Flights of Fancy at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort

Monarch Beach Resort has long been known for its exclusive clientele, flawless Pacific Ocean views and its much-televised Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf course. Now, under the St. Regis hospitality banner, management upped the ante with a recent refresh of all 400 guestrooms and suites.

Another relatively new development, Monarch Beach partners with Miraval Group. Under the new direction, the spa experience is just as plush and soothing as one would expect from this long-established 5-star property, updated with the latest products, finely trained practitioners and energetic fitness instructors (spin by the pool? Fabulous!). There’s also a branch of DryBar offering moms and daughters the opportunity to get glam for the night after the day at the beach, and for dads to get their best beach look on.

The fine dining and cocktail lounge options are also top drawer, and include Bourbon Steak: A Michael Mina Restaurant (opened in February); Mexican restaurant Sombre; Mediterranean-Californian Aveo Table + Bar; and 33º North, designed as Orange County’s ultimate living room.

Sea cave in Dana Point, California

© Christian Tjernagel |

A glamorous Southern California retreat for grown-ups? Absolutely. But there are numerous programs and amenities in place to make kids and teens not only feel welcome, but stimulated by the natural attributes of the coastal surroundings. In fact, the property’s legendary golf course unlocked some of its links for kids and teens interested in golf. The club now offers a four-hour window prior to sunset when young duffers can golf for free with a paid adult with a same-day reservation.

Couples with children ages 5–12 can schedule in some alone time or spa time thanks to the hotel’s thoughtfully planned and expansive Monarch Beach Kids program. The supervised sessions, available for half- or full-day segments for an extra fee, include everything from inspired art projects (Sea Glass Necklace Making, mosaic art and canvas painting classes among them) and board games to treasure hunts, dodge ball and beach exploration outside. Ocean Adventures programs, also available for extra fees, are designed for kids 5–14 who are a bit more adventurous and curious about the surroundings.

Kids who prefer water activities and have moderate swim skills or better can ask their parents to make reservations for one of the many surf, body board and body surf classes led by vetted instructors. Others fascinated with what’s going on underwater and on the shoreline will want to be signed up for immersive classes at the Ocean Institute, whose instructors will introduce them to the habits and survival tactics of a variety of marine life including sea turtles, whales and sharks. Participants get the opportunity to interact with live tide pool animals, create ocean art and get further inspiration with readings of children’s ocean-themed literature.

Hiking trail above Dana Point city view at sunset

© Stephanie Starr |

Parents can also pull together bespoke itineraries for the whole family through Dana Point Discoveries, designed to help guests explore Dana Point beyond the property’s borders. Activities include ocean sports lessons, trail hikes to Bluff Top for hilltop views and exclusive marine adventures through the Ocean Institute. Back at the property, families can also enjoy private beach access and transportation from the resort tram to its own private beach. Weekends are a fine time to go to take advantage of the Monarch Bay Club’s excellent, farm fresh brunch offerings, complete with beachfront views.

On-site resort experience planners (via 949 234 3900) are on hand to help parents out with the youngest guests, including scheduling babysitting services with a trusted childcare provider. Rooms can be furnished with such amenities as child-sized robes, slippers and a sink-side stool on request or, preferably, at the time of making the family reservation.