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Vacation in Monarch BeachMonarch Beach: Fit for Royalty
Finding a luxurious place to unwind with children in tow may seem more daunting than the siege of Château Gaillard. But that’s only until you discover Monarch Beach. Whether you favor a game of golf, a jaunt along nature trails, or easing into the night with curated cocktails and “mocktails” by the Lagoon Family Pool, the St. Regis Monarch Beach will make you (and your brood) feel like royalty.
Good For: Families looking for an elegant, relaxing retreat – kick off your well-heeled shoes for a decadent weekend.
- Morning coffee, cocoa, and the paper delivered to your balcony by your St. Regis butler
- Playing a sunset game of croquet on the south lawn
- Feasting on seasonal cuisine at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern
- Creating the perfect beach picnic at Crust
- Viewing the Monarch Butterfly Release ceremony on the ocean
Suggested Stay: 3 Days
What to Know: Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, the St. Regis Monarch Beach is a great spur-of-the-moment getaway. With every possible amenity at your fingertips, a family can travel light, knowing any missed toiletries will be waiting in the suite (and sunscreen by the pool, to boot). Note that the John Wayne Airport in Orange County is only 25 miles away (compared to LAX, at 65 miles) and spares you the rush hour traffic nightmare of the 405 Freeway.
Roll Out the Red Carpet
Arriving at the palatial resort, guests are whisked through check-in and into a St. Regis suite – ocean view, of course. You’ll also be greeted by your personal St. Regis butler, with champagne and sparkling cider. Plus, the room is stocked with colorful welcome toys and kiddie robes. Our kids love our “regular” butler, William “Bill” Killingsworth, who always remembers to bring extra marshmallows with the morning cocoa and a large French press to get me moving. The butler is more than just a purveyor of decadent drinks: On a recent trip, after being dragged into a family debate about croquet versus golf, Bill not only managed to locate a croquet set for us, but he showed up at our makeshift croquet court the next morning to demonstrate the finer points of the game.
While the helpful and attentive resort staff is what sets the St. Regis Monarch Beach apart, the resort certainly doesn’t lose any points for the decor and grounds. The lobby is spacious, without being cavernous; the rooms are elegantly appointed and thoughtfully arranged; and the patios and outside areas are beautifully landscaped and offer views of extraordinary sunsets. Treat your kids to an afternoon with the St. Regis surf butlers (yes, surf butlers), and they’ll be tired enough for a pre-dinner nap so you can relax on your balcony, enjoying panoramic views of the golf course and Pacific Ocean. Go ahead – drink a toast to your savvy parenting skills.
Croquet and Dolphins
Wake up to breakfast of scrambled eggs with artichokes, feta, tomato coulis, and toasted olive bread, and then it’s time for croquet on the botanical lawn. Once I’ve vanquished my worthy adversaries, my defeated family members retreat to the oceanside golf course, while I celebrate my victory at Spa Gaucin. Later, we all meet up and head to the private beach at the Monarch Bay Club, where attendants set up beach chairs and umbrellas. Lunch at the Club is offered either at the beachfront barbecue or on the restaurant patio. Or, for those too relaxed (read: lazy) to walk the fifty or so feet to the Club, a Crust picnic fits the bill.
After lunch, it’s time to join the kids in the ocean, so that my husband can “rest his eyes for a few minutes.” Once back on shore and eyes rested, we climb up on the rocks to explore the tide pools and watch the dolphins and whales.
Sip champagne on the lobby terrace as the sun sets over Monarch Beach. Depending on the season, sunset is the time for the Monarch Release Ceremony, Story Time and S’mores by the fire pits, or a champagne-sabering demo.
As a family of foodies, the highlight of our trips is the dining – and there’s no finer dining than Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern, which overlooks the ocean. Executive Chef Raj Dixit works his magic in developing creative fare based on seasonal organic ingredients. Start off with a cocktail as the kids dig into the fresh bread with honey ricotta sprinkled with rosemary sea salt. Throw caution to the wind and indulge in the tasting menu, complemented by wines selected by the sommelier, Paul Coker, and mocktail by the resident mixologist, Jenny Buchhagen.
Not to be outdone, the pastry chef, Maren Henderson, presents a delicious cheese course (often surprising my son with his favorite cheese), topped off with a seasonal soufflé, a chocolate toffee bar, or a classic root beer float. At meal’s end, the server arrives with miniature ice cream cones featuring an exotic flavor of the day. The kids also enjoy selecting a thank-you gift (usually a sommelier-recommended glass of wine) to take back to the kitchen for “Chef Raj.”
When you depart the St. Regis, you’ll have reservations – reservations for the next weekend getaway.
(Photos courtesy of St. Regis Monarch Beach)