Orange County, California
What it is
A 400 room ultra-luxe mega resort fronting the Pacific Ocean.
What it isn't
Hands off. Despite the resort’s size, staffers exude a warm, familial welcome that lasts your entire stay.
What we think
When it opened as St. Regis Monarch Beach in 2001, with a Tuscan-inspired structure, it was the glitteriest gem on an admittedly already glittery shore (this is Orange County, after all). But after the recent $40 million renovation by L.A. fixture Rodrigo Vargas, its star became intergalactic. The rooms are a happy blend of Chinoiserie touches and Deco lines, all in California blonde hues. Their average size? A whopping 535 square feet, each with a private terrace and a bed decked in 300-thread-count sheets and a goose down comforter. But let’s be honest: nobody’s here for the rooms, not when the property maintains an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, two infinity-edged whirlpools, private surf lessons, custom running routes to Dana Point….we could go on.
You're here because
They treat children like the future CEOs, Presidents, and generally top notch human beings they are, with a doting Monarch Beach Kids club. On the activities list during Kids Night Out? T-Shirt decorating, butterfly Tutu making, footprint art...you may just join them.
You didn’t quite believe that the hotel’s main restaurant, Bourbon Steak, could really be the number one restaurant in Orange County—until you took a seat and looked at the menu. The chef, James Beard award winner Michael Mina, has taken it to the top: broiled gulf shrimp with gin spiked cocktail sauce; wagyu tomahawk steak with truffle butter. But it’s not until you try dessert—warm spiced beignets with vanilla creme brûlée—that you decide it’s not the best restaurant in Orange County. It’s the best in California.
Just over an hour’s drive from LAX, but just under two miles from Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area, where sea lions frolic in the surf and sun themselves on the sand. In other words: Toto, we’re not in Lalaland anymore.
Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina - #1 Restaurant in Orange County by the OC Register
33º North - Coastal cuisine with hand-crafted cocktails offerings
AVEO TABLE + BAR - Mediterranean spirit with a contemporary Southern California flavor
Monarch Bay Club - Regional American cuisine
Club 19 - Coastal cuisine with hand-crafted cocktail offerings overlooking Monarch Beach Golf Links first tee
Sombra - Seasonal poolside Mexican Cantina
Part & Parcel Market - Southern Californian coffee shop with market fresh foods
San Diego Zoo