The Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel opened its doors in spring of 2019 to much fanfare in the Central California enclave of Montecito, a few miles south of Santa Barbara. Originally built in the late 1876, the 20-acre ocean front farm had humble beginnings as a private residence. Guest cottages and a lodge were added for visiting friends and family, and the owners eventually turned the property into a hotel which was christened Miramar, Spanish for “behold the sea”. For the next 100 years, the Miramar operated as one of the few select hotels in Montecito, and the only one in the vicinity located directly on a beach, aptly named Miramar Beach.
Los Angeles real estate developer and hotelier, Ian Schrager, purchased the Miramar in 1998 with high hopes of a large-scale renovation. He closed the doors in 2000, but the plans for the restoration ran into dissent by local homeowners and county planning commissioners, and the property languished. In 2005, Montecito hotel mogul Ty Warner, who owns the San Ysidro Ranch and the Four Seasons Biltmore, purchased the hotel from Schrager but couldn’t get anywhere with the county and the residents either. When real estate developer, Rick Caruso, took ownership in 2007, locals expected more of the same infighting, but Caruso succeeded where others could not in transforming the property into a picturesque seaside retreat. Touted as the first ultra-luxury resort in Southern California to have rooms over the sand, the new Miramar Beach Hotel is managed by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.
The architecture of the reenvisioned Miramar draws its inspiration from the grand estates of Montecito, and the experience upon arrival is one of being entertained as a guest in one such mansion. A stone-paved driveway leads you from the frontage road off exit 93 on Highway 101 to a structure known as the Manor House, where are you greeted by a valet and escorted through a black lacquered front door into a black and white checkered foyer. A curved staircase designed by reknown Californian architect Paul Williams dominates the entry, apparently leading to the Founder’s Residence, private apartments for Rick Caruso and his family. Comfortable sitting areas, a grand piano and lit fireplaces complete the scene, along with curated artwork by such artists as Marc Chagall, Norman Rockwell and Hans Burkhardt.
The Rosewood Miramar property is stunning, with 161 guest rooms and suites scattered among 16 acres of lush landscaping brimming with stately trees and colorful flowers. Meander along the walking paths and you will see examples of the meticulous and thoughtful details: a lotus pond, Adirondak chairs perfect for reading or cocktailing, strategically placed hammocks for the occasional nap, and outdoor firepits with seating. We even stumbled upon a long, rectangular 10 person table in the herb and vegetable garden, called Massimo’s Garden (pictured below to the right), that would be perfect for a private dinner party. There’s a full spa, a large gym, a bocce court, two pools reminiscent of a Gray Malin photograph (one for adults and one for families), and six restaurants and bars, including an outpost of the famous Malibu Farms and the namesake Caruso’s situated right over the beach.
You may think that noise would be a issue, with Highway 101 to the north and the Pacific Surfliner train service running directly through the property. However, the Miramar retains the tranquility you’d expect from such a luxurious resort. The normally ubiquitous highway noise is blocked by tall walls and dense landscaping. And interestingly, Caruso raised the entire property a few feet to sit level with the train tracks. All of the buildings were constructed with base isolation systems to cut down on vibrations from trains and cars (and to absorb the shock of earthquakes), and are designed using the same noise-cancelling technology used in super yachts. And many wonder why the rack rate of a room is close to $900.
Let’s talk about the guest room options. There are 124 guest rooms and cottages, plus 37 suites. The Lanai Guest Rooms offer a furnished terrace or patio, designer bathrooms with freestanding tubs, dual sinks and luxury bath amenities. Guests can enjoy coffee and tea using a personal Nespresso machine. There is also a highly curated mini-bar, and twice-daily housekeeping, including evening turn-down service. Lanai Suites are larger than Lanai Guest Rooms, offering a living space with a romantic fireplace or extended patio, dining table and bay window seating.
The single-story Garden Bungalows feature a garden setting with vaulted ceiling, a separate dressing room, a freestanding bathtub and an outdoor furnished terrace. The Grand Bungalow Suites are ideal for family getaways, with 1,325 square-feet of luxurious open living space including a kitchenette, fireplace, pantry, powder room and garden or mountain views. The terrace is furnished with an outdoor sofa and coffee table.
Highly coveted are the 22 Beach House Suites, 960 feet of luxury directly above Miramar Beach, and the three signature suites on the second story of the Manor House including The Founder’s Residence, The Miramar Suite and The Ambassador Suite, offering sunrise to sunset views on the private terraces.
At Rosewood Miramar Beach, you can take advantage of poolside and beachside options. Guests can enjoy an all-inclusive beach experience with complimentary access to chairs and umbrellas, surfboards and paddle boards, or lounge by one of two pools on property. A family friendly pool is decorated with striped yellow umbrellas and has a scoop shop that serves snacks, sweets and locally-made artisanal ice cream from Rori’s. Too rowdy? You can also escape to the adult-only Cabana pool.
Plus, there is also the Miramar Club, a private club with “select membership…exceptional cuisine, 5-star athletic and spa services, personalized concierge services and thoughtfully curated events and programming.” Not knowing exactly what this meant, I rang them to ask the cost, and the response was a politely veiled, “if you have to ask, you cannot afford it” kind of answer. If anyone knows, drop me a line! And I hope you make it to Santa Barbara to see this gorgeous property for yourself! xoM
Caruso’s, the oceanfront restaurant, features al fresco seating over the sand showcasing the highest-quality ingredients sourced from neighboring farmers, fisherman and ranchers. It is the epitome of swoon.
Malibu Farm at Miramar, the first California resort outpost of the beloved farm-to-table by Helene Henderson, serves simply prepared plates crafted from fresh and locally-sourced ingredients, like this Charred Apricot and Tomato Salad with Feta.
Miramar Beach Bar, the Beach House’s oceanfront oasis inspired by a luxurious sailing vessel, is the place for snacks, sunsets and craft cocktails. Don’t miss the Pacific Spritz, their take on the Aperol Spritz.
Looking for more vacation ideas this summer? Check out more of my travel posts to get inspired for your next getaway location.