Our anniversary celebration in 4 ‘Acts’
JACKIE: We want to talk about what started out to be an anniversary celebration… but turned into an escape from the smoky hell of the recent wildfires to the heaven of the Montage Laguna Beach resorts which is Act 1.
DAVID: We settled in to relish Montage-style, Act 2. The friendly, polite, helpful attitude started on arrival when our much-used 2002 Prius was treated like the Bentley it parked next to. After a congratulatory reception, we were accompanied to the fourth floor and welcomed into a beautifully furnished, spacious accommodation with the bathroom of my dreams. The toiletries are our favorite: Antica Farmacista lemon verbena with a fresh citrus fragrance that is almost edible. Just outside in the entry hall, a set-up with well-stocked mini bar (including complimentary champagne), and a Nespresso machine. Our living room had loads of closet and drawer space, a custom-made bed so super comfortable I’m thinking of buying one myself.
JACKIE: The exterior became our Act 3, as David so colorfully has established. Our balcony overlooked the football field-length swimming pool, glorious gardens and a vista of the sea that stretched for miles in all directions. Unpacking could wait! We plowed into our swimsuits and hustled to the warm pool.
DAVID: Again, the Montage service-with-a-smile was everywhere as we were led to a perfect spot at the end of the pool facing the ocean where one cheerful attendant spread towels on our lounges and another took our snack order. Even the weather was perfect; almost making us feel guilty under a clear, smoke-free sky with a co-operative sun. The soothing pool and the powerful hot tub made for mandatory relaxation, and the view of 30 lovely acres of landscaping surrounding us worked their magic.
JACKIE: Our second day lured us away from the Montage (briefly) to re-acquaint ourselves with the charming village of Laguna and to lunch at Nick’s Restaurant; so terrific! But the pool called (screamed), so back to the Montage. Not to be starstruck, but Adam Sandler was in the pool with his family. What struck me was his wonderful “fatherness” and the fun he created for his four cheery children (making the best of their need to evacuate due to fires). David and I were pleased to be joined by a pair of seagulls who spent their afternoon enjoying a swim and hopping on lounges in tandem.
DAVID: Act 4 – dinner at the resort’s signature restaurant, Studio. Studio is a separate, charming cottage at beach level where a magician/chef, Craig Strong (no relation to the realtor), brilliantly pairs contemporary French cuisine with California pizzazz. My unforgettable dinner included treasures from the ala carte and tasting menus – golf ball sized oysters on different sauce beds in a unique dish with six compartments . Next, a lobster risotto and as a main, roasted venison loin with wild mushrooms and braised red cabbage.
JACKIE: I was enchanted by the Local Citrus and Watercress salad, looking like a Renoir painting, adorned with coach farms chevre, crispy guanciale, with gordal olive vinaigrette. Chef Strong relies on the resort’s 1,000-square-foot raised bed garden – especially in his new gourmet vegetarian tasting menu. Items grown onsite include cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, lemon verbena, Swiss chard, shishito peppers, oregano, Valencia oranges, kumquats, figs, artichokes and edible flowers like nasturtiums and lavender.
Our celebratory dessert, the Chocolate Sphere, was a dramatic display, with poured hot fudge melted the sphere into an ice cream delight. When Chef Strong dropped by to wish us a happy anniversary, I assured him that I still had a crush on him.
Any occasion will be memorable with a dinner at Studio… it’s worth a day trip. Or more, if you are lucky…
DAVID: As our curtain falls, my advice: don’t wait for an anniversary, visit Montage Laguna Beach and enjoy all the amenities – spa, salon, three swimming pools, the resort’s exclusive childrens’ clubs, restaurants and bars, meeting spaces, public art, shops and on-site recreation activities.
It’s a resort worthy of a Tony!
Jackie: And we’ll travel!
Actress Jackie Joseph-Lawrence and her husband David Lawrence write regularly about travel for The Tolucan Times.