Developer Rick Caruso hires industry veteran to lead Miramar project as he branches out into hotels

Retail mogul Rick Caruso has hired a prominent hotel industry executive as his multibillion-dollar real-estate company makes its first push into the resort business with the five-star Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito on the California coast.

The property is under construction on the site of the old Miramar By The Sea Hotel, which has roots dating back to the 1800s.

Mr. Caruso has tapped Ali Kasikci to head the Miramar and the rest of his fledgling hotel business. Mr. Kasikci is known in the industry for managing the Peninsula Beverly Hills for more than 15 years and serving as a senior executive for Belmond Hotels.

The new Miramar will have 161 guest rooms and family bungalows on 16 acres. The resort, about an hour north of Los Angeles, also will include a private beach, club house, a “manor house” and two pools.

“I think we’ll be the most expensive hotel on the California coast” to stay at, Mr. Caruso said.

Mr. Caruso, who was a pioneer of outdoor shopping centers like the Grove in Los Angeles, is investing more than $200 million on the project in Montecito. He said he is trying to recreate a sense of old-world luxury.

“It will feel like a great estate that would have been around in the ’30s or ’40s,” he said. “You’ll walk in and you’ll be transported.”

Mr. Caruso, who also has developed office and luxury apartment buildings, said he is looking for other unique sites for more luxury resorts. But chances are he won’t launch another project until the Miramar is up and running in the summer of 2018, he said.

“There will be more down the road, when we find more opportunities,” Mr. Caruso said.

Mr. Caruso purchased the property in 2007 and demolished the existing structures. He then spent years on planning and getting community approval for his plan, no easy feat in California.

“To get a hotel approved on the beach it literally becomes an act of God,” he said. Looking on the bright side, though, there will be “high barriers to entry” to anyone else hoping to compete with the Miramar, he said.


By Peter Grant