It’s the little things, really. The afternoon tea served on the terrace. The craftsman style cottages reminiscent of a bygone era. The Egyptian cotton towels. The fact that everyone – from the bellman to the maître d’ – knows your name. These are the details that set the Montage brand apart. And whether you’re visiting the California coast, the peaks of the Rockies or the lowcountry of South Carolina, the experience is much the same. Refined. Discerning. Flawless.
It all began nearly eleven years ago, when Montage unveiled its first and perhaps most iconic property in Laguna Beach, California. Since then, Montage has built two other hotels – Beverly Hills and Deer Valley – and recently added the historic Inn at Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina to its portfolio. This month, the brand will open its first resort outside the continental US to the mix as it opens Montage Kapalua Bay in Maui. And while all five resorts maintain their own unique architecture and style indigenous to their geography, the tenants that make a property a “Montage” property remain. An emphasis on art, a focus on the resort’s community and surroundings, a strong affinity for design and distinctive culinary experiences.
Montage Laguna Beach
The company’s original resort, Montage Laguna Beach is the area’s most coveted respite, due in large part to its sweeping ocean views that each of its 248 guest rooms and 60 suites are privy to. But the crash of the waves and view of the water are only the beginning. The hotel itself is the epitome of understated luxury, sitting on 30 acres of picture perfect landscape, yet in the most classic of manners. From the wood and stone architecture, to the crown moldings, copper gutters, and Cape Cod style roof, the resort was built with the beachfront art community of Laguna Beach – one that dates back to the early 1900s – in mind. A definitive distinction from most of the resort’s Spanish style contemporaries.
There are no bad rooms, or bad views, since all of them boast balconies that face the Pacific. Much like the homes that grace the hillside above, Montage is elegant, but not overdone. It’s luxurious without being ostentatious. Contemporary but comfortable.
Its spa – all 20,000 square feet of it – is among the best appointed in the nation. The usual suspects abound, a sauna, Eucalyptus steam room, fireplace lunges and whirlpools making for the ultimate retreat, but the adult-only lap pool with full ocean views makes it truly resplendent. Opt for the 90-minute Laguna Beach Organic Facial, a luxe treatment that uses concentrated seaweeds and raw algae to nourish and balance the skin. Afterwards, order the Cucumber Crush (voted So Cal’s best skinny cocktail) poolside, and curl up on a chaise as you watch the waves post-treatment.
The Loft is the property’s more casual dining option, yet still boasts an award winning team of chefs and sommeliers. In fact, the restaurant even employs an in house fromagier who curates a renowned selection of cheeses in The Loft’s cheese gallery. Guests can settle in at the marble counter and sample varietals much in the same way they would with a som when tasting wines.
Studio, perched in its own charming space above the Pacific, is one of the area’s most celebrated restaurants and with good reason. Studio serves modern French cuisine with California influences best experienced via the ever-changing six-course chef’s tasting menu. The chef scours the California coast to find fresh ingredients form the sea, local ranches, orchards and farms, even enlisting a personal forager in his pursuit. Studio’s wine program is equally impressive, with a pedigreed sommelier perfectly paring wines from over 2,500 labels. The space itself – an idyllic knoll with sweeping ocean views – plays host to a pair of twin palms, known as “Luci and Desi” in honor of the Hollywood couple’s 1953 movie filmed at Studio’s very location, The Long, Long Trailer.