Monarch Beach

By Alice and Danny Scott

A one-hour flight or six-hour scenic drive transports us from record high temps to surf and turf fun at St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California. The GM, Eric Lohman, has inspired a new hospitality philosophy that mixes luxury and fun. Disneyland and all the other attractions are minutes away, but with so many activities without any lines, this might be your happiest place on earth.

The expansive beach is perfect for an early morning stroll to explore tide pools and watch the surfers. The ”resort guests only” Monarch Bay Club provides the chairs, towels and umbrellas. If you’ve always wanted to hang ten yourself, surf butlers from Soul Surf take the hard part out of surfing and get you up and riding in a short time on “pretty much anything that rolls or floats.” That includes kayaks or trendy stand up paddleboards. They even have a kids’ ocean safety program. Now that’s a summer school they will love. Slather on the sunscreen and make a day of the beach or pool, possibly watching the dolphins surf or break it up with a round of golf.

As with real estate, a golf course is enhanced by location, location, location. The Robert Trent Jones II designed Monarch Beach Golf Links, managed by OB Sports, is situated in one of the most prestigious areas on the Pacific Ocean. Queen Latifa recently sold her house next door.

The layout begins with an uphill par 4, followed by a severe dogleg back toward the ocean. Number 3 is the signature hole with unobstructed views of the azure Pacific. Crashing white waves distract concentration on this short, slightly left dogleg. The green is marked for selfie poses above the sea, #monarchmoment. Like many other RTJ courses, the par 3s are incredible. Considerable elevation changes combine with water and bunkering for your undivided attention. Perhaps the most challenging of all is the par 5 seventh hole, visually intimidating as you cross a marshland not once, but twice on your journey to the green. A split fairway allows for either a hopeful short three shot route along the water’s edge or two massive drives with no regard for score or common sense. At 621 yards from the championship tees, it deserves its rating.

As a resort course, the varying degree of difficulty promises a memorable golf experience for both the novice and experienced golfer alike. With multiple selections of tees, your decision should be rather easy. Decisions are even easier with the help of the Waterman Caddies, like George. They know the course well to assist with strategy, green reads and bunker raking all with the mantra, “Just have fun.” In that spirit of fun, Hawaii Fridays at Monarch Beach include leis on carts and Don Ho music in the practice area. The staff dons patterned Stance socks every day to demonstrate their stance on knocking your socks off with great service throughout the resort.

Also permeating the premise is a sense of well being stemming from the seaside serenity. The Spa Gaucin & Fitness Center has all the five star amenities with pineapple infused water, lots of magazines, steam or dry saunas, iced towels and large Jacuzzis with a waterfall that hits the shoulder with just the right pressure to relieve tension. Complimentary to all resort and spa guests are inspiring workouts, including hatha and strap yoga classes, Pilates, body conditioning, guided hikes along the cliffs and beach boot camps on Monarch Beach. After a workout or golf, try the Massage with Self-heating Phytomer Mud Application. It is Swedish style with a magnesium mixed compound applied to your back, that fizzes like alka seltzer then peels off easily. No muss no fuss and all fixed up.

Wine, water or champagne is offered after treatments.

An impressive Champagne Sabering ceremony is performed every evening by the St. Regis Butlers in preparation for dining. Six restaurants feature healthful, delicious choices. Chef Chris Sanches has converted Club 19 into a casual gastro pub. Stonehill Tavern serves one of the best Wild Copper River Salmon dishes grilled to a perfect consistency topped with delta asparagus, mandarinquats, morels and sunflower seed dressing. Motif’s breakfast menu has a spa inspired section including burrito, si, si. All restaurants view the Pacific panorama.

Butler service is included with suites or available as an additional service for all guest rooms. Cool your hot desert heels at St. Regis Monarch Beach and let your happy toes sink in the sand.