Gluten-Free at Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

I recently had a chance to stay at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel in Southern California. It was the host hotel of the Mom 2.0 Summit. I know what you’re asking yourself. No, I am not a mom. However, it’s a great conference and I really love working with the brands that are sponsors at the conference. But it’s also a great way to stay at amazing hotels at discounted rates.

Mom 2.0 Summit at Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
I stayed at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel at the discounted rate for the conference – because, let’s face it, magazine editors aren’t super rich and I probably could not have stayed there that many nights on my own dime. However, after staying there, I would definitely pay a higher price for the room. The property was about the most beautiful I’ve ever been to – and you know, I could eat – so that’s a plus.

I’ve known about this property for years. When I was in college, I visited orange county pretty often, and one of my friends lived in Irvine. She once took me to Salt Creek Beach. While on the most gorgeous beach in the world (I’m biased, I looked up to see a striking hotel property. It turns out it was the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. Ever since then (I won’t tell you how long, but it has been a long time since I graduated college), I’ve been dreaming about this property.

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel Sunset
I mean, c’mon, a private entrance into Salt Creek Beach? Yes please. I did get to escape the conference for a few hours to sit on the beach that I once sat on many years ago. It was pretty amazing.

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
But let’s get back to the conference – and more importantly¬†– what they fed us. Now, at first, it was a little sketchy. While Mom 2.0 doesn’t assure us that they can accommodate¬†celiac disease, they told us to contact the hotel directly. This is where it went wrong. My girlfriend Michelle called and talked to customer service and I reached out to their Twitter account. We were both told that they could not take care of us safely. Um – well, that put quite a dent in our plans and gave me extra anxiety. We were also really confused because we’ve been to many hotels over our years, and most will say that they’ll at least try really hard to assure safe meals.

But we went back to Mom 2.0 and they gave us a contact in the hotel’s actual management. She reached out to me and we talked. She assured me that they actually could work hard to provide us safe food, and we just needed to connect with the culinary team. Very soon after that I received a phone call. A phone call from the chef at Ritz Carlton. The chef called me. Now as a celiac, how often does that happen to you? We talked about the menu, and how we could navigate getting safe meals at every dining break. We were told to connect with Chef Matt (the guy below) at every meal. Every meal, he brought me and Michelle safe food. We had burgers/sandwiches the first night on Udi’s buns with the safe sides.

But that wasn’t all. We had their pastry chef (Chef Theresa – right photo below) brought out safe dessert for us – that was also dairy-free!

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel Chefs + Safe Gluten-Free Meals
The following meals went really well. We had a variety of options for each meal, and met with Chef Matt about all of them. The pastry chef told us about a food allergic child who had her birthday at Ritz Carlton because she knows that she can safely dine here with their staff. I couldn’t be happier than a personal meeting with chef before any meal! During one of the non-meal nights, I had a chance to explore the other options at Ritz Carlton. I had a lot of work to do in my room, so I didn’t want to sit down anywhere. I went to the rooftop restaurant and got some to-go ceviche without chips. It was so tasty! Just look at this face!

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel Ceviche
I was able to eat, even without the direction of their chef! I also went to one of their “quick service” cafes and ordered an ahi tuna bowl on rice, made from scratch from one of the other chefs in the back – all because I was craving sushi!

I feel pretty safe at Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel and wish I had a few extra days here on my own outside the conference in order to explore their other restaurants. However, I had to haul butt, visit SoCal bakeries with Michelle from My Gluten Free Kitchen, and get to the Celiac Disease Foundation Conference and Expo in Pasadena!

Definitely put the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel on your must-visit list. Connect with them in advance and set up a meeting with the chef to talk about your meals during your stay. And back your swimsuit and some SPF because that beach is going to be incredible. I hope you visit and make good memories there like I did!

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