The Resort at Pelican Hill is supposed to five star luxury, the best of the best. My very first assignment at Greenwich Magazine included a round up of ultra luxe destinations, and my editor placed Pelican Hill at the top of the list. In my imagination, this resort is as good as it gets.
Last week I made an appointment to get a massage and spend a blissful and pampered day in what the website describes as an oasis. Today was my big day to indulge in this paradise that “consistently receives the coveted Forbes Five Star Award.” Who wouldn’t be excited with a description like this?
“The Spa at Pelican Hill is a haven within a retreat—a place for wellness, for healing, and for inspiration in a setting of Pacific splendor. In an atmosphere of serene, classic refinement that pleases the eye and centers you from the moment you enter, you’ll find a culture dedicated to personalization. Rarely has a healing touch felt so perfectly attuned to the individual. Whatever stresses, aches or imbalances you’ve brought with you, The Spa at Pelican Hill is where they melt away.”
Rarely am I so disappointed in a five star property. The spa on the Disney cruise blows this place away. The spa phone went unanswered the several times I called this morning to confirm my appointment time, it just rang and rang into infinity, so I gave up and just drove over. The waiting room for treatments was meh, a little crowded and dark, not to such the serene classic refinement I was expecting. My massage was actually great, I was lucky and my therapist Glenn has been with the resort since they opened and he is truly talented. He was far and away the highlight of the day.
Post massage I was looking forward to the Aqua Collonades. Sounds so fancy, right? I had visions of the Ritz Paris Pool and underwater music. I mean, they are AQUA COLLONADES!! What I found instead was a crowded and dirty jacuzzi room. There were only a few chaise lounges not buried in used dirty towels. The jacuzzi itself was ringed by discarded champagne and water cups. I made a little nest in one of the few clean chairs, pulled out my book and assumed an attendant would tidy up shortly. An hour later the area was just as dirty as when I arrived. In the two hours I spent waiting for this “culture of personalization” I was never so much as given a cup of tea. My presence was not acknowledged even once. The locker room had the feel of a sorority room, trash cans overflowing and lots of busy chatter. Not what I was looking for.
Am I high maintenance I wondered? So I posted a photo and that question in the private Luxury Travel Moms Facebook group. These travelers know luxury, and are not shy with their opinions. Turns out the GM left a year ago and the place has never been the same. Another reader said “that place has nothing to offer, next time go to Montage.” Here are a few of the over 20 comments I got in return, so I’m not wrong, this place is not as fab as it appears to be, or maybe used to be. Which is sad because it could be amazing.
So if you were considering dropping a few hundred dollars for a day of pampering at The Resort at Pelican Hill I would tell you to save your money. The Balboa Bay Club is not rated as swankly, but I have had much better experiences there. I’ve been back several times since my first trip with Macie last year and Balboa Bay is consistently lovely, two relaxation rooms, great service and right on the water. Up next, The Montage, hoping it lives up to the hype.