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Hassles at Montage Resort in Laguna Beach?

Discussion in 'SoCal' started by Robert Phillips, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. Robert Phillips

    Robert Phillips Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: OC, California
    Just wanted to post to see if anyone has ever had any hassles at Montage (Treasure Island) typically diving in the wintertime or when you see few other divers getting in the water.
    Twice i have had a friend who had rescue services called while he was in the water and when he surfaced was asked if he was in distress. Obviously the answer was no, as he is a very experienced diver who has been diving this location for more than 10 years (before it was a resort and the easy access we have now was private property and the only way in was a long walk from Aliso Beach below the high water line.)
    Last year he was diving (solo) and an 'anonymous' call was placed regarding a 'diver in distress' and when he surfaced there were crews in the water and rescue squads on site. When he asked if there was a problem he was told "we are looking for a distressed diver" the crews assumed it was him they were called for and discontinued their search after he was on the beach.
    This information leads me to the question: If you had called in an emergency call, would you do it anonymously? Or would you wait until services arrived and give you report of what you observed? I can understand someone coming from the Midwest who had never seen the ocean before and watching someone enter that water and then not seeing them for over an hour thinking there was a problem, but are these the people that pay $200-$1500 a night for a room at the Montage?
    Fast forward to this Sunday... My friend is diving with his brother at Montage. They surface after an hour+ dive to the same scenario: EMS on the surface with multiple divers and Harbor Patrol in the water. The get the attention of the surface personnel and ask what the problem is. "Are you in distress?" is the question posed to them. Obviously they were not in distress, but again it is assumed that they are the divers the call was made for. My friend informs them that there was no one gearing up when they went in, so it may be very possible that there are different divers in the water that may have been in distress. The same reply is received that he had gotten the year prior, "Oh, we're pretty sure you are the diver we're looking for."
    Now please understand, my friend is an inactive instructor for several agencies, form basic open water to tech trimix instructor and was ready to assist both times he was approached by EMS and made it a point to let them know that at no time was he ever in distress and there was a high possibility that they were dealing with another diver or divers in distress and there was a good chance that their search was not over and was told both times the same thing. The crew were 'pretty sure' they had found the reason for the call. Never were names taken by EMS or Laguna Beach PD, but the odd thing happened this time; They were approached by Montage Security and were asked for their names for his report'. When he was told in no uncertain terms that he would not get their names, he became defensive and accused them of being 'hostile'. They were then followed to their vehicles and the security guard watched them as they de-kitted and wrote down the license plate number.
    Keep in mind that this all took place on public property in the city of Laguna Beach. While the Montage Resort is an private Hotel, all the surrounding property and the beach access was given over to the public in order for them to build their resort.
    The agreement made by them with the California Coastal Commission was to allow
    public right of way to the ocean. This seems to me like they are trying to build up some sort of defense to come to the conclusion that Montage is a dangerous place to dive and to try to limit access to this part of the beach.
    What I want to try to determine is if anyone else has had any problems with security or any uncalled for EMS responses when diving at this site. I will admit that I had to call EMS for a dive that went awry here. Fortunately it was not an issue that resulted in injury, just a miscommunicated dive plan and an unplanned solo excursion. There was also a death at this site at a later date, but was not caused by the site itself.

    Sorry for the long winded post, but I was asked by my friend to post this here to see if this was common or if he was a magnet for abuse!
  2. SoCalAngel

    SoCalAngel Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: 1000 Oaks, CA
    Robert... he's a friend of yours, right.... must be a magnet for abuse!!

    just kidding... I've never had problems there, nor has any of my friends that dive there. I actually even got a ride back to my van from the top of the stairs by one of the concierge people once!

    I would think if the Montage wanted to keep divers from diving there, they would have started that kind of activity monitoring after the diver death in November 2003.
  3. scubacalifornia

    scubacalifornia Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Mission Viejo, CA
    Never a problem here Robert. Twice we've been treated to a ride on the Montage golf cart back to our car, though primarily due to the nice guys driving and not so much sponsorship by the resort.

    By the way, has anyone heard if the parking garage is still getting hit with car burglaries?

  4. Jim Kerr

    Jim Kerr Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NorCal
  5. scjoe

    scjoe Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern Cal
    I'm not sure I see pattern in two incidents spread over two years, unless "last year" meant December. Although the police did not bother to take names, that does not mean that the Montage does not require its security guards to get names of anyone involved in an incident. I can see where your friend would have been irritated by the security guard, but if he is being targeted, it would have been helpful to has his name on file. Now there is no record of anyone placing a distress call possibly aimed at him.
  6. Robert Phillips

    Robert Phillips Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: OC, California
    Dude! Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, etc are not the only states in the Midwest. If we are ready for a geography lesson, Iowa North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma are a bunch of states in the Mid-West that have neither ocean nor a great lake surrounding them and I am sure there are people there, who are neither stupid nor poor, who have never seen the ocean or a SCUBA diver. :D
    This all may be irrelevant, but twice my buddy has been told by EMS/Security, "Oh well we get people all the time from places like Oklahoma..." yada, yada, yada...

    Yeah, My friend had the same feelings. Maybe the management is getting soured to having divers use the public access at what they consider their beach.
    I have never had any problems there myself and have even gotten rides from the service crews. I can also consider that some divers who use Laguna Beach (not all but a large number) are rude, noisy and disrespectful of other people. As in people urinating in the parking garage, using loud voices on residential streets early in the morning, leaving garbage all over the place, etc.. I know that general beach goers do this 100 times more than divers, but there are divers who are guilty of this too. These people obviously stand out more than the rest as people tend to pick out the bad and ignore the good, but I can understand how a resort that charges up to $1500 or more a night could get soured on people peeing on a wall and leaving trash and waking up guests.

    I'm babbling now... Time to go.
  7. JDog

    JDog Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    I did a night dive there once. I didn't have any problems, from the hotel staff.

    As far as vehicle security-- I opened the passenger door with my key (remote was inside) and my alarm went off, the hotel security golf cart was there in a flash. (I later found out I should open my Tacoma driver door to keep the alarm from sounding.)

    So no complaints from me.
  8. pasley

    pasley Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Lakewood, CA
    No recent experience diving there (darn it), but other than the one time when you acted very responsibly after the one diver failed to understand (or remember) the very basic signal of surface, I have not had any problem there. That said I think your theory of the Montage building a case that the beach is too dangerous, and too costly to the city of Laguna Beach which funds the rescue efforts does sound very plausible. If the city has to foot too many rescue bills, they may ban diving in the city, not just the one site. But for the most part, in the past when I have dove there they have been very hospitable.
  9. Robert Phillips

    Robert Phillips Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: OC, California
    With what I've heard of the history of the City of Laguna Beach and their stand on diving, you may not be too far off the mark.
    As for myself, I have not had any problems with the Montage staff all the times I have dived there and I don't think these two seperate instances I posted about are much to worry about, I find it hard to believe that someone would call in a request for emergency services and then leave before making a report and verifying the people they were calling for were indeed the people it was 'assumed' EMS identified.
    My friends experience last year was similar to this one (altough he got a 'solo diving' ticket that time) in the fact that after he surfaced the search was called off. He was told both times "We are pretty sure you are the diver we were called for."
    Knowing my friend and his experience, it would take a great deal of incorrect assumption to think that he could be in distress or be able to be seen as in distress at any time. So why call of the search because a diver just happened to surface when a search was going on? I just see something wrong with this reasoning. What if the call was indeed for divers in distress and those divers were still in the water?
    I would like to believe that anyone who knows enough about diving to recognise a diver in distress would actually hang around long enough to make a report or witness the conclusion of the event. I would also like to believe that someone who doesn't know enough about diving and still places a call because they believe they saw a diver in distress would also hang around long enough to at least make a report with a try at an acurate description of the diver/s. Just seems fishy to me that it was not so.

  10. JMD123

    JMD123 Contributor

    The real bummer is some day there will be a needed rescue and the ems workers will think its another person crying wolf... (nothing against wolfs)

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