Those who know about The Grand Del Mar don’t stay at it to visit San Diego; they visit San Diego to go to the five-star property. It's just that kind of place. The hotel's commanding presence along the rolling Del Mar fairways is further defined by the tree-lined entrance that leads guests up to the resort. Every year since 2009 (two years after its opening), the hotel has received a AAA Five-Diamond Award and it earned a perfect score on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2009 Gold List for Best Service.
Its lush landscape holds 10,000 species of vegetation such as Italian cypresses, tropical trees and indigenous plants. Graceful arches, ornate wrought-iron and stone accents, palm trees and a large fountain welcome you into a Mediterranean-inspired oasis. Designed by San Francisco-based interior design firm Warren Sheets design, Inc., the interiors and exteriors pay homage to Addison Mizner, a turn-of-the-century visionary and architect whose design approach was motivated by the decorative arts of Portugal, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Italy.
Once inside, wood-beamed ceilings, marble columns, parquet flooring and large accent pieces emphasize the grand feel of the resort. From the moment you check-in, until you depart, the staff treats you with the utmost care and anticipates your needs at every turn. During a visit this past December, it was typical for team members to not only greet me with a welcoming smile, but to recall my name as well. This type of attention to detail was shown in every aspect of the resort.
Of the 249 guestrooms, outfitted with exquisite furnishings and color palettes of deep blues, pale yellows and gold, none feel standard or basic. From rooms to suites and villas, all accommodations offer the same level of comfort and impressive design. Through two double doors that lead down your own private hallway, the 550-square-foot Veranda Guestroom is laced with rich brocade upholstery, crown moldings, cut crystal lamp bases and gold accents. The balcony, with a small table and two chairs, overlooks the fairways through an archway and columns.
While the room itself is notable, it’s the marble bathroom with deep European-style soaking tub, dual sinks, separate shower and 13-inch LCD TV that really catches your attention. A small window separating the bathroom from the sleeping area can be left open to allow for a more spacious feel or closed for privacy. Toward the back of the room sits a closet with plush robes, slippers and extra linens. Left with a small box of four chocolates on the pillows, water on the bedside table, and slippers by the bed, the hotel's turn-down service is a nice way to end the day.
At Addison, the hotel’s restaurant and SD’s first and only restaurant to win a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award (2009-2013), dining is more than just about eating. It’s a culinary journey through French cuisine and seasonal California ingredients from the mind of acclaimed Chef William Bradley. During our four-course menu, we were offered different plates for each course, allowing us to try more items.
We moved through Kumamoto Oysters with preserved lemon, horseradish and watercress; and Confit of White Sturgeon with spinach crémeux for starters, both paired with wines. A favorite was the Kobe Beef Short Rib with potato croustillante and mushroom gratin that melted in your mouth and was rich in flavors. What was evident through Chef Bradley’s cooking was the freshness of each item, herbs and spices could be tasted as if they were picked an hour before from the garden to top our plates.
Due to its popularity among locals and visitors, reservations are suggested and the four-course prix-fixe menu is offered for $98 a person. For an even more lavish affair, the 10-course menu is available for $235 per person.
A 21,000-square-foot spa sits on the property and its relaxing interiors are dressed in earthy creams, beiges, soft blues and taupe color palettes. The beautiful facility boasts crystal glass tiles, multiple arches and imported white Carrera marble and is easily a destination spa, with patrons coming from all over to enjoy its therapies. Prior to your treatment, you are led into a women’s lounge which features complimentary tea, water and small bites. Afterwards, guests are encouraged to utilize the other facilities like the steam and sauna areas, outdoor Jacuzzi and spa pool or warm-up next to the stone fireplace.
One of their signature treatments, the Renaissance is a nourishing ritual which involves free-floating in a water bed after a warm body wrap of mineral-rich mud and aromatic oils is applied. Following a rosemary-infused Swiss shower, your massage therapist will gently relieve tension by applying rhythmic rocking motions onto the joints. The 90-minute therapy goes for $330 on the weekends and $320 on weekdays.
San Diegans like to think of The Grand Del Mar as their little secret — gathering at its lobby bar for cocktails, golfing its Tom Fazio fairways year-round and enjoying the warm California sun at one of its four sparkling pools. But this secret is meant to be shared, especially since Travel + Leisure named it California's #1 Resort (#4 in the U.S.) on its World's Best Awards list this year. Rooms start around $495 a night.