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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / TOURISM

New Tenant in High-Rent District

May 24, 2000|E. SCOTT RECKARD | E. Scott Reckard covers tourism for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at scott.reckard@latimes.com

Just inland from the Ritz at the Links at Monarch Beach golf course, the concrete outline of a new 400-room luxury hotel is rising--another bet on transforming the area from the surfing grounds of past decades to a gathering place for the caviar set.

Capital Pacific Holdings Inc. in Newport Beach is building the Monarch Beach Resort Hotel in a package deal with Dana Point that also entitles CPH, principally a home builder, to develop luxury housing in the area.

With a 30,000-square-foot spa, an 8,000-square-foot presidential suite and direct golf course access, the hotel emblematizes attempts "to develop South County as a destination" for travelers from across the country, said marketing consultant Noah McMahon.

McMahon said Capital Pacific will disclose the hotel operator's name next Wednesday. The word among insiders like Corona del Mar hotel broker Donald Wise was that the property likely will become a St. Regis, one of the Starwood Hotels brands, and be marketed with what Starwood calls its Luxury Collection of 50 hotels around the world.

The luxury group owns or manages such hotels as the first St. Regis, a 1904 midtown Manhattan hotel; San Francisco's Palace Hotel; six Hawaii hotels, including the 1927 Royal Hawaiian at Waikiki, and the Phoenician, the lavish Arizona resort whose cost overruns helped topple the empire of Lincoln Savings & Loan boss Charles H. Keating Jr.

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