Having grown up in Huntington Beach next door, I’ve driven by the Balboa Bay Club and Resort more times than I can count. I knew it was a private club but I had no idea that non-members could actually book rooms on the resort side, which has been open since 2003. Well, it’s possible and I’d recommend it, especially during the holidays.

The Only Waterfront Property In Newport Beach

From San Diego, with no traffic, expect the drive to take approximately 90 minutes. Take the I-5 and either opt for the scenic route via Highway 1 (this will add on a bit of time), or take the 55 freeway into Newport Beach. From the 55 freeway, exit Highway 1 and take a left–you’ll be in front of the resort in a minute or two. There are a handful of restaurants within walking distance, though we saw taxis waiting in front of the resort, too. It’s my favorite spot in Newport Beach and one that I remember well from childhood.

Our Room

Balboa Bay Club Room

We enjoyed a Deluxe Bay-View Room with two queen beds (on the third floor) that felt very open and spacious. Lounging on the balcony proved to be a favorite pastime with the spectacular view of multi-million dollar yachts just below us. Some of these yachts were lit up for the holidays at night. Watching boats cruise the bay at night was an unexpected treat and even more of a reason to book a room during this time of year.

Balboa Bay Club Boats

The bathroom was quite spacious with a separate tub, two sinks, shower and Tarocco amenities. We had a hallway, nice closet space, in-room coffee and tea (a HUGE bonus in my book), Evian water, and extremely plush, comfortable beds. The TV had shows and movies on demand. WiFi is $12.95 per day, fast and we experienced zero connectivity issues. Turndown service is available by request.

If you are traveling with children who need to go to bed early, you must let the property know in advance that night-time noise is a concern. This way, they can reserve you a room that isn’t on top of the bar or any banquet areas that may host late-night events.

A room like ours seems to average around $350 per night, with standard king and queens around $220 per night. Given the area and amenities, I think this is reasonable, though I haven’t made an advanced study of it. However, prices change based on season and availability so do check. The resort offers 160 rooms and suites.

Resort Dining

Balboa Bay Club First Cabin

First Cabin Restaurant: Like an elegant dining room on a cruise ship, this restaurant specializes in seasonal ingredients, seafood, steaks and boasts an impressive wine list. They offer a kids menu to color with crayons along with Wikki Stix. We ate both breakfast and dinner here, and I’d recommend the fitness breakfast as well as the yellow fin tuna tartar at dinner.

Duke’s Place: Named after John Wayne, Duke’s Place overlooks the bay. Relax with a specialty cocktails, live music, lounge food and even breakfast.

In-Room Dining:  For the times when you feel like kicking up your feet, in-room dining is available all day, from breakfast to late night. Our breakfast arrived in about 20 minutes, which is quite fast!

Grog Shop: Let’s just say that kids will love it in the Grog Shop. Not only is there a huge supply of Dippin’ Dots, but plenty of candy, Naked smoothies, juice, water, snacks and more are available for purchase.

Balboa Bay Club Grog Shop

Apples are on offer at the front desk along with ice cold lemon water in a nearby dispenser, available all day.

Other Resort Amenities

Balboa Bay Club Resort Pool

Relax at the spa, burn vacation calories a the fitness center, shop or get your hair done at the salon. Book a Duffy boat ride (seats up to 12 people) to cruise the bay, swim laps in the pool or grab a kayak and get paddling.

Balboa Bay Club and Resort During the Holidays

Balboa Bay Club Holidays

Aside from the festive boats in the bay, the entire resort is on holiday overload. There are trees, lights, poinsettias and giant gingerbread houses everywhere. If that doesn’t motivate you to get your decor up, I’m not sure what will.

Balboa Bay Club Holiday DecorFestive is an understatement. The lights are amazing.

Final Thoughts

We spend a lot of time in Orange County now so I’m sure we’ll be back to Balboa Bay Club and Resort. It’s a good sign when a 5-year-old, well-traveled fashionista opts to skip shopping at South Coast Plaza in order to relax back at the hotel. She enjoyed her stay and I did too.

*Thanks to the Balboa Bay Club and Resort for hosting us!
**Top photo credit: Balboa Bay Club and Resort

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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