A Regal Destination
Monarch Beach Resort delivers an escape fit for a king
Posted on December 14, 2018
Tucked away just off of Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, the stunning Monarch Beach Resort beckons to those fortunate enough to partake in all the luxuries the property has to offer. What debuted as the St. Regis in 2001 underwent a jaw-dropping $40 million renovation to become the resort in its present form. With an oversized, grand elegance and beauty that somehow sidesteps blatant opulence, it transports visitors much farther than the 35-minute drive from North County San Diego would suggest.
What I loved most about Monarch Beach is that it doesn’t seem to need to tell you everything at once; instead, the resort draws you in to be a part of the space to truly experience it. The hotel’s sleek lobby lacks the echoing, cavernous quality of other large resorts and instead welcomes arriving guests with a chic-yet-inviting warmth. Its unrivaled blufftop view of the Pacific can only be fully appreciated once you’ve come all the way inside. Our guestroom, a richly appointed studio suite on the north end of the property, opened first to a hall before turning a corner to reveal a spacious, fresh, and brightly decorated sitting area and crisp white bed. A step out onto the balcony provided expansive ocean views. Everything about this place seems to nudge you to slow down and absorb it, bit by bit.
To truly relax, nothing can compare to time spent at the Miraval Life in Balance Spa — one of only two in the world (to find the other, you’ll have to venture to St. Kitts). Again, the spa entrance is off the lobby but the spa itself is almost secreted away behind the entrance and an airy spa cafe. A broad assortment of massages, body treatments, and facials is available, and though surely every single treatment is exceptional, even the classically simple, Swedish-style Monarch Signature Massage is every bit the indulgence you’d expect from a spa of this caliber. As an added bonus, spa guests enjoy privileges throughout the day of their treatment, so you can leave, have a nap in your room or a dip in the ocean, and return later for a second dose of zen in the spa’s steam room, sauna, spa pool, or the café, which is reserved for the exclusive use of spagoers and resort members.
When you’re ready to switch things up for a more active experience, Monarch Beach Golf Links is a golfer’s paradise. The award-winning Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed links-style course takes full advantage of the brilliant landscape and sparkling ocean views, the pinnacle of which is definitely the beachfront pin on #3. A shot of it just begs for a spot on your Instagram feed (and will surely spark envy in your golfer followers). Vacationers looking for a little more cardio may choose from any of 40 signature fitness classes offered by the Miraval Life in Balance Spa. Some take place at the fitness center, some in the yoga studio, and others out on the grand lawn that sprawls between the resort and its pools — though the jury’s out on whether observing others sweat it out in the al fresco Spin With A View class from the comfort of your room’s balcony offers any benefits by osmosis.
What any guest would deem the resort’s ultimate pièce de resistance comes down to personal preference, but the dining options would likely have the edge over its other amenities for visiting foodies. Most notably, the Bourbon Steak brand from famed restaurateur Michael Mina wows each of your 10,000 taste buds with a wide-ranging menu balanced by equally good craft cocktails (get either version of their New York Sour — you won’t regret it) and wines, including selections from Michael Mina’s own label, pulled from the gorgeous vertical glass “cellar” that adorns the restaurant’s entry. Even the simplest items feel special — a trio of different fries served with accompanying dipping sauces including pickle ketchup come to mind — and unique twists make flavors fresh without being off-the-wall. As a steakhouse, of course the beef options are top-notch, but the seafood is stellar. While pricey, the Maine Lobster Pot Pie is perfect for sharing and well worth every penny of dreamy, brandied-cream-y richness, and a knowledgeable sommelier is at the ready to provide recommendations on the best wines to pair with every dish.
Whether it’s a night away or a weeklong vacation, Monarch Beach Resort is a worthy option for a luxurious escape without the hassle of an airport. And while the eventual check-out day is inevitable, the knowledge that Monarch Beach is just a short drive away makes saying goodbye a little more bearable. monarchbeachresort.com Deanna Murphy