By Breeana Greenberg
The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in Dana Point is another step closer to adding a lazy river that its guests and visitors could enjoy.
The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously last month to conditionally approve the construction plans for the hotel’s proposed attraction—a 543-foot-long lazy river and a pool bar that will replace the grassy area of the resort’s north lawn.
Though the planning, permitting and designing process may take years to bring the project to fruition, Assistant Director of Marketing Devon O’Connell said in an email that “we are always exploring opportunities to elevate our guest experience.”
For the hotel, one of the upsides of swapping out the lawn for the new amenity is the anticipated reduction of water usage, according to resort representatives, as the lazy river is expected to use half the amount of water currently being used to water the grass.
James Cole, a representative of Dana Point Beach Resort, LLC, explained to commissioners that the 25,000-square-foot lawn uses approximately 810,000 gallons of water per year, whereas the planned 7,110-square-foot lazy river is expected to use 404,000 gallons of water annually.
Additionally, the Waldorf Astoria said it will plant drought-tolerant landscaping and artificial turf around the lazy river and use recycled water for irrigation using an efficient drip and micro-spray system.
As a part of the Coastal Commission’s approval to amend the hotel’s coastal development permit (CDP), the Waldorf—formerly the Monarch Beach Resort—has committed to providing a free education program for underserved youth to learn about marine life and enjoy the lazy river.
Ensuring that the project allows for affordable public access and does not negatively impact marine sources and water quality, the Coastal Commission imposed the conditions that the Waldorf participate in a coastal-themed Youth Education and Access program and a Marine Debris Reduction program.
Through the Youth Education program, a minimum of 240 students a year will have the chance to learn about the coastal environment and use the lazy river. The program will be available for underserved youth in Orange County who lack access to coastal resources.
The free program will involve an educational session in the morning and a chance to enjoy the lazy river in the afternoon, with lunch provided.
Included in the lazy river project is a plan to also construct a 2,620-square-foot pool bar and restroom. The pool bar will serve beverages and packaged food, all the while complying with the CCC’s Marine Debris Reduction program, as stipulated.
Under the program, only reusable foodware is permitted for on-site dining, and single-use utensils may only be provided for to-go orders upon request. Styrofoam, plastic bags and plastic bottles will also be prohibited.
Once the lazy river is constructed, day passes will be available to the general public at a cost of $25 per person and will include free on-site parking. However, the hotel’s amended permit allows it to increase the day pass fee annually, consistent with the Consumer Price Index.
Before the CCC formerly issues the permit, Waldorf Astoria will be required to submit detailed plans for the two programs, as well as revised landscape plans and a public access program.
In the meantime, the Waldorf Astoria said it will debut a $30 million refresh of guests’ rooms and suites this month, with construction about to begin on a new meeting and events venue at the former location of the Athletic Club.
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org