This hotel definitely falls into the "high end resort" category, and my opinions of the place over my 4-day stay are a bit mixed.
When coming up the porte cochere for the first time, you are greeted by an army of staff that welcome you, grab your bags, and escort you to check-in ...and eventually up to your room. I think there are two camps of thought as it relates to service at high-end properties: some prefer to be almost overwhelmed by superfluous staff and high employee:guest ratios and love being surrounded by passionate employees of the resort. Others prefer to be left alone, with a helping hand available lurking about in the shadows at all times. I've had both experiences ...and overall prefer the later. This resort provided the first, and while it's not my personal preference, some may love it.
Every staffer memorizes and repeats your name at all times. Regardless of what you say or ask, employees are trained to always respond, "it's my pleasure." After day 2, it was almost a game with other guests...where we were trying to see how many times we could get a staffer to say "it's my pleasure" within a single conversation. But humor aside, the staff was good and competent... although a bit more robotic than passionate. I felt every employee I encountered was reading a script right out of a book on good customer service ...and not necessarily from the heart. Again, this isn't a bad thing...but when you stay at high-end properties consistently, it's something you pick up on.
I found my guest room to be very nice; while the bedroom area was a bit small, the bathroom was open and spacious. Furnishings in the room were upscale and the bathroom was well appointed. The bed itself was very comfortable and the room was quiet. On the panel with the air conditioning controls were additional buttons to signal "do not disturb" or "please make room", which lit up a sign in the hallways for housekeeping there. I loved this feature! The hotel is surrounded by resort-residential properties and a golf course, so it's pretty quiet...and the room views are decent. But remember, this is not an oceanfront hotel...so if you have an "ocean view", it's actually quite a distance away down the slope of the coast. There's a golf course, a town, a highway, and a Ritz Carlton resort between you and the beach.
A trend at higher-end resorts is to jack up room rates...and fold in costs that lower-end properties would charge extra for. As an example, at a recent Conrad Hotel stay, I paid a very high nightly rate...but they included limited laundry, all-you-can eat/drink minibar, internet, breakfast, and other items into the rate without extra "resort fees" or additional charges. But that is not so here, where I was surprised at exorbitant fees tacked onto a high nightly rate. There are resort fees, internet access fees, a housekeeping gratuity, a bellhop gratuity, and a very, very high parking fee ($25-$35 if you self or valet park.) Be prepared to spend over $50-75+ in incremental fees for these basics! I wouldn't mind the alacarte pricing for <$200/night rooms, but when you're paying in the $400-800/night+ range, those fees should not be there.
I found the grounds to be very well maintained; landscaping was very nice, and the pool and public areas were very well maintained. There were employees everywhere providing good service as described above.
Food was generally delicious. And while expensive, I found the food to be worth it. Every meal I had was great except for two that were simply "average"...but never did I have a poor food (or poor food service) experience.
During my stay, I heard from other guests there was a rash of crime. One gentlemen had put his notebook computer bag down at his chair and stepped out for a bit, and when he came back, his computer/bag were gone with the staff unable to offer help. I heard of others who had their cameras or computers stolen too, which alarmed me quite a bit. The police were called out to investigate, but I never heard more about what was happening. I made sure my valuables were locked up in my room if they weren't on me --the thought of having to deal with crime at this resort was very surprising.
Overall, I had a good stay. While overwhelming at times, I found the service to be good, the grounds to be excellent, and the facilities and food to be good/very good. For the room rate paid, I had hoped to have a somewhat larger room...and was disappointed with the miscellaneous fees tacked onto the bill. While I'd consider coming back here when in the Dana Point area, I'd probably give the nearby Ritz Carlton a try; it's right on the water, and for similar rates, it could be a viable option.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Overlooking the Pacific Ocean stands The St. Regis Monarch Beach. Crowned with the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond Award, the resort delivers an experience beyond expectation. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- St. Regis, Monarch Beach Hotel Dana Point
- St Regis Dana Point
- St Regis Resort Monarch Beach