Now Open: Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

Hilton’s newest luxury hotel in the US has just opened…

Monarch Beach Resort Becomes Waldorf Astoria

In September 2020 it was announced that the Monarch Beach Resort will join Hilton’s portfolio as a Waldorf Astoria property. We didn’t initially know the exact date that would happen, so there’s an update — the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach is now open, and it’s also now possible to redeem points there.

The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort is a 400-room AAA five-diamond hotel in Dana Point, California, about 60 miles south of Los Angeles. The hotel has a pool, a 30,000 square foot spa, an 18-hole golf course, and several restaurants.

Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort pool

The history of this property is noteworthy:

  • This used to be the St. Regis Monarch Beach, but the property left Marriott in June 2016
  • For the next few years, the property was branded as the Monarch Beach Resort, and wasn’t affiliated with any major hotel group
  • The hotel was purchased by Ohana Real Estate Investors in November 2019, and clearly the investors saw value in the hotel belonging to a global chain; now as of early 2021, this is a Waldorf Astoria

This is an exciting addition for Hilton

This property is a big win for Hilton, though I do want to set reasonable expectations. What makes this property worth visiting is that it’s a short drive from Los Angeles, so it’s a fun weekend getaway for anyone living in Southern California (and particularly Los Angeles).

I do think it’s important to manage expectations, though. I stayed here when this was a St. Regis, and have also stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, which is a similar type of property not too far away.

These are ultimately luxury factories with hundreds of rooms, formulaic service, and very steep prices (once things recover, expect standard rooms to cost $800+ per night some weekends, and expect to pay about $8 for a cup of coffee). Ultimately that’s expected, because that’s the price you pay for a hotel being close to a major city with a lot of wealth.

Obviously this would never compare to Bali or the Maldives or any other exotic destination for those planning a trip from far away. Even living in Florida I’d never travel to California to visit Dana Point. However, if I were in Los Angeles and wanted to get away for a weekend, this would be a solid option.

I wouldn’t exactly call the rooms ultra-luxurious

This is great for Hilton Honors members

The main reason to be excited about the Monarch Beach Resort having become a Waldorf Astoria is the implications that it has for Hilton Honors members:

Being able to use Hilton Honors free night certificates will be especially lucrative here. You can get these quite easily with Hilton credit cards, and they’ll offer outsized value for weekend rates.

For what it’s worth, as of now the hotel seems to require 95,000 Honors points for a standard room every night.

As a point of comparison, paid rates seem to range from $375 to $569 per night for a standard room over the coming weeks. After the pandemic I’d expect rates to be much higher.

The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach has a golf course

Bottom line

The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach is now open, having been rebranded from the former Monarch Beach Resort. This is a great addition for Hilton Honors members, as it’s a nice option in the future for getting away from Los Angeles for the weekend. Many will find value in redeeming points or free night certificates here, especially as we eventually see the rates increase.

I continue to be impressed by the way in which Hilton’s luxury portfolio is growing. Hilton has taken over management of quite a few luxury properties lately, and that only makes the Hilton Honors program more valuable.

Anyone plan on staying at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach?

  1. I stayed here when it was a St Regis, it is an aweosme high end high service hotel. Living on the west coast, I for sure would hop a quick flight to get some sunny weather and spend the weekend here.

  2. Was interested in this hotel until I saw that it wasn’t actually on the beach, but rather surrounded by a golf course. It’s even on the wrong side of the PCH! Pass.

  3. It is on the wrong side of PCH. They have a shuttle to their beach. If you want to be on the right side, then you have to do the Montage or Ritz Dana Point. Both will likely be priced higher and harder on upgrades.

  4. Others are correct – you stay here for a golf trip, or if you’re lucky enough to have a conference there. Stay at the Montage for the beach.

  5. Yes!!! I loved visiting this hotel for quick weekend trips when it was the St. Regis. It’s definitely not worth $800-1000/night that you end up spending with the high parking and resort fees but 20k starpoints was definitely worth it. I’m assuming this is going to be 95k Hilton points so while not cheap by any means, still a better value than paying cash.

  6. Please don’t post comments about this resort positioning it as strictly a golf focused property. I live in Laguna and go to Salt Creek beach several times per week. Monarch has a walking path with direct access to the beach – 3-5 minute walk.

    Salt Creek and Strands beach are 2 of the best in the world. Not to mention this property is on the south end of Laguna Beach which has countless high end restaurants, world famous art galleries and many more beaches.

    If you are a beach person this property is exceptional. Surfing at Salt Creek is top notch and not a bad place to body surf.

    Ranking these properties:

    1) Montage
    2) Ritz (dated interior, but easier direct access to beach)
    3) Monarch

  7. D3king – Nice stereotype buddy. I built my biz from the ground up. Didn’t inherit sh*t!

    Most of the local surfers are great people who aren’t trust fund babies or even middle class.

    Sounds like you can’t hang. Go back to the kiddie pool.

  8. It’s nice that it’s a Hilton now but the better question is how will this property FEEL about the program? You see places like Andaz Maui try to nuke the program they committed to and then you see other hotels really try to make high level members feel special. It’s really all in the mentality of upper management. It remains to be seen for this property, but I won’t get my hopes up.

  9. Laguna is D-bag central, second only to Newport. Once upon a time it was a quaint sleepy little beach town with character, now it’s home to Kardashian wannabes and Trump supporters, and stores that cater to those types. If you want good surf, friendly locals, good food, and reasonable prices, head elsewhere, like North San Diego county or the Central Coast.

    If you like overpriced food and boutiques, racist Republicans, and locals with attitudes, Laguna is the place for you.

  10. This is more of a wedding/event venue than a destination. No real reason to stay there either as a local looking for a getaway or as a tourist. If you want a luxury beachfront getaway in SoCal, you can’t beat the Ritz Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara/Goleta

  11. @Desparato

    Fair enough but you admit there are locals down there. I lived in Manhattan Beach for 10 years and no one fights over those dumpster wave close outs.

  12. The best beachfront resort I’ve found in SoCal is Hyatt’s Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, which has its own iconic pedestrian overpass across the PCH, leading straight to the wide, wild Huntington Beach with its excellent point break and long, rideable tubes (ask Johnny Utah). You’re less than a mile to the Pier and Main Street, where you can get cheap fish tacos at Wahoos or yummy shakes at Ruby’s on the Pier. The property itself has three beautiful pools, waterslides that are open when we’re not all dying from COVID, firepits for making s’mores, lovely fountains, and beautifully kept gardens. Watertable on-property is one of the better restaurants in Orange County. On Labor Day and other holidays they hire a company that will help you use molds and shovels to built gigantic sand castles. This Hyatt often upgrades Globalists to larger suites or even multi-room suites that normally run ~$1500/night. And for the times when Hyatt is charging for parking, you can park for free on Beach Boulevard, just a quarter mile away.

    Runners or bikers will love the beachfront path which leads south seven miles down the Newport Peninsula, and north six miles to Sunset Beach. Ambitious folk can take a 1 minute ferry ride from the tip of the Newport Peninsula to Balboa Island, and then run another ten miles around the wetlands of the Newport Bay Nature Reserve.

    Management of this property is uniformly excellent and I always enjoy my stay there. Give it a shot.

  13. This is also not a golf destination hotel. The front 9 is a fun layout that gets close to the ocean, then you make the turn and it’s like you’re on any random muni, just in a little nicer shape. Anyone looking for a golf trip in SoCal at this price will be at Pelican.

    Second Kendor re Hyatt HB. Watermarc is amazing. If you’re a rye drinker they have 3-4 years of Whistlepig Boss Hog available, plus the 25 year. But don’t tell everyone about this secret.

  14. Hepworth, Watermarc(across from the Hotel Laguna) is closed permanently now. Just FYI. You might mean Watertable, though, which is at the Hyatt HB

  15. I’m with Kendor on the Hyatt in Huntington, however I prefer to stay at the Hilton when you factor in amenities, and the Hilton has just remodeled the rooms and did a solid job on the decor. The Monarch is meh and last time I played the golf course I was shocked at how shitty it was. Hopefully the new owners pumped in some capital as the place needed some work.

    While nice to have another option in OC, I’ll be staying at the Hyatt or Hilton in Huntington Beach unless I see some major work done at Monarch. Both properties offer easy walks to the beach and while Huntington is the trailer park bro spot of OC beach towns, the beach is awesome and the food/bar options are not bad.

  16. @Brodie Just curious, what amenities at that HB Hilton do you like the best? I can stay at either as a top-tier elite, I’d be curious what amenities you most like at that Hilton.

  17. I’ve stayed here a few times. Easy drive from SNA. This hotel is heavy on the professional conferences. But it’s still one of the better resort factories I’ve been. Looking forward to using Hilton points for a stay next year.

  18. Last few times my husband and i went there for lunch we experienced sub par service and food. My daughter and I also spent a day at their spa and once again very disappointing. We gave up on them and now take our business to The Montage. So much better in every way. We are local so haven’t spent the night at either but do lots of lunches evening drinks and spa visits at The Montage. Never disappointed. Also not that excited about the Ritz. Used to be outstanding 20 yrs ago.

  19. Golf course is a POS. Don’t let that picture posted by Lucky convince you, as it’s the only hole on the water and it’s a crappy one at that. Back 9 is the lamest 9 holes in all of Orange County. Perhaps the hotel is great, but do not go here for the golf.

  20. The comments suggest to me that the vast majority of these Southern California beach resorts aren’t all that great if you want a relaxing, beach vacation. Not sure I would fly out there for these properties. Maybe if I am in LA for work, I would spend the weekend after at one of these properties.

  21. Stayed when it was St. Regis. Even though that was not that long time ago, I cannot recall anything memorable. We did stay in Feb and it was somewhat cold and windy.

  22. That room pic looks cheap compared to what the rooms used to look like as a St. Regis. That lime green just doesn’t do it for me compared to the muted beige tones I remember having when we stayed there as a St. Regis.

    Property was never my favorite due to location so far from beach (as others have mentioned) and we tried it once and then either went back to the Ritz-Carlton or even better yet the Montage LB for our annual stays in the area. Overall however happy to have it back as an option using points in the area now under Hilton.

  23. My wife and I live in LA. We had previously visited Laguna on many occassions (mostly for the Pageant of the Masters), but never stayed. In November, we decided on a weekend getaway and spent 2 nights @ the Monarch and 2 at the Ritz. We loved the Monarch. The view of the gold course was nice and the 5 minute shuttle to the beach was no big deal. The beach was great.

    We ended up coming down for another weekend (found a great rate on line). Although I would prefer to jump on a plane (post covid) and visit some place more exotic, we will visit the Monarch again for a weekend getaway.

  24. This is an exceedingly tone deaf time to post about vacationing in Southern California. ‍♂️‍♂️

  25. One final comment – No question Montage Laguna Beach is premiere property in the area.

    I wouldn’t consider Ritz Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara as So. Cal location (just under 2 hours north of LA depending on traffic).

    If you do go to Santa Barbara, Rosewood is 10x better than Ritz Bacara. Out of many $$ places I’ve stayed, Rosewood is at the very very top… other west NA properties on same level: Castle Hot Springs in AZ and One&Only Palmilla in Cabo. Not good for points, but some times you just have to pony up the $$.

  26. I know this just became a Hilton property but does anyone have an idea what the Hilton Gold breakfast benefit would look like here? Thanks!!

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