The Treehouse at The Ranch at Laguna Beach
The story in Southland Golf: www.southlandgolf.com/articles/work-386-laguna-resort.html
The Ranch at Laguna Beach is on the back nine of its plan to become the coolest nine-hole resort course in the country.
More than two years of renovation and construction will finally come to an end this summer (May/June) when project opens its remaining guest rooms, spa and the building housing its Harvest restaurant, front desk and banquet and ballroom spaces. The de facto Presidential Suite, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Treehouse – the remodeled former course owners’ home overlooking the No. 1 green – come online in Feb.
The Ranch debuted its first 62 hotel rooms last summer. While operating with those rooms, a patio to host breakfast and lunch, a pool, a pantry, a golf shop and the course, the resort has rocketed up the local rankings on Trip Advisor, reports Jim Tolbert, The RanchLB’s Director of Sales Marketing.
“We up to No. 5 (out of 22 resorts/hotels) in Laguna on Trip Advisor,” Tolbert said, “and that’s with only half the resorted completed during our preview period. Everything we’ve opened has been very well received.”
Tolbert said the original preview goal for The Ranch’s marketing was to expand its tourist draw to a 150-mile radius to complement its strong local following. He said the property has already exceeded that goal and gone global.
“We’re getting people from all over,” he said. “We’ve had people from Germany to Great Britain to Arizona, and we had many folks from the East Coast over the holidays.”
After making a turn off the Pacific Coast Highway in South Laguna and taking a quarter-mile drive east from the ocean, guests are greeted by a vast expanse of canyon. That’s the scenic corridor that surrounds the winding nine-hole course.
Tolbert says guests are awed by the unexpected beauty of the canyon first and the rooms, decorated in a coastal ranch and beach cottage theme with a lot of local flavor, such as artwork of Laguna, complete the dazzling first impression.
“They walk into the room, their mouths open and their eyes get wide,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing to watch peoples’ reaction to this place.”
The final plan to renovate the former Laguna Beach country club was approved by city officials in April of 2014. The clean-up and restoration of the course, built in the 1950s and suffering from neglect, was the first priority.
The course has enjoyed a strong local golf following for decades and caterers to all levels of players – and couples. (The course held a Valentine’s tournament in February.)
To foster a golf culture at the property, free 15- and 30-minute lessons are offered.
One of the beauties of having a nine-hole course, Tolbert said, is that it’s inviting to first-timers and plays fast at a time when time (slow play) is an issue at many courses nationwide.
“Golf is part of the culture of the place and the guest experience,” he said. “Our course isn’t intimidating so people should feel comfortable giving golf a try.”
The course is among the most walkable anywhere and offers a mix of par 3s and 4s and the discovery of wildlife, including deer midway through your round, along the way.
Besides golf, the resort has become a big dining draw for the food as well as the canyon views, Tolbert said. He notes that a number of menu ingredients will be grown on site at the Harvest Garden.
“It’s American-style cuisine using fresh California ingredients. We supplement the menu with things grown in the garden here on property,” he said. “Every dish is full of flavor and the items themselves are relatively simple but technically perfect.”
Tolbert praised the talents and creativity of chefs Camron Woods and Mary Catherine Woods.
Tolbert said the opening of the Harvest restaurant will only boost The RanchLB’s reputation as a local dining and social destination and make the resort even more formidable in the competitive local market.
“It’s going to be the coolest resort in Orange County for sure.”
View of the Treehouse from the course