Background + Resort Details:
For a birthday celebration with my mom, we decided on a staycation trip to the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach. The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club opened in 2001 under the St. Regis chain. The resort left the St. Regis brand in 2016, and was not affiliated with any major chain until January 2021 when it joined Waldorf Astoria. The resort features 400 rooms, and is located about 60 miles south of Los Angeles and 70 miles north of San Diego. It’s located in the city of Dana Point, California, and it is less than a mile away from another luxury property, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.
I utilized my Hilton Honors Award Night certificate that comes yearly with my Hilton Aspire AMEX Card. Standard award availability (95k) can be a bit scarce at this property, and I’ve seen times where the whole calendar had no award space. But, I was lucky to find space on a Friday night!
Date of Stay: May 2022
Room Type: Resort View Room
Pros: Beautifully maintained grounds, renovated room options and a private beach club.
Cons: Service at the hotel can be improved upon.
Fora Travel Benefits:
I work with a travel agency, Fora Travel, and can assist in booking hotel stays. Fora is partnered with Hilton Impresario and Virtuoso. With this, you can get special perks when booking with us. This specific property features:
- Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
- Daily full breakfast, for two guests per bedroom in AVEO Table + Bar or via room service ($80 credit per day)
- $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit utilized during stay
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
Rates for the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach currently start at around $750 per night. If you are interested in getting these perks and want to stay at this resort, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I arrived at the resort a bit before the standard check-in time which is 4pm. Valet is the only parking type available, for $60 per night.
I entered the lobby, and was quickly helped by a friendly associate. As I was being assisted, I noticed a line start to form after me. Considering it was right around check-in time, I was a bit surprised that the front desk was not fully staffed.
I was upgraded to a “Pool View” room on the app but the associate told me the room wasn’t quite ready. I also noticed it was an accessible room which I didn’t need, so I asked if there were any other rooms that were ready. He did some digging, and apologized for the long wait noting that they were quite full with three weddings over the weekend. He found me a “Resort View” room that was newly renovated. I took it, as I didn’t know they had renovated rooms so that was a nice surprise. I inquired about late check out, and he said the best he could do would be an hour later than the standard 11am due to the weddings.
In terms of room type views, it starts with “Garden View”, then goes to “Resort View”, “Pool View”, “Premium Pool” and then “Ocean View”. The hotel is situated quite a bit back from the ocean, so even an ocean view room would have a small water view.
There are two wings at the resort, split between the South Wing and North Wing. Based on my observations, it looks like the South Wing rooms are currently newly renovated, while I did see non-renovated rooms in the North Wing.
Our room was located on the 5th floor of the South Wing, and it was nice because with the way that the hotel is built on the hill, the 5th floor is actually the lobby level, so it was very easy to access my room with no elevator needed.
Guestrooms are a comfortable 535 square feet, and my room featured 2 Queen Beds.
The room felt quite roomy, and the renovated furnishings definitely helped modernize the room compared to the old rooms. Cleanliness was very good, which was a definite plus.
Bedding was solid, and the pillows were comfortable. But, the prior weekend, I stayed at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons, and after comparing the two, I think that the Four Seasons bedding is just a tad better. I would say the Waldorf Astoria bedding was better than my Ritz-Carlton stay at Half Moon Bay.
The TV was modernized and allowed for casting from your personal device, as well as using your phone as the remote, which came in handy. In terms of stationary, there wasn’t a notepad or pen to be seen, which is a bit of a shame as I love hotel stationary.
The room was equipped with a fridge for personal use, and the mini bar items were interestingly placed in a drawer?
Additionally, a Keurig Machine was provided and tea + coffee capsules were provided. But, I did expect more of a Nespresso Machine, which they had at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.
To my surprise, the “Resort View” was quite pretty, and I enjoyed looking at the view outside my balcony. At other hotels, resort view sometimes can mean parking lot, or building view. But at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach, I was able to see the gardens and the golf course. The balcony was a good size and furnishings in good condition, with two large chairs and a table.
The bathroom marble was luxurious, but it didn’t quite fit with the rest of the room renovations. I assumed the marble wasn’t touched during the refresh. On the bright side, the bathroom was quite roomy, with double sinks, a soaking tub, separate shower and W/C.
Toiletries were provided by Salvatore Ferragamo in the Tuscan Soul scent. Originally on my first stay with Tuscan Soul at the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin, I despised the scent, but over time I’ve grown to like it more. Therefore, I actually prefer Tuscan Soul over Asprey that the Ritz-Carlton’s provide.
Towels were very plush, clean and of good quality, but two areas of improvement would be that the water pressure in the shower was lacking, and the TP could be better quality.
A few days before departure, the experience planner from the hotel checked in with a pre-arrival email and I let them know we would be celebrating my mom’s birthday. Shortly after we checked in, a card, chocolates and a bottle of sparkling wine was delivered which was a nice touch!
Overall, I think that the service at the resort could use some improvement. I think due to the large resort setting, some of the nuances of good service were lacking. For instance, the concierge desk was completely empty on multiple occasions, and when I was checking out at noon, the front desk only had one person assisting.
On a more positive note, turndown service was proactively provided which was a nice touch and they replenished water, filled an ice bag and they even gave a little monarch butterfly themed chocolate.
The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach charges a $55 resort fee (waived for points stays) and some of the features included are:
- Signature group fitness classes
- Tram to the exclusive Monarch Bay Beach Club
- Beach host service with towels, chairs & umbrellas
- Beach games & activities
- Athletic Club available 24 hours a day
- House bikes with self-guided local tours on a first come basis
- Discounted green fees, savings on Flex Set rentals, & preferred tee times at Monarch Beach Golf Links
Fitness Center + Spa + Golf:
The fitness center had been moved to the Spa, and I didn’t have a chance to visit the facility during this stay. The center is open from 5am to 10pm. Additionally, the hotel also offers fitness classes such as Yoga and Pilates in the Yoga and Fitness Studio as well as at the Beach Club. Access to tennis is offered at the Monarch Beach Tennis Club Courts as well. And, if golf is your thing, the Monarch Beach Golf Links is in front of the hotel and offers ocean views while you play.
The hotel has two main pools, the family pool and the Monarch Pool which are right next to each other. There’s also a small lap pool in the spa. I wish it had been sunnier during my stay so I would take a dip as they looked nice. Perhaps next time!
Tram to Monarch Bay Beach Club:
There is a beach tram that shuttles you around from the resort to the Monarch Bay Beach Club and it runs from 8am to 9pm. The beach club is about a mile walk and you are able to technically walk to the beach, and then walk over the sand to the Monarch Bay Beach Club. But, there is not a paved pathway on the sand, and it is not quite a direct route to the Beach Club. The tram is able to cut through the parking lot and a private gate, and drops you off in front of the Beach Club. So, I would recommend taking the tram if you’re trying to reach the Beach Club directly.
Monarch Bay Beach Club:
Only available to resort guests and club members, the beach club offers a restaurant, and beach host service with towels, chairs & umbrellas. Unfortunately, it was too cold during my stay to utilize the beach, but hopefully I can next time if I visit in the future.
The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach features plethora of dining possibilities. I was able to sample dinner at the Monarch Bay Beach Club which is only available to resort guests and club members. The beach club is open daily from 11:30am to 9pm.
Monarch Bay Beach Club:
The food was decent, although nothing in particular to rave about. I enjoyed the fritto misto and tuna tartare the most of the dishes sampled. As a Hilton Honors Diamond Member, I had a $50 food and beverage credit ($25 for up to 2 guests). On the final bill at check out, the credit was automatically credited to my dinner here. Overall, the beach club was a nice outdoor experience with the views of the ocean, but next time I would probably want to try Bourbon Steak located inside the hotel.
Bourbon Steak is Michael Mina’s upscale steakhouse and is open Wednesday to Sunday’s for dinner service. A friend highly recommended that I try it, so it’s on my list of places to try in the future.
Aveo Table and Bar:
In the morning, I had breakfast at Aveo Table and Bar, and was able to sit on the nice outdoor seating area overlooking the pool, resort grounds and ocean in the back. The restaurant is the all day dining option and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The food at Aveo was pretty good, and I think it was up to par for a Waldorf breakfast. I particularly enjoyed the way they did their potatoes! And for a fun observation, one of the hot water pots said St. Regis at the bottom and the hotel nerd in me loved the reference to the hotel’s former past.
Other dining options include 33 North which is located right off the lobby and offers an indoor & outdoor experience on the terrace where you can enjoy cocktails and small bites. Sombra Cantina is the poolside dining option that serves food from 11am to 4pm, and drinks until 5pm. Additionally, Club 19 is located on the golf course and is open from 11am to 5pm.
Also, Part and Parcel is a grab and go spot for coffee, sandwiches, pastries and small bites. When I passed by, it looked like it had a good selection of items, and always had guests.
Lastly, there is room service offered, and it is available 24 hours which is convenient.
The ballroom areas looked nice, and most of them were getting set up for weddings.
Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Verdict:
Overall, the grounds of the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach are well maintained and quite beautiful, which is the perfect recipe for a great staycation. Additionally, the newly renovated rooms are relaxing and comfortable, but the service could have been more polished for a five-star property. I would definitely consider staying at the property for a future stay and hope the weather is more favorable so I can enjoy the beach activities at the private beach club.
Have you stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach before? What were your thoughts? Comment below!