Just outside of Santa Barbara, California, the storied Miramar Beach is spread across 16 acres of pristine (and extremely expensive) waterfront property. In 1876, a couple named Josiah and Emmeline Doulton purchased the land, naming it “Miramar,” or “Behold the Sea.” The structures on the acreage changed and grew, passing through numerous owners who re-imagined and renovated. By 2005, the Miramar Hotel was partially demolished and vacant, its future whispered about at stylish cocktail parties along the beach.
In January 2007, inspired by the beautiful homes and grand estates surrounding the property in Montecito, new owner Rick J. Caruso conceived of a luxurious property that would feel like a family’s vacation home. He even imagined a fictional New England family (based on his own) who would build a stone home and then expand, adding cottages and wood clapboard wings. His imaginary family would play bocce ball, indulge in lush gardens, and entertain often.
My sister, Sarah McKay, and I have both spent time on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard—the resort Caruso built, Rosewood Miramar Beach, does actually feel familiar to us. When we spent a long weekend there to catch up and reconnect, we marveled at the way Miramar’s architecture combined New England style and Southern California glamour. You don’t expect chinoiserie avian wallpaper from renowned de Gournay in a So-Cal beach resort, and you don’t find a goop shop (or a boutique selling Dior) at the White Elephant on Nantucket Island. We loved the way Rosewood Miramar Beach seemed to effortlessly combine two distinct, cinematic locales.
When you enter the estate, there’s a singular front door, as if you’re entering a family home. Interior designers Diane Johnson and Nancy Corzine created a welcoming, peaceful interior, featuring over six hundred priceless artworks including a Norman Rockwell, a Fernando Botero, and two Picassos. (Spoiler alert: one Picasso is in the beachfront Revere Room restaurant, which is named after Paul Revere Williams, the legendary architect.)
Caruso had always dreamed of having a home built by Williams. Instead, with Rosewood Miramar Beach, he pays tribute to his favorite architect in myriad details, including the Manor House’s luxuriantly-curved staircase and the Cabana Pool’s distinctive serpentine-edge design.
A Rosewood Miramar Resort Primer
Rosewood Miramar Beach has 158 ultra-luxury rooms, including 36 suites, spanned across sixteen acres of gorgeous landscaping. Two separate pools both offer full cabana service. Expansive indoor and outdoor event space, totaling approximately 28,000 square feet, includes the Chandelier Ballroom—each Baccarat crystal chandelier has a blue crystal hidden in its center as a nod to the previous hotel—and the Great Lawn, which offers infinite ocean views. (They don’t call Miramar Beach the “American Riviera” for nothing.)
Our spacious Grand Bungalow, which offered a furnished patio, roomy dressing area, lavish bathroom, a full kitchen, and a living room with fireplace, was big enough to fit our children, but we were just fine enjoying a weekend lounging without them in our Bryte bed which was made up with Rivolta Carmignani linens.
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s fabulous novel, Malibu Rising, is set on nearby Malibu Beach (just an hour away), but its tale of movie stars, surfers, beachfront dining, and a party gone all wrong is the perfect book to slip into your bag when you settle into a chair on Miramar Beach.
Gossip addicts like me might already know that the tattooed drummer for the band Blink 182, Travis Barker, proposed to Kourtney Kardashian at Rosewood Miramar Beach.
Dining and Drinking at Rosewood Miramar Beach
The resort has two pools and six distinctive culinary and bar outlets, so as much as you might want to catch a property “jolly” into town (the jolly is like a fabulous, brightly-colored golf cart, modeled after the ones in Capri), it’s awfully hard to find a reason to leave the property. Our bungalow was so inviting that we found ourselves returning to try the lavender bath products and CBD teas we’d been given as a part of the “Alchemy of Sleep” package. Rosewood offers a host of incredible packages, including the “Love Language Concierge” weekend and a wine collective. We also loved the “Stars and S’mores” program with a local astronomer.
The Revere Room
Named after Paul R. Williams (that “R” stands for “Revere”) the Revere Room boasts a seasonally driven menu that incorporates ingredients sourced primarily from regional farmers, fisherman, and ranchers, as well as the resort’s own Chef’s garden. We loved the “tiny vegetables” platter: local carrots and turnips in a bed of savory hummus.
The Manor Bar
When you’re in a cozy mood, the Manor Bar is chic and sophisticated and often features live music. It’s ideal for a pre- or post-dinner drink.
A Miramar Beach Spa Day
Sense, A Rosewood Spa is the only Forbes Five-Star spa in Santa Barbara. Located just above the spacious fitness facility (where you can book a private, beachside yoga class…I did and it was peaceful perfection!) the spa is light-filled and serene. Inspired by its surroundings, the spa offers services like the Contouring Gua Sha Organic Facial, Ginger Snap Scrub & Massage, CBD Massage, Alkaline Marine Cocoon, and the Montecito Sage Purification.
Shopping in Miramar Beach
It was wonderful to shop without parking; we browsed the shops on the property, including goop, the modern lifestyle brand founded and helmed by Gwyneth Paltrow; The Gatehouse, a new California-inspired concept store curated by designer James Perse; The Webster, the luxury multi-brand retailer where I (unfortunately and unrequitedly) fell in love with the aforementioned Dior dress; Brunello Cucinelli, dedicated to creating “Made in Italy” products rooted in modern design, quality, and unique craftsmanship; and The Shop at Miramar for signature resort wear, children’s apparel, beach toys, and gifts.
Sarah and I agreed that our time at Rosewood Miramar Beach was just what the doctor ordered for two working moms: beautiful, New England-inspired architecture; a glittering beach; nourishing local food; plenty of sunny places to lounge and gossip or have a quiet moment; and a sumptuous spa. We’re thankful that Caruso’s fictional family loved to have visitors, and we hope we’ll be return guests.