The ritzy Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort and Hotel in Montecito has finally ascended from a scrap pile on one of the loveliest beachfronts in California. Originally, a small row of cottages along the beach built in 1876, named Miramar, which is Spanish for ‘behold the sea’. For years, more white cottages with bright blue tile roofs were constructed and eventually a hotelier added a pool and created a full resort, it was a chic posh hotel for many years, until it wasn’t. I attended a high school prom at the storied Miramar before it was abandoned and sat in somber deterioration for over 20 years. Many false starts until shopping center magnate Rick Caruso poured millions, into this prime location, possibly over 200 million, according to rumors. Run by the Rosewood, after 12 years of approvals and building, the Grande Dame is highly touted by locals and the glitterati.
One of my recent sojourns south brought me to the Rosewood Miramar, before I could recommend to my clients I felt a stay was absolutely necessary, since busy railroad tracks bisect the property and Hwy 101 flanks the entire side of the property. I was pleasantly surprised by how unobtrusive the trains and the freeway were to the ambience of the property. Seaside serenity is achieved by tall white walls, compact landscaping and the tracks are imbedded a bit below ground. A charming costumed 24-hour crossing guard sits near the tracks, the area has been designated as a quiet zone, thus the primary warning horn of the train is pretty much all one hears. No clickety clack of loud steel wheels pounding over steel rails. The buildings are elevated as well, so the train doesn’t loom over the property. An afternoon snoozing at the pool was easily achieved, I barely stirred when the train whistle sounded. I’m happy to share that the once cherished destination for a fashionable getaway has been recreated.
The architecture borrows from a mix of the surrounding lush Montecito estates, it feels slightly east coast beachy, with a bit of Southern mansion in the Manor House mixed in, East meets West with an interlude in the South.
The Manor House feels formal in the living room area with its grand piano and fireplace, the posh dark paneled Manor Bar with Caruso family photos and family monogram. The crafted cocktail menu is named after classic novels like The Old Man and the Sea, Mornings in Mexico and a Clockwork Orange. From the plush sofas, cocktail in hand enjoy the view over the immaculately trimmed croquet lawn that ends at the Pacific. The entrance feels like a stately home, with custom details, black and white checkered marble tiles and a stately iron curved staircase, sweeping upstairs. There is a Caruso story and it’s obvious with every flair that the owner poured his heart into this property. The eclectic art collection includes original works by Mel Bochner and Fernando Botero.
The majority of the 161 rooms are multi-bedroom bungalows set along stepping-stone paths that meander under massive oak trees, scattered across 16 acres of tidy gardens, the white clapboard bungalows open to grassy meadows. Each has a small terrace – a family group could reserve multiple garden units in the center of the property and share the common open space. Upstairs rooms have balconies for privacy.
The crème de la crème abodes are the suites located in the two-story beach buildings, 26 suites with balconies and complimentary cocktail service sit right over the sand. Waves lapping on the sand, book in hand, I could while away a weekend here, interrupted only by long beach walks.
Amenities: there’s a full spa, a massive gym, a bocce ball court, two cabana-lined pools (one for families, the other for adults), the gated adult pool is far from the fenced kiddo pool that includes a colorful enticing ice cream and sweet shoppe. Seven restaurants and bars, including the cozy Caruso’s, just steps from the beach. Another small outdoor bar serves fish tacos and locally made ice cream on a wide deck above the sand. The much-touted Malibu Farm serves meals all day, fresh farm to table fare and has a shaded outdoor terrace off the Manor House. Much of the grounds and many of the amenities are accessible to the public, CA law provides beach access to everyone.. Pampered Pooch vacationers can order from an assortment of items including a vegetarian burger and V-Dog Kinder Kibble.
Reconnect and unwind at the famed Rosewood Sense spa, which offers a menu of holistic treatments utilizing celebrated indigenous ingredients such as the Montecito Sage Purification. A beach butler mans the pretty turquoise striped Pacific-facing loungers and umbrellas – there’s everything you need. There are two boutiques, totally embodying a Southern California vibe – goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand and The Gatehouse, a trendy concept store.
Activities – Santa Barbara has year around warm weather, despite some of the recent wet winters, I’ve enjoyed 70 degree days in November & December. Whale watching boat trips can be arranged, biking around Montecito is fun, hilly or flat options. The Ganna Walska Lotusland Garden is a wonderful old estate garden known as Lotusland it has been named one of the 10 best gardens in the world and is home to over 3000 plants from all over the globe. The small Santa Barbara Museum frequently has interesting exhibits. Summer concerts in the famed Santa Barbara Bowl has al fresco concerts in the amphitheater April to October and an annual film festival takes place at the Granada Theatre, a century old landmark.
Beach suites with sunset views would be my recommendation, mosey down to the elegant Caruso’s. Coastal cuisine in the signature beachfront restaurant, we enjoyed the center booth with a stunning view of the sea, it’s who you know, isn’t it?!
La Dolce Vita glamor on the American Riviera!