When the valley gets too hot it’s time to hit the beach!
There are no family-friendly beachfront hotels nearby – so our answer – head south.
The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach offers a cool, complete getaway just a couple hours from home. The hotel sits on a rise above PCH, giving you an expansive view of the Pacific Ocean.
Our fabulous room looked towards the beach over the Hyatt courtyard with its long water fountain, giving us a cool vista after our overheated valley trek.
The large room offered a king-sized bed, plus a pull-out couch for those with kids. It was elegant but family friendly, with both a shower and a tub in the enormous bath.
What to do first? The resort has two pools, one designed for children with two water slides and a special “mermaid” swim class, where kids don mermaid tails and learn to kick like Ariel.
For adults the Hyatt has cabana rentals at both pools. Those with children can keep an eye on them. Those without can relax at the other pool with full cabana service from Mankota’s Grill. Their menu includes salads, sandwiches, burgers and adult beverages, including a coconut margarita, Paloma Haze or Paradise Punch. You have to try one!
Adults can also relax and unwind at the hotel’s Pacific Waters Spa, a 20,000-square-foot elegant Spanish estate-themed escape, offering massages, skin therapies, body wraps, scrubs, facials and more, using organic elements extracted from the sea and earth. I indulged in a “Seed to Skin” massage, a luxurious warm candle massage, rich in nourishing oils and natural extracts of vanilla, rose, and precious oud wood. You can also use the steam, sauna, private whirlpools or waterfall showers before or after your treatment. I was so mellow after an amazing massage I continued the good vibes and chilled in the spa’s beautiful private outdoor garden with a complimentary glass of champagne.
Totally relaxed it was time for an afternoon cocktail at Watertable, whose theme of rustic and refined shows in both the decor and the offerings.
The dark wood, chef-driven bar offers a nightly selection of shared plates, wines and artisanal cocktails. You can eat at the bar, a communal farm table or in the adjacent library – a cozy space to sip a cocktail or curl up with a glass of wine and a book; a great place to enjoy the hotel’s “bar jars” of little snacks like roasted almonds, artichoke goat cheese spread or marinated olives.
We enjoyed some wine while nibbling on oysters, a shared plate of charred octopus and empanadas, and yes – a small charcuterie plate – after all, we were on vacation!
After our afternoon repast we took a short walk across PCH to the beach. Huntington Beach is, after all, known as “surf city” and we dug our toes in the sand and watched the waves.
It was hard to believe we left 100+ temps behind at home while we lounged in beach chairs and caught the sunset.
After dark the Hyatt team lights up the bonfires and gets ready for guests to enjoy s’mores on the beach. A personal s’mores “assistant” sets up the fire, chairs, blankets and a total s’mores station. I’m telling you it’s not just for kids!
We retired to our room sated and sleepy, eager for our next day’s adventures.
There’s plenty to do at the hotel, and just around it. We took a leisurely walk just down the block to Pacific City center for some window shopping.
Then a quick lunch at Pete’s back at the hotel, a more casual restaurant which leans on the surf and sand culture, with fish tacos, sushi and beach-inspired cocktails.
Then it was an afternoon sail with Prince Charter, cruising the Huntington Beach harbor for a few hours and marveling at the big homes – and even bigger yachts docked alongside.
All the fresh sea air made us, believe it or not, hungry again, so we refreshed in our room, tempted to take a nap, but good food called and we wandered downstairs for dinner. Watertable offers a fabulous menu and exceptional wines. We shared starters of grilled baby lamb chops and pan seared scallops, while sipping an excellent bottle of Textbook cab from Napa.
Their wine list is extensive and offers a variety of varietals, from France, Italy, Spain and New Zealand, and most heavily from California.
For our mains I had the petite filet, and Glen the salmon. There are several steak and seafood items, including a lobster tail, venison strip loin and 32 oz Tomahawk.
It was a perfect evening to dine under the stars alongside a bubbling fountain. Great food and great atmosphere made for a lovely meal.
I must mention that all restaurants also have a children’s menu, though we saw more kids at breakfast and lunch than at dinner, as they tended to eat poolside or want something more casual from Tower 15 Pizzeria or Shubee’s Pool Bar and Cafe.
Watertable also offers breakfast, and a huge breakfast buffet. But since this was a totally indulgent vacation, I treated myself to room service and breakfast in bed.
I had to try the hotel’s famous lemon blueberry pancakes with honeycomb butter. Amazing, though I had been tempted by the Nutella waffle… but the pancakes hit the spot and I relaxed and channel-surfed while watching the real surf off the balcony.
Deciding not to expend too much more energy, it was pool time. Lazing in the cabana we took our last day at leisure, reading, relaxing, jumping in and out of the pool and nibbling on snacks and salads from Mankota’s.
Check out time came too early, but we packed up and headed home to the heat, vowing to come back and cool down later this summer! The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach is located at 21500 Pacific Coast Highway. Call (714) 698-1234 for information and reservations.