With shovels in hand and hard hats on, Caruso Affiliated officials and business executives ceremoniously broke ground Monday on Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito, a luxury oceanfront resort expected to open in summer 2018.
The project, which will be operated by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, includes 161 guestrooms in the form of one-story cottages and bungalows, an oceanfront bar and restaurant, two swimming pools, event space, a spa, a fitness center, a beach club and a 6,000-square-foot ballroom.
Founder and CEO of Caruso Affiliated Rick Caruso, hosted the ceremony with Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotel & Resort, and Managing Director Luigi Romaniello.
“It’s going to be the finest resort, certainly on the California Coast, but we want to be one of the finest resorts in the world — and we are going to do that,” Caruso said. “There’s not a lot of properties on earth that are as special and we are going to do a job for this community.”
The $185-million hotel project, approved unanimously by the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors in April 2015, sits on a 16-acre property.
The resort will be built along U.S. Highway 101 and the property grounds run through the Amtrak passenger rail line.
The rooms, suites and bungalows will be priced similar to five-star luxury resorts in the greater Southern California region, according to Liz Jaeger, senior vice president of public relations for the developer.
The site at 1555 S. Jameson Lane is home to the original Miramar Beach Hotel, the first resort hotel in the city of Montecito dating to the 1880s, which closed in 2000.
“There’s a long history (on the site) and a history we want to celebrate, and respect,” Caruso said. “We want this hotel to be a community asset as it had been for the last 100 years.”
Caruso purchased the land in 2007 and raised more than $200 million to finance the project before demolishing the original buildings in 2012.
The Montecito project is Caruso’s first hotel development.
Rosewood, an international brand, operates 18 luxury properties across 11 countries, with 17 new htels under development. Operations include the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, Carlyle in New York, Hotel de Crillon in Paris, Rosewood Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico.
A handful of protestors held signs outside the groundbreaking ceremony to protest Santa Barbara County supervisor and Democratic congressional candidate Salud Carbajal, apparently for taking a $2,700 campaign contribution from Caruso and another from his wife.
“He’s taking in money and we are voters that want to know his position with the developers,” said Santa Barbara County resident Sherry Smith. “This is a peaceful demonstration and we just want to know what is true.”
Carbajal’s campaign issued a response to the protest and said his vote to approve the project was based on the recommendations from independent planning commissions and the idea that it is projected to increase county tax revenues by $3.5 million.