With luxury resort operator Rosewood Hotels & Resorts signed on to run the Miramar resort and a large construction loan secured, some of the final pieces of the nearly decade-long puzzle are falling into place.
Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed when the deal was announced on June 3. But talks between the two firms have been ongoing since developer Rick Caruso first met with Rosewood Hotel Group’s CEO Sonia Cheng at the management company’s Hong Kong headquarters more than two years ago.
“We were contacted by all the major hotel operators around the world, many reached out to us wanting to be a part of this project,” Caruso told the Business Times. “We had ongoing meetings with a variety of operators, but after a meeting with Sonia, whose family recently bought the [Rosewood] brand, I saw her vision for the company’s properties was very much in line with mine for this project. Things progressed very naturally over the last couple of years and we struck a deal.”
Rosewood has no financial stake in the $185 million Miramar project, but is working closely with the Caruso Affiliated’s design team on the final master plan for the swanky beachside resort. Caruso is financing the project with a construction loan, with the remainder coming from the company’s own equity.
“There are no outside investors in the project,” he said in a phone interview. “I’ll be the only owner and I’ll continue to own it for a long, long time. That’s the plan at least.”
Spread over almost 16 acres of prime beachfront real estate, an extremely valuable leg up on the competition, the Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito is expected to have 122 guestrooms and 48 suites, many of which will be located in single-story cottages and bungalows.
Amenities will include an oceanside bar and restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a to-be-determined signature restaurant, two swimming pools, a spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, beach club and screening room. Additionally, plans include 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including a 6,000-square-foot ballroom.
A confident Caruso stated there will be nothing like the Miramar elsewhere on the coast. Room rates for the resort are expected to be about $750 per night.
“Each sector we’ve gone into, whether it be retail or commercial, we’ve reinvented how we engage with our guests and we plan to do that in the Miramar,” he said. “We clearly want this to be the finest hotel offering for service and design, comfort, enjoyment and excitement.”
For Caruso, the Miramar is an eight-year dream come true. The project is expected to start construction next year, with an opening slated for 2018. Caruso Affiliated and design partners, which include famed New York-based interior designer Martin Brudnizki, are fine-tuning the overall concept.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long, long time and getting this project into the building phase is a huge priority,” Caruso said.
While the road to the project’s approval was fraught with disgruntled Montecito residents worried about parking and traffic, multiple design revisions, and eventually limits on club memberships and event attendance, the development could still face roadblocks as the construction phase starts.
With trucks moving in and out of the neighborhood, added noise and other possible nuisances for cranky residents, Caruso said the company will do its best to tread lightly.
“We’ll be a very a good neighbor and make sure there is the least disruption possible,” he said. “If an issue comes up we’ll address it immediately.”
Rosewood, which manages 18 luxury properties in 11 countries and has 11 new hotels under development, wants Miramar to “reflect Santa Barbara’s atmosphere,” said company President Radha Arora.
“The core philosophy of our company is that each place is a reflection of the culture and geography it’s in,” he said. “We think the Rosewood Miramar will be a perfect complement to our other two properties in California.”
The company operates the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park and the Rosewood CordeValle in San Martin.
“Miramar was rolling with unrealized potential as a beach front property in this part of the world,” Arora said.