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Monarch Beach Resort
Rodrigo Vargas and Danielle Fox of Los Angeles-based Rodrigo Vargas Design applied the “a little bit goes a long way” philosophy in refreshing the 400 guestrooms, public spaces, and the Miraval Life In Balance Spa at what is now the Monarch Beach Resort.

From the onset, the design team was charged by new owner KSL with translating a dark vineyard theme of the former St. Regis property into something beachy and light, offering a more appropriate sense of place for the Orange County, California property. To conceive the look, Fox studied the clientele, seeing well-to-do, fashionable families offered a “very different vibe than, say, Downtown LA or San Diego,” she describes. The sartorial choices of the local women inspired “a palette that is fresh and airy: preppy, pink, bluish—Tory Burch but with a kind of a barefoot elegance,” says Vargas.

To evoke that signature relaxed California charm, a kind of well-traveled aesthetic pervades, with eclectic pieces in public spaces that appeared as if they were collected over time. “It’s about using textures and materials that feel good to the touch but are not flashy,” says Vargas. The designers changed out stone floors for walnut, and incorporated the color blue in single accent walls and custom carpets.

The natural surroundings were incorporated throughout by opening up the lobby space to reveal the beach and by even placing monitors behind the reception desk that play footage of the shore. “The previous lobby doors blocked your entry, so just by changing to big doors that open up, we changed the whole feel,” says Fox. “Just a few, uncomplicated gestures transformed the space.”

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