"To Behold the Sea"
A look into the colorful past of the Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort.
Today the Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort is known for its glamorous beachside accommodations, captivating estate-style atmosphere and exceptional oceanfront dining featuring coastal cuisine and handcrafted cocktails – it is a true testament to the ultimate Montecito lifestyle. However, this idyllic resort has a colorful past which helped shape it into the award-winning and exclusive resort it is today. A recent article in the Santa Barbara Magazine featured below highlights its vibrant history.
In the first decades of its existence, the Miramar resort was the kind of place that children imagine when they think about the way the world should be. “I assumed it would go on forever,” wrote Harold Keeney Doulton in his 1999 memoir, I Remember. Doulton, who was born in 1925, grew up in the Red Cottage, one of the first structures that his grandparents built—on a prime spot under two ancient oaks—after acquiring the oceanfront land in 1886.
Through the Roaring Twenties, the Miramar functioned as a health resort for the morning-after crowd. Montecito, at the time, was the kind of place where the loose nuts of a WASP world collected—the black sheep, the iconoclasts, the artists, and other refugees from East Coast civilization.
Idyllic beach gatherings, beach bonfires, fishing trips and some truly grand parties were part of daily life in Montecito as this time.
A California Style American Dream
But the Great Depression brought an end to that first Miramar incarnation. Unable to keep the enterprise afloat, the Doulton family sold it to Paul Gawzner in 1939 for $60,000. The Gilded Age resort morphed into a place for postwar exploration of the American Dream, California style.
Gawzner introduced a more relaxed and carefree feeling to the place.
The Miramar Beach Hotel was “a place to grow up,” according to Ted Simmons, whose extended family owned the hotel. Toward the end of its second life, the hotel had become a place with plenty of warmth and no pretensions. The hotel was run down and the bar was grungy, however the stunning beach and good vibes kept people coming until the late 1990’s.
By this time everyone knew the hotel was due for a facelift. In a saga too well known to locals to belabor here, the ownership changed hands three times, and the old resort lay empty for nearly two decades.
The Third Era
Today, the Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel, under the direction of Rick Caruso, is something new and strikingly opulent, from the graceful staircase in the Manor House, designed by the late Los Angeles architect Paul Revere Williams, to the well-appointed lobby, which evokes the ambience of a grand Montecito estate. The old train-car diner has been replaced with a festive aqua-colored drinks cart, shaped like a caboose, that serves the overflow from the Miramar Beach Bar. The old boardwalk, where children once rode their bicycles, now serves as a gathering spot for local glitterati.
The Rosewood attracts rich and famous from all over the world, recognized in Forbes Travel Guide, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and the U.S. News & World Report’ 2021 Best Hotels Rankings and more.
With a one-of-a-kind back drop, a premier location only moments to shopping and dining on Coast Village Road and steps to the beach, this exclusive oceanfront resort has embraced and enriched the community of Montecito today and throughout its colorful history.
Discover more about the incredible Montecito community here.