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 By Michael Hepworth

Formerly known as the Four Seasons, Newport Beach , the property has been re-named Islands Hotel, and continues to bring five-star luxury to the affluent Newport Beach area, home to basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and other wealthy businessmen and celebrities. Newport Beach is an excellent place for a weekend break from the city, and a new team has been put in place since the opening on November 1, and the 295-room property, which includes 54 suites, is becoming one of the places to be.

  The suites are particularly comfortable, with panoramic views of the adjacent Fashion Island , and views of Newport Beach Marina. Although the original hotel was only built in 1986, the property has a feeling of newness about it that is what you would expect from a member of “The Leading Hotels of the World.” Each room also has a private balcony and either a garden or water view, so if you book over the phone or internet, try and insist on a water room or suite.

  Catering to that crowd in particular, Bill Bracken has been hired as the executive chef, with the Pavilion Restaurant being his showcase. Many will remember Bracken from his tenure at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills , where he won numerous culinary awards from his work at the hotels highly rated Belvedere Restaurant. His style of cooking is very light, with a series of small plates ranging from The Island Crab Cake with fermented black beans, pickled ginger and Asian slaw to a Misoyaki Butterfish with Cippolini Onions and a Yuzu Butter sauce. He is still getting his team together, but he has the obvious skills to pull it off, although it is imperative that the relationship between the kitchen and floor staff remains smooth. A major snafu incurred during my meal there, but the head waiter was quick to remedy the situation, causing a few embarrassing minutes for the staff.

  Larger courses run the gamut of all the main seafood, meat and poultry items, and the Truffle Roasted Tenderloin of Veal with fingerling potatoes, glazed carrots and his often used cipollini onions in a forest mushroom sauce was well received. No full time sommelier at the restaurant yet, surprising considering the client base, which probably indicates that the wine list is still a work in progress.

  There is a small but compact 4,000 square foot spa at the hotel with nine treatment rooms to get royally pampered. They feature all the expected treatments and more, such as De-Stress Day package for a price of $135 that includes a facial and a complete mini-massage. A double package that includes an Aromatherapy facial, a full body massage and lunch is going for $240.

  The bar adjacent to the restaurant looked about the hippest place in the hotel on a jumping Friday night, with a blues band performing as opposed to the usual cocktail style piano player that went out of fashion years ago. So the place is elegant, not overly stuffy, deliciously expensive and well worth trying next time you are in Newport Beach .


Fact Sheet

Islands Hotel-



Check in time 3: pm     Check Out time: 12 noon


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287 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, California, 90211