Rosewood Miramar Montecito

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.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

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.

Ambassador Suite Living Room, Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

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.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort The Manor Bar
Beach House Suite Living room, Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

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.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

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.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort, adult pool

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!

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort
Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

El Encanto, Enchanted Santa Barbara Sojourn

I vacillate on the ideal escape, sometimes one needs a brief getaway to a familiar hotel property for blissful solitude; but then again if you offered me several weeks in the bush or long delicious days driving through the Spanish countryside, weighing the options, I’m not certain which proposal I would choose.

Santa Barbara, California; El EncantoSanta Barbara is a seductive beach enclave worthy of a revisit. Quaint charm, mesmerizing Spanish Colonial architecture, Mediterranean climate and a deep reminder of my ancient Spanish family who settled the area with Father Serra. Local street names, surnames which appear in my genealogy, are reminders of my recent visit to Majorca, Spain, the birthplace of Father Junipero Serra. Hmmm – perhaps I can apply for dual citizenship in Spain?

I digress. Always looking at a 90 minute perimeter from my base visit, an LA client week, I added time in Santa Barbara to explore the newly remodeled Belmond El Encanto Hotel. Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five Star Resort sits high above the city, a few blocks walk from the Mission Gardens, and offers distant views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

ELE-EXT-GDN-04An iconic property built in the 1920’s, the restoration maintained the finest of the aged architecture and lush gorgeous gardens and infused the interiors with modern touches. Seamless modification uniting the old and the new; Bungalow suite interiors in muted pale tones are truly soothing sanctuaries. Expansive views from your balcony terrace of the luxurious gardens are the perfect backdrop in each room. Reserve a suite with a fireplace for a chilly wintery night, and relish the deep soaking tubs in all the oversize bathrooms.

Informal check in desk introduces you to a stunning curated art collection, informal and unpredictable art assemblages which range from California artist Charles Arnoldi, Damien Hirst and Brad Miller among others. Damien Hirst’s painting of gem like diamond dusted vibrant butterfly wings introduces you to a theme to be seen elsewhere on the property and an homage to the migratory Monarchs. Employing his favorite metaphor for beauty and flight, artist Paul Villinski echos the homage with Sueno, brilliant hand cut metal indigo butterflies dripping down a staircase wall to the spa.

I loved the dining veranda, I happened to be staying on an especially warm evening and the hilltop vistas of twinkling city lights and the brilliant moon shadow paving the dark ocean made a late night supper exceptionally delightful. Do order the abalone if offered, light and lemony surrounded by crispy mushrooms and shallots. Breakfast Huevos Rancheros can be prepared with scrambled eggs if the runny yellow yoke provokes cruel breakfast memories, uniquely prepared on a toasted corn tortilla anchored by savory black beans.

Whatever you desire, Madame!

Whatever you desire, Madame!

(No runny yokes for me, a sibling tortured me with a favorite breakfast, runny yokes sunny side up). Madame, whatever you desire, is music to my ears, love an agreeable and accommodating kitchen.

Elegant wine room for private parties, guests can view the scene through the tinted glass, voyeurs cannot peek in; super spa, quiet and peaceful, yet all barely steps from the bustling Santa Barbara boutiques and small local museum. NB: Rarely exhibited Beatrice Wood drawings, will be on display at Santa Barbara Museum until end of August.

If you aren’t inclined to dine on the terrace or have plans down the hill, do sip a cocktail at the sweeping community table on the terrace – a rather unique touch. Capturing the divine views and offered as a drop in setting: sip, nibble and dash or return for a moonlit dessert.

The gift shop offers many unique jewelry lines and art objects designed by local designers, I appreciate a property which supports the community. Montecito is a few miles away and we have a long list of suggested boutiques catering to the locals: unique clothing, vintage jewelry, sculptors and artists.

Desiring Enchantment? Make your way to the hills of Belmond El Encanto; I will be back for another visit! We now have more than once choice in Santa Barbara.

As always, our clients are VIP Guests.

Library Belmond El Encanto Hotel