The Irvine Company Taps Seasoned Ritz-Carlton Executive to Lead the Resort at Pelican Hill

Ralph Grippo, formerly a senior executive at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company who has managed luxury resorts from California to China, is joining The Irvine Company as president of the resort division and managing director of The Resort at Pelican Hill™, the company announced today.

Grippo joins The Irvine Company Resort Properties as it prepares to open The Resort at Pelican Hill, an extraordinary destination overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Southern California’s Newport Coast®. The first component, Pelican Hill Golf Club®, will open this fall, followed by the bungalow rooms and suites, villas, restaurants, event center and spa, in fall 2008.

The Resort at Pelican Hill is a masterpiece in the making. Architecturally, it is inspired by the work of legendary Italian architect Andrea Palladio, famed for his classic country villas that emphasize harmony with the natural landscape. The resort also reflects the Renaissance-era ideal that the pursuit of perfection is an important calling.

“Detail by detail, The Resort at Pelican Hill will set a new standard for style,comfort and beauty,” said Clarence Barker, executive vice president at The Irvine Company. “Ralph is the right person to help us deliver on that promise. He has operated some of the finest hotels in the world with great skill, creativity and passion. He understands the singular vision we have for this destination, and what will be involved in making it a reality.”

Barker also cited the breadth of Grippo’s experience, from formulating a successful sales and marketing campaign to navigating the subtleties of international relations.

Grippo, 43, has worked in the luxury resort industry for more than 20 years, the last 17 of those with Ritz-Carlton. Most recently he served as vice president and area general manager for China. There he oversaw seven luxury hotels totaling approximately 2,600 rooms. As part of his duties, he also served as general manager of The Portman Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai, the company’s flagship in that country. Prior to that, Grippo served as vice president and area general manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, where he was responsible for the company’s hotels in Southern California and Hawaii.

During his career he has served in various other positions at Ritz-Carlton properties in Boston; Osaka, Japan; Marina del Rey; and New York. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management.

“The Irvine Company is one of the world’s premier real estate firms” Grippo said. “I look forward to joining the team and working to create a truly extraordinary resort destination.”

In his new role, Grippo will be responsible for the entire resort division, in addition to managing the new resort in Newport Coast. He starts this week.

In the coming months, Grippo will focus primarily on the opening of Pelican Hill Golf Club. The two courses were originally designed by Tom Fazio, who returned to re-perfect his work. Work is underway on a new clubhouse that will offer the ultimate in appointments and amenities. To reach the first tees, golfers will drive their carts across a Palladian-style bridge, which also will serve as a dramatic entrance to the resort. The club’s signature restaurant, Pelican Grill, will serve upscale California cuisine, including steaks and seafood, in an alfresco setting with expansive views of the fairways and ocean.

The Irvine Company Resort Properties, which is a division of The Irvine Company, owns and manages some of the finest resort and leisure destinations on the Newport Coast and in the City of Irvine. In addition to The Resort at Pelican Hill, the portfolio includes The Island Hotel Newport Beach™, the city’s landmark property and only AAA Five Diamond hotel; Hyatt Regency Irvine, the city’s only Four Diamond hotel; Shady Canyon® and Oak Creek® golf clubs in Irvine, both designed by Tom Fazio, and several of the finest marinas in Newport Harbor and Northern California.

For more information on The Resort at Pelican Hill, please go to