While out-of-town tourists still crowd Laguna’s streets, you can stretch out the last few days of summer with a quick pre-Labor Day retreat of your own. There’s no need to battle major-freeway traffic and airport anxiety when a short drive down South Coast Highway takes you to an ideal staycation destination. With a stunning ocean-view locale in Dana Point, The St. Regis Monarch Beach features 400 elegant rooms, a top-rated golf course, award-winning spa and six restaurants. The private beach offers a relaxing seaside escape from the masses that dominate most local coasts during the summer season; it’s a perfect opportunity to try a new watersport, with private lessons available for surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and more. Or, skip the sand in favor of a swim in one of the resort’s three pools. However you decide to spend your time, The St. Regis Monarch Beach offers a variety of luxurious options for a weekend escape.
REST YOUR HEAD
The resort recently completed a renovation in June 2015, incorporating a new color palette of coastal hues as well as in-room technology for requesting housekeeping service, valet retrieval and more. Flat-screen TVs and Bluetooth-enabled alarm clocks allow visitors to sync phones or tablets to play music or stream movies.
Guest rooms are far from standard, offering private balconies and a spa-like master bath with a luxurious soaking tub. However, for a luxury upgrade, opt for a suite. Each features a lounge seating area, private balconies with outdoor seating and pool or ocean views. Plus, you can take advantage of the much-touted St. Regis Butler Service, which is complimentary for suite guests. Butlers can offer myriad services ranging from in-room coffee or tea service, packing and unpacking assistance, and garment pressing.
RELAX AT SPA GAUCIN
No luxury staycation is complete without at least a few hours of pampering. Men and women alike can find something to suit their personalities at the Forbes Five-Star-rated Spa Gaucin. The Thai poultice massage is a soothing option for those really hoping to dig in and release some stress; it marries Thai massage movements and a warm, scented poultice, which is a type of paste made of herbs and minerals wrapped in a cloth. There’s a wide variety of other massage offerings, in addition to facials, scrubs and scalp treatments. For those who prefer a more active relaxation experience, the spa has a lap pool as well as private and small group classes in the fitness center.
Before or after your spa treatment, sneak out to the course for a round of golf. In August, The St. Regis Monarch Beach introduced a complete golf-lover’s dream experience. The Fit Fore VIPs package, perfect for both solo golf enthusiasts and couples, includes a two-night suite stay in addition to a slew of sport-specific perks. Guests are chauffeured in a private limousine to and from a personalized, high-tech club fitting at the world headquarters of Titleist, TaylorMade or Callaway, where they have the option to order custom clubs and have them shipped directly to their home.
Back at the resort, enjoy unlimited play at the 18-hole Monarch Beach Golf Links. Designed by master architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., the 6,600-yard, par-70 course was inspired by the legendary Scottish links and features stunning views of the Pacific. Players of all skill levels will find challenges among the rolling green, which includes two oceanfront holes and water features that come into play at eight others. A golf car and personal forecaddie service is provided for each round.
Off of the course, the package includes St. Regis Butler Service for the duration of the stay; access to the resort’s private beach and guests-only Monarch Bay Club; and breakfast daily. The Fit Fore VIPs experience begins at $1,630 per person and is available throughout 2015.
INDULGE YOUR PALATE AT STONEHILL TAVERN
The resort has multiple restaurants on-property, with options for every meal of the day, including Club 19 for a celebratory post-golf drink.
They’re all worth a visit during your weekend at the resort—try dinner at casual yet sophisticated Motif on your first night for California coastal cuisine, followed by some pastries and coffee at Crust Coffee Shop the next morning. If you’re spending time outdoors, also dine al fresco for lunch at the Pool Bar & Grill. Before dinner, make time for a quick drink at the Lobby Lounge: The Agave Maria is a signature, must-try drink. Changing up the classic bloody mary recipe—which is said to have originated at the St. Regis’ New York hotel in 1934—the Agave Maria features fresh tomatoes, jalapeno and tequila.
Save the resort’s best restaurant for your last meal of the staycation—visiting the Forbes Four-Star Stonehill Tavern is the best way to cap off a luxury staycation (open Tuesday through Sunday evenings). Executive Chef Raj Dixit prepares Michael Mina classics like the savory lobster pot pie while also executing his own innovative concepts. Everything weaves seamlessly together on a dinner menu comprising garden-fresh starters like the OC salad with chilled Maine lobster, entrees including a whole-fried Jidori chicken for two, and an “Ocean Discovery” tasting with caviar and shellfish options sourced primarily from the West Coast. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert: Michael Mina’s root beer float, featuring sassafras ice cream and a warm chocolate chip cookie, is the perfect way to celebrate the last days of a carefree summer.
—Written by Katherine Duncan and Allison Hata