San Manuel Buys 40% Stake in Glitzy Orange County Resort

Posted on: June 5, 2023, 04:35h. 

Last updated on: June 6, 2023, 01:44h.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians added some noncasino gaming exposure today with the announcement that it purchased a 40% stake in the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif.

Waldorf Astoria Monarch
The Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif. San Manuel bought 40% of the property. (Image: Pinterest)

Ohana Real Estate Investors sold the interest to San Manuel. Financial terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed. Ohana acquired the venue previously known as the Monarch Beach Resort in November 2019.

The venue opened in 2001 under the St. Regis brand and has been through several ownership changes over the past two decades. It’s believed Ohana paid $497 million for the property. If accurate, that implies San Manuel’s stake is valued at roughly $200 million or more.

The tribe’s Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel in Highland, Calif. is located 86 miles from the beachfront hotel. Yaamava’ is one of the largest and best-known tribal gaming properties in the West.

San Manuel’s gaming portfolio also includes the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, which it acquired from Red Rock Resorts (NASDAQ: RRR) in 2021 for $650 million in cash. Today, San Manuel is one of three tribal gaming entities with exposure to Sin City.

San Manuel Renews Interesting Rivalry

While Orange County, the county in which the Waldorf Astoria is located, isn’t home to casinos or card rooms, San Manuel is renewing an interesting, albeit small rivalry with its interest in the oceanfront hotel.

A mere 4.1 miles, or an eight-minute drive north on Pacific Coast Highway from the Dana Point property, is the Montage Laguna Beach. Golden Nugget boss Tilman Fertitta paid $650 million to acquire that resort last November. Measured by the price paid per room, Montage is the most expensive hotel sale to date in California.

The Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas is a rival venue to the Palms. Owing to the proximity and comparability of venues, the Dana Point/Laguna Beach competition could be even more intense.

“Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club is nestled hillside along the coast and offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Perched on 175 acres with 400 guest rooms and suites, seven culinary experiences, three sparkling pools, a Waldorf Astoria Spa, and the private Monarch Bay Beach Club, this elegant AAA Five-Diamond retreat offers both indulgence and inspiration,” according to a statement.

Another Nearby Rival

Located less than a mile from the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach is Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, one of Orange County’s most iconic hotels.

There are some loose gaming ties associated with that property as well. Marriott holds a gaming license in Nevada, and several of its Las Vegas hotels are near or have direct ties to casinos, including Cosmopolitan on the Strip and Rampart, a locals’ venue.

The hotelier also operates Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico.