The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, California

Sometimes, there's a view at a hotel that stops you in your tracks and forces you to focus on where you are.  I think of the pagoda at the Banyan Tree Lijiang in China or my plunge pool at the Four Seasons Resort in Costa Rica. At the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, this view shows off Southern California in all its glory.

This terrace was one of the most blissfully perfect locations for a drink that I've seen.

And I would be okay having four-hour lunches with a view like this.

Even better for me now, the resort is pet-friendly! Great pool areas too. 

A few more "Holy S, is that Photoshopped!?" pictures:

Beyond the grand views and location in Laguna Niguel (six miles from Laguna Beach), the rooms unfortunately felt uninspired, which is obvious in this photo of the living area of a suite. I believe I read recently that they are giving the rooms a facelift soon, which will better match the indoors with the outdoor beauty. 

There's a beautiful spa and my favorite part was this view from the fitness center.