Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Light Up Your November and Celebrate Diwali at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Leave It to The Ritz-Carlton and Chef Sanjay Rawat to Host the Most Elaborate Diwali Festival!

Diwali is India’s most widely observed and significant holiday—and may we add: the most fun, too! Syrup-soaked sweets are gifted to participants and brilliantly colored lights illuminate the night sky. This is something everyone can get behind, especially to celebrate light over darkness and good over evil. Diwali is always a joyous occasion with vibrant decor, captivating dances and festival foods that showcase the spice-forward flavors of India. 

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Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is joining in on the fun with a weekend of festivities on Nov. 3-4! Resident Chef Sanjay Rawat brings recipes from New Delhi to Dana Point at the grand opening of KAHANI, a specialty pop-up put on by the resort. Celebrate with authentic tasting menus and global wine pairings. The hotel is also bringing back its annual Diwali Mela Celebration with Bollywood performances, an East Asian feast and meditative sound baths. Here are three ways to experience the rich culture of India at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel during this joyous festival of lights.


Dine at KAHANI

When you can’t make it across the globe for Diwali, Dana Point is the next best thing! Travel from the shores of Salt Creek to the heart of New Dehli at The Ritz-Carlton’s Indian pop-up restaurant. Brought to life by Chef de Cuisine Sanjay Rawat, KAHANI specializes in modern Indian dishes that celebrate the nostalgic spice-filled flavors of East Asia with a contemporary twist. KAHANI—Hindu for “story”—is a nod to the way Rawat tells the narrative of his culture through innovative Indian cuisine. “I want KAHANI, my story, to inspire other chefs to dream outside of their parameters and have trust that their journey will come full circle like mine,” Rawat shares. 

Rawat grew up in New Delhi, where the kitchen was the heart of his home. His grandmother’s cooking brought his family together through soul-satisfying curries and other generational recipes that live on in Rawat’s specialty menu. After studying gastronomy in Malaysia, Rawat moved to the US where he later joined the culinary team at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. His cuisine is best known for its harmonious blend of Indian and Southern California favorites. Spice up your life with peppery Cardamom Corn Bisque, decadent Saag Lobster Risotto and tender Rogan Josh Short Rib. KAHANI is open for dinner reservations from Oct. 7-Dec. 14. Find the intimate dining room adorned with colorful lighting on the lobby-level of the resort.


Diwali Mela Celebration

Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

While KAHANI is open throughout the fall, the resort’s main Diwali Mela Celebration is set to take place on Nov. 4. Follow the sounds of eclectic Bollywood beats to the colorful celebration that will take place above the shores of Salt Creek Beach. Glowing lanterns in all shades and sizes will illuminate the lawn for the night festival, celebrating light over darkness. Guests will taste their way through the neighborhoods of India with food stations curated by Chef Rawat. Crispy-fried Pan Puri shooters, samosas with mint chutney and an assortment of sweet mithai (traditional syrup-soaked sweets) are a few of the regional delicacies to be expected at the feast. The resort even formed a voluntary Indian Culture Committee consisting of several Indian food and beverage directors in order to bring this authentic Diwali experience to life. 

Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Diwali isn’t just about the food though. More festivities will be taking place on the lawn, with dynamic dances that are as bright and bold as Rawat’s flavor combinations. Performers will be dressed in glittering saris as they replicate dances from India’s iconic film scene. Guests will even have a chance to join in the fun with dance tutorials, allowing them to take a token of tradition home with them. During Diwali, people dress in their finest, so don’t be afraid to get fancy! 



Diwali Overnight Package

Diwali is traditionally a five-day festival, so one night of celebration isn’t nearly enough! Celebrate like they do in India with multi-day festivities. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel’s Diwali Package finds a happy medium with a weekend full of activities and restful overnight stays. Check in to your luxury oceanfront villa on Friday afternoon, and kick off the holiday with an exclusive dinner at KAHANI. The package includes two tickets to Chef Rawat’s tasting, accompanied by a wine pairing selected by Sanju Beri, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage. 

This evening celebrates the accomplishments Chef Rawat has made over his career. “We couldn’t be more proud to offer Chef Sanjay the opportunity to open his own restaurant on property and share his cooking with resort guests and Southern California locals. Sanjay has brought joy and comfort to numerous families in the South Asian community and beyond, and we quickly recognized that his talent could not be confined to private wedding events but celebrated as a full-service concept,” says General Manager Kelly Steward. 

Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

After an evening of fine wines and flavorful foods, tuck away to your suite for the night. You’ll want to rest for the Bollywood Burn boot camps in the morning, or find a renewed sense of calm with a rejuvenating and meditative sound bath experience. Spend the day exploring the property and the sandy shores below before attending the Diwali Mela Celebration


The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Dr
Dana Point, CA 92629

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Lover of the beach, food and fitness, Emily enjoys exploring all sunny Southern California has to offer! She has a passion for sharing about her favorite local gems and began writing for Locale in 2022. On the weekends, find her creating recipes for her food blog or out in Laguna!
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