You know those mom moments when you think to yourself, This is something I will always remember? A three-day getaway with my daughter Emily before she headed back to college to begin her junior year was packed with those moments.
When we were planning our end-of-the-summer mini vacation, we had specific requirements. We were looking for somewhere close that felt far away, somewhere luxurious where we could enjoy the resort but also fun places to explore nearby, a place to escape the L.A. heat but still enjoy the outdoors.
The Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point was the perfect spot.
From the moment you step onto the property, you feel like you have been transported to an island paradise with a view of the ocean at every turn, two pools and two infinity whirlpool spas. Best part: no jet lag and no TSA check-in; just an hour and half in our car singing along to the “Mamma Mia!” soundtrack.
Our first activity at the resort was lunch with a view at Aveo Table and Bar. In fact, most things we did during our stay involved spectacular views, including our hike with a view, dinner with a view and exercise with a view.
We did venture out one afternoon to charming Laguna Village, just a 15-minute drive from the resort. In the village, we sampled chocolates, tried on cute clothes, tasted gourmet olive oils and marveled at original Dr. Seuss drawings in one of the local galleries.
We spent the rest of our getaway doing exactly what I hoped we would do – making great mother-daughter memories. We played cornhole on the lawn and then headed to the spa for an afternoon of pampering with fantastic massages, relaxing steam rooms and soothing herbal teas.
Joining the resort’s complimentary yoga-on-the-beach class was my daughter’s idea, as she’s a fitness lover. Full disclosure: Everyone else was in much better yoga shape than me, but I’m so glad we did it. We met our instructor near the lobby and jumped on the hotel shuttle that takes guests to and from the beach. (The resort is perched on a bluff overlooking the beach.)
Once on the sand, we grabbed our towels and began our stretches and poses while listening to the waves and watching the sky change colors as the sun began to set. After yoga, we showered and changed and headed back down to the sand to have a beachside dinner at the Monarch Bay Club. During dinner, my daughter said she was proud of me for trying the yoga and suggested that we take the complimentary Spin with a View class the next morning.
Now, if anyone else had asked me to wake up in time for an 8 a.m. spin class while staying at a gorgeous beachside resort, the answer would be a hard “No!” But, shocking myself (and my daughter, too, I’m sure), I looked into her eyes and shouted out an unexpected “Sure!”
It can’t be all bad, I thought when we arrived at the workout area – a veranda filled with stationary bikes, thick towels and chilled water bottles – overlooking the spectacular Pacific Ocean. What better place to try my first spin class? I did question my sanity a few times as we revved up faster and faster on our bikes, but with my daughter urging me along, I wiped the sweat from my eyes and tried to concentrate on the beauty of the ocean.
A few months have now passed since our getaway. School is back in session and we’re living in two different cities again, texting and Face-timing to catch up. And you know what we often reminisce about? Beach yoga and the 8 a.m. spin class. Monarch Beach will be a trip we’ll always smile about.
Fun at Monarch Beach
The Monarch Beach Resort has programs for all ages and interests, such as:
- A kids club with numerous activites;
- The resort’s Ocean Institute, with child-friendly explorations;
- Water sports including surfing, stand-up paddleboard and kayaking;
- Trails for hiking and walking;
- The Miraval Life in Balance Spa;
- And golf, including family tee-time options.
Holidays at the Beach
December is a fun month to visit Monarch Beach Resort with its beautiful lighting and holiday deocrations. Special programs include:
- Gingerbread Academy starting Dec. 9. Join the resort’s pastry team to decorate gourmet gingerbread houses and be on the lookout for Santa. Tickets are $125 for a family of four, and include one house, all the fixings, access to the holiday-treat bar and photo opportunities with Santa.
Elena Epstein is L.A. Parent’s Director of Content & Strategic Partnerships.