Along the coast, nestled between the mountains and the waters, there’s a small, exclusive enclave that’s home to a bustling culinary scene, swanky stores, sparkling beaches — and a long list of celebrities. Montecito has always been known for the host of stars that call it home, and even more so now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle too have chosen the coastal community as their playground. Of course, I can’t help but think of this couple, arguably one of the world’s most famous now, as we drive to Rosewood Miramar Beach, a high-end (in Montecito, what isn’t high-end?) oceanfront retreat that plays host to a recently opened Dior pop-up boutique, one of 18 opening at a slew of vacation destinations across the world this season.
“You know, this is where Harry and Meghan live,” I tell Kristin, though I’m sure she already knows. “At this hotel?” she exclaims, eyes widening. I laugh. No, they don’t live at this hotel, but they very well could. It’s the sort of place fit for a royal. This comes into clear focus when we pull into the hotel’s stone-paved driveway, and two well-coiffed young gentlemen in suits open our doors with a flourish. They’re nothing but smiles, as though we’re the guests they’ve been waiting for all day.
The main property, called the “Manor House” is stunning, and it feels more like a classic New England estate rather than a hotel. Think: a white stone facade, columns on each side of a stately wooden door, and leaded windows with navy blue shutters. Inside, as we saunter into what feels like the hotel’s “foyer,” there’s a sweeping staircase with an ornate wrought-iron balustrade, black-and-white checkerboard stone tile, antiques and plush loungers. Even when we make a pitstop to the hotel’s bathroom (it was a long drive, after all), we’re amazed by just how posh it looks. Yes, the bathroom, with its hand-painted de Gournay floral wallpaper, seems like a destination in its own right.
Retail shops like Goop and The Webster have taken perches inside the Rosewood Miramar, but we’re here to see the new Dior pop-up. Dior holds a special place in our friendship. The first time Kristin and I ever made plans to meet (after clicking at Los Angeles Fashion Week) was at a Dior pop-up in Beverly Hills. I remember the day distinctly. We had the frilliest, most carefree day, complete with a makeup makeover, shopping, coffee and nibbles. I loved every second of it. So, it made sense that our first mask-free outing would be to a Dior-hosted affair.
We exit the manor, popping out on the other side, and with a little guidance from a Dior representative sporting the iconic J’adior slingbacks (who introduced herself as “Alice, as in Alice in Wonderland”), we finally find our way to the Dior bungalow. Inside, the walls are doused in toile du jouy — a staple of Dior — in various colors, the racks are lined with toile de jouy resortwear and the shelves stocked with, once again, toile beach goods and towels, throws and even notebooks.
There are nooks and corners perfectly orchestrated and positioned for photographs — an idyllic toile hammock, beach chairs and Dior throw pillows. All you need to do is hop into the frame, and voila. You’ve got yourself an Instagram photo that’s bound to kick up some major travel envy.
If it seems like Dior is catering to those with a wanderlust gene, that’s because it is. It started a few years ago, on the sun-soaked island of Mykonos, where Dioriviera first set up shop. Featuring a beach capsule collection, the move was a part of a larger trend of fashion houses looking to reach shoppers on their vacations. (Dioriviera now puts out a full-fledged collection with merch specific to each location as well as a selection of home products vacationers can take back as souvenirs.) This feels particularly relevant in a post-pandemic world, as more and more people are readying themselves for travel once again.
It also makes sense that Dior picked Rosewood Miramar Beach as its base here in California. Montecito is a coming together of some of the state’s high points. Fantastic weather — warm with just enough of a breeze to take the edge off the sunlight beating down at us. Long, gorgeous stretches of sand and sea. And of course, a Hollywood connection. Not to mention, if you’re going to splurge, this hotel in particular, with its white clapboard cottages, plush pools, $25-cocktails and designer-bag-totting guests, is where you’d do it.
Despite the decidedly Stepford-esque vibe (as Condé Nast described it), I can’t help but enjoy being here. For me, it’s always going to be the views. After we leave Dior’s bungalow, we walk along the stone path that snakes from the bungalow to the oceanfront Miramar Beach Bar. There’s a railroad track that cuts through the property, separating the bar from the grand lawn, which, I have to point out, is so perfectly manicured you’d think every blade of grass was tended to individually. (There’s a 24-hour gate guard who’ll let you know when it’s safe to cross over the tracks).
As we approach the gate, I turn around to take a quick glance at the hotel — the white buildings cradled by a sweeping mountain range. (Montecito, after all, translates to “little mount.”) I turn around again, and there’s the ocean. There’s no denying that Rosewood’s true prize is its location. The landscape offers something in every direction. It really is incredible. Dior might’ve brought me here, but it’s all this natural beauty that makes me want to stay.