92629 Travel Guide
Cool Hotel Jobs / Green Hotels / California Hotels / Dana Point Hotels / Ritz Carlton Hotels / Snorkeling / → All Tags
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?
Whoops! Looks like someone was a little careless with the spending!
We don't want to get too political here, so we'll try our best to deliver this news without any sort of...slant.
Days after the government spent $85 billion to prevent AIG from collapsing, the execs of the company took themselves on a special little retreat at the ritzy St. Regis Monarch Beach. And they blew $500K.
USA Today has a rundown on how AIG proved it possible to spend such an absurd amount of money at one hotel:
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., described what investigators found during a hearing this morning on Capitol Hill:
AIG spent $200,000 for hotel rooms, and almost $150,000 for catered banquets. AIG spent -- listen to this one -- $23,000 at the hotel spa and another $1,400 at the salon. They were getting their manicures, their facials, their pedicures and their massages while the American people were -- were footing the bill.
...And they spent another $10,000 for -- I don't know what this is -- leisure dining.
...Another member of the panel explained that "leisure dining" means they drank at a bar.
Well, folks: now you know. And we're guessing it's not so hard to run up a $23K bill at the spa with $350 treatments like the Mediterranean Harmony Massage, which involves two therapists doing double duty on your bod and ends with a fig-and-cassis backrub. Musta been nice.
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]
The This is Broken blog has a funny post on the Mandalay Bay elevator buttons where the hotel seems to "add" on floors, making guests believe the building is taller than it is.
· Room With An Anti-View: Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel [HotelChatter]
· Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel reviews [TripAdvisor]
· Broken: Floor numbers at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay [This is Broken]
You know the scene. You open the door to your brand new hotel room, run over to the window, open the blinds and bam, you are hit with the anti-view. Maybe you are looking down a dirty alley, witnessing a drug deal, staring at an air shaft in the face, or seeing a brick wall. Whatever you are viewing it is not extremely pleasurable. Help out your fellow hotel mavens by uploading your anti-views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number with the not-so-easy-on-the-eyes view.
This view from Room 2548 at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is sooo close to being a Killer View. If we had gotten a room a little more to the right (i.e. close to the elevator which would have prevented us from walking like 1/2 a mile to our room), we could have had a blissful view of the Pacific Ocean.
Instead we were stuck staring at the outdoor massage cabanas. And those things are actually closer than they appear. Fortunately, (or maybe unfortunately?) no one was getting a massage when we chose to eat our breakfast on the in-room balcony.