In the fall of 2000, The Athens Group commenced construction of a 262-room luxury resort hotel on a 30-acre oceanfront property in Laguna Beach, California. Montage Laguna Beach opened for business in February 2003. In light of the resort's 10-year land-use entitlement process, the significant barriers to entry for coastal development in California and the beachfront setting, Montage Laguna Beach has become one of the most sought-after resort properties in North America. The design of the resort is a modern adaptation of the Craftsman/Bungalow style architecture made famous in the early 1900s by designers such as Greene & Greene, Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan. This design style is closely associated with coastal settings and is seen throughout Laguna Beach. The property has spectacular views up and down the Laguna Beach coast and is situated directly above Aliso Beach and several secluded beach coves. On many days, Catalina Island can be seen in the distance. Each guest room in the hotel has a direct ocean view. The resort includes the award-winning 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage with its own pool, the Loft restaurant, a pool complex with Mosaic, an adjacent bar and grill, and 16,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space. The resort also includes Studio, specialty restaurant located on the site's most prominent bluff-top cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to the resort hotel, Montage Laguna Beach includes an adjacent residential enclave consisting of 14 oceanfront and ocean view estate homes and lots, and 14 luxury villas. The lots average 15,000 square feet in size and the villas average a spacious 3,000 square feet. Each of these lots and villas has panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The residential owners have access to all resort amenities and services including access to the swimming pools and spa, concierge service, room service, housekeeping, laundry and valet service. Carefully designed residential guidelines preserve ocean views and sight lines from each custom home and villa residence, as well as the design integrity of the entire resort enclave. Athens' partners in this project included Montage Hotels & Resorts, Ohana Holdings and Vestar Development Company.
In May of 2006, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) selected Montage Laguna Beach for its prestigious Awards for Excellence: The Americas. The property was the only resort recognized among 10 U.S. award winners. The ULI competition is widely considered the land use industry's most prestigious recognition program. The Spa Montage was the first spa property to ever achieve the coveted Mobil Five-Star Award in 2005 and was identified as the country's number-one spa according to the Mobil Travel Guide. It won the rating again in 2006. Montage Resort & Spa has received numerous travel awards including Best of the Best by Robb Report and #2 U.S. Resort by Condé Nast Traveler's annual Readers' Choice Poll.