Puttin’ on the Ritz (Orange County)


Ritz Carlton Resort, Laguna Niguel

My husband was out-of-town on Sunday so my sister and I had a ‘girl’s’ day. We started with a bang by having breakfast at the Ritz Carlton Resort, something that I’ve wanted to do forever, but that my husband’s refused to spend the money on.

As Michelle and I walked through the posh hotel lobby in our dog-walking attire, I worried that we’d be snubbed or ignored because we didn’t look like guests. To the hotel’s credit, however; every employee we passed by graciously greeted us. And when we got to the oceanfront Raya restaurant, we were quickly seated at a choice table with a stunning view.


The lobby of the Ritz Carlton Resort


We sat one of the tables right up against the window. The view was breathtaking!

Although there were few vegan items on the menu, I was assured that they would happily accommodate my dietary needs. I’m not a big breakfast eater, however; so I just ordered a bowl of fruit and a soy mocha. My sister, who’s not vegan, got their Cali omelette.

While we waited for our food, we chatted and watched the surfers. At one point, my sister took off her jacket and as she was handing it to me to put on the chair next to me, an employee ran over and said, “Let me get that for you miss.” When he left, we laughed and I said, “This must be how the 2% get treated all the time.”

When our food came, my sister’s omelette looked incredible. It was huge, bursting with veggies and topped with grilled avocado. I didn’t take a photo because my sister dug into it right away and besides, it wasn’t vegan. In between bites of food, Michelle kept telling me how wonderful her meal was. My fruit, although not as impressive as my sister’s breakfast, was also fresh and delicious.

While eating, the topic of my blog came up and Michelle told me that she didn’t like my animal rights posts. This made me think how just over a year ago I would have felt the same way. How did I go from someone like that to someone who blogs about animal rights? I suppose that’s a topic for another post.

After breakfast we got my dog out of the car and walked by the beach.


Beach by the Ritz Carlton

So now I’m curious, do you not like my animal rights posts too?

All photos are courtesy of Ritz Carlton website.

About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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34 Responses to Puttin’ on the Ritz (Orange County)

  1. Greg says:

    Beautiful pics!

  2. Maryanne says:

    I wouldn’t like if someone told me my animal rights posts were “annoying.” I can think of things that are a million times more annoying — like people smoking, people being mean to each other, people who text and drive, etc. 😉

    Great pictures!

    • Hey Maryanne! Thanks so much for your comment – I appreciate it!!! I suppose if someone I didn’t know told me that my animal rights posts were annoying I’d be annoyed, but my sister and I are close and we share like that with each other. And she was really just joking around with me (although I’m sure she meant what she said). She’s actually been my biggest blog supporter, so how can I get upset with her.

    • Yea, sisters are great and my sis is one of the best!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Animal rights posts don’t bother me unless they’re the kind that put down people who aren’t vegan. I don’t generally read animals rights posts anyway; like everyone I follow, I just skip what doesn’t interest me.

    My town exists because of the dairies and farms/ranches surrounding it. In all my years here, I’ve never seen a cow mistreated, so it’s hard for me to be against dairies, at least. If I saw abuse, that’d be a different story, but I never have, and my family has worked with the dairies for 20 years.

    All animals deserve a good quality of life though.

    • Hi Stephanie! Thank you for your perspective – I appreciate it! I remember when I was a kid, my class went on a field trip to a dairy and it certainly didn’t appear that the cows were being mistreated there either. Like you, I wouldn’t have a problem with dairies if the cows were not mistreated. I still wouldn’t eat dairy products, however; because I don’t believe they are healthful. From what I’ve read, however; dairies are moving more and more to factory farming. Although I can only go by what I’ve read, I do believe that cows are mistreated on factory farms. This is why I have a problem with dairies. It sounds like the dairies and farms in your community are not using the factory farm model, and I respect that. Here is a link about factory-style dairies in case you’re interested. http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/dairy/

      • Stephanie says:

        Our dairies are family owned, many going back several generations. None are owned by “big business” and they all employ a lot of people in this area.

        They do use machines to milk the cows, but they certainly don’t cut off their tails, and they are milked on a regular schedule to prevent their udders from getting so full that they get infections. The cows even know when it’s their time to be milked, and line up outside the milking barn all on their own. They’re certainly not dumb animals!

        They live on large tracts of land, with access to fresh water and food. They are really just left to do what cows do. Any cow showing signs of illness is separated from the herd and treated as needed (I use to be the lab tech that tested every single milk sample in this region for antibiotics, as a positive sample meant it was rejected, all 60,000+ lbs of it – they now test for way more than that).

        I think there is definitely a big difference between local, family-owned dairies, and ones that are owned by “big business.” I mean, I’d never seen or heard of a cow losing it’s tail for any reason other than natural causes (i.e. infection or something).

    • It’s nice to know that there are still some family dairies out there that take good care of their animals. It sounds like this is the norm in your area and that’s wonderful to hear. I’ve read that on factory farms animals are typically confined in a small area and rarely, if ever, get to go outside. I’m happy to hear that the dairies in your community respect cows and allow them to enjoy their lives. I wish that all dairies were like the ones in your area! But, in order to make more profit, big companies cut corners in ways that end up harming animals. I agree with you that there is a HUGE difference between family owned dairies and those that are “big business” owned.

  4. PM says:

    Not at all – keep ’em coming!

    All of your posts are informative, insightful, entertaining or a combo of all three. Thoughts on food AND food for thought. You find a nice balance.

    • Hey there cowgirl – it’s been a long time! As always, I really appreciate your comments! So what have you been up to lately? I still haven’t tried the LA restaurants you told me about, but I plan to one of these days.

      • PM says:

        I’m headed up north in a couple of weeks. My parents are flying out from TX and we’re going to
        visit my brother. He and his wife had their first baby at the end of February and we’re all excited to meet the little bugger. 🙂

        Also planning on eating at The Plant Cafe to try their beet-based burger that I’ve heard so much about (http://www.theplantcafe.com/location/embarcadero) and watching the Bay Bridge light show (http://thebaylights.org/). It’s going to be more of a family/baby trip so I won’t be able to hit up all the places I’m eager to try, but that’s okay. I may be able to sneak my wine-loving mom to Encuentro wine bar (http://www.encuentrooakland.com/) if I’m lucky. And I plan on creating some luck! 😉

        It will actually be Veg Week in Oakland while I’m up there and my favorite podcaster, Colleen Patrick Goudreau, will be speaking, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to steal a car to see her since my brother is actually in Martinez. We’ll see.

        Other than looking forward to my trip, I’m just keepin’ on keepin’ on.

        I haven’t been to the Ritz in Laguna Niguel, but I have been to another and you are so right about the impeccable service. I may just have to take a drive down there this summer and enjoy a nice meal since the view is so spectacular. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Congratulations on being a new auntie! I don’t have any kiddo’s of my own, but I love being an auntie – it’s fun! Sounds like you have a great trip planned, especially with your power to create luck;). The Plant Café sounds wonderful – I hope you get there. I know it’s challenging when visiting family to do a lot of vegin’ out, especially if your family is not vegan. I have the same issue. Most of my family lives in the Bay Area, so I get out there often. Still, despite the fact I know that San Francisco is a vegan’s dream city, I haven’t been to many vegan restaurants there.

      And by the way, I finally bought one of Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s books, ‘Color Me Vegan.’ I haven’t read it yet, but I will soon. Thanks so much for turning me on to her!

      • PM says:

        Oh, that’s great! I have that book, too, but haven’t yet cooked from it.

        I’m basically going to be cooking for everyone so I can eat vegan as well as not trouble my sister-in-law, the new mom. It will give me an opportunity to crack open some cookbooks and share the vegan joy. Yay! The week I will be visiting family happens to be Veg Week in Oakland. Coincidence? I think not! My family (since they don’t like to cook) will be celebrating Veg Week by default. Muwahaha (evil laugh)!!! 😉

        Oh, and aside from cookbooks, if you’re interested in seeing some recipes I’ve been collecting, check out my Pinterest. I’ll never make it through them all, but I find the pictures inspiring. 🙂

      • You’re cooking for everyone all week? Wow, that’s really nice of you:) Your family must really LOVE you girl! But like you say, when you’re in a house full of carnivore’s it’s the easiest way to get a good meal. I checked out your Pinterest, and was tempted by the 15 Easy Vegan Suppers – I’m a sucker for easy! Thanks for sharing that. Celeste:)

  5. Sounds like a fun breakfast! Gorgeous view too! I really like your animal rights posts. I am always encouraged when I see other people standing up for things that are important. And I like connecting with like-minded people. You approach things in a gentle way and share them from your own learning perspective (not a pulpit!). You remember that most vegans weren’t born vegan. We all became aware at different rates.

    It’s important to expose things that people don’t see. Eggs, milk, things like that look fine on the surface. Maybe your sister said that (even jokingly) because posts that expose the truth can make people uncomfortable. But you explain things well and open people’s eyes up to reality. Keep it up!

    • Hi Jean, how are you doing? Thank you for your encouragement – it means a lot to me. And you’re right, I do attempt to share my animal rights thoughts in a gentle way. This is my style, but I also think that coming on too strong turns people off. And when people get turned off, they never hear the message. And I know you’re right on about my animal rights posts making my sister uncomfortable. They used to make me uncomfortable too!

  6. Jeanne Allen says:

    I agree with Michelle I think the animal rights blogs are very annoying. But you do it in a gentle way and the others is kind in your face. And you are right coming on too strong turns people off. Oprah Winfey had a day at the beef factory on one her shows. I saw the slaughtering of cows and thought it was really disturbing enough not eat meat. In 2 days I would be back to eating meat again. Old habits die hard.

    • Hi Jeanne! Thanks for your honesty and perspective on this – I appreciate it. Like I’ve said, I used to be turned off by those kind of things too. So what made me change to someone who cared about animal rights? I’m still trying to figure this out. And old habits do die hard, but you’ve still made a lot of positive changes in how you eat lately Jeanne. I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but I’m so excited that you’re taking steps to get healthier! You’re doing great!

  7. Ally says:

    I love your animal rights posts! I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you though!
    I think it is important to focus on the issues that are important and genuine to you. It is your blog.
    When your sister says she ‘doesn’t like’ your animal rights posts, what does she mean? Perhaps, as Jean says, they make her uncomfortable, or maybe she finds them confronting.
    Most people would never willingly harm an animal. It can be confronting to discover that the food we eat was once a living, breathing animal that fought for it’s life.
    Keep up the good work Celeste!

    • Hey Ally – thanks for your comment! And you’re right, I’m sooo not surprised that you love the animal rights posts – haha. I don’t have any intention of changing my blog to suit the whims of others, but I’m curious about how people react to things. And from the comments I’ve received, the reactions seem polarized. People who care about animal rights like the animal rights posts, and people who eat meat don’t like them and tune them out. Of course that’s what I expected, so why did I even ask?

  8. Sophie33 says:

    Good for you, Celeste! Enjoy life! 🙂

  9. Anna says:

    Amazing part of the world, and it is in the neighborhood. Appreciate your pictures.

    • Hi Anna! Have you ever dined at the Ritz? Maybe we should go there for lunch or coffee one of these days. It is REALLY expensive – you have to pay for that view – but it’s worth it once in a great while. Looking forward to doing coffee tomorrow!

  10. Anna says:

    found this for your reading pleasure.
    Hi Celeste,
    I visit outside of the Ritz every week, never made it closer then the swimming pool haha.
    But I will listen to your great stories. Thanks so much

    • Hi Anna!

      I love walking around the Ritz too, and it’s a lot cheaper than eating there. We really are fortunate to live in such a lovely area. It’s by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived in. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually live here. When Paul and I go walking in Laguna Beach, Dana Point or San Clemente on the weekends, one of us always turns to the other and says, “We live here!” It tickles us that we’re so fortunate and hopefully we’ll never take it for granted.

      I looked up the link you sent, and those spinach pies look divine! When I looked at the ingredients, however; they had a lot of cheese in them. Are you trying to make me revert to my old ways girlfriend? Of course I could always use Daiya cheese in them. Maybe I’ll give them a try.

    • I looked up the second link you posted, and there’s no cheese in the recipe – yea! It’s a very interesting muffin recipe – it has tomato juice in it. Supposedly this is the secret to the recipe’s success. The muffins do look delish – I just might try this one. Thanks Anna:-)

  11. Maybe the cheese comes from cheese-a-saurus, the great orange dinosaur – haha! Oh, that was so cheesy. I’m really on a roll here!

  12. mllaurie says:

    It’s funny you ask that about the animal rights posts. When I first started my blog, I mentioned that I’m “into animal rights, but don’t worry, I won’t be blogging about it.” Then I realised that hey, this is who I am, it’s what I think about, and it’s such a big part of me. You’re never going to please everyone. None of my family read my blog, and that’s okay. I used to blog about homeschooling and life, and my sis-in-law loved my blog, but said the homeschooling posts were boring to her. Well, she doesn’t homeschool, so of course she found them boring. But I had close to 100 readers who loved my blog. 🙂 I need an outlet, a way to interact with other activists. a way to help spread the message. When I read this post, I thought, “Animal rights posts? Oooh, great!” Off to read some now. 🙂

    • Hi Michelle! Thank you for your thoughtful comment. And you are so right – you’re not going to please everyone! And I think animal rights posts do bother a lot of people who eat meat. No one wants to be told ‘you shouldn’t do this – it’s bad.’ Sometimes people even get upset with me when I tell them I’m vegan. I suppose they think I’m judging them. I try to be gentle in my approach to sharing my animal rights views because my hope is to inspire someone to consider what they’re doing rather than turn them off. Still, I occasionally post a photo of an abused animal because I think images are powerful. Thanks so much for sharing in this conversation! Celeste:)

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