One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down and spins itself a silky cocoon. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly.
We all know the COVID-19 quarantine has not been a friend to most people’s healthy lifestyles. Hoarding food, toilet paper and day drinking is not a way to live – at least not for long. Thank goodness the world is beginning to open up so we can get off our couches, out of our heads, away from the DoorDash binges and Zoom meetings without pants, and get back to some kind of normal. Who knows? Maybe our new normal, what we become after emerging from the cocoon of these dark times, will be more beautiful than ever. When I was invited to attend the opening weekend of Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club my immediate thought was: Hell yes! If we are legally able to leave the house, as long as we follow the rules, it was time to get back out there.
Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach is a towering Orange County, California white palace overlooking gorgeous grounds, golf course greens and the Pacific Ocean. Perched high above the glorious coastline, it is hard not to be wowed by the sheer vastness of the “Butterfly of The Bay”. Simply walking into the colossal building with high ceilings and wide-open walls of windows is gasp worthy. The resort, built from the top down into the cliff, to get the best views imaginable, literally took my breath away…and began to take my quarantine stress away. Plus, it was so nice to see people, real life people, even if we were socially distanced 6 feet apart and partially hidden behind our masks. If isolation has taught us anything I hope that it is the importance of human connection. Instagram and texting is not real life. Only real life is actually real.
Post pandemic pandemonium I figured a short stay at Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort would be a 5-star way to test the waters of our brave new world and ease back to life in Los Angeles after hunkering down with my brother and rescue animals down at my Oceanside beach house. It would give me the opportunity to not only enjoy some of the amenities of the resort but also figure out how to manage life as we all now know it. As soon as I checked in to my certified COVID clean, safety sealed, lawn to ocean view room, with butterfly touches everywhere, I knew I was in for a fantastic practice run.
Monarchs flow through the theme of the entire resort from the stunning coastal inspired decor to the masks worn by all of the employees and the 6 Foot markers on the marble tiles. Signs are up that face coverings need to be worn in public areas. Which I of course I adhered to as a guest. However, once seated for a snack, al fresco, I was able to take it off and relax easy breezy. I could tell that the stellar service people were still trying to get back into the swing of things after the COVID closure. Dining service, though delicious, was a little slower than expected. With people social distancing, lining up for coffee 6 feet apart made it seem like more of a wait and it actually was. No complaints here. I was just happy to be alive and well, having just tested negative, out in the world beyond the confines of the grocery store. Besides, after three months of waiting for a civilized meal out, why not appreciate a few more minutes of watching the world start to emerge from the chrysalis.
I didn’t pack properly for cloud covered cooler morning temperatures. Though I must admit I sometimes travel light on purpose just to have an excuse to shop for destination souvenirs. Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach has well curated boutiques with upscale resort style clothing, jewelry and art, as well as the Miraval spa shop with oceans of potions that I of course I had to try. I kept it simple, picking up some sweet smelling night cream, comfy jammies, yoga pants and a couple of long sleeved Ts for a cozy weekend stay.
The best way to social distance was to take in the splendor of the great outdoors. Guided walks were available. Though, as a loner by nature, I chose to mostly explore the paths around the golf course down to the sea on my own. I wandered the grounds that never seemed to end and stumbled upon their multi-million dollar Villas. I guess this is where the other-half-of-the-other-half lives. There were many re-imagined (for COVID-19 safety) open-air boot camps, spinning, and other strenuous activities limited to a social distanced 10 people on the Grand Lawn. However, just walking around the resort chasing butterflies was enough cardio for me. There was also (thank my lucky stars) a quiet, secluded adults only pool, at the not fully open yet gorgeous Miraval spa, as the main pool was brimming with happy to be out of the house children.
For delicious food and drink after a busy day on the golf course, outdoor power Pilates, or like me lounging by the pool, The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach has all sorts of options. They have specialty fresh juice elixirs and clean, healthy green things, which I was aiming to adhere to after an ice cream stuffed-pancake kind of quarantine. Also, on the other side of the spectrum there is Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina Restaurant, now primarily seating on their fire pit glowing outdoor patio. It is perfect for prime meats, seafood, wine and romantic sunsets. You can also order from Bourbon Steak’s bar menu, including their world famous double cheeseburger, in other open-air areas. As Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort also serves as Monarch Bay Beach Club, the evening crowd transforms from fitness enthusiasts and kids club activities to a local well-heeled date night hot spot. If you are a local, you’ll likely want to join the club.
The stand out for me, besides the ridiculous loveliness of the whole place, was the daily outdoor yoga classes. The teachers were some of the best I’ve experienced in my 20 years of practice. The lawn versions of yin through vinyasa flow were all lead by exceptional teachers. We arrived in our masks and sanitized our hands at sign in. They provided sterilized mats and Monarch butterfly water bottles. We did without the normal yoga props of blocks, blankets and such due to the ongoing pesky virus. However, once on the mat, breathing and moving, it was simply om namah shivaya peaceful. Outside on a luscious lawn, with a marble staircase leading to a crystal ballroom on one side and a Romanesque rotunda on the other, the ocean breeze gently caressed my face as the birds chirped good morning. When I blinked open my eyes after our final meditation, a Monarch butterfly was perched at the top of my mat for a few moments before fluttering away. For the first time in months I felt that we were well on our way to all being well in our world.
To book your stay at Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach visit https://www.waldorfastoriamonarchbeach.com/.