When it comes to describing The Resort at Pelican Hill, Ralph Grippo, president of Irvine Company Resort Properties, doesn’t waste time beating around the bush.
“It is not an overstatement to say this is, quite possibly, the most extraordinary place that may be built in our lifetime,” he says. “The luxury segment of the market has become very cluttered. But Pelican Hill goes beyond that—because of where it is built, how it has been built and designed, and the service concepts we’re putting into place.”
Luxuriously Appointed Villas and Bungalows
At the core of the extraordinary guest experience at the resort are collections of luxuriously appointed villas and bungalow suites.
In a pioneering move, the resort is offering the 128 villas and 204 bungalow suites for rent on a daily basis—for the weekend, the month or even longer. No timeshare or vacation club agreements. No use-it-or-lose-it ownership stakes. Just check in and enjoy. The type of accommodations found at Pelican Hill simply can’t be found elsewhere in the luxury hotel world—unless a guest is willing to make a long-term and sizable financial commitment.
“The days where you had to buy a timeshare or belong to some other membership club for a resort experience like this are over,” Grippo says. “I’ve been in luxury hospitality for 25 years and I can honestly say there is nothing like it in the world.”
Classical Architectural Touches Make Each Dwelling Unique
The villas and bungalows are situated on the hillside like the private residences found in a seaside village in Italy. Unique to each dwelling are classical architectural elements such as antiqued roof tiles, a variety of door patterns, different colors and textures of plaster on the walls. This achievement involved considerable trial-and-error, including a mock-up yard where materials and techniques were tested before being applied.
“In the older Italian villages you would think the buildings are stone,” said Andrew Skurman, the San Francisco architect involved in creating the interiors in many of the resort’s public spaces. “But they’re plastered over in a mixture that includes the dust of the original stone, so it gives the appearance of being stone. And our plasters evoke that feeling as well.”
The overarching philosophy behind the design of the villas in particular was to give them the look and feel of private residences. At 847 square feet, even the smallest of the one-story bungalows are twice the size of a typical luxury hotel room. The villas range in size up to four bedrooms and 3,581 square feet, and are designed as lushly appointed private homes.
“We really want there to be a residential feel to it, not like a regular hotel room,” says Oliver Rooskens, the general manager of the villas. “We want to welcome our guests to the finest home they can imagine.”
No Detail Has Been Spared
The interior design of the dwellings spares no detail. From wood-beam ceilings, to state-of-the-art television and sound systems, to limestone fireplaces, to luxurious baths, there isn’t a trace of the kind of value-engineering that makes even the highest-end hotels feel impersonal. The villas also feature garages and kitchens with top-end appliances such as professional Wolf ovens and sub-zero refrigeration that are stocked with complimentary food and beverages.
Still, all of this luxury amounts to little until it is brought to life by the very heart of the resort: The staff, the guests and the guest experience.
It Starts With The Staff
“What you learn in a luxury hotel it’s all about the people. And it starts with our staff,” says Thierry Grandsire, general manager of the resort.
The service and individualized attention at Pelican Hill will begin long before the guests arrive. Soon after booking a reservation, villa guests will be contacted by one of the resort’s “travel designers” who collects information on every preference from musical taste to pillows to breakfast cereal to morning newspapers from around the world. The designer can arrange for monogrammed bathrobes or private photos to be framed and displayed in the guests’ home-away-from home.
The arrival experience, itself, will begin with entry into the resort’s open, motor court patterned after a grand public plaza in Italy. Bungalow guests will be greeted in a grand, domed lobby with a rotunda as high as it is wide. Villa guests will be able to move directly to their residence for private check-in.
A Butler Greeting
At their lodging, villa guests will be greeted by a butler with a warm or cool towel, scented with lavender and lemon, Rooskens says. They’ll relax on any of nine types of specialty pillows, have a bath drawn by the butler, request a private dinner in their villa, or begin to explore the resort outside via scenic footpath. Bungalow guests will have their choice of dining for every mood or moment, from authentic Northern Italian cuisine in a rustic-chic setting to casual grills and an espresso bar, or attentive room service, along with a granite wet bar with refrigerator.
Beauty. Luxury. Service: Those are the three qualities that will define The Resort at Pelican Hill for the ages.
“We’re in this long term,” says resort president Grippo. “We know what we’re crafting. We’re not crafting something to make money in three years and sell it to somebody else. It’s about how this resort will be positioned for generations to come.”