On the Scene: Half Moon Bay Gives Groups a Taste of the Good Life

September 19, 2019

For San Francisco residents, such as myself, the greatest getaway secret outside of the city is available about a half-hour drive south in the coastal area around Half Moon Bay.

This also holds true for meetings, which can access the bucolic area via the two major international airports in San Francisco and San Jose.

Once there, groups get a true taste of the San Francisco Bay Area good life, from fresh Dungeness crab in season to a growing winery and craft beer scene and farm-to-table agricultural bounty.

While there is no major convention center, meeting groups can find plenty of space options in a variety of settings, from small independent hotels and repurposed farms to luxe accommodations and meeting facilities at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.

It’s the stuff California dreams are made of, and I recently got to sample its flavors during a one-day familiarization trip to the “Coastside.”

Before joining the tour, I overnighted at The Beach House Hotel Half Moon Bay, a relaxing boutique seaside hotel offering 54 junior suites, three-quarters of which boast ocean views.

The suites feature a balcony that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, with the working Pillar Point Harbor—where locals go to get their crab right off the boat—just to the north.

Quiet is the operative word here, except for the occasional foghorn and the chatter of seabirds such as pelicans.

For meetings, The Beach House offers four small rooms, each with a fireplace adding to their tranquil ambience. The Terrace Patio and Rose Garden can accommodate groups up to 50 with 1,800 square feet of function space.

A big plus here, especially for an off-property lunch or dinner, is neighboring restaurant Sam’s Chowder House, whose marquee clam chowder results in cars parked bumper to bumper on each side of Highway 1 for overflow parking.

Half Moon Bay Meeting Facility Tour

Our group first congregated at Mavericks Event Center, named for the monster surf break that beckons the world’s top big-wave riders for one of the most prestigious—and dangerous—invitational surfing contests on the globe.

The event center is located about 10 minutes from downtown Half Moon Bay and sits on the water just north of Pillar Point, offering postcard-perfect views of the busy harbor filled with small fishing vessels. Its indoor ballroom can hold up to 140 but most groups will want to utilize its outdoor deck for a reception.

Groups can use its ample catering kitchen to bring in local caterers such as the locally owned and operated Sam’s Chowder House, It’s Italia and Pasta Moon.

Smaller groups such as executive meetings and team facilitation programs will find a bucolic setting at Miramar Farms, a rustic retreat set on 11 acres about a half-mile inland from the Pacific Ocean.

Miramar Farms, Credit: Tyler Davidson
Miramar Farms, Credit: Tyler Davidson

Miramar partners with nearby farms to serve farm-to-table organic fare that includes artisanal cheeses, local seafood and meats, and hand-crafted baked goods.

Indoor meeting venues here include a 634-square-foot barn, which offers an open floor plan and covered patio. A 200-square-foot sunroom is adjacent to the barn.

Miramar Farms hosts only one group at a time and can accommodate gatherings from 10 to 35, with dining options indoors, outdoors and in its garden.

The Luxe Life in Half Moon Bay

While properties such as The Beach House Half Moon Bay and 80-room Half Moon Bay Lodge, which offers 3,600 square feet of flexible meeting space in six rooms for events of up to 60 people, provide charming limited-service options, the top end of the accommodations spectrum is filled by The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.

The Ritz sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean like a Northern California castle, in a setting whose beauty is impossible to describe with words.

Drawing a large corporate and tech clientele from just over the hill in Silicon Valley, the 261-room luxe coastal retreat contains 35,000 square feet of refined indoor and outdoor meeting space, including the 7,100-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Ballroom—the largest on the Northern California coast, according to the hotel—and lush outdoor lawns overlooking the ocean.

Besides corporate meetings, the property is also a favorite for product launches, galas, executive retreats, incentives and teambuilding programs.

The resort’s three gas fire pits on The Ocean Terrace are a popular gathering spot for enjoying a glass of wine and watching the stunning sunset over the bluffs.

The Half Moon Bay Golf Links sits at the foot of the Ritz, with two par-72 championship courses designed by famed golf architect Arthur Hills.

The Old Course was originally designed in 1973 by Francis Duane and Arnold Palmer, and features cypress-lined fairways and an 18th hole overlooking the ocean.

The traditional Scottish design Ocean Course boasts views of the Pacific from every hole.

Wine Tasting and Glass Blowing

Our fam ended on a tasty note with wine tasting at La Nebbia Winery, which features a large outdoor area for group gatherings. La Nebbia offers food and wine pairing events, as well as formal wine-focused dinners and less-formal catered lunches, all featuring locally grown foods.

Half Moon Bay Glass Blowing Demonstration, Credit: Tyler Davidson
Half Moon Bay Glass Blowing Demonstration, Credit: Tyler Davidson

Groups can also avail themselves of La Nebbia’s bocce ball courts to try out the traditional Italian sport that is currently trending.

Next to La Nebbia, Half Moon Bay Art Glass will fire up attendees with hot-glass-blowing demonstrations and corporate events that allow each member to create a piece of glass art.

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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.