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“Magnificently Underwhelming”

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Monarch Beach Resort
Ranked #1 of 12 Hotels in Dana Point
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 20, 2006

We just returned from a 5 night stay (Aug. 12-17) at this resort. Although the property itself is beautiful, the overall experience would never rank with our experiences at any Four Seasons property, or even with Bacara in Santa Barbara. The room was nice, but not special. Only the bathroom was on par with other 4-5 star resorts. The food at their dinner restaurant, Motif, was just plain awful. My husband ordered beef short ribs and was presented with a large mound of congealed fat. When he complained to the waiter, he was told that all short ribs are "fatty". My $33 John Dory was tasteless and over done.

As to service, all of the staff inside the hotel were pleasant and helpful. However outside was another story. We spent 4 days at the pool and had to refill our own water glasses all four days. The pool staff will gladly set up your chairs and take your tip, but you'll never see them again (though they stand around at the entrance to the pool all day chatting). The gentleman next to us tipped the attendant $20.00 for two chairs and still never saw her again! They did come around each day with melted popsicles that left you sticky and thirsty....but still no water. We found this lack of service at a $500+ per night hotel/resort appalling. It proved to us that no matter how much money the Starwood Corporation spends on a property, they will never rise to the level of a Four Seasons or even a Ritz Carlton property until they change the way they manage their hotels. Obviously, their top management does not read Trip Advisor or the comments made by their guests. For this reason alone, this will be our first and last trip to a St. Regis property.

  • Stayed: August 2006, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank akamare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 18, 2006

We have stayed in the st regis for 6 nights, 2 rooms from 1 august.
Well after 8 hours on highways coming from San Francisco, we arriving at the St Regis.
Bad checking : 1 hour!!!!!
They don't find my reservation ( 2 rooms at 555$ per nights for 6 nights)
They don't have connecting rooms!
Well after 1 hour, they say that 1 room is ready the other 1 hour later and that at 5.30PM!!
well, we go to your only room at this time and......the room isn't ready , bed and bathroom ...nothing.
I can support that after 30minutes of speaking with now 5 peoples :manager.....
we have our 2 rooms , a one complimentary nights for apology
that's a big word at st regis : "we apologize for that"
Of course the service is worse.

At the swimming pool: we have the answer for the towels: take it , it's a self service pool.

well Starwood it's easy to pay a architect and a landscapper to build a magnificient resort , that's OK
but for the service .......motel 6?

Starwood have a hard job to put St regis brand at the same level than Ritz Carlton or Four seasons.

PS the OC attitude is very very difficult to support.
peoples working is this hotel think that the customers are just
a bag with a loty of
no service, no smilies, very cold attitude

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled with family
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9  Thank lsd1070
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 16, 2006

I stayed at the St. Regis Monarch Beach for 4 nights in mid-July with my wife and two children. I REALLY loved this hotel.

The hotel itself is gorgeous, inside and out. Although it is across the street from the Pacific it is on a hill and has beautiful views. The grounds are just spectacular. Also, the main pool is just about the prettiest pool I've ever been to--ocean views, fountains, gorgeous flowers in huge pots. The beach club was nice too and it was easy to get to by tram/golf cart---never had a wait.

The rooms are unusually large (550 s.f.) and have an absolutely wonderful bathroom. We had a "pool view" room with a nice view of the courtyard/pool area, and a pretty decent ocean view as well. We had a nice balcony but this varies by room. I thought it was worth it to have "pool view" rather than "resort view."

I thought the service at the hotel was good, especially at the main pool. You had to "check in" with the pool attendant as you entered the pool, and they were good about asking you about whatever you might need. They would constantly check on you for drinks, food, etc. If you like to order a lot of drinks at the pool it will be expensive---cocktails run about $15 each with tax and tip. Two afternoons they brought around complimentary "mango-scented" frozen towels to put on your forehead to cool down. These were just heavenly! They also brought around small popsickles one day. They always had some delicious water infused with fresh fruit available at the pool (complimentary). I used the valets a lot and they always had our car ready promptly. My only fault on the service front is that I did order a bucket of ice one night and it never came.

We mostly ate in the town of Laguna Beach at night (lots of great restaurant choices) so I cannot comment much on the restaurants at the hotel. We did have a very nice lunch at the Monarch Beach Club. I will say that I found the prices at Crust to be a bit extreme ($5.50 for to-go coffee), so we mostly drove over to Starbucks a few blocks away on PCH for coffee in the morning, plus we liked it over there.

We got a pretty good deal on the room, I thought---4 nights for price of 3, so it came out to $380/night or so, spread out over 4 nights. I actually thought this was quite reasonable for the quality of the accomodations during peak season. Plus there was no resort fee, as you see in many hotels.

I also checked out the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel and the Montage while I was in the area. I would highly recommend drinks or dinner at the Montage. Its very beautiful and has a nice relaxed elegance in a "smaller luxury hotel" way. But the rooms are about twice the price of the St. Regis, so its not really a comparable hotel. The Ritz is about the same price as the St. Regis. The Ritz has a superior location right on the cliff, but I thought the recent "re-do" left it looking like a bit of a stylistic mish-mash. The main level public rooms have a more tropical look, and some of the other public areas have the same old hunt club look, like the typical urban Ritz-Carlton. Also, I am a pool person and the pool at the Ritz does not enjoy the spectacular view that other areas of the hotel do. Still, you can't go wrong at either place---both are very nice.

All in all, I thought the St. Regis was an outstanding property---I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it highly.

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled with family
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7  Thank iowaguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 15, 2006

I stayed at the St. Regis for a few days in August. I was there for work, but had time to enjoy the property. Simply put, I thought it was one of the nicest hotels I've ever visited. I say that mainly because of the excellent world-class service -- very friendly without once feeling fake. You really felt like the staff was looking out for you. One example: when I checked out I had to wait a few minutes for them to bring my car around. I assured the guy who brought my luggage out that I could take things from there, so he left, but he came back a few minutes later with two cold bottles of water. "You mentioned that you were driving up to LA, so I thought you could use these," he said as he handed them over. Nice touch.

The setting is beautiful, and so are the pools. The beach was great, and although you have to take a short tram ride to get there, the facilities the hotel has in place (private beach club, folks to set up your chair and towel and bring you drinks) make it worthwhile. The golf was fantastic, and the health club and spa are destinations unto themselves, with the nicest locker room I've ever seen. I actually looked forward to working out.

I only had lunches at the hotel, and they were great. The many dining options looked tempting, but as I wasn't able to try them out I can't comment on them.

The room I had, which I believe was a standard room (2 queen-sized beds), was huge and very nicely appointed. Having said that, I do agree with some of the slightly negative comments in the other reviews. The place is luxurious, but in a kind of Las Vegas cookie cutter way (Not sure how to decorate a big public room? How about putting giant mirrors everywhere (and I do mean everywhere).). So people who like unique style, quirky style, or classic old-world style might be disappointed. As a business conference location it was perfect (the business center took great care of me, for example), and I could definitely see going there for a long romantic weekend, or having a big wedding there. But as a family vacation destination, it might not be quite right (although all the kids I saw seemed to be having a great time, so what do I know?).

I've got two small suggestions for the folks in charge, in case you're reading this. First, although the pools look great, they're way too warm. They must be great when it's cool, but in August one wants a dip in the pool to feel a little colder than a warm bath. Second, the beds are great, but the linens are only so-so. A place as nice as the St. Regis ought to have sheets wtih stratospheric thread counts.

Other than that, I loved the place.

Stayed: August 2006
4  Thank WDCTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2006

My wife and I stayed at St Regis Morach Beach Aug 1-3. The hotel is located in an upmarket residencial area of south OC some mile or so back from the beach. The location is quite nice in an OC way.

Arrived at around 15.00, hotel was obviously very busy and our room was not ready. We were told check in time was 16.00 and that we would be called on our cellphone when the room was ready. We went to have some lunch on the terrance and 100 bucks later for 2 glasses of wine and some appitizers we found that at 16.30 the room was still not ready.

We had been checked in by a young guy who I am sure was training or helping out due to the busy time, I got the impression he did not really know what he was doing. This was confirmed when after spending another half hour watching newly arriving guests checking in I again returned to the desk to be told by someone who did know what he was doing that our room was ready. The front desk was clearly overwhelmed.

During the rest of our stay we had numerous other poor service experiences. Housekeeping not making the room up until 18.00.
Waiting service in the lobby lounge poor. No availibility in the restaurants. Stonehil Tavern the signature restuarant was good, but noisy and sufferred again from poor service, to many people too few harrased staff.. The crowded tram to the beach. Bell hops unable to cope with valet parking scheme.

The decor in the room was very nice although a bit on the small side and the pubic areas are OK if a bit soulless - this is a big establishment and has an industrial feel to it. I would imagine it is being squarely targeted at conventions and the like rather than the leisure travelleres who were mostly the clients during my stay.

In summary this is not a cheap hotel, room only $600 and with expensive add ons. Well into Four Seasons territory but without any of the FS style or more importantly the FS service ethos.

The St Regis team need to spend a lot of energy to get this hotel back on track. Until this is done I would advise to stay clear.

Stayed: July 2006
3  Thank gofer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2006

I have stayed in at least a hundred hotels and this is by far the most amazing one i have stayed at so far!! The service is great, the people treat you like royalty, the views are amazing, the food is to die for, the pool is beautiful, and the beach service is outstanding!! Allthough the prices are high, if you split a meal it's really not that bad- the portions are of a nice size (except the food at Stonehill Tavern). As a matter of fact, the only time I felt somewhat ripped off was during my dining experience at Stonehill Tavern. The portions were rediculosly small, the prices were extremely over-priced, and the food wasn't that great. However, Motif, Pool Bar & Grill (home to the most delicious shrimp spring rolls!!), the Monarch Bay Club (which serves a pretty mean Cuban sandwhich), and Crust (you should definatly try one of their cheese danishes...I am addicted!! haha) all served amazing food at prices that were reasonable if entrees were split amongst two people-even the appetizers were big enough to do this. The St. Regis Monarch Beach is something every hard working person who just wants to relax should visit!! You won't be sorry.

But if your on a budget, don't bring a car with you to the hotel- forced valet parking is $30 a day... I think the hotel has a shuttle that will pick you up at the air port and drop you back off. There really isn't a need for a car since everything you could need is at the Resort or just a few minutes away. In addition, those on a tight budget might be interested to know that my travel companion and I managed to spend less than $100 a day, including the valet charge! Not too bad, so don't let the prices scare you away!! (The only time we went over was the day we at Stonehill Tavern- $90 for two appetizers that were very dissappointing....my advice would be to skip this restraunt because there are many wonderful restraunts around the hotel and the other restraunts the St. Regis has to offer are much better and more resonably priced!!)

  • Stayed: July 2006
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
2  Thank worldtrekker098
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2006

My family and I stayed at this property for about a week. I had read the mixed reviews, but my wife insisted that we stay at this property because of its location.

I can summarize our stay in very simple terms - the resort is truly spectacular. The area is charming and beautiful. The room was large and luxurious. The service was lousy. The restaurants were mediocre and outrageously over-priced. For example, they have a "coffee bar" called Crust. Coffee goes for $5.25 per cup - that's for just plain old regular coffee, not a latte of an espresso, just a plain old cup of coffee. The first morning I went down and ordered 2 cups and when they presented me with the slip to sign it was over $11. I started to laugh and told the woman behind the counter that there must be a mistake - it was over $11 for 2 cups of coffee - she didn’t laugh, I didn’t either when I read it again and realized that was the price. The next day I actually drove to Starbucks and got 2 cups of coffee for half the price. That was indicative of the other prices for food and beverages.

The staff is quite reserved to the point of being indifferent. It's hard to describe, but except for the bell staff, all other staff members have a painted on "Stepford Wives" fake smile, like they really don’t like being there yet they know they are supposed to be friendly and helpful, but they are not genuinely helpful or are in any way service oriented. I wasn’t looking for rock star treatment, but at this level of hotel, I also didn’t expect Motel 6 like service either. When I walk in to Burger King to order junk food for my teenage kids, I don’t expect great service, but if I walk in to a 5 star restaurant I DO expect at least good service and hope for great service. This property has 5 star qualities, but the staff has Burger King attitudes. Maybe the owners don’t pay great wages, maybe it's an OC thing, but in any case I was really disappointed in the level of service and lack of caring by the staff at this property. It really doesn’t want you to come back and stay there again which is really a shame since the property itself is really nice.

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled with family
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7  Thank tomic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Monarch Beach Resort

Address: 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629-4085 (Formerly St. Regis, Monarch Beach)
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Orange County > Dana Point
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Dana Point
#3 Romantic Hotel in Dana Point
#3 Business Hotel in Dana Point
#4 Family Hotel in Dana Point
Price Range: $330 - $806 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Monarch Beach Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 400
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our AAA Five-Diamond resort overlooks the Pacific and offers private beach club access, with watersports, oceanfront golf, award-winning Miraval Life in Balance Spa, swimming pools, upscale dining, activities programs and more. Located in Dana Point, the resort offers easy access to a variety of Southern California attractions including Catalina Island, Dana Point Harbor, Laguna art galleries and events, Disneyland and more. ... 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

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