"We have cases ... [where] people just don't want to move out — we become like a family here. People keep extending their stay because they just like to be here," he said.
The 504-acre "Tuscan Village" resort was opened less than two years ago and has become the Newport Coast destination spot for vacationers, international business travelers and long-term lodgers who prefer an alternative option to a permanent home, Senior Director of Public Relations Landry Fuller said.
Pelican Hill is owned and operated by the Irvine Co., which owns Fashion Island.
Many guests are business executives or couples who are in the process of relocating, and are either in-between homes or are waiting to buy a home.
"We've even had instances where people have had a fire in their home, or a flood and they need a temporary place to stay. What they find here is not something that can duplicate their home but something that is closest to the same feeling," said Nick Benfield, director of villa development.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., resident Micki Nolan chose Pelican Hill as the place for her son to recuperate after a swimming accident, she said.
Not only is their four-bedroom villa wheelchair accessible, but Nolan is able to call for in-room service at any hour.
"We've stayed at hundreds of five-star resorts, and I can't tell you how wonderful everything has been," Nolan said. "The staff has been so accommodating and they've provided everything we need."
Nolan chose to relocate her daughter and daughter's family as well, so that the entire family could be together to support her son as he recovers.
The resort's many amenities, including two 18-hole golf courses, on-site restaurants, bars, pools and a children's program, have made the process much easier on everyone, she said.
"I'm treated like a princess," she said. "I may never leave."
Other guests are drawn to the resort's rare privacy offered by the Northern Italian landscaping, complete with olive tree groves and isolated location overlooking Crystal Cove Beach.
With the choice of two- to four-bedroom villas and rates that start at $325 per night and fluctuate based on the length of the stay, the resort is a competitively priced option that offers in-house services like a butler and concierge, plus entertainment and dining all in one location, Lama said.
Fuller described the resort as the best combination of "hotel and your own home."
Although many guests stay for long periods as a kind of temporary resident, the hotel staff strives to maintain a personalized experience from the first day to your last, Lama said.
"You remain a guest of ours and our goal is to create a family spirit. We get to know you, your likes, your dislikes, your children, and we treat you with dedicated individualized service that you don't get otherwise.
"Everything is customized here to make you feel a little more special."