as anyone noticed that fundraisers, awards ceremonies, showers, engagement parties and family reunions are growing ever more impressive and eye-popping? This high bar may not have been set by The Resort at Pelican Hill, but with its abundant indoor-outdoor catering spaces and incomparable ocean vistas, it is most certainly being met by it.

As a venue for private social events, Pelican Hill® has the range and capacity to create lasting memories for families, couples, businesses and groups. From on-the-knee proposals under a romantic Rotunda to elegant lawn fêtes for upward of 600 guests, the Resort bends and twists with ease, reinventing itself almost daily.

An Irvine Company Brokers of the Year event began with an elegant reception on the Resort Terrace; guests were then escorted into the Mar Vista ballroom for dinner. Photos provided by AKJOHNSTON.

Part of the allure of events held at Pelican Hill is the oh-so- SoCal opportunity for a seamless indoor-outdoor experience. Unbounded by space, climate or scenery constraints, the Resort can be both a leading lady and an intoxicating backup act for an event planner’s wildest ideas.

“In our industry, we are tasked with coming up with the next ‘wow’ moment for each function we produce,” said Kara Whorton, director of sales at the event planning and production company AKJohnston Group. “It’s a job we thrive on. We pride ourselves on creating immersive themes that bring out the natural beauty of the space while presenting events to guests who expect something surprising and new. The prime location of The Resort at Pelican Hill is already a win. We love it when we’re challenged to take full advantage of their magnificent spaces.”

“In our industry, we are tasked with coming up with the next ‘wow’ moment for each function we produce.” — Kara Whorton, AKJOHNSTON GROUP

Architecture and landscaping are part and parcel of Pelican Hill’s prestige as a coveted venue for private events. Though it was designed with a Mediterranean aesthetic and the seaside setting prompts many groups to select beach and ocean-related themes, guests can easily go traditional or contemporary with the décor.

Since 2014, AKJohnston’s team has designed and produced the annual Irvine Company incentive program, Brokers of the Year, at The Resort at Pelican Hill. Whorton, noting that from concept to execution, Banquet Director Maneesh Rawat elevates his food and beverage team operation, described a particularly memorable element.

“Three years ago, Maneesh helped us create an invitation for a Brokers of the Year event: Each invitee received a custom wood-engraved box filled with fresh produce and a bottle of olive oil harvested from trees on the property. This special touch allowed the guest to experience, quite literally, a ‘taste’ of Pelican Hill months before the event.” The 200 attendees luxuriated in a “coastal chic” theme that oozed elegance on a picture-perfect autumn evening on the California shore.

A neon-infused Parisian street scene set in La Cappella and the Upper Mar Vista patio became the backdrop for a unique bat mitzvah celebration.

“Working with professional event planners, our team has carried out a host of party motifs,” said Amanda Reeve, the Resort’s director of meetings and special events. “Street festivals, masquerade balls, Kentucky Derby parties, silent discos, chef ’s dinners and re-creations of anniversary celebrations… When a client has a vision, we do whatever it takes to make it happen.”

The onsite events team has, over the years, explored every nook and cranny of the Resort’s vast acreage, with an eye to creating unique spaces for private social events. The golf pavilion, for example, offers a distinctive venue for groups in the “active” category. Private dining rooms hidden inside the restaurants are ideal for corporate dinners, graduation celebrations, birthday parties and baby or bridal showers. Multi-bedroom Villas offer intimate settings for such family events as showers, reunions and celebrations of life.

Many events begin out of doors and then move inside for an “afterglow” event. Recent themes include a lavish Persian teahouse, an ice luge for tequila shots and a Brazilian snack bar serving favorites like pão de queijo, or cheese bread.

“When a client has a vision, we do whatever it takes to make it happen.” — Amanda Reeve, The Resort at Pelican Hill

With up to 80 banquet staff members plus leadership, the Resort is staffed and trained to handle any type of gathering. “We have our own special events kitchen team as well as a dedicated pastry kitchen and garde manger, the refrigerated pantry where cold dishes are prepared and stored,” said Reeve. “Our event chefs have catered meals featuring virtually every type of cuisine, from halfway around the world to locally sourced specialties.”

The Resort also delivers on the many invisible elements that make an event look effortless, from lighting and audio-visual to flooring, linens, parking and check-in.

At a recent bat mitzvah, 150 guests entered a make-believe Parisian street café and gawked at a huge replica of the Eiffel Tower. The outdoor area was decked out in pink-and-white carpeting and chandeliers, and guests of all ages flocked to a crêpe station and browsed kiosks offering French macaroons, create-your-own bouquets, and fragrances. Teens hung out near the dance floor, plopping onto lounge furniture and interacting with the DJ to get the full “clubbing” effect.

Weddings on the Rotunda Lawn are the stuff of fairytales; a post-ceremony reception on the Mar Vista lower patio created an elegant indoor-outdoor setting.

As for industry trends, Reeve noted, “We are seeing more residential accents—couches, ottomans, rugs, installed artwork. In the ballroom recently, we hung birdcages and placed macaroons and small dessert cakes inside. Guests also frequently request custom ‘statement’ wedding cakes and take-away snacks for the morning after, such as doughnuts.”

The Resort at Pelican Hill is also renowned as a dedicated wedding estate, encompassing a variety of settings and amenities, including the event lawn, ballroom, patio, bridal suite and charming courtyard. But the setting and magnificent landscaping add a beautiful layer and sense of drama to any event.

Heather Hoesch, partner and principal planner at LVL Weddings & Events in Costa Mesa, touts the Resort as a one-of-a-kind setting. “There is no other venue that gives you the luxurious setting with that quintessential California coastline view,” she said. “I’ve never worked with a team more dedicated to finding solutions to the requests of our guests. The Pelican Hill team strives to be as flexible as possible to bring even the most out-of-the-box visions to life.”

“I’ve never worked with a team more dedicated to finding solutions to the requests of our guests.” — Heather Heosch, LVL Weddings & Events

Whorton concurred, adding that she can always look forward to a timely, well thought-out response. “When we want to create something that has yet to be done, the Resort staff is open to the conversation and partners with us to help execute it for our clients.

“No one wants just a dessert bar anymore,” she said. “They want to see how the dessert is created. They want to pick their own flavors and colors. No one wants to step into a photo booth; they want to jump around for a 360-degree photo opp. Standard fabric choices are passé – now it’s about texture, color, dimension, and it’s made of anything but fabric. We want guests to see, smell, touch and emotionally invest in where they are in that moment.”

For more information or to book an event, please contact our team at 855.629.1628.

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