It’s nearly impossible to discuss the history of Santa Monica without mentioning the Miramar. The two are inextricably linked, and as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, we’re pleased to take you on a journey down memory lane, from the founding of the city, to the Golden Age of Hollywood, to what the Santa Monica luxury hotel is today.
Below, read some highlights from the Miramar’s century of existence — and discover how we’ll be celebrating the centennial with our treasured guests.
In 1875, silver mining magnate and former senator John P. Jones moved to California and bought the land where he would soon establish the town of Santa Monica with his partner Colonel Robert Baker. On the property where Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows now stands, Jones built his residence, known as the “White House of the West,” which became the city’s first “Miramar” — Spanish for “view of the sea.” While living there, Jones and his family hosted American icons such as Susan B. Anthony and Mark Twain. In the 1880s the property’s iconic Moreton Bay fig tree, which still stands today, was planted by his wife Georgina Jones.
The Miramar’s journey as a hotel began in 1921, when hotelier Gilbert Stevenson bought Jones’ estate and property. Santa Monica’s reputation as an idyllic seaside retreat grew in the years that followed, and in 1924 Stevenson built a six-story apartment building for guests who wanted to stay longer than a week or two at the Miramar. One of those guests was Greta Garbo, who had just moved to the United States from Sweden to try her luck in Hollywood. Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy also later took up residence in what is now known as the Palisades Wing.
The Great Depression put a hold on plans to expand the Miramar, but the hotel continued to attract Hollywood royalty. It was sold in 1932, and years later the new ownership replaced the Jones’ original family home with a modern building alongside a collection of seaside bungalows and the property’s first swimming pool.
The 1940’s to 1960’s
During World War II, the Army Air Corps took over the Miramar to use it as a redistribution center for men returning from overseas. Once the army moved out, the hotel was remodeled, and ownership changed hands again in 1949. The new owner, Joseph Massaglia, built the 10-story Ocean Tower and a new swimming pool, which was featured in the 1962 Cary Grant and Doris Day movie That Touch of Mink.
Because of Santa Monica’s year-round temperate climate, outdoor activities like surfing and skateboarding grew in popularity. It was during the 1970s that a group of locals formed the Z-Boys, a crew of surfers and skateboarders who inspired the movie Dogtown and the Z-Boys and were later part of the inspiration for Dogtown Coffee, a beloved local coffee shop that we’re proud to have as part of the Miramar today. In 1976, nearly 100 years after it was planted, the Miramar’s iconic fig tree was declared a historic landmark by the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission.
The Miramar’s proximity to Hollywood became even more of an asset in the 1980s. During this decade, the Santa Monica luxury hotel was used as a filming location for iconic television shows such as Dallas, Hart to Hart, Starsky and Hutch, Knot’s Landing, and many more.
The Miramar’s ownership changed several more times in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, and in 1999 Maritz, Wolff & Co. purchased the property for $90 million and brought on Fairmont Hotels & Resorts to manage it and oversee a $16 million renovation, which was completed in 2001.
2021 and Beyond
After more than a decade of planning, MSD Capital LLC has ambitious plans to expand Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows while retaining the classic California luxury that’s made it a must-see destination for the past century.
In celebration of the property’s 100th year, Fairmont Miramar will be introducing new food and beverage outlets and offering special items to mark this momentous occasion. The Lobby Lounge, FIG, and The Bungalow will serve a Centennial Cocktail featuring AMASS Vodka, lemon, rosemary simple syrup, and Champagne, which was created by Emily Russell.
New to the iconic Bungalow also comes Airstream by FIG — a retrofitted classic 1986 silver Airstream trailer that will offer Santa Monica beach cuisine. In September 2021, Fairmont Miramar will introduce Georgina’s, an oceanfront enclave featuring small bites and a reimagined cocktail program, fittingly named after Georgina Jones — the woman responsible for the fig tree that still welcomes guests to the Miramar 100 years later.
Celebrate Fairmont Miramar’s centennial with us and receive up to 25% off your rate when you book our Get Real – Experience it All offer before September 6th.