There are only 15 triple 5-star resorts in the world. One is just a half-day drive from the Bay.
The Rosewood Miramar Beach is one of only 15 triple Five-Star resorts in the world (Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach)

There are only 15 triple 5-star resorts in the world. One is just a half-day drive from the Bay.


There’s no shortage of elite hotels in California.

Big Sur’s got Alila Ventana, Napa Auberge du Soleil. There’s Sonoma’s Farmhouse Inn, SF’s Four Seasons Hotel, Carmel Valley’s Bernardus Lodge & Spa—each property an oasis of luxury and relaxation.

But while the much-esteemed Forbes Travel Guide recognizes each of them for their excellence, not a single one has earned the brand’s highest recognition, the triple five-star. An honor bestowed on properties with three different five-star amenities—typically a hotel, spa, and restaurant—this year just 15 hotels in the entire world made the cut. One is right here, just half a day’s drive from the Bay Area.

The Rosewood Miramar Beach, a seaside resort in the Santa Barbara suburb of Montecito, made its triple five-star debut on Forbes’ list this year when their onsite spa, Sense, nailed its review. It joins the property’s other five-star amenities, the hotel and the beachfront Michelin-starred restaurant Caruso’s, to complete the coveted trifecta.

Rooftop cold plunge pools at the five-star Sense spa.(Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach)

Despite its outstanding pedigree, the Rosewood Miramar Beach isn’t overtly flashy. Other than the elephant-sized crystal chandelier that hangs over the checkerboard-tiled, spiral-staircased lobby, the resort’s design is one of quiet luxury. It’s meant to feel like home—just not one that most of us would recognize. It’s the kind of estate you’d imagine American royalty like the Kennedys or the Rockefellers retreating to in the summer months: A grand beach manor with a great lawn that stretches towards the sea.

In the strictest definition of the word, the Rosewood Miramar Beach is a resort. Everything you could ever possibly want is scattered across its 16 acres. But with just 119 rooms and 34 suites, they’ve cultivated an exclusivity very few resorts can. At the Manor House, there are cozy fireplace-lit lounges and a leather-accented bar with a mid-century men’s club vibe and literary-inspired cocktails. Upscale shops like Goop, Laykin Et Cie, and Brunello Cucinelli are tucked into discrete coves. A turquoise, open-air Jolly crowned with a surfboard waits outside to take guests anywhere they want to go within a three-mile radius.

Upstairs is Sense, the spa that sealed the property’s triple five-star status. Treatments here range from bespoke facials and Swedish massage to the Montecito Sage Purification, a decadent 90-minute experience involving a mineral-and-sage scrub, a full-body massage, and a sage oil and hot stone finish. In their CBD Total Reboot Contrast Therapy sessions, guests alternate between the rooftop cold plunge pools, sauna, and steam rooms before undergoing percussion, heated lavender compresses, and cooling full-spectrum CBD embalming.

An oceanfront studio-style guest room in the Rosewood Miramar hotel's Beach House.(Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach)

There are only two suites housed within the Manor, uber-exclusive setups that come with perks like pre-reserved cabanas at the pools and a private driver. The rest of the Miramar’s accommodations are separated into two regions. One is a village of bungalows and lanai guest rooms artfully arranged around manicured pathways and fire pits. Each clocks in at a minimum of 500 square feet with private or semi-private furnished terraces, designer baths with freestanding tubs, and soft, comfortable furnishings in a palette of ocean tones.

The other set of accommodations hover above the sand at the Beach House. There, the suites and guest rooms are equally generous in size but come with the bonus of unobstructed views of the ocean from their furnished patios.

Upstairs at the Beach House, the Miramar Beach Bar serves south-of-the-border-inspired cocktails and light bites like ceviche and street-style tacos with extravagant fillings like quesabirria and tempura fish, while down on the sand is Santa Barbara’s only fully serviced beach with loungers and on-demand food and drink.

At Caruso’s, on the Beach House’s lower floor, the vibe shifts from laidback patio to luxury yacht. The restaurant, which in addition to its Forbes five stars and one Michelin star also has a Michelin green star for its focus on sustainable and local ingredients and techniques, is nothing short of remarkable.

The Miramar Beach Bar.(Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach)

Executive chef Massimo Falsini seamlessly combines coastal California cuisine with Italian culinary traditions in three- or four-course prix fixe menus, or an eight-course chef’s tasting menu, that change frequently with the seasonal availability of ingredients. At any given meal, you’re as likely to find elements both elegant—like Santa Barbara abalone sliced, seared, and served with pickled fennel, English peas, and herbed potato froth, or poached Santa Barbara petrale sole with white asparagus, white sturgeon caviar, and vin santo burro fuso—as you are less shi shi elements like longspine thornyhead, a fishing industry bycatch that Falsini refines with Jerusalem artichoke and cordyceps. The wine cellar spans vast territory, too, with a 78-page menu that includes everything from small local producers to European showstoppers.

While Caruso’s is the crowning jewel of Rosewood Miramar Beach’s stable of eateries, Ama Sushi, an intimate, atmospheric den with a marble sushi counter at the edge of the bungalow village, is a close second. Executive chef Scott Yonamine, who spent a decade training in Japan, is truly an artist in the preparation of traditional Japanese flavors. There’s both a prix fixe and omakase menu available but the latter—a 14-course smorgasbord of savory starters like sakizuke (firefly squid with asparagus and miso sauce), delicate nigiri like sayori (Japanese halfbeak) and sakura-masu (cherry trout), and dainty sweets like matcha yuzu verrine (matcha panna cotta with yuzu cream and candied kumquats)---is not to be missed, especially when combined with the beautifully executed sake pairing.

There’s more at the Rosewood Miramar Beach, too, so much more, from its state of the art fitness room outfitted with personal trainers to its two pools (one for adults only) each with private cabanas and cheerful striped umbrellas. Additional boutiques are on their way and, undoubtedly, the resort has more surprises in store for the future.

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness clearly has yet to visit Rosewood’s Miramar Beach.

// 1759 South Jameson Lane (Montecito),

Ama Sushi, the Rosewood Miramar Beach's exquisite omakase counter.(Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach)

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