For occasions and entertainment with a
Pacific vibe, he recommends SeaLegs at the
Beach, a new restaurant and bar that is also
a venue for live concerts and special events,
seating up to 1,200 people. Another favorite
is Duke’s Huntington Beach, a waterfront
restaurant named for surfing icon Duke Ka-hanamoku that offers such private dining
spaces as the Board Room adorned with
koa wood paneling, vintage surfboards and
windows framing views of the ocean.
Perhaps the venue that best encapsulates
Huntington Beach’s “Surf City USA” brand
is the International Surfing Museum, which
celebrates the history and lore of the sport.
Groups can gather for photo ops around
the world’s largest surfboard, a 42-foot long
board that has carried up to 66 people on
International Surfing Day.
Opportunities for teambuilding are another key attribute of meeting in Huntington Beach, Ehlenfeldt added.
“We have activities like sandcastle building, which is a fun way to get groups together,” he said. “We can arrange scavenger
hunts through town where there’s problem
solving combined with learning about our
surfing culture along the way. CSR and
sustainability activities are also big here.
People can do beach cleanup or work with
a conservancy that rehabilitates injured sea
lions and other marine creatures.”
Newport Beach, which boasts the largest
recreational boat harbor in the U.S., is
another Orange County destination that is
continually adding new options for groups.
Set to open by next March, the Lido
House, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collec-
tion hotel group, will open at the entrance
to the Balboa Island Peninsula. The luxury
boutique property will feature 4,000 square
feet of meeting space, a saltwater pool, an
event lawn and a rooftop bar. Its architec-
tural details will pay homage to the Balboa
Pavilion, a local landmark dating from 1906.
“It’s going to have a high-end residential
beach feel and will be a great choice for
small meetings,” said Michelle Donohue, se-
nior vice president of sales for Visit Newport
Beach. “It’s part of a whole new neighbor-
hood that includes the Lido Marina Village.”
Changes are also in the works for the
former Fairmont Newport Beach, which
was sold last year and temporarily re-
named The Duke Hotel Newport Beach.
“By next March it will be rebranded as a
Marriott Renaissance hotel and the whole
ambience and vibe will be totally different,”
Donohue said. “They’re doing a complete
renovation of the guest rooms and meeting
and event space.”
A newly available off-site option for
meetings and events is the Newport
Beach Country Club.
“Visit Newport recently joined the club
as a member so now we can offer it as a
venue to our customers,” Donohue said.
“It’s right at the epicenter of Newport near
Fashion Island and has fantastic meeting
space, including a gorgeous ballroom with
terraces and views of the harbor on one
side and the golf course on the other.”
Since the early 20th century, artists have
been drawn to Laguna Beach, with its eight
miles of coastline studded with secluded
coves, tide pools and sea cliffs. The city
is home to over 70 art galleries as well as
the Laguna Art Museum and such annual
events as Festival of the Arts, Art-A-Fair and
Sawdust Art Festival.
Its newest resort choice is the 97-room
Ranch at Laguna Beach, which opened last
year in a secluded canyon just off the Pacific Coast Highway near Aliso Beach. Geared
for small meeting and incentive groups and
available for buyouts, the resort features
8,000 square feet of meeting space, a golf
course, spa, beach activities and a historic
Among event spaces on the 83-acre
property is Scout Camp, a former 1930s
summer camp set in a eucalyptus grove,
and Sage Patio, a terrace with a backdrop
of stone pines and canyon walls. Accom-
modations include guest rooms and suites
with private patios as well as two-story
cottages with two bedrooms.
The Montage Laguna Beach resort is
slated to begin a property-wide renovation
this winter that will refresh the 250 guest
rooms, main lobby and The Loft restaurant.
The renovation will be done in stages and
all areas of the hotel will remain accessible.
South of Laguna Beach, Dana Point is
known known for its recreational harbor
and such properties as The Ritz-Carlton,
Laguna Niguel and Monarch Beach Resort,
which completed a $40 million expansion
and renovation last year. New elements include a new pool area with cabanas and the
Miraval Life in Balance Spa, which offers
70 signature treatments, a spa cafe and 24
treatment rooms. The resort will open a new
Bourbon Steak restaurant in February operated by celebrity chef Michael Mina.
VISIT DANA POINT
VISIT HUNTINGTON BEACH
VISIT LAGUNA BEACH
VISIT NEWPORT BEACH
More ORANGE COUNTY...
DUKE’S HUNTING TON BEACH