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Bringing Scotland to California with The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

General manager Mathieu Riviere tells us more.

By Mathieu Riviere

Despite being just 45 minutes south of San Francisco and perched on a secluded stretch of the Pacific, it’s often said that The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay looks like it’s straight from the Scottish coast – and the nightly bagpipe performance does little to deter the Caledonian comparisons. The ideal destination for a spa or golfing getaway, the 14.-5-acre hotel attracts a well-heeled crowd from the city as well as tourists eager to experience the natural beauty of Northern California. 

To celebrate its partnership with Elite Traveler, we spoke to the hotel’s general manager Mathieu Riviere.

What attracted you to your position at the hotel?

What drew me to the role of general manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay was a multifaceted attraction. First and foremost, it was the esteemed reputation of the organization’s philosophy embodied by its motto, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” This commitment to excellence resonates deeply with my own professional values, emphasizing not only unparalleled service but also a genuine dedication to enriching the lives of both guests and employees.

Furthermore, I was intrigued by the opportunity to collaborate with an exceptional team renowned for their expertise and passion. The prospect of fostering an environment where every individual is empowered to excel and contribute to collective success was truly inspiring.

Lastly, the breathtaking beauty of the resort itself, perfectly appointed along the stunning Half Moon Bay coastline, offered an irresistible allure. The chance to merge my leadership skills with such a remarkable setting, promising unforgettable experiences for guests and ladies and gentlemen alike, was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.

Tell us about a defining moment in your role that sticks out.

The most memorable and defining moments in my role as general manager are witnessing the promotion and growth of our ladies and gentlemen. Whether it is a leader advancing to a higher role or an associate stepping into a new position, these moments stand out as shining examples of our commitment to empowerment and embody one of our key service values: continually fostering the opportunity to learn and grow.

Seeing individuals within our organization seize opportunities for personal and professional development not only validates our culture of empowerment but also reaffirms our dedication to creating an environment where ladies and gentlemen feel supported and encouraged to reach their full potential. These moments serve as powerful reminders of the impact of our collective efforts in creating a workplace where growth and advancement are not just encouraged but celebrated.

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The Ritz-Carlton Suite offers seaside opulence, a wealth of natural light and chic neutral décor / ©The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

And what has been the hotel’s biggest challenge during your time there?

During my tenure with The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, one of our biggest challenges was earning the coveted Forbes Five-Star accolade. Through hard work and dedication, we achieved this award for the first time in 2019. It was an immense undertaking that required the relentless commitment of our entire team.

This year, we were honored to have earned the accolade for the fifth consecutive time, which is a testament to the unwavering dedication of our ladies and gentlemen to deliver unparalleled service at the highest level of luxury. This remarkable achievement reinvigorates our passion to continue innovating and raising the bar in the luxury hospitality sphere.

What is it about this suite that separates it from anything else on offer in the region?

With sweeping views overlooking the pristine Pacific coastline, it is often said that The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay looks straight out of Scotland. Nestled inside is our most luxurious suite, The Ritz-Carlton Coastal Suite, which offers seaside opulence, a wealth of natural light and chic neutral décor.

Unrivaled in the Half Moon Bay area, this 2,450-sq-ft residence has three bedrooms and can accommodate up to ten guests. The primary suite is particularly impressive with a four-poster bed and dramatic multi-aspect ocean views. Ensuite bathrooms feature Carrara marble and splashes of blue, creating a tranquil ambiance.

Coupled with our iconic Ritz-Carlton service standards, our resort features outstanding amenities such as championship golf links and Forbes Four-Star dining at Navio, our refined fine dining restaurant offering dynamic yet approachable contemporary cuisine that celebrates the bounty of the sea.

rtiz carlton half moon bay ritz carlton suite
The 2,450-sq-ft residence has three bedrooms and can accommodate up to ten guests / ©The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

What exciting plans do you have for the hotel that you can share with our readers?

Our highest mission is to enrich the lives of our guests by creating moments that enliven the vibrant colors of the coast, enabling all to leave better. We draw inspiration from local events and offerings, such as annual harvests and seasonal celebrations, to craft memorable and unique experiences. You’ll find that no matter what time of year you visit our resort, seasonal elements and local adventures are waiting to be uncovered.

This year, we are excited to focus on refreshing our resort to build upon the magnificence that our guests have come to expect from the destination, drawing inspiration from the rugged coastline, warm fire pits, and bagpipe sundown serenades. Guest rooms and suites are being updated to feature soft textured fabrics reminiscent of sand dunes, warm leather tones and modern plaid accents to seamlessly marry with the sophisticated elegance of our coastal perch.

Recently, we completed the addition of four brand-new pickleball courts at our Colony Club racquet sports facility. Guests can reserve our Pickleball on the Pacific package and delight in coast-side play accompanied by a customized picnic experience.

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