Change of Scenery at Balboa Bay Resort

JILL WEINLEIN

After graduating from UCLA, JIll traveled the world looking for unique destinations. She’s been writing about her travels for almost 30 years in various publications.

She writes a weekly restaurant review for the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News. It’s inserted into the Los Angeles Times every Thursday and delivered to subscribers from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills to the Wilshire Corridor.

Change of Scenery at Balboa Bay Resort

BY JILL WEINLEIN

Walking through the Balboa Bay Resort with our masks on, we passed by a hallway displaying framed photos of celebrities and dignitaries that have enjoyed the amenities at the Balboa Bay Club. There were rows of photos of John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Jerry Seinfeld and others dining, boating and sitting by the marina.

The landmark club with more than 1,700 members, is a social haven for area residents, families, and friends. Opened in 1948 as a private yacht club, it touts a 130-slip marina, private beach, waterfront pools, private restaurant, a spa and fitness center. Members can enjoy staying in one of the 145 apartments on the Newport Beach Harbor.

In 2107, the new owners converted part of the club into a refreshed Balboa Bay Resort. They opened the hotel to the public to enjoy its Olympic-size swimming pool, beautiful waterfront dining options, and elegant guest rooms and luxury suites. All rooms offer private balconies with courtyard, swimming pool or exciting marina and bay views.

Each guestroom has been enhanced with varying shades of blue to match the theme of harbor outside. The upholstered headboard bed offers a pillow-top mattress, and luxury linens by Frette. Inside the refrigerator is a complimentary bottle of Chardonnay and two bottles of water to keep guests hydrated.

The courtyard view rooms offer swimming pool views, and the luxury suites range from 1,100 to 3,000 square feet with a private bedroom with a king bed, comfortable living room, and five fixture marble bathroom, and separate half bath. The Presidential Suite offers a dining room for twelve people and three private balconies looking out on the marina.

 

For non members and leisure travelers, they can also enjoy some of the club’s amenities including renting a Duffy boat, paddle board, kayak or bicycles to explore the largest boat-filled harbor in the West Coast.

After checking in, we donned bathing suits and walked over the the country club-like Balboa Bay Club to rent two kayaks to explore Newport Beach while paddling along the water. After two hours, we went back to room to shower for dinner at A & O Kitchen. The host led us to one of Newport Beach’s Top 10 pleasure cruise yachts, the striking blue and silver Bellissima owned by a local pharmaceutical tycoon.

The outdoor dining terrace offers fire pits and heaters to keep guests warm when the sun goes down. On Thursdays through Sundays there is live music or a DJ to elevate the ambiance.

Menu items include crispy crab cakes, a variety of salads, a regular cheeseburger and “faux” burger made with Beyond meat patty, house aioli, arugula, pickles, and melted white cheddar on a brioche bun. They make some of the most delicious crispy fries and housemade ketchup. The Scottish salmon is topped with a wild mushroom crust, and served with charred leeks and red cabbage. For dessert we had a Pina Colada panna cotta with dried pineapple and crunchy chocolate.

For casual and picnic dining, Blend off the lobby, offers freshly brewed coffee drinks, pastries, paninis, gelato, and grab ‘n go sandwiches. To-go orders can be placed for a picnic on a Duffy boat, perfect for cruising around the bay.

Known as one of the prettiest yacht and bay backdrops for weddings, the resort had hundreds of weddings and charity benefits before Covid-19 closed down the interior ballrooms. The management and staff got creative and set up a new outdoor wedding lawn to kick off the wedding season. They offered a giveaway contest for couples to have their dream wedding outside along the waterfront, after the couple’s original plans were uprooted by the pandemic. Couples were selected based on the resort’s hosted giveaway contest through Instagram. The winning couple received accommodations, and catering, amounting to $10,000. Balboa Bay Resort partnered with local vendors to help execute the romantic ceremony. Rebecca Calagna Events provided wedding planning services with floral and decorations, Heather Kennedy at  Dolled Up OC provided full hair and make-up, and Jim Kennedy Photography took keepsake photos.

For those who like to bring their dog on vacation, the resort welcomes one dog, a maximum of 35 pounds per room. The cost is a one-time, non-refundable fee of $150, however the fee is waived for service animals. Your pampered pooch will receive an in-room dog bed, set of bowls, a goodie bag full of canine fare, and toys.

The Balboa Bay Resort is an ideal change of scenery getaway and is currently offering a flexible cancellation policy. Reservations for stays through December 30, 2020 can be cancelled up to 24-hours in advance (with the exception of December 16th – 20th).

1221 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach (949) 645-5000.

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