I was a fan of the Montage long before they joined Ciao Bambino’s portfolio of family-friendly hotels. I pass the hotel every day on the way to my daughter’s school and appreciate how the hotel’s craftsman-style architecture blends in with the oceanfront location. As our editor discovered when she stayed here, they also have a spectacular kids’ club called Paintbox.
What I didn’t know is that you don’t have to be a guest to use it! If you are not a guest of the resort but are using the restaurant or spa or just shopping at the resort, your kids can participate in a Paintbox session.
Tidepool discovery at Paintbox Kids’ Club
Paintbox Kids’ Club at Montage Laguna Beach
My family experienced a small part of what makes Paintbox so special — a guided tour of the tidepools in front of the resort. We learned some tidepool safety tips first and then set out to find a variety of starfish and sea urchins and a few little fish.
The Paintbox program takes advantage of the open grassy areas of the resort and the beach below to take the kids on adventures and excursions. While looking for sea life, we also learned a bit of pirate’s lore and legend has it that there may be pirate’s booty still buried on the beach. Our Paintbox leader was so patient and knowledgeable. We learned a lot and now that the kids are expert “tidepoolers” we look forward to our next excursion.
Some kids cry when they leave Paintbox; mine just begged to go back.
View of the Montage from bluff side walking path
The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach
After our tidepool experience we headed up to The Loft for dinner. The Loft is fine dining with an ocean view. Kids and fine dining don’t always mix, but the staff is so used to seeing families that the experience is relaxing as opposed to being nerve-wracking.
The service is outstanding and you really feel pampered here. If you are cheese lovers, don’t miss the cheese gallery. With over 150 cheeses to choose from you’ll welcome help from the fromagier. He helped each of us choose a couple of cheeses based on our preferences and made the kids feel like their opinions were very important. Each cheese is paired with homemade condiments and the final product is a work of art when it arrives at the table. This was the highlight of our dinner and so much fun.
Note to parents: The tidepools at the Montage are very accessible with kids of all ages and are located almost directly in front of the main beach stairs. The most valuable safety tip we learned is that if a wave is coming it’s better to stay put and let your shoes get wet rather than try to make a run for it and slip.
Thank you to the OCeanfront for setting up this experience. Visit their website for information on Orange County’s 42 miles of beautiful coastline.
Editorial note: The Montage hosted Kristi and her family at The Loft. She was not asked to express any particular opinion about the experience.
Photos courtesy of Kristi Marcelle and Amie O’Shaughnessy