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C California Style

The Grand Bungalow at Rosewood Miramar Beach.

A Storied Hotel on the American Riviera Makes a Comeback

by C California Style

The Miramar Hotel finally reopens its doors in Montecito

Words by JENNIFER BLAISE KRAMER
Photography by BLAKE BRONSTAD

In the early 1900s, Montecito’s Miramar By The Sea was the fashionable “it” getaway, drawing the Hollywood elite to its homey clusters of white cottages on the shores of Santa Barbara’s prime oceanfront position. As decades rolled on, the Miramar went into decline under multiple owners, including hotelier Ian Schrager, who began a promising renovation, but then shuttered the half-demolished hotel for good in 2000. The property sat vacant for years until builder and developer Rick Caruso (best known for The Grove in Los Angeles) bought it for an undisclosed price in 2007. Caruso had a soft spot for the site’s history, and despite having never worked on a hotel before, made it his mission to reimagine the grand landmark.

Under Caruso’s care and Rosewood’s management, the 16-acre Rosewood Miramar Beach opened quietly in March. The beach club vibe is a modern take on the original bungalow-style plantation design inspired by Paul Williams, often referred to as the “architect to the stars.” Filled with Gatsby-esque grace and glamour, several design details nod to the past — the boardwalk was reinstated for sunset strolls, the interiors’ custom Pantone shade of “Miramar blue” harks back to its vibrant rooftops and archival photographs of the Miramar glory days hang on the walls.

“I wanted to bring our guests back to the golden age of hospitality,” says Caruso. “Growing up, I had the good fortune of spending quite a bit of time at an iconic hotel in Beverly Hills that was owned by the family of one of my childhood friends. They lived at the property and I was immediately infatuated with this idea that a hotel could be your home.”

Promising to entice the “neighbors” of Montecito, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, as much as out-of-towners, he has landed a permanent Goop store; Malibu Farms is also putting down roots, and there are two cabana-lined pools and beach service. For overnighters, the best of the 161 guest rooms and suites (available by the night or the season) are in the Beach House, where 26 oceanfront rooms are perched on the sand for unparalleled Pacific views. Here, a fully stocked, complimentary cocktail trolley rolls up to the door every evening to toast the sunset. In a day when Santa Barbara is lined with luxe lodging options up and down the coast, it doesn’t get any closer to the water than this. Rooms from $800/night. 1759 S. Jameson Ln., Montecito, 805-900-8388.