The Resort at Pelican Hill

    Do not be alarmed if you suddenly feel smaller upon arriving at the Resort at Pelican Hill (949.467.6800, www.pelicanhill.com), a 504-acre golf retreat that opened in Newport Coast, Calif., in November. "Those are Palladio principles," says Ralph Grippo, president of Irvine Company Resort Properties, about the attributes and diminishing effect of Pelican Hill’s Andrea Palladio–inspired architecture. "The lengths and widths are all proportionate, similar to the great plazas you find in Italy."

    Pelican Hill has at least one trait that distinguishes it from any Florentine piazza: Stand underneath the 28-foot-high rotunda in the resort’s lobby, and you encounter an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. Golfers have enjoyed a similar vista since the early 1990s, when two Tom Fazio–designed courses opened at Pelican Hill. Golf-course greens foreground the deep Pacific blues from just about any vantage at the hotel—the 204 bungalows, the 128 villas, the circular Coliseum Pool, and the restaurant Andrea, named for the architect who inspired it all. "We knew we could build beautiful buildings," says Grippo, "but in 100 years everyone will still want to stare at the ocean." ($695–$4,200)

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