Resort Review: I recently had the pleasure of visiting the La Costa Resort and Spa — a destination idyllically situated in sunny Carlsbad, California that's revered for its well-appointed accommodations, world-class spa, fine dining and, of course, its two PGA-championship golf courses. Having heard much about La Costa prior to my stay, I checked in with admittedly high expectations. Suffice it to say the experience did not disappoint.
Long cherished among Southern California residents and world travelers, alike, as a premiere vacation locale, La Costa Resort and Spa — with its breadth of amenities and top-notch service — is a worthy respite. Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway for two or a fun-filled family vacation, this property has it all — and then some.
Accommodations a Plenty
This Spanish Mission village-styled resort, spread out over fully 400 acres of coastal foothills, boasts a total of 610 guestrooms, including ample villas and no less than 76 suites overlooking lush landscaping or its world-renowned golf courses. The rooms are outfitted with rich wood furnishings, luxurious fabrics, and leather accents along with oversized bathrooms replete with imported marble.
Located near the on-site shops, restaurants and spa, La Costa's Plaza Rooms feature new flat-screen televisions, comfortable beds, high speed Internet access and an array of creature comforts. The Resort Rooms are offered with a choice of king bed or two queen beds, as well as a large flat-screen television, full size bath and glass enclosed shower, and outdoor courtyards. The Spa Rooms are located near the swimming pool areas and offer either a king or two queen beds with sitting areas. Decorated in the Spanish Colonial style, The Villa Rooms have king beds, authentic Saltillo-tiled floors and fireplaces along with flat screen televisions, a patio, a work area and sitting area.
The 57 available La Costa Suites for two are approximately 660 square feet and offer an elegant bedroom, a separate sitting area with a sofa sleeper and a flat screen television in each, as well as an oversized bathtub that opens up to the bedroom in view of the TV. The 28 available Family Suites for 4 to 6 guests measure a full 1,142 square feet. Family Suites are comprised of a La Costa Suite (with a king bed) and a connecting Resort Room (either a king bed or two queen beds), thus creating two bedrooms, as well as two marble-laden bathrooms and a sitting area.
The Villa Suites (one, two or three bedroom) range from 1,000 square feet to 2,200 square feet. These spacious suites provide residential-like comfort, and feature king beds, Saltillo-tiled floors, fireplaces, large flat screen televisions and sitting areas. These suites also have parlors designed for living with expansive seating and dining areas, a well-stocked gourmet kitchen with Viking appliances, a washer and dryer, and a beautiful patio. The Junior Villa Suites (one or two bedroom) have many of the same virtues but with less square footage. These rooms feature a king bed, marble bathroom, modern flat screen televisions and a private garden patio as well as an attached parlor and petite kitchen. The Villa Studios offer king beds, fireplaces, sitting areas, petite kitchens and washer/dryers along with beautiful décor and, of course, Spanish charm.
La Costa's two-bedroom Presidential Suite is the ultimate in luxury accommodations, offering a spacious living room with floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic golf course views, a sitting area with fireplace, a dining area with seating for six, a wet bar with kitchen and four balconies. Each bedroom has its own sitting area and private bath. A third bedroom is optional.
Few visit La Costa without indulging in a spa treatment or three. The Spa at La Costa is a Spanish-colonial style, Feng Shui-designed pleasure palace encompassing a whopping 28,000 square feet of indoor relaxation space and yet 15,000 square feet more outside. This spectacular spa has been awarded the Readers' Choice Platinum List by Celebrated Living for four years in a row; the Best Hotel/Resort Spa in Southern California by Spa Magazine, and Top Spa Resorts for Golf by SpaFinder. And with good reason.
The Spa at La Costa has 42 treatment rooms, including VIP suites for couples' treatments, like side-by-side massages, along with a shower, bathroom, fireplace, and private garden patio with a whirlpool tub. Treatment options abound, and include a range of massages, body wraps, facials and cutting-edge clinical treatments for the face. I myself had a massage treatment during my stay and can personally attest to the skill and professionalism of the technicians and the calming effect of the luxurious facilities.
Other spa amenities include a lounge pool, sunbathing area, and Roman Waterfall shoulder pounding massage showers, as well as men and women's wet areas featuring steam, sauna, whirlpool, cold plunge, showers, and lounges. The Spa at La Costa is also home to a café perfect for leisurely lunches in your spa attire, impressive boutique for a dose of retail therapy, and movement and fitness rooms should you be so inspired. The full-service Yamaguchi Salon also located in the spa complex offers haircuts — including a Feng Shui cut, manicures, pedicures, and other salon treatments. The Chopra Center at La Costa complements the spa by offering a myriad of mind and body wellness programs. Here there are individual and family yoga sessions available.
La Costa has eight heated swimming pools — one with a kid-friendly sandy "beach" and a toddler slide, a "Splash Landing" pool with two enormous 100-foot waterslides, an interactive waterplay zone, and five Jacuzzis all surrounded by upholstered loungers and shady cabanas. Unlimited Wi-Fi service is also offered in these areas. For those seeking to sunbathe kid-free, a separate Garden Pool area offers adults-only relaxation amongst gorgeous plants and florals. Also located poolside is the Splash Café and Garden Café restaurants offering light snacks, meals, non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails.
As an admitted fitness junkie, I was pleased to see the wealth of equipment at La Costa's renowned fitness center. This bona fide health club has a strength circuit course, free weights, an aerobic studio, Pilates studio, spinning room and a bevy of cardiovascular equipment. Also on hand are personal training services and nutrition counseling that incorporate state-of-the-art methods and computerized printouts to evaluate a guest's fitness level and provide customized exercise and nutrition programs.
For the tennis-set, La Costa has no less than 17 hard and clay courts — seven of which lighted for evening play — with stadium seating. A seasoned staff of USPTA certified professionals is on hand for private lessons for adults and children and daily group clinics. Ball machine rental is available from the pro shop, where you can shop for gear and clothing to your heart's content.
Among the most notable and celebrated features at La Costa is its two PGA Championship 18-hole golf courses designed by legendary golf architect Dick Wilson, which combine beautiful and traditional course designs to challenge and delight golfers of all levels. Practice facilities include a driving range and practice bunkers. The impressive pro shop offers the latest equipment and apparel. Exceptional golf instruction is available, including the La Costa Golf Academy and Golf Flexibility classes with Roger Fredericks, as well as full-fledged Golf memberships.
Of course, La Costa's concierge is indelibly on hand to plan your day trips and tours and make recommendations and reservations as desired.
Named the #2 Most Family Friendly Resort in the U.S. by the Travel Channel, La Costa embraces children and families from the moment they check in. First up is the VIK (Very Important Kid) gift bags doled out upon arrival. There are also numerous activities that change on a monthly basis appealing to kids of all ages, not to mention the "Vibz" game lounge. Designed for guests ages 10 and up and open from 10 a.m. -10 p.m., Vibz offers a TV lounge area, ping pong, skee-ball, video games, foosball, air hockey, billiards, X-box 360 room with five stations, and Guitar Hero on a pay-per-play basis. Numerous summer camp programs are also available for children, including Golf Camp, Tennis Camp, Spa Camp and Surf Camp.
La Costa's "Kidtopia" Kids Club has half day, full day, hourly sessions and weekend night camp sessions for kids ages 6 months to 12 years. Designed by an architect who specializes in hands-on museums and small theme parks, Kidtopia is a beautifully designed 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, secure center comprised of land and sea elements with three distinct conceptual areas for infants/toddlers, bathroom independent 3-5 year olds, and 6-12 year olds. Kidtopia is jam packed with fun, offering small slides and soft climb items, books and puzzles, games and crafts, a seven-foot tree house with slides and cubbies, a movie lounge, personal high-tech entertainment stations, a pressure-sensitive light floor for games and dancing, and a 600-gallon saltwater aquarium with exotic fish. The center operates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a daily basis with night camp on Fridays and Saturdays from 6-10 p.m. Full-day registration is $80 and includes activities from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. along with lunch. Half-day registration is from 9 a.m. — 1 p.m. or noon — 4 p.m. and includes lunch for $50. Night camp is $55 and includes dinner. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
La Costa is also baby-friendly, with available in-room diaper genies, baby proofing supplies, and complimentary cribs and pack-and-plays upon request among other infant-oriented resources. Other kid-specific amenities at the property include the Healthy Kids' menu for restaurant and in-room dining, babysitting services, and swim lessons.
There are a number of fabulous dining experiences available at La Costa including its signature Blue Fire Grill, which is named one of Carlsbad's beat restaurants. This 324-seat eatery with both an indoor and outdoor seating area serves Southern California styled food utilizing local fresh seafood, premium meats, and seasonal vegetables. For the oenophiles, the restaurant also has an extensive wine list. Designed by the renowned Puccini Restaurant Group of San Francisco, the décor at Blue Fire Grill resembles the Southern California Mission style carried throughout the resort. Its outdoor patio has fire pits and custom fountains as well as live music from Thursday to Saturday evenings. The interior features stone and wood floors, a green bottle fireplace, a hand blown glass flower fireplace wall, timber ceilings, and a fountain. Menu highlights include Frito Misto, Seafood Piquillo Pepper, Blue Fire Seafood Trio, Red Wine Braised Boneless Prime Beef Short Ribs, and the Seafood Stew.
The other notable restaurant on the property is Legends Bistro. With modern interior design aesthetic, Legends Bistro also has an indoor and outdoor seating area that overlooks the golf course. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this family-friendly restaurant focuses on comfort foods but with an international twist. Along with the regular menu, the restaurant also offers ayurvedic-style cuisine based on the Chopra Center's philosophy as well as a kid's menu. Also notable is the restaurant's wine bar and private room for events.
Some Legends Bistro menu highlights include the Peking Duck Egg Rolls appetizer, Jack Daniels BBQ Baby Back Ribs served with Sweet Potato Fries, Seared Sea Bass, the Chopra Stir Fry, Butternut Squash Ravioli and Lentils with Basmati Rice. I ordered the Osso Buco and Cous Cous on special the evening of my stay, which was generously portioned, well-seasoned and cooked to perfection. For dessert, try the S'mores Pot Pie, which is a warm chocolate crust pie topped off with roasted marshmallows, the tableside prepared Root Beer Float, or the incredible Peach Cobbler I ordered and savored every bite of.
Other places to eat at La Costa include the Lobby Lounge, which offers appetizers, specialty drinks, beer, and wine. The Splash Poolside Bar & Café has grilled foods, snacks, salads, smoothies, and ice cream. The Garden Poolside Bar & Café has specialty drinks as well as grilled and fresh foods. The Spa Café offers a range of lifestyle cuisine, organic wine and champagne, juices, and smoothies. An impressive room service menu, is, of course, also available. Trust me, at La Costa you'll eat well.
La Costa regularly offers vacation theme packages to fit a variety of interests, schedules and budgets. Trips for Two packages include a destination package, spa retreat package, and golf package. Family getaway packages include a Legoland package, unlimited activities package, and spa package (spa for adults and Kidtopia for kids). Stay for a quick vacation, or make La Costa your own through the purchase of a Villa vacation home.
La Costa Resort and Spa is located at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad, California 92009. Visit www.LaCosta.com for more information.
- Merilee Kern
JustLuxé.com's "The Luxe List" Executive Review Editor
The Luxe List product, service and travel review editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for new and captivating "musts." Submissions are accepted via e-mail at Merilee@JustLuxe.com. View all of Merilee's Luxe List articles from here (scroll to page bottom) and follower her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor. See All Luxury Hotels in California