “Having that, it’s a very unique advantage for us.”
Demand is hot for the beach bungalows, which during summer months can cost about $700 for the space, and another $650 minimum for food and beverage service. They have about 90 percent occupancy rate during summer, and are already booked for big days like the Fourth of July.
The Montage Laguna Beach offers what the hotel describes as a “luxury coastal picnic experience.” This includes a private helicopter tour of the county coastline, an afternoon picnic (catered by a hotel chef) on a local bluff, and an end-of-the-day private dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Studio. Cost starts at $2,845 per couple.
Not enough? Maybe sign up for the Montage’s National Parks Centennial Experience. You get private transportation to a jeep or ATV tour in Death Valley, a horseback riding adventure in Joshua Tree or snorkeling in the Channel Islands. Once back at the hotel, you get a spa treatment and then a private dinner. Price tag? $9,695.
If you’re looking to just hit the beach, some hotels hope to make it easier for their guests. Enter the beach butlers offered by the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.
“They will set you up on the beach with chairs, towels, umbrella and waters. They check in with you throughout the day. … If you want something to eat, they will pick it up at the hotel and bring it down to you,” said spokeswoman Deanne French.
“And at the end of the day, you get up and come back to the hotel and they clean everything up.”
There’s also a beach shuttle that takes guests up and down the steep hill at Salt Creek Beach.
The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa has a similar offering, called Sand Service, that is free to guests who might want umbrellas or chairs set out. The hotel also offers a bonfire that includes a s’mores kit, hot chocolate, chairs, blanket and firewood. The hotel sets up the fire ring, so guests don’t have to stick by a pit all day to claim it.
But it will cost you: $200 for a small group, and up to $300 for a group of 21-30 people.
“You can grab your own ring,” said Peter Rice, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. “But we can do it for you.”
The hotel also offers free surf lessons in their pool — so guests don’t even need to cross the bridge over Pacific Coast Highway to the ocean to learn how to stand up on a surfboard.
But if you do want a real surf adventure, Nomads Hotel in San Clemente has created a service found in other parts of the world but, until now, lacking in Orange County.
Nomads was created by diver Jeff Gourley and surf photographer Sean Rowland, who have spent their lives traveling to exotic places around the world. They found a void here for surf travelers.
Guests can sign up for an all-inclusive surf package starting at $799 a week for a dorm-style room, three meals a day and two guided surf sessions a day.
They venture out everywhere from Lower Trestles — considered one of the best surf breaks in the country — to remote areas accessible only by boat, like surf breaks off Camp Pendleton.
“All you need to do is show up here,” said Rowland.
“You can show up with your backpack full of boardshorts and T-shirts. We’ll give you three meals a day, rent you a wetsuit and surfboard, and take you surfing.”
If you go
$1,350: Minimum price for an 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. stay in a beach bungalow at the Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach, including food and beverages and concierge service for up to 10 people per room.
$799: A weeklong surf package offered by Nomads Hotel in San Clemente, includes lodging, food and two surf trips a day.
$2,845: The per-couple price for a “luxury coastal picnic experience,” which includes a helicopter tour of the coast, a catered picnic and a private dinner at the Montage in Laguna Beach.
$200: Personalized fire rings at Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa for up to 10 people, includes fire ring, s’mores package and firewood.
$0: Unlimited use of a towel, a book and a cooler you bring yourself.