Sunday

THE MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACH -- Spring into a Getaway
(Part Two...if you missed Part one, check out the beautiful suites and mouth watering food)


30801 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-6000
http://www.montagelagunabeach.com/

THE LOFT REVISITED: Dinner was never so lofty! An exceptional experience way beyond the fare of "hotel food"...
The Loft

The loft is an unusual restaurant for a “hotel” venue. It has a working kitchen that operates 24/7, and yet they have the ability to serve up fine dining, and it was fine dining that we enjoyed, and now rave about.
Chef Brian Black first cut his chops at Studio restaurant under James Boyce, and then moved up to lead chef at The Loft. After many years, he has created a menu of items that rival the best of the best that we’ve enjoyed. Once again, we feel that the greatest way to enjoy a chef’s creation is to ask him to cook for you. Chef Black came out to introduce himself, and sadly we learned that this was his last night after many years with the hotel. That said, Chef Casey Overton was moving into his large shoes and we are excited to experience what he will now do with this exciting menu of delectables. In any event, Chef Black asked us if we have any food likes and dislikes and then went to work designing so many courses for us that we had to beg him to stop, or we would just bust.
Everything was superb; really. The Dining Duo hates when we hear that from a waiter describing a menu; but in this case, it was true. Do try the White Corn Soup at $16. We agreed this is about as first-rate as it gets, exuding the full flavor of the corn, with dashes of spices. The fish at the Loft is so fresh you’ll swear they sent chef out to catch it.
Try the local sea bass lightly seasoned with oregano at $36 accompanied with mushroom risotto. The Sonoma duck breast at $38, with cherries, was served a perfect medium and melted in our mouths. We didn’t have the chance to try everything but we are going back to try the Coffee crusted New York Strip, which looked amazing.

Fromagerier, Janice Howell, who could not be any cuter (or nicer), is a studied

cheese and honey expert. With a selection of over 150 cheeses and more than 125 honeys, she will custom design a cheese plate for you starting at $14, a true bargain. The exotic honeys from all over the world are labeled with small tasting stirs, and the presentation is so amazing, the next time we come hungry, we will order a vast array of cheeses and honeys, and a few wines, and watch the sunset into the Pacific.

The service was top notch, and we highly recommend this locale as a strong alternative to Studio. There really isn’t any reason to leave the property when there’s just so much to offer; and the best part, is we just stumbled back to our rooms without having to drive anywhere. What a treat.


ROOM SERVICE WITH AN EMPHASIS ON “SERVICE”:

We enjoyed room service every day we were at the hotel. The first day, breakfast arrived exactly at 10:00 am when we ordered it. It was laid out perfectly by the server, who was as friendly and efficient as a trained waiter in the restaurants. The croissants were giant, fresh and buttery-delicious. The granola was some of the best mix we’ve tried. The French Press coffee was so fresh we could feel the caffeine before we drank it.
The second experience, breakfast came 15 minutes late. However, before we even knew that it was about to be late, we received a call from the kitchen apologizing for the slight delay. It was a nice way of quelling a potential “where the hell is our room service” moment, and breakfast was a tasty as the day before. When breakfast arrived, we asked for a New York Times, and it was rushed to us within moments.

The third experience was just as pleasant as the first two, making us wonder why we would ever leave this gorgeous ocean view suite at all…if not for the other restaurants, the spa and of course, the beach.


THE ART OF SPA

The spa at the Montage is not so much a destination for massages, but more a personal journey in relaxation. The minute you enter, the folks working there are friendly and welcoming, and clearly enjoy their work. The therapists combine an obvious knowledge of indigenous botanicals derived from the ocean with the purpose of inspiring positive change “inside and out”. It’s not just rhetoric. Both the men’s and the women’s sides (nearly identical) provide a peaceful setting, with a cozy quiet room with fireplace, teas and edibles. The Jacuzzi is more like a small pool, and a gargantuan waterfall cascades into it in such a fashion that we couldn’t wait to have it run over our weary, tired shoulders.
Inhaling the fresh ocean air, we could feel our calm and inner peace slowly eclipsing the rat race of L.A. fast paced life. Scott was lucky enough to be scheduled with one of the best massage therapists he’s ever had, Brad, for an hour ($225). The therapy rooms were welcoming (with both indoor and outdoor areas) and within minutes, Scott faded into the oblivion of masterful hands.
Michael experienced The Seasonal Wrap at $225, his body was brushed and then wrapped in fruit and he was enveloped in mineral-rich seaweed and salts that were infused in their botanical treatments. A quick 60 minutes of this proved to rejuvenate him as if it were the end of a long weekend. There is a romantic couple’s room, and three specialty suites with outdoor gardens.
Back to the Jacuzzi, we finished our time at the spa with some moments in the eucalyptus steam and redwood sauna. There was a cold plunge for the brave, but we were too relaxed to try it.


FITNESS FOR EVERYONE

There is one question we are always asked: How do you guys eat like this all the time and stay fit. The answer is easy, we are at the gym…a lot. When we go on vacation, “gym time” is not usually a part of our regime. However, this is the exception to the rule for the Dining Duo. Light streams into both the adult (no one under 16, thankfully) fitness center, yoga and movement studio.
You can enjoy a group fitness class, yoga, T'ai Chi, the Montage’s signature lecture series or a private life coaching session against the backdrop of those brilliant shiney waves. 45 minutes on the treadmill whilst looking over the adult pool and the blue Pacific proved to be divine for both the body, and the soul.

We didn’t have time, but there is a full-service salon which also offers highly personalized programs. We were told that the Spa Montage manicure and pedicure is a relaxing way to spruce your grooming. The boutique had a tremendous amount of lotions and potions, and other items to take home as souvenirs of this moment in time.
At the end of the day, we sat on the chairs at the edge of the quiet adult pool, after fabulous treatments, and watched the sun, a big ball of fire, melt into the sky. Could there really be anything better than this? With all the rain and all of life’s tedious troubles, it turns out that 4 days at the Montage in Laguna Beach is all it took to make us realize just how good life really is.



SERVICE, SEVICE, SERVICE

It’s all about the service here, and after spending a 4-day weekend at the Montage, we understand what it feels like to be pampered and luxuriated, without pomp and circumstance. It’s said that “the Devil is in the details” and it’s details that are covered in every corner of the hotel. We were at the adult pool one day, when we noticed two women who had been doing laps. Before they could swim to the steps to get out, the pool attendant rushed to the side of the pool and placed two freshly laundered and folded towels at the pools edge for their use. One woman exclaimed, “that’s exactly what I wanted, how did you know that I was thinking that?”
When we arrived, we couldn’t seem to hook up our computer to the wireless. Within minutes of calling the front desk, Andy, the IT guy, called back and walked us through the steps to get us on line. It was simple, and he was very accommodating, two things we find lacking in the IT area of many high-end hotels.

The pillows provided are big, fluffy feather pillows. However, Scott found them so large that it hurt his neck. Upon requesting “smaller” fluffy feather pillows, the housekeeping woman said, “yes, many guests ask for those”. We doubt that to be the case, but it was her way of certainly making our request feel within reason. And right next to the pillows, each night, is placed a homemade chocolate wrapped in a little gift box.
When picking up the car one day, there was a note in it from the Captain of the Loft, saying how much he enjoyed serving us, and that he hoped we would return soon. We were already planning on coming back, but the note was definitely a nice touch that went above and beyond. They seem to think of everything here.

It’s all of these things and many more that moves this Hotel and it’s restaurants into its own category. We’ve already listed our house for sale, and sent for our belongings so we could move in here permanently. Oh wait, all we really need is a few pairs of shorts, some bathing suits and a few toys for Triple Dog, and they sell all those at the hotel gift shop.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 7:13 PM | , , , , , | 0 comments »

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