By Arrissia Owen-Turner
Why You Must Go: The St. Regis at Monarch Beach is alright, if by “alright” you mean absolutely awesome. It’s a little on the pricey side, but it’s worth the splurge for the private beach access in Dana Point alone. From the moment you walk through the gilded doors, you feel like you’re walking out of suburbia and into a Tuscan-like retreat. Be sure to book a Mediterranean Massage at Spa Gaucin and take in a good soak afterward in the waterfall spa while sipping on your complimentary glass of organic chardonnay. Then it’s back to your suite, which is pure luxury. As you get ready for dinner, take in your surroundings: The fine Italian leather furniture. The spa tub for two. The flat screen TVs in each room.
Where To Eat: Try wining and dining at Stonehill Tavern where you’ll dig into managing chef Michael Mina’s four-star, lip-smacking creations that are as beautiful to look at as they are delectable. Savor the three-course tasting menu. Go for the Hawaiian blue shrimp with butternut squash crepes and coconut-curry broth, prime beef short rib and the chocolate pudding duo. Then it’s off to the lounge before heading back to your room for better things.
What Else To Check Out: Catch the tram to the Monarch Bay Club, an overnight resort-guest-only restaurant overlooking the pristine blue sea before taking advantage of the surf butler service available. You can’t go back to Riverside without a hands-on surf lesson. Your surf butler will hold your hand, literally, or at least your board, until you’re ready to hang ten. But if you just want to hang back, they can help with bodyboarding, too. And then it will definitely be time for a cocktail at the beach club because you’ve got a designated tram driver.
St. Regis at Monarch Beach, 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, (949) 234-3200; www.stregismb.com; “Seaside & Starlight” midweek package starts at $475.