C California Style

AJA MALIBU wellness retreat in the Santa Monica Mountains. PHOTO: courtesy of aja malibu
Malibu’s PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY. PHOTO: Arpad benedek.
Soho House’s LITTLE BEACH HOUSE MALIBU. PHOTO: courtesy of Little Beach House Malibu.
Resident longboards. PHOTO chad weaver.
AJA MALIBU garden. PHOTO: courtesy of aja malibu.
LE VILLAGE CAFÉ in Trancas Country Market. PHOTO: Henry Hargreaves.
NOBU restaurant.

New Wave

by C California Style

Malibu, the small, quiet beach town with an outsized reputation, keeps getting better for locals and visitors alike.

From a spiritual getaway retreat specializing in chakra “tune-ups,” to a glitzy new Soho House outpost, Malibu’s current revitalization is burning at both ends of the hospitality spectrum. Whatever your fancy, this famed stretch boasts something new for everyone.

With seven distinct gardens and a self-actualization program envisioned by Australian-born mystic and artist Inannya Magick, Aja Malibu (ajamalibu.com) defies categorization. Magick has developed an intuitively designed, eco-posh retreat with seven guest rooms over the course of seven-plus years (notice a pattern?); her collection of art, textiles and sacred objects displayed and used throughout the property reflect her extensive travels and a spiritual approach that embraces many traditions. “Aja is meant to inspire and support guests’ own sacred and healing journeys,” says Magick of the property, which will begin hosting guests this summer. An entirely plant-based menu (most of it grown on or foraged from Aja’s 23-acre grounds), apothecary room and meditation spaces help support the process—as does the luxurious, state-of-the-art spa, complete with a rare John of God healing crystal bed, imported from Brazil, for light-therapy treatments.

Looking for a place to unwind after feasting on yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, Chilean sea bass with dry miso and luscious slabs of A5 Wagyu beef? Nobu is said to be adding a much-welcome project to its vaunted presence on Carbon Beach with the Nobu Ryokan Hotel, located a rock shrimp tempura’s throw from the restaurant’s oceanfront location.

Meanwhile, its neighbor, the Malibu Beach Inn (malibubeachinn.com), recently unveiled a refreshed reception area, restaurant and bar by interior designer Waldo Fernandez, with a complete overhaul of the 47 guest rooms slated next. “The thought really was to try and create an interior that captured the serenity of Malibu beach, and that didn’t fight with the surroundings,” Fernandez says. Natural fibers, warm oak and teak surfaces, stunning modern art, and gray and blue shades are a subtle reference to the area’s greatest asset.

It’s truly a locals-only situation at Soho House’s long-awaited Little Beach House Malibu (littlebeachhousemalibu.com), located in the former Nikita restaurant structure by Montalba Architects (also part of Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s Billionaire’s Beach real-estate holdings). Trust Soho House’s design team and founder Nick Jones to create a perfect beachfront home-away-from-home, with two stories and maximized indoor-outdoor flow. Member hopefuls must have a legit tie to the community in order to be eligible to join the exclusive club, rumored to open its doors early this summer.

The rustic barn-inspired buildings dotting the Trancas Country Market (trancascountrymarket.com) have become a needed hub for north Malibu denizens. Locals chat and shop at Vintage Grocers, which stocks essentials and treats from down the road, including Malibu-grown Thorne Family Farm produce and Santa Monica’s Beachy Cream ice cream. Kombucha is on tap, naturally. Behind the lawn where concerts are held on Fridays from August through October stands the newly opened Le Village Café (cafelevillage.com), where owner François Clausse offers a farm-to-table menu of American comfort-food classics mixed in with items to satisfy California tastes (hello, acai bowls) and a few of his favorite dishes from France, like ratatouille and freshly baked orange-scented madeleines. “It’s a place for everybody,” he says. Grab a glass of wine at the bar or sit around the white marble-clad fire pit in the bright and breezy dining room during breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Leave it to a lifelong Malibu resident to know what the people really want. “I had a dream to create a restaurant concept in Malibu with a true local touch and a real sense of community, while also bringing some chef-driven culinary flair to the Malibu food scene,” says musician and entrepreneur Cisco Adler. Ravenous beachgoers, sunset gazers and families will be able to take advantage of Adler’s native insight at Malibu Burger Co. (malibuburgerco.com), opening late summer in Malibu Village in the space formerly known as Guido’s. The team includes designer Matt Winter of M. Winter Design (Gjusta, Oldfield’s Liquor Room, Adler’s invite-only club On the Rox), who transformed the restaurant’s 2,600 square feet “to feel as if it’s always been here in the ’Bu,” Adler notes. Chef Aaron May, who trained under Mario Batali, has created a menu which showcases fully customizable combos, with juicy patties, house-made sauces and plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly fare, too. And for a touch of statewide solidarity, fresh Coachella Valley date shakes bring a taste of the desert to the ocean.

Written by JESSICA RITZ.