Dana Point Travel Guide
Hotels Doing Good / Orange County Hotels / Dana Point Hotels / Elephant Parade Hotels / Elephant Parade / → All Tags
You hardly need another good reason to visit Dana Point, Calif. as it's one of the most scenic spots in the country, populated with great resorts. But you will need to hurry up and plan your visit if you're hoping to catch the final weeks of the area's Elephant Parade which ends on November 17.
The Elephant Parade is a huge public art exhibition that showcases colorfully decorated, life-size baby elephant sculptures created by local and international artists (and some celebrities too.) It's totally free to see as the elephants are placed in high-pedestrian traffic areas and frequently visited spots around Dana Point, including the Harbor, local beaches, public parks and several resorts. Check out which elephants can be found where in Dana Point right here.
You can also scope out the elephants from your hotel room, so long as you're staying at one of the sponsoring resorts which are St. Regis Monarch Beach, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Marriott Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa (where the grand auction will be held), and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach. We're partial to the ellies out in front at the St. Regis but the Ritz-Carlton does boast a cute elephant done by Holly Branson, Sir Richard's daughter.
If you see an elephant that really catches your eye, then you can bid on it during the Grand Auction at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott on November 17th. A portion of the sale proceeds will go to the Asian Elephant Foundation. The Elephant Parade itself started in 2006 as a way to raise awareness, and money for the Asian Elephant whose population has shrunk over 90 percent. Today, about 3,500 Asian elephants remain, compared to 35,000 in 1960 and only about 1,500 elephants live in the wild.
[Photo: St. Regis Monarch Beach/Facebook]
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The Ritz-Carlton news just keeps rolling in: we’ve heard about new things happening in destinations as disparate as Israel, Bali, Aruba, Japan and beyond already. Closer to home, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel – in Orange County, Los Angeles – is marking its last year as a twenty-something with new-look guestrooms, new f&b outlets, and more.
Perched high on the cliffs above the crashing waves of the Pacific, the hotel’s location was the source of inspiration for the new design. That translates into lots of pale blues against white walls and sheets, with contrasting dark wood in the headboard and furniture. It’s the kind of beach-y modern that sits midway between the more traditional Ritz-Carlton wealthy- great-aunt look and younger urbanite style you’d find in its Georgetown, DC hotel for example.
Just waiting for the financing to come through on your new Bentley? Aren’t we all. Well in the meantime, allow this Fantasy Friday post to guide you one step closer to being behind the wheel of this ultimate luxury car, and out on the open road. But where to take this baller-status vehicle? Well, since it belongs to St. Regis as part of their “Grand Tour Aficionado Package," we’d say wherever they allow. Lucky for you, it’s on a road trip along the gorgeous California coast!
During the next couple months, St. Regis Monarch Beach and St. Regis San Francisco are pairing up to offer a roadie adventure featuring a two-night stay at each end of the drive (in a 900+ square foot suite), a Grand Tourista Bag created by fashion designer Jason Wu, a Bentley key chain (to flash around after and convince people of your potential ownership) and of course, access to your very own 2013 Bentley GT, Bentley GTC, or Bentley Mulsanne for the 10-hour drive between destinations.
You can start your road trip at either of the two properties, with the drive winding up or down the Pacific Coast Highway through Big Sur, Surf City USA, Santa Monica, Malibu and Santa Barbara. We suggest letting Magellan ride shotgun if you’re directionally challenged.
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All this week, HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen will be talking with the people who perform some of the coolest Green Hotel Jobs out there. He reached out across the globe to talk to the dynamic folks who do everything from breeding fish to teaching indigenous survival courses, and everything in between.
Today we travel from one coastal environment (Hawaii) to another (Laguna) to talk to one of the naturalists at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.
30-year-old Will Steinreide, a Dana Point native who, after working with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment (AOTE) on Catalina Island, now leads AOTE-partnered guest activities and programs at the Ritz-Carlton. In the role, he gets to take guests on scavenger hunts, while educating them about indigenous peoples of the area, tending to the hotel kitchen’s organic garden, and snorkeling in the kelp forests of nearby Hidden Cove.
We have no shame in admitting that we’re kind of huge fans of cheese—whether it be mild or strong, creamy or sharp, cow, goat or sheep. Even lactose-intolerant people love cheese, so why shouldn’t we, with our perfectly healthy digestive systems, enjoy the vast array of dairy-based goodness that’s out there?
That’s why, when we heard about the Cheese Cave at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, we sped down the coast to the OC to learn more about this place which, to us, sounded like a little slice of heaven. A little slice of rich, cheddary heaven.
St. Regis Hotels / Hotel Dance Parties / Luxury Hotels / Michael Mustafa / Orange County Hotels / → All Tags
There’s no shortage of luxury resorts on the Orange County Coast, or the California Riviera as some fancy folks call it, but during a recent stay at the St. Regis Monarch Beach, we wanted to know what set California’s only five-star, five-diamond resort apart from the pack. Um...aside from being California's only five-star, five-diamond resort that is.
Situated just north of Dana Point, the hotel has the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and the Montage Laguna Beach for neighbors, but the St. Regis is situated on a links-style golf course (think St. Andrews) with an unobstructed view of the sea, and has its very own private beach, where guests can frolic during the day, and dine in the hushed elegance of the Monarch Beach Club restaurant in the evening.
During a stay at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort outside Laguna Beach, we stopped by Michael Mina’s restaurant there, Stonehill Tavern, for a quick sit-down with the famous chef-impresario.
While speaking with him, we found out about the exciting new changes in store for the restaurant now that it has a new executive chef, Brian Black, who comes to Stonehill after stints at Mina’s other restaurants and then at Loft at the Montage Laguna Beach just down the road from the St. Regis.
Though much of the recent reportage about the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point has been about the popular luxury resort’s financial troubles, we found at least one bright spot, economically speaking: the new $39, three-course prix fixe menu at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern restaurant.
The budget menu is available Wednesday-Sunday (every night that the restaurant itself is open), and each night features a simple, hearty main course like Wednesday’s fish and chips, Thursday’s Kobe steak frites with roasted baby carrots, Friday’s cedar-plank salmon with potatoes and bacon vinaigrette, and Saturday’s roast prime rib with twice-baked potato.
As we reported in June, the St. Regis Monarch Beach also known as that hotel where AIG execs blew 500K on a corporate retreat just after the group got a federal bailout was facing foreclosure and now its owners have turned it over to its mezzanine lender, Citigroup.
According to the WSJ, the resort missed payments in April on a $70 million mezzanine loan from Citigroup. Naturally, the Starwood talking heads had this to say about the transition between its current owner and Citigroup:
"The acquisition (through foreclosure) will have no impact on the hotel, golf club or beach club," Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos said. The resort will "continue operate at the highest standards of service, seamlessly and without interruption for guests and employees."
Yeah, yeah. We know; it usually doesn't affect you. Unfortunately, it doesn't affect rates either: they're still hovering around $545.
Whoa. The super-popular St. Regis Monarch Beach also known as that hotel where AIG execs blew 500K on a corporate retreat just after the group got a federal bailout is now facing foreclosure, the LA Times reports.
Per the LAT:
The companies that own the resort are in default on a $70-million loan from Citigroup Global Markets Realty Group, people knowledgeable about the debt said Tuesday.
Negotiations continue in an effort to avoid an auction, according to those sources. But unless something is worked out, the St. Regis will go on the block July 7, to be sold to the highest bidder, according to a "terms of public sale" document obtained by The Times.
Yeah, uh, anyone want to buy this bad boy? Anyone?
Things have not been going well for hotels in Orange County, Cali., recently. Last year, a man and wife were killed in a bizarre murder-suicide at the Montage Resort. The other month a woman's body was found on dry ice inside the Fairmont Newport Beach and now an Olympic ice dancer was slipped the date-rape drug at the St. Regis Monarch Beach.
Grishuk, who won Olympic gold medals for Russia in ice dancing in 1994 and 1998, was attending a business meeting at the St. Regis Monarch Beach on April 12 when she began to feel ill and numb, sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.
While eating dinner, she spotted a partially dissolved pill in the bottom of her drink. Investigators later found another dissolved pill in the bottom of a drink she ordered in the hotel's lounge.
Amormino says toxicology tests that came back Tuesday were positive for GHB, but it wasn't immediately clear how the pills got in Grishuk's drinks or who put them there.
Grishuk, 36, is native of the Ukraine but now lives in Los Angeles. The St. Regis has not issued a statement to the press as of yet.
In the meantime, you may want to avoid these $400 a night rooms. You never know what will happen during your stay.
Vietnam's president Nguyen Minh Triet made a trip to Laguna Beach, Calif. this weekend, making it the first time a leader of Vietnam has touched American soil since after the end of the Vietnam War. Triet hit up Starwood's St. Regis Monarch Beach, a popular luxury hotel amongst celebrities, rich people and now, politicians. The hotel is also where Triet hosted a reception for invited business leaders.
But the event was interrupted by about 2,000 demonstrators who marched against Triet's communist government for their consistent violation of human rights.
Demonstration leaders with megaphones walked up and down Niguel Road urging the crowd on. Many waved American and pre-Communist Vietnamese flags and held up pictures calling for the release of a prominent priest who has been jailed by Vietnamese authorities. One man carried a hanging effigy of Triet on a pole.
Still, we are sure Triet sought some solace in the hotel's 3,100 sq.ft. Presidential Suite which includes "multiple outdoor full ocean view balconies, including one large tiled terrace with a grand fireplace and outdoor speakers", butler service, a piano, a dining room for 10 people, and artwork by Picasso.
[Photo: LA Times]
· Triet visit draws 2,000 peaceful protesters [MSNBC]