Living Now

Sun, Sand, and Surf City

Need a quick refreshing getaway? The quaint town of Huntington Beach offers expanses of white sand beaches, aqua water and spectacular sunsets

By CANDICE MERRILL
Published: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | 3:51 PM

 

A short vacation was needed, somewhere to decompress for a couple of days. But where? Why not close-by Huntington Beach? I’m originally from Long Beach so I know about HB, that funky town to the south with quaint little beach houses, a pier and all-that-is surfing. Well, that was yesterday. Huntington Beach
is all grown up now.

Don’t get me wrong, the funky beach charm still abounds – but now there is a veneer of corporate sophistication to the funk. We checked into the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort not knowing what to expect – California beach town? Mediterranean resort?

The hotel is sumptuous without being snooty, a place where you can feel indulged while at the same time feel comfortable bringing your kids or dog (we’ll get to that later). In short, a tubular place for a quick weekend stay or a longer vacation.

Speaking of kids, the hotel is across PCH from the beach and offers what I call (seriously) “beach amenities.” The hotel’s beachfront services are run by “Toes on the Nose,” which bills itself as “waterfront adventure.” S’mores on the beach? Why not? A beach cabana and a picnic lunch? Just ask and it will be yours. They offer surf lessons, Beach Cruiser Bicycles, sand toys, boogie boards, and wetsuits. Manager Charlos Bentley will even light up a barbeque pit for you(enthusiastically, too). There’s anything you could want for a beach stay without having to bring home part of the beach with you. 

Back at the hotel, practically every nook has a breathtaking ocean panorama – even the pool. Located in the heart of the hotel, the pool is a heated lagoon-type body of water (it’s huge) with a well-trained, cheerful hotel staff to see to your every whim. Bright tropical drinks of every color and flavor are on offer. I tried a couple, a pomegranate margarita (muy bueno) and Sunset on the Beach (totally rad).

When it comes to food have a casual lunch or dinner by the pool or try the Waterfront’s restaurant Shades. Using local, seasonal ingredients Chef Jeff Littlefield has created a menu that focuses on freshness and flavor. The patio of the restaurant overlooks the pool and has a fire pit with seating around it for a casual meal. Tables inside create a more sophisticated atmosphere. As with everything at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, the view of the ocean is spectacular, as is the food.

Crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, scallops, and artisanal cheeses are a few appetizer choices to tempt you. Kobe burgers, salmon, lamb, and pork cutlets add punch to the main course offerings. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. I had each meal, and they were all inventive, delicious and eye-catching. Fine wines complete the picture with wine tastings on Thursday nights from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.; you can enjoy special regional and international wines while listening to live music for only $15.

Room service is always an option and on my last morning at the hotel I indulged myself with a breakfast of eggs benedict and fresh coffee which I enjoyed on my balcony overlooking the ocean. The service was prompt (about 15 minutes from my phone call) and the food was hot and delicious. Good room service is the hallmark of any fine hotel and the Hilton Waterfront passed the test.

All the rooms in the hotel have a balcony with an ocean view. The corner suites include a dining room table with panoramic views of the Pacific, a sitting room, one bedroom and large bathroom with glass-doored luxury shower. There are rooms with king-sized beds and sitting areas and rooms that accommodate Fido. That’s right – you can bring man’s best friend to the hotel for an additional $75.00 a day. There is a maximum weight limit of 75 pounds so no Mastiffs please.

Every room serves up creature comforts and modern-day necessities like high definition flat screen T.V., high speed internet access, coffee makers (an absolute must), and the best feature of them all, the “Serenity Bed”. I have a terrible time sleeping away from home, but the Hilton’s “Serenity Bed” had me sawing logs all night. The bed beckons with a pillow-top mattress with high thread count sheets, down pillows and a down duvet. 

The light-up floors are a really neat accessory. In the middle of the night when you are disoriented from being in strange surroundings a discrete blue light comes on as your feet hit the carpet, lighting your way to your destination.

The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort is close enough for a quick weekend getaway, yet far enough for a relaxing vacation. Whether you’re into beach activities like volleyball or surfing or you just like to sit and watch the waves roll in while the sun sets over the Huntington Beach pier, a trip to the Hilton Waterfront should not be missed.

The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort is located at 21100 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach. For reservations and more information call (626) 714-845-8000 or log onto www.waterfrontresort.hilton.com.

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