Last Updated:
February 12, 2024

Review: Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay is easily one of the nicest Ritz Carlton's around the world. Here's an in-depth review of what made it so special.

Intro

When considering premier resort destinations in the United States, luxurious spots like Amangiri, The Four Seasons Maui, and the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay often come to mind. This past year, I had an expiring 85,000 point Free Night Certificate through my Ritz-Carlton credit card from Chase. These certificates provide a complimentary night's stay up to a specified point value without deducting from your account balance. Marriott issues these certificates with various tiers (30,000, 50,000, and 85,000 points) and one-year expiration dates.

With my certificate nearing expiration and unable to extend its validity, my girlfriend and I opted for a brief getaway to the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay from our base in the Bay Area.

Check-In & Resort

Main Entryway (Lunar New Years Setup)
Lobby Area & Check In Desk

Upon arriving, we were greeted by the security guard at the entrance gatehouse, situated about a quarter mile from the resort itself. Once at the resort, the valet welcomed us and offered assistance with our bags. Since we were only staying one night, we declined and carried our own overnight bags into the lobby.

At check-in, we learned of a $65 nightly resort fee, plus a $68 valet parking charge per night (self-parking was unfortunately not an option). The resort fee granted access to the following amenities:

  • Complementary glass of wine for each person at check in (and each time we went to the front desk we were offered wine or water)
  • Wifi & business center access
  • Local Phone Calls
  • Fitness Center Access
  • Unlimited Bottled Water & Towels
  • Access to the Colony Club's Facilities (Pool, Whirlpool, Sauna, Tennis Courts, Pickleball Courts, including racquets and ball machine, group exercise classes, water aerobics equipment
  • Golf club rentals for use on the practice greens
  • Bicycle rentals to explore the costal trail

If you want to read more about the amenities and add-on's at the resort, we were provided with a QR code at check-in that redirected to this link.

The resort comprises two sections: the main building and the guest houses, situated about 200 yards apart. The more secluded guest houses lie adjacent to the Colony Club recreation area, and some guests report successfully self-parking there to avoid the $70 valet fee. In the main building, the lobby occupies the third floor, with access to the coastal trail and outdoor areas on the first two floors.

A fire motif was immediately evident upon venturing outside, where dozens of mini fire pits dotted the lawn - perfect for post-golf drinks while watching golfers finish their round on the neighboring Half Moon Bay Golf Links course.

Outdoor Patio Area

The resort sits just behind the Palisades, mere hundreds of yards from the cliff's edge and adjoining the scenic Coastal Trail. Though strikingly beautiful, especially for sunset strolls, the trail's steep hills likely impede accessibility for those with impaired mobility. The paved path follows the contours of the cliffs edge. Every evening, a bagpiper perambulates the resort's lawn serenading guests during the sunset hour.

Sunset on the Costal Trail (Featuring the Bagpiper)

The Room

The morning of our stay, I checked the Marriott App to find out that we'd been upgraded from the most basic "Deluxe Room, Guest room, 1 King or 2 Doubles", to a "Terrace Fire Pit, Guest room, 1 King or 2 Doubles, Partial Golf view, Ground floor" on account of my Platinum Elite status. At check-in they mentioned this was the highest upgrade they had without me opting to use one of my Nightly Upgrade Awards (NUAs -- formerly Suite Night Awards).

Terrace Fire Pit, Guest room, 1 King or 2 Doubles, Partial Golf view, Ground floor
Complimentary Welcome Wine Fireside

True to its designation, our ground floor room featured an outdoor patio outfitted with a gas fireplace and two Adirondack chairs, ideal for sipping wine or roasting marshmallows. Just beyond the patio, we enjoyed clear sight-lines of the golf course's 18th hole and, by angling for the optimal vantage point, partial views of the beach and coastline. The patio's fire pit and relaxed seating provided an inviting space to unwind outdoors and take in the surroundings.

Making S'mores On Our Porch

The bathroom featured Dyptique Philosykos amenities and included a bathtub, shower, toilet room, and vanity in a cozy floorplan. Though smaller than some Ritz-Carlton bathrooms, it was fully functional. One minor inconvenience was the standard shower head rather than a rainfall fixture, situated at about 5'10" - proving annoyingly low for my 6'4" height. Overall the bathroom offered the requisite amenities, if slightly cramped, to refresh and prepare for the day.

Tips For Your Stay

We traveled during February's green season in Northern California - though rain is more common, the sunny days are perfectly cool with bright blue skies. With more flexibility on timing, ideal weather can likely be found.

For those lucky enough to have an in-room fireplace, the Ritz-Carlton offers indulgent s'mores kits for $47 with 4 included. However, a stop at the nearby Safeway off Highway 92 coming from the Bay Area yields a DIY kit under $10.

The Club Lounge was closed for renovations during our stay, but we inquired if there was any substitution. The front desk graciously sent a complimentary bottle of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and treats to enjoy - a thoughtful gesture since we paid with points, rendering Club Level certificates from our Ritz-Carlton Reserve credit card inapplicable.

We enjoyed some lunch and nosh outside at the outdoor restaurant. While we expected it to be overpriced (which is was), the food was just mediocre. On our way out, we stopped at Dad's Lunchonette for a burger, which we enjoyed much more than any of the F&B we ate at the resort.

Booking

With an expiring 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificate from my Ritz Carlton credit card, I aimed to maximize its use around the Bay Area. After searching AwardTravel, two optimal Ritz properties approached the 85,000 point threshold - San Francisco at 83,000 points or Half Moon Bay. Opting to splurge, I supplemented my certificate with 9,000 additional points for a night in Half Moon Bay (FNCs can be 'topped up' with up to 15,000 points if the room rate is more expensive than the certificate you have).

Marriott Bonvoy points can be earned through co-branded Marriott credit cards or transferred from American Express, Chase, and Bilt at a ratio of 1:1.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, this Ritz-Carlton outing ranks as the finest resort experience I've enjoyed in the United States. The superlative service and magnificent grounds exceeded all expectations. I only wish we could have extended our stay beyond the single complimentary night, obtained through points for zero out of pocket costs, aside from mandatory fees totaling around $125.

For others looking to redeem points at this premier Northern California retreat, be sure to use AwardTravel's Hotel Search tool to find the optimal room rates (using both points & cash) and insider tips. Though brief, our Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay getaway proved an idyllic escape, unlocked through strategic points planning. I cannot recommend this remarkable resort highly enough for a lavish yet accessible luxury stay.

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Intro

When considering premier resort destinations in the United States, luxurious spots like Amangiri, The Four Seasons Maui, and the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay often come to mind. This past year, I had an expiring 85,000 point Free Night Certificate through my Ritz-Carlton credit card from Chase. These certificates provide a complimentary night's stay up to a specified point value without deducting from your account balance. Marriott issues these certificates with various tiers (30,000, 50,000, and 85,000 points) and one-year expiration dates.

With my certificate nearing expiration and unable to extend its validity, my girlfriend and I opted for a brief getaway to the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay from our base in the Bay Area.

Check-In & Resort

Main Entryway (Lunar New Years Setup)
Lobby Area & Check In Desk

Upon arriving, we were greeted by the security guard at the entrance gatehouse, situated about a quarter mile from the resort itself. Once at the resort, the valet welcomed us and offered assistance with our bags. Since we were only staying one night, we declined and carried our own overnight bags into the lobby.

At check-in, we learned of a $65 nightly resort fee, plus a $68 valet parking charge per night (self-parking was unfortunately not an option). The resort fee granted access to the following amenities:

  • Complementary glass of wine for each person at check in (and each time we went to the front desk we were offered wine or water)
  • Wifi & business center access
  • Local Phone Calls
  • Fitness Center Access
  • Unlimited Bottled Water & Towels
  • Access to the Colony Club's Facilities (Pool, Whirlpool, Sauna, Tennis Courts, Pickleball Courts, including racquets and ball machine, group exercise classes, water aerobics equipment
  • Golf club rentals for use on the practice greens
  • Bicycle rentals to explore the costal trail

If you want to read more about the amenities and add-on's at the resort, we were provided with a QR code at check-in that redirected to this link.

The resort comprises two sections: the main building and the guest houses, situated about 200 yards apart. The more secluded guest houses lie adjacent to the Colony Club recreation area, and some guests report successfully self-parking there to avoid the $70 valet fee. In the main building, the lobby occupies the third floor, with access to the coastal trail and outdoor areas on the first two floors.

A fire motif was immediately evident upon venturing outside, where dozens of mini fire pits dotted the lawn - perfect for post-golf drinks while watching golfers finish their round on the neighboring Half Moon Bay Golf Links course.

Outdoor Patio Area

The resort sits just behind the Palisades, mere hundreds of yards from the cliff's edge and adjoining the scenic Coastal Trail. Though strikingly beautiful, especially for sunset strolls, the trail's steep hills likely impede accessibility for those with impaired mobility. The paved path follows the contours of the cliffs edge. Every evening, a bagpiper perambulates the resort's lawn serenading guests during the sunset hour.

Sunset on the Costal Trail (Featuring the Bagpiper)

The Room

The morning of our stay, I checked the Marriott App to find out that we'd been upgraded from the most basic "Deluxe Room, Guest room, 1 King or 2 Doubles", to a "Terrace Fire Pit, Guest room, 1 King or 2 Doubles, Partial Golf view, Ground floor" on account of my Platinum Elite status. At check-in they mentioned this was the highest upgrade they had without me opting to use one of my Nightly Upgrade Awards (NUAs -- formerly Suite Night Awards).

Terrace Fire Pit, Guest room, 1 King or 2 Doubles, Partial Golf view, Ground floor
Complimentary Welcome Wine Fireside

True to its designation, our ground floor room featured an outdoor patio outfitted with a gas fireplace and two Adirondack chairs, ideal for sipping wine or roasting marshmallows. Just beyond the patio, we enjoyed clear sight-lines of the golf course's 18th hole and, by angling for the optimal vantage point, partial views of the beach and coastline. The patio's fire pit and relaxed seating provided an inviting space to unwind outdoors and take in the surroundings.

Making S'mores On Our Porch

The bathroom featured Dyptique Philosykos amenities and included a bathtub, shower, toilet room, and vanity in a cozy floorplan. Though smaller than some Ritz-Carlton bathrooms, it was fully functional. One minor inconvenience was the standard shower head rather than a rainfall fixture, situated at about 5'10" - proving annoyingly low for my 6'4" height. Overall the bathroom offered the requisite amenities, if slightly cramped, to refresh and prepare for the day.

Tips For Your Stay

We traveled during February's green season in Northern California - though rain is more common, the sunny days are perfectly cool with bright blue skies. With more flexibility on timing, ideal weather can likely be found.

For those lucky enough to have an in-room fireplace, the Ritz-Carlton offers indulgent s'mores kits for $47 with 4 included. However, a stop at the nearby Safeway off Highway 92 coming from the Bay Area yields a DIY kit under $10.

The Club Lounge was closed for renovations during our stay, but we inquired if there was any substitution. The front desk graciously sent a complimentary bottle of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and treats to enjoy - a thoughtful gesture since we paid with points, rendering Club Level certificates from our Ritz-Carlton Reserve credit card inapplicable.

We enjoyed some lunch and nosh outside at the outdoor restaurant. While we expected it to be overpriced (which is was), the food was just mediocre. On our way out, we stopped at Dad's Lunchonette for a burger, which we enjoyed much more than any of the F&B we ate at the resort.

Booking

With an expiring 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Certificate from my Ritz Carlton credit card, I aimed to maximize its use around the Bay Area. After searching AwardTravel, two optimal Ritz properties approached the 85,000 point threshold - San Francisco at 83,000 points or Half Moon Bay. Opting to splurge, I supplemented my certificate with 9,000 additional points for a night in Half Moon Bay (FNCs can be 'topped up' with up to 15,000 points if the room rate is more expensive than the certificate you have).

Marriott Bonvoy points can be earned through co-branded Marriott credit cards or transferred from American Express, Chase, and Bilt at a ratio of 1:1.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, this Ritz-Carlton outing ranks as the finest resort experience I've enjoyed in the United States. The superlative service and magnificent grounds exceeded all expectations. I only wish we could have extended our stay beyond the single complimentary night, obtained through points for zero out of pocket costs, aside from mandatory fees totaling around $125.

For others looking to redeem points at this premier Northern California retreat, be sure to use AwardTravel's Hotel Search tool to find the optimal room rates (using both points & cash) and insider tips. Though brief, our Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay getaway proved an idyllic escape, unlocked through strategic points planning. I cannot recommend this remarkable resort highly enough for a lavish yet accessible luxury stay.

Find Points Hotels in 

Half Moon Bay, CA

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