A Night at the Rosewood

By Bob Hazard   |   March 14, 2019

Owner-developer Rick Caruso has transformed a challenging 16-acre site, tucked between the 101 freeway and the single-track Union Pacific Railroad into an oasis of tranquility and taste. The infusion of $185 million in construction costs, plus land and site costs, helped convert the blue-roofed, mid-market and rundown old Miramar into the dazzling five-star Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort.

Experiencing the Miramar

It is impossible to appreciate the Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort without spending the night. Our choice was either to book a $900-a-night Jacaranda Lanai unit with a mountain view or book a $1,325 per night beachfront king. Hey, this was my wife’s and my 38th wedding anniversary, so we booked the beachfront king.

As a child of the depression, I can still recall when Joe McCarthy as President of Motel 6, headquartered in Santa Barbara, worried about charging $6 per night for a motel room. When you add the 12% TOT (transit occupancy tax) that the County gets on every stay; the local taxes of $10.61; the daily resort fee of $40 a night for wi-fi and gym access and overnight valet parking for $40 a day, the daily tab jumps from $1,325 to $1,675 a night. There is one little secret I would like to share up front. Because of construction delays, the resort did not open on time in January, so Rosewood management comped rooms for all guests whose reservations had to be moved from January to February. We were lucky.

All arriving guests use valet parking. An army of young attendants stands ready to whisk luggage straight to rooms. As you enter the Manor House with its black and white marble floor you will notice an elegant, curved stairway – inspired by architect-to-the-stars Paul Williams – leading to the second floor, which houses three Grand Suites: The Founder’s Suite, occupied by Rick Caruso during our stay but available to selected friends at a hefty price; the Ambassador Suite, occupied during our stay by Rick’s son, a musician in Santa Monica; and a Bridal Suite, also expensive, unless coupled with a wedding event. Some 28 weddings are already on the books. The first wedding occurred on the Great Lawn Saturday evening while we were in residence.

The Welcome Team

The lower floor of the Manor House offers a relaxed grouping of check-in desks manned by friendly and helpful hosts. Look for Isabel, Meg, or Melanie

The resort provides a complimentary customized Rolls Royce for trips to locations within 2.5 miles, including Coast Village Road and the upper village. An open-air pink jitney or “Jolly Trolley” is available to move guests around the Miramar complex or transport them to Coast Village Road. Three more Jolly Trolleys are on order in various colors.

The Manor Bar and the Manor House Library

The Manor Bar in the Manor House is a handsome, wood paneled, candlelit haven for gatherings before and after dinner for a drink or two around the fireplace, the piano, or at the bar. Adjacent is the elegant Manor Library or Reading Room, similarly designed.

The Beach House

The Beach House offers 26 rooms on the beach, including four suites, two at each end. Our room was suite 214, the upstairs end unit. Why is room 214, and three others like it, so appealing? There is a living room with a comfortable fireplace and in-room private bar; a king-bedded sleeping room; an oversized luxurious bath with its rainbow shower, pillowed soaking tub, soft, fluffy towels, and Egyptian cotton robes; a separate powder room, and, most importantly, a wide, generous outdoor terrace overlooking the beach with its views of the Channel Islands and the great blue Pacific Ocean.

Room 214 in the West Beach House features a double-door entrance foyer, which totally blocks the sound of the Amtrak and Union Pacific railroad trains, though we never heard a train whistle or even a rumble during our entire stay, night or day. Caruso has turned that liability into an asset.

Additional Room Types

In addition to the 26 oceanfront rooms at The Beach House are 135 rooms and villas spread out in the two-story Jacaranda Lanais backing onto South Jameson Lane; the Pepper Tree Lanais and the Oak Creek Lanais; and the Grand Bungalows and Garden Bungalows. Many have ocean views.

Malibu Farm Restaurant

The informal Malibu Farm restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating with farm-to-table selections. It features simple, classical items from the cookbook of the original Malibu Farm founder and chef-owner, Helene Henderson. The staff serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; delivers room service to all bungalows and cottages; and hosts high tea in the Living Room every afternoon from 2 to 4 pm.

The Swimming Pools

The Manor Pool provides a family-friendly environment for resort residents and guests. Pool temperature is kept at 79 degrees with the whirlpool hot tub at 112 degrees. Seven cabanas offer privacy and shade. A whimsical Scoops Shop serves Rori’s ice cream cones and cups.

The sculptured, zero edge Cabana Pool is for adults with 19 cabanas, all with TVs. The cabanas rent for $400 to $700 a day. Water temperature is again set at 79 degrees. Behind the Cabana Pool Bar is a firepit for outdoor grilling, a bocce ball court, and a Koi Pond, although the koi fish have not yet checked in. Near the Koi Pond is a Buddha Garden with a statue of Buddha, purloined from Rick Caruso’s backyard in Santa Monica.

1759 Train Station Depot

Twenty-four-hour-per-day security guards with earpieces stand guard on both sides of the railroad gate crossings separating the Great Lawn from the Beach House to make certain that crossing will be safely secured. The 1759 Train Station Depot serves a practical use as an office for the uniformed security team.

The Facilities

The 24-hour fitness center in the Manor House features Cybex exercise equipment, free weights, Pilates beds, aerobic exercises, and yoga. It is an indoor-outdoor facility. Outdoors, guests can choose between Cybex treadmills and recumbent bikes, all with personal TVs. Personal trainers are available upon request.On the second floor above the Fitness Center, lies the Sense Spa. It features multiple massage options in six private treatment salons. 

So far, there is limited retail space except for two upscale purveyors: Goop in the Manor House and James Perse clothing in the Gatehouse. Goop is the modern lifestyle brand founded and helmed by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Want to book a wedding, a luncheon, or a special event for up to 400 guests? You could choose the Chandelier Ballroom, festooned as it is with hand-crafted baccarat crystal chandeliers, along with 20-foot ceilings and the ability to divide into four separate meeting spaces. A generous foyer serves as a pre-function area and an outdoor patio adds a touch of elegance. 

Rumor has it that Rick Caruso has re-discovered the wooden ocean raft once anchored just offshore and fondly remembered by old time Miramar-By-The-Sea guests. Despite objections from the Coastal Commission, the hope is to re-float the ocean raft this summer as an historic reminder of the pleasant memories of the original Miramar. 

The Falconer

Meet Alberto Arceo, the charismatic falconer who drives to Montecito every day from Los Angeles with Maximo and Francesca, his Harris Hawks. The birds fly free around the resort discouraging crows or other birds from annoying guests. At sunset they return to Alberto for the commute back to Los Angeles in their special driving containers.

A Tony Trio

The tiny Village of Montecito is uniquely blessed to have three exceptional resorts, each quite different: The classic Four Seasons Biltmore; the San Ysidro Ranch, and now the Rosewood Miramar. All three resorts combine to burnish Montecito’s reputation as a unique and desirable destination.


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