Montage Hotels & Resorts, Beverly Hills & Laguna Beach

Category: Escape Published: Tuesday, 20 July 2010 21:10 Hits: 2443

The dapper Fuerstman has crafted his North Canon Drive hotel into a Beverly Hills Oasis with a touch of Casablanca thrown in. There’s no Hollywood Regency or hip, modern design here. The Spanish Colonial Revival interiors provide a warmth and casualness that complement perfectly the staff’s European graciousness and American-style service.

None of this is by accident. In his career, Fuerstman opened the Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage, California, served as a managing director for The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz., and became Steve Wynn’s vice president of hotel operations at the opening of The Bellagio in Las Vegas. His vision calls for creating an ultra-luxury brand in the guise of a boutique hotel.

Go ahead and recline in the lobby lounge for afternoon tea at Montage Beverly Hills. Hungry? Visit Studio at Montage Laguna Beach, the resort’s signature restaurant. Executive Chef Craig Strong’s modern French cuisine with California influences is sure to impress your palate. Enjoy the monthly Chef’s Tasting Menu, order a la carte, or let Chef Strong take control and prepare you a meal to remember. Try Strong’s signature Pan-Seared Monterey calamari with baby arugula, parmesan and garlic aioli or the Maine Diver Sea Scallops with parsnip fettucine, kumquats, jidori chicken and mushroom fricassée.

More fun and adventure can be found in both properties’ collection of hard-to-find wines, beers, and spirits. For instance, a “malted” Guinness may be paired with foie gras, and a “deconstructed” margarita may be paired with ahi tuna. “The wine is there as an enhancement to the food and the overall dining experience,” Montage Beverly Hills sommelier Mark Hefter explains.

At Montage Beverly Hills, there’s also Spa Montage, where natural treatments with water, minerals, or orchard-inspired ingredients soothe the spirit. Nearby, a spacious mineral pool under two-story skylights creates a sanctuary of relaxation. Or, for an aquatic experience of another kind, guests can explore the rooftop pool.

Fuerstman has become a familiar sight at both his California resorts, engaging guests to get feedback on their stay. His staff is trained to connect with guests and fulfill their spoken and unspoken needs. It’s what Fuerstman refers to as the “wow” factor. “You haven’t told us what you need, but we’ll surprise you by how much we care,” he says. In fact, this may be the only hotel brand that has installed a permanent director of learning, Derra Lee Edwards.

Her two-day training session for new staff members gets them “to start out on the right foot. They learn that they can make or break a guest experience.” Eight values drive the company culture: communication, passion, respect, learning, integrity, graciousness, humility and trust. An employee learns quickly that a dishwasher is as important as an executive. Each staff member learns the whole operation, which makes him or her better equipped to answer any question posed by a guest. “It creates loyalty and trust with the staff,” says Edwards. “They want to stay [with the company] forever.”