Review: St. Regis Monarch Beach

As long time readers may remember, last year I was invited to participate in the Starwood American Express “Stars” program. This entailed attending several cool events including the Tribeca Film Festival, the US Open, and New York Fashion Week, as well as some hotel stays at several Starwood properties in the US. The best part was that for each experience I was invited on, I was able to give away a similar experience to a lucky blog reader.

The Starwood American Express invited me to participate in their “Stars” program again this year. The first such experience was a couple of weekends ago, where I could choose a summer getaway from a list of hotels. I chose the St. Regis Monarch Beach, one of the St. Regis properties in the US that I’ve always wanted to visit. Best of all now that I live in Seattle it’s just a short flight away.

So in the interest of full disclosure the Starwood American Express covered the cost of my flights and the hotel stay, though I was responsible for all other incidentals.

Furthermore, stay tuned till tomorrow, because between 11AM and 5PM ET I’ll be giving away 30,000 Starpoints on Twitter in conjunction with my stay. I’ll have a post on the blog at 11AM ET sharp with the details on how to win.

Anyway, usually I associate Orange County with nice weather, though go figure the two days we were there we had nothing but clouds and rain, while it was sunny in Seattle. We flew into Orange County Airport, rented a car, and drove to Dana Point, where the St. Regis Monarch Beach is located. It was about a 30 minute drive without traffic.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach37
Hotel entrance

As we pulled up to the front of the hotel the bellman offered to assist us with our bags, though we only had carry ons, so declined the help. We did take them up on valeting the car, which cost $35 per night.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach36
Hotel entrance

The lobby was fairly grand, certainly not as blinged out as the one at the St. Regis Bal Harbor, though still nice. The reception is located immediately inside the lobby on the left, where we were quickly helped. The check-in desks were “traditional,” while I’ve found most St. Regis properties to have individual desks where you sit down during the check-in formalities.

The check-in process was efficient and I was offered the Platinum amenity, for which I chose breakfast. Unfortunately no room upgrades were available, which I wasn’t surprised by given that the hotel showed as sold out for an entire week prior to our stay.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach45
Lobby

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach46
Lobby

The lobby is located on the fifth floor, and then most guest rooms are on lower floors. We were on the third floor, room 329.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach17
Third floor hallway

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach18
Our room

The room itself was extremely spacious for a standard room and felt “fresh” given that this isn’t a brand new hotel or anything.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach09
Room entrance

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach06
Room entrance

The room had two extremely comfortable queen beds, a desk, and a flat screen TV.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach01
Queen beds

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach05
Queen beds

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach02
Flat screen TV

There was Music Choice music playing on the TV as we arrived, though I couldn’t help but laugh at the ad they were running.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach16
Seriously?!

By the window was a desk with two padded chairs.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach03
Desk with chairs

On the desk was a card and welcome amenity consisting of pralines and macarons.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach08
Welcome amenity

Then there was a patio. Unfortunately the room didn’t have a view of the pool, but rather of the back side of the hotel.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach22
Patio

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach44
View from the patio

The bathroom featured double sinks, a soaking tub, a walk-in shower, and a toilet in a separate room.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach14
Double sinks

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach12
Double sinks

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach11
Bathtub

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach13
Walk-in shower

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach10
Toilet

As is the norm at St. Regis properties, the toiletries were Remede branded.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach15
Towels and bathrobes

Breakfast is served daily at Motif restaurant from 6:30AM till 10:30AM. As a Platinum member the breakfast benefit consisted of a $20 credit per person. We could either order off the a la carte menu or eat from the buffet for a $13 upcharge per person. That seemed worthwhile, so that’s what we did.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach23
Motif Restaurant

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach25
Motif Restaurant

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach24
Menu

The buffet consisted of all kinds of cold options like pastries, muffins, croissants, cereal, yogurt, muesli, salmon fresh fruit, etc.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach26
Breakfast buffet

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach27
Breakfast buffet

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach28
Breakfast buffet

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach29
Breakfast buffet

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach30
Breakfast buffet

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach31
Breakfast buffet

Then there were some hot dishes like scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, sausage, breakfast potatoes, as well as an omelet station.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach32
Breakfast buffet

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach33
Breakfast buffet

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there’s a very nice pool located at the bottom of the resort, which can be accessed either by elevator or by descending the rather grand exterior staircase of the hotel.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach34
Pool view from hotel

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach38
Pool view from hotel

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach39
Pool view from hotel

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach40
Hotel view from pool

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach41
Hotel view from pool

The pool was beautiful, though go figure the sun didn’t shine once in the two days we were there, which must be some kind of a new record. So we spent most of our time driving around, since it’s not all that fun to lay out at a pool when it’s cloudy and in the 60s.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach42
Pool

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach49
Pool

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach50
Pool

In addition to the main pool there was a lap pool over at the spa.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach51
Lap pool

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach47
Spa

The gym was nice and always busy, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising for Southern California.

St_Regis_Monarch_Beach52
Gym

Anyway, despite the weather I had a great stay on the whole. Rates at this hotel are usually $375+ per night, which isn’t surprising given that this is Dana Point. The hotel seems to be sold out almost every weekend, often weeks in advance, so it seems to have a pretty big “following.” That’s no surprise given the amount of money people in the area have and the desire for a weekend getaway, I assume. If you’re looking for a week long vacation or a nice relaxing pool, this place probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a weekend getaway at a “hip” SoCal hotel, the St. Regis is where it’s at.

The hotel is a category six Starwood property, making it 20,000 Starpoints per night (with the fifth night free) or if cash & points is available that’s 10,000 Starpoints plus $180 per night.

St. Regis Rates

Thanks for reading and remember to stay tuned till 11AM ET tomorrow for a chance to win 30,000 Starpoints from the Starwood American Express.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. Ben –

    It was so much fun to read this post. I had my wedding at the St. Regis MB last year and it was a blast! The hotel took such great care of us and our entire family. They are known in the area to do great weddings (hence why it’s sold out all summer long) and really exceeded our expectations.

    Email me if you want to hear more about the upgrades you get when you host an event there!
    Steven

  2. Lucky, looks like a golf course in the background? Seems like a nice addition to your TRs would be reference to any golf courses attached to the hotel property, and perhaps the green fees.

  3. One of my fave St Regis’s! Robert, you can take a cart down to the golf course or beach. We always seem to end up there during the June gloom šŸ™

  4. @ Beachfan — Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I’m saying it is a great place to relax by the pool, but there are more reasonably priced properties with bigger/more extravagant pools if that’s all you’re after.

  5. Hubby and I stayed here in December as a sort of staycation. We had a nice time here, although we were a little underwhelmed by the level of service overall for this level of property. We had a nice time at the spa, the holiday buffet (more extravagant than the usual one), and the Monarch Beach club. I definitely agree that the monarch beach club is one of the best features- it’s completely private! They set up chairs, umbrellas, and towels and you can get food and drinks at the club. We didn’t get a chance to try the golf course but it’s gorgeous. They had a beautiful sand art piece in the lobby that was a statue of Santa. It was decorated very nicely for Christmas!

  6. And just an FYI for people who didn’t catch it in comment #4. There is no “attached” beach. You have to golf cart it down there or walk. 5 – 10 minutes.

    Across Coast Hwy is the Ritz-Carlton. That place sits right above the beach (nice surf too)

  7. I’ve stayed here many times. For kids, they have a cool fireworks and smores thingy on the beach each night…

    …Ben, if you had a free night at any category 5 starwood, could you give me your favorite three for great value/location etc?

  8. I typically enjoy your reviews and agree with you when I’m familiar with the hotel, flight, etc. This time, I’m sorry to say I really don’t think your review did this property justice. As others mentioned, you didn’t mention some of the nicest things the beach or golf. The golf cart ride down to the beach and the restaurant/club down there is well worth the trip. I understand the weather wasn’t great for those amenities but it might be when others visit. I also think the hotel is so lovely and serene. It is really a first class property and experience. That didn’t come through at all in your lackluster review. Boy, Starwood really didn’t get its money’s worth on your visit and review!!

  9. Wow, Ben you get invited to so many of these! Though your write-ups are awesome, so it’s quite worth it to hear and see all these places that we should consider visiting (or not).

  10. You had to go and link the trip you took, with your Mom, to Bali. I’m at work, and you put a sizeable dent in my productivity this afternoon, I just reread the entire thing. Pretty sure I need to add this destination to my bucket list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *