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Hotel Review: St. Regis Monarch Beach King Executive “Suite”

by on March 25, 2013 · 23 comments

in Hotel Reviews, Pet Travel, Starwood, Trip Reports

Miles and I had a pretty extensive trip to California last month, which ended up lasting nearly two weeks. After about 10 days in Los Angeles, we headed down to San Diego for a night to stay at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, and then we decided to visit Laguna Beach for the first time to check out the St. Regis Monarch Beach.

The St. Regis Monarch Beach is one of several luxury properties on that stretch of coast, which also include the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and the Montage Laguna Beach, and its layout is pretty similar to those, with a main building that descends a hillside to the pool area, though the resort is known for its world-class golf course which separates it from the ocean – it’s also across the PCH from the Pacific, so it’s a bit of a trek to get down to the beach from the hotel.

The St. Regis has 325 guest rooms and 75 suites. There are three swimming pools at the resort which include the ocean pool, a family pool and a 25-yard lap pool. It has a massive 30,000-square-foot Spa Gaucin, which specializes in vinotherapie treatments, with 24 treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, and Jacuzzi where treatments incorporate; a full-service fitness center, eight lighted tennis courts, and a golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. at the Monarch Beach Golf Links. The hotel’s dining options include Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern, a causal cafe called Crust, Motif, which is the hotel’s Mediterranean-inspired fine-dining outlet, as well as the Poolside Bar & Grill and Club 19 at the golf club and the Monarch Bay Club down on the beach.

St. Regis Monarch Beach.

The main pool area at the St. Regis Monarch Beach.

This is a Starwood Category 6 property where free nights are normally 20,000-25,000 SPG points per night. Since I was only here for one night, I decided to opt for Cash & Points instead and used 8,000 SPG points + $150 rather than paying $545 for a room, so I got about 4.9 cents per point in value from my Starpoints.

I tried to use the Your24 check-in benefit I have as a Starwood 100-night Platinum elite, but my request was denied since the hotel claimed they were fully booked the previous night. I also applied one of my Suite Night Awards, which was processed in advance and I was upgraded into an Executive Suite, which is listed as “King Bed, 720 sq ft / 67 m², Resort view with balcony, Preferred view.”

The Room

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My Executive Suite.

I refuse to call the room a Suite, because it was just a large room. Maybe a Junior Suite, but Executive Suite is just misleading. Since I had Miles with me, I was automatically placed in a ground floor room with a view of the side parking lot. This ended up being annoying for several reasons, but mainly because the patio wasn’t enclosed and there was a row of hedges, so I had to have Miles on the leash at all times. I would have much preferred an enclosed balcony with a view, like we had at the Park Hyatt Aviara.

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Another shot of my room.

The room also had a minibar and a large flatscreen television plus a little entry foyer, which was a nice touch to separate the main room from the front door.

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Miles eager to get to our room!

The hotel was very dog-friendly and provided Miles with a doggy bed where he could relax while he was here, along with some bottled water and bones. While this was a nice touch, the hotel charged a whopping $150 as a pet fee, so I expected some perks for Miles.

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Miles even has his own dog bed.

The fee is good for whatever the length of your stay – so while for my one night it ended up doubling the out-of-pocket expense and it was twice what the Park Hyatt Aviara charged! I may have to switch all of my hotel stays with Miles to Kimpton because they are extremely pet-friendly and don’t charge any pet fees.

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Dog bone and water for Miles.

While my Starwood Ambassador wasn’t able to get my Your24 check in approved, she did send me a bottle of wine.

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Welcome amenity from my SPG Ambassador.

As mentioned, my room ended up being on the ground floor and had the “garden” view was of a little stretch of lawn and a parking lot, which I was not too happy about.

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Only view from my room was of this small lawn and parking lot.

However, it was a gorgeous SoCal day, so Miles and I decided to get out and about. The grounds of the property were very nice, but as I mentioned, one thing to note is that this hotel is perched up in the hills on the east side of the PCH, so it’s not right on the beach, and most guests seem to hang out at the pool instead.

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Watching the sunset from the pool area out back.

However, that didn’t stop me and Miles from heading up to Laguna Beach to check out the 9th Street Beach which I liked a lot and highly recommend for dogs.

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Spending the afternoon with Miles at the 9th St. Beach, which is great for dogs.

I like celebrity chef Michael Mina’s restaurants, so for dinner I decided to eat at his Stonehill Tavern restaurant at the resort. The food is upscale American with a great seafood selection. I tried the signature OC salad with poached Maine lobster, farmers market citrus and avocado and the miso-glazed black cod for dessert. Both were good, but nothing out-of-this-world extraordinary.

When in Rome... the "OC" Salad

When in Rome…the “OC” salad.

While the resort grounds are nice, I didn’t stay in the area to have a view of the parking lot, nor did I use one of my final Suite Upgrade Awards to get a regular (albeit spacious) room, so I was pretty unhappy with the overall stay and probably won’t be back at the property again. I’ll probably come back to Laguna because I fell in love with the surrounding area and stunning beaches, but next time I’m there I’m going to try out the Montage Laguna Beach, which is right on a cliff on the beach and gets rave reviews – not to mention being a member of Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, so I can book using my new Mercedes-Benz Platinum card for extra perks like food, beverage and spa credits, early check-in and late check-out and, yes, potentially an upgrade.

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  • BeachMiles

    We travel with Gracie the Shih Tsu a lot , and I find the hotels ofter try to put us on the first floor. A discussion prior to check in usually get us a higher floor.

  • patrick

    Are you sure dogs are legally allowed on the beach in Laguna? In my experience they aren’t. But then it’s been awhile since I’ve been there.

  • Adam

    I stayed at this property earlier this month and got the exact same room (on a higher floor) without using one of my suite night upgrades (50 nt SPG Platinum). This property has some beautiful suites but they’re often booked as part of groups/meetings packages. Maybe not the best place to redeem suite award nights.

  • John Phillips

    Yes the Montage Laguna Nigel is the best property in my opinion against the Ritz and St Regis, but how does one get a free room on Points at the Montage? Minimum room price there is $800 plus a night and no affiliations that I can find.

  • Dave

    Maybe its just the photos but that room looks horrible for a St. Regis! It looks like any giant corporate centered Marriott I’ve ever stayed at. Bleech. I love the Ritz Carlton Laguna Nigel and Pelican Hill in Newport Beach which is only a 20 minute drive away but can’t say I’d use valuable SPG points for this property.

  • Greg

    For what it’s worth stayed there as a Gold on an Amex FHR rate and was given the Executive Suite as the standard upgrade without a certificate.

  • thepointsguy

    Thanks for throwing salt on my wound! ;-)

  • thepointsguy

    The grounds are nice.. and the room is fine. Just nothing specacular

  • thepointsguy

    You can’t use any hotel points, but you can get perks by booking through Amex FHR

  • thepointsguy

    Yes..and there were a bunch at 9th st

  • thepointsguy

    Need to start doing that.. no more dog discrimination!

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnruda John Ruda

    Having stayed at both the St Regis and the Montage, I agree that the Montage is far and away the winner. I especially love their spa. The spa facilities are complimentary for resort guests and there is a fantastic indoor/ outdoor relaxation and hot tub area in the men’s lounge.

  • John k

    Felt very uptight at st Regis monarch. Albeit beautiful grounds, it kinda stops there. Food at all the restaurants were disappointing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.crowe.1485 Andrew Crowe

    No affiliations. Montage Hotels and Resorts. You can get a room for way less then $800 in the offseason

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.crowe.1485 Andrew Crowe

    Yep, you can have them on the beach anytime between October and June 1. But in the summer you can’t have them between 9 and 5

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.crowe.1485 Andrew Crowe

    Montage Laguna Beach.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.crowe.1485 Andrew Crowe

    That room looks like a Marriott? You’ve got to be kidding? regardless if a was a suite or not you think that room looks like a marriott?

  • Jamie

    Sorry, but pet friendly hotel is definitely a turnoff for me. We are a family of non-dog lovers so we much prefer pet free vacations. Well, at $150 extra, I don’t suppose they are getting many pet lovers staying at this hotel. Yikes!

  • Diana

    I’ve stayed there a few timse and always got decent rooms. Why didn’t you ask them for another room?

  • http://twitter.com/LLWarrenP Warren Poschman

    I have noticed the “upgrade disparity” lots recently! I think this almost must be the answer to the Suite Night Awards to protect the “real” suites. Said differently, SPG hotels are marking some preferred rooms as Executive Suites which means Efficiency Suite.
    On several occasions I have gotten nice rooms that are termed as suites (either through asking for a “suite” at the front desk or via the Awards) but are really just bigger rooms or rooms that have more furniture. I don’t know how to combat this other than just asking for a suite with a separate living area.

  • http://twitter.com/LLWarrenP Warren Poschman

    By the way…Your24 seems more like Never24. I have yet to be able to actually use this since every time they told me that they are sold out, etc. Has anyone been able to use this at a “desirable” property??

    Interestingly enough, I’ve just shown up early (11am-ish) and checked in without incident, even when it was previously denied (W Washington DC).

  • Lance rover

    Awesome hotel with awesome facilities! A hotel with 325 rooms and 75 suites! pheww!! Not sure if i could afford it, but, hey, i can at least dream to have my dream holidays spent there. can’t it?

    Anyway, Early this year, i went to apollo bay in victoria and spent a few nights at whitecrest apollo bay accommodation (i think that’s what they call it..not sure). I really liked it there, for i was really getting a world class accommodation at a very affordable price….Great sea beach..great ocean view resort…great foods…couldn’t really asked for any better…

  • Lance rover

    oh…i forgot to mention, what i really liked most about this apollo bay accom was that i could actually listen and wake up to the sounds of waves breaking right below my luxury accommodation….you can’t beat that! can you?!

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