Every yacht owner knows that Newport Beach has one of the most scenic harbors on the USA’s West Coast. The swanky stretch of Pacific Coast Highway known as Mariner’s Mile is not only home to multi-million-dollar yachts, it’s also the waterfront home of the prestigious Balboa Bay Club and Balboa Bay Resort, the only Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond hotel in town. It’s not unusual for out-of-towners to cruise in for the night to take advantage of the Southern California resort’s water-front guestrooms, spa, pool, wellness program, and exceptional dining at A+O Restaurant and bar, where they can watch sailboats glide by, super yachts docking and departing, and sunsets capping picture-perfect days.
Boating, of course, is also a favorite pastime of many four-legged sailors, so it’s not surprising that dogs (salty or otherwise) are invited to stay and play at Balboa Bay Resort, along their owners. Lucky pups arrive at the resort nearly every day, making it an excellent choice for my first vacation with my own scruffy beach-loving terrier, Ziggy, a foster fail that we adopted during the Covid lockdown. But he’d have to earn his kibble during our bleisure getaway. I put him to work by having him give Balboa Bay Resort’s new Pampered Pooch program a try – a job he took seriously, and seriously loved.
Upon arrival he was greeted by with grins and pets from the friendly valet who took the keys of our 2022 Lincoln Aviator hybrid SUV and parked it at a GE charging station in the premiere spot next to a silver Porsche Taycan. Seeing a bevy of other valets in matching uniforms, Ziggy assumed they’d all be equally friendly, so he trotted over to give them hello kisses. Doggone it, he was right. They doted over him like he had just won Best of Show.
Leashed up, Ziggy then strutted into the lobby like he owned the place – a notion that was seconded by the attentive check-in staffer who was expecting him. “Welcome, Ziggy,” he grinned, recognizing him from his headshot that the concierge team had previously requested during booking. “We have the red carpet ready and waiting for you, so here’s your bow tie!” Sure enough, the lobby has a mini red carpet set up, complete with a Hollywood-styled “Paws and Repeat” backdrop for a flashy Instagram moment. A blackboard sign announced his arrival: “Welcome VIPs (Very Important Pets) Ziggy.”
The hoopla was just a sample of the resort’s new Pampered Pooch Package, where fur babies are treated like celebrities alongside their paw-rents at Newport Beach’s most exclusive waterfront resort. The package includes the lobby photo station, a bow tie or bandana, branded accessories like a portable bedroll and bone-shaped poop-bag dispenser, and the option of a custom photoshoot add-on, including transportation, to Dogma Pet Portraits in nearby Costa Mesa.
“At Balboa Bay Resort, we know the dog is often the star of the family. Now you can give them the celebrity treatment when you travel,” said Francine Slosser, Director of Marketing. “This package includes everything your furry friend needs to feel welcome and pampered.” It gave us all the good feels knowing that a portion of the proceeds will benefit foster-based animal rescue Lovebugs Rescue.
A former shelter dog himself, Ziggy somehow caught on to the spirit of the idea and soon felt at home, chilling in the lobby, sunbathing by the pool, going on walkies around the landscaped grounds, and birdwatching from our guestroom’s bay-front balcony. And, of course, smothering the laughing bellhop with kisses when he brought our bags. “I got excited when I knocked and heard him bark,” Colin said. “Meeting dog visitors is my favorite part of the job.” It turns out that Newport Beach is one of the most dog-friendly towns in SoCal, so we had too many good patio restaurants to choose from, including A + O downstairs, and, across the street, acclaimed chef Nancy Silverton’s love letter to California ingredients, Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach. Balboa Bay also tempts you to never leave the resort by offering in-room dining including a dogs-only menu.
Ziggy’s favorite part of our Balboa Bay stay? It’s hard to say, but after testing his new dog mat for several naps, I’d say it was when he decided that the luxurious king bed was more to his liking. Unfortunately, he didn’t let me know that until midnight, waking me up by leaping onto my stomach, then snuggling up beside me on the fluffy duvet. Balboa Bay Resort’s newest fan contently snored in my ear for the rest of the night, sleeping like a very pampered pooch, indeed.
Based in Los Angeles, Vicki Arkoff is Editor at Large for Pursuitist and a founding editor for Holiday Goddess, the online destination for chic women travelers from the editors of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Conde Nast Traveler, and BBC. Her travel and lifestyle reports can also be been seen in Atlas Obscura, The Awesomer, DaySpa, The Chicago Tribune, CNN Travel, JustLuxe, Lonely Planet, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Toronto Star, WellSpa 360, WestJet Magazine, Where Traveler, Where Guestbook, Yahoo News, and dozens more. She's co-author of the bestselling Holiday Goddess books (HarperCollins and iTunes) including 'The Holiday Goddess Guide to Paris, London, New York, Rome,' a travel Top 10 staple. As editor, Vicki's other books include 'Sinatra' (DK), 'Inside Mad' (Time-Life) and 'Virgin Los Angeles' (Virgin Books). She is one of the Usual Gang of Idiots for MAD Magazine, an entertainment reporter (Daily Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, CREEM), and authorized biographer for pop culture icons from the Beach Boys to Beastie Boys, Paul McCartney to MC Hammer.