Real Estate Developer Rick Caruso Discusses His First Foray Into The Hotel Biz With Rosewood Miramar Beach

Rosewood Miramar Beach
Rick Caruso

Photo Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Caruso

Last weekend, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso—the man behind SoCal retail destinations like The Grove and Americana at Brand—celebrated his latest achievement… his first foray into the hotel business with Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito. Caruso owns the property, which is managed by Rosewood Hotel and Resorts.

The beautiful property, which is located in Santa Barbara’s picturesque Montecito community known as The American Riviera, is completely in line with Caruso’s own unfailingly elegant aesthetic. It offers 161 ultra-luxury guestrooms and suites; Sense, A Rosewood Spa; a state-of-the-art fitness studio; two cabana-lined pools; seven distinct dining venues including Caruso’s, the signature oceanfront restaurant, and Malibu Farm at Miramar, an all-day eatery; the first-of-its-kind goop Sundries Shop from Gwyneth Paltrow; as well as a new California-inspired concept store curated by designer James Perse.

Like everything else Caruso does, with Rosewood Miramar Beach, he combines the residential and the refined. Included in Caruso’s world-class portfolio and marquee shopping and dining destinations are The Grove and The Americana at Brand; luxury residential building 8500; and The Masonic Temple, a restored 1929 Art Deco landmark converted into innovative Class-A office space. The company has also looked to new types of business (as evidenced with his new hotel) including the newly opened, first-of-its-kind retail, dining and entertainment destination Palisades Village.

We spoke to the mega-developer as he celebrated the official opening of his new Santa Barbara hotel (which was attended by Montecito local Rob Lowe) about his decision to get into the hotel business, other new opportunities in the not-so-distant future and whether or not he ever plans on expanding beyond California.

Rosewood Miramar Beach
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts President Radha Arora, Caruso, and Rosewood Miramar Beach Managing Director Sean Carney cut the official ribbon at Rosewood Miramar Beach

Photo Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Caruso

Caruso is known for shopping destinations, but Rosewood Miramar Beach is a hotel. Can you elaborate on your entry into this space?

Opening a resort was a natural evolution of our business. I’ve always taken a hospitality first vision with our retail centers and residences, it’s a large part of what I believe makes them the most successful in the country. With Miramar, I expanded upon the principle of not only anticipating and meeting every guest need, but exceeding it.

Why enter the hotel industry and open now? What sets your property apart, and how does it embody the Caruso brand?

Miramar felt like an opportunity for me to realize a longtime dream. Everything about the site – its unrivaled setting on the beach, the strong ties with the community and its past a beloved icon of hospitality – made it the perfect location for our first resort. I truly believe that there is no piece of land like this and it is my great privilege to usher in a new era of hospitality that honors a spirit that has long been established.

Rosewood Miramar BeachPhoto Credit: Caruso

Is there something classic about the property, yet innovative (much like you yourself)? How, if so? How are you making it a personal property, like a home away from home?

Miramar is meant to be classic and timeless. Our service philosophy was inspired by the old grand hotels of Europe, I want to bring people back to the golden age of hospitality, where people traveled for long distances and checking in to a hotel was more than just a weekend stop. The property should feel like an extension of your home. The majority of the Manor house was designed by my personal interior designer, Diane Johnson, who has never done a commercial project before. She brought a very personal and residential feel to the resort, which was intentional. I built this property to feel like a home, for my family and myself and for locals and visitors alike. It was also very much inspired by the beautiful homes in Montecito, with a heavy influence from the late Paul Williams, whose specialty was grand residences. Our grand staircase in the foyer is an adapted replica of one his original sketches, which I was fortunate enough to purchase from his family.

You’ve been at the forefront of so many retail trends, from where does your inspiration come? And how do you keep the innovation going?

The most important thing has always been, and continues to be, the guest experience. Across all the properties whether retail, residential or hotel, if you bring people to happy, safe and welcoming environment, they will continue to return.

What qualities do you come back to time and time again, and create a consistent theme through all Caruso holdings?

I never build to sell. I always bring a community first approach to any project and it’s important to me that we be good neighbors. I want these spaces to last so that people can enjoy them for generations to come and my hope is that this property will stay within the family, which is why you see so many personal touches throughout the resort.

Rosewood Miramar BeachPhoto Credit: Caruso

Now that you’ve entered the hotel space, do you plan to continue with additional properties in this hospitality space? Where, if so?

I would never say never. Again, Miramar was a unique piece of land in an extraordinary location and opportunities like that don’t come often. But I’m always open to what might present itself next.

Any plans to extend your brand beyond California? Why or why not?

I’ve always built in communities where I feel a sense of connection; I grew up near The Grove, I raised my family down the street from Palisades Village. We build our properties to become a part of the fabric of the community and for that reason we’ve built primarily close by. But I am always looking to the future and open to new opportunities.

Now that you’re a hotelier, what’s next that you haven’t tried? What are some things you’d like to focus on for the future?

I’m looking forward to expanding our residential presence in LA with our newest project 333 La Cienega. It will be our first high-rise, which will come with new challenges, but I am eager and motivated to take them on.

Rosewood Miramar Beach
Rob Lowe and Sheryl Berkoff attend the Rosewood Miramar Beach opening

Photo Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Caruso

What are your go-to spots in LA and Montecito?

Hank’s at Palisades Village serves up the best burger in LA. And if I’m up in Montecito there’s nowhere else for me but Miramar right now. We even put a Hank’s burger on the menu up there.

What mogul do you liken yourself to? Would you say Walt Disney is apt? Why or why not?

I’d deeply humbled by the comparisons to Walt Disney; he was a visionary and an incredibly creative business man. When I reflect on the achievements and milestones I have had through my life, I am most proud of our contributions to the communities in which we have served. I’m very passionate about civic responsibility and I’m grateful to the community for allowing me to do more than just build real estate.

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

Being surrounded by my family, friends and loved ones. There is no greater gift than spending time with those you care for and sharing a great laugh.

Rosewood Miramar Beach
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts President Radha Arora and Caruso

Photo Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Caruso