San Diego's sole Tom Fazio-designed course. Southern California's only chef claiming both the Mobil Five-Star Award and AAA Five-Diamond Award. And a $1 million wine cellar awarded Wine Spectator magazine's coveted Grand Award.
But wait, there's more: The resort's $270 million price tag for a 249-room hotel makes it one of California's most expensive new properties.
Designed for those who take pampering seriously, Grand Del Mar pays healthy homage to the pleasure principle. After sharing your name at the gated entry, a leisurely drive alongside the golf course delivers you to the porte-cochere entrance where your initial taste of exclusivity is a well-coiffed doorman who'll seamlessly deliver you to your home for the night. From the start, it's clear that even non-VIPers get top-notch service here.
Sweeping fairways, gracious verandas, flowered terraces, garden fountains, meandering walkways, ornate rotundas, wood-beamed ceilings, decorative columns, wrought-iron accents... all define this resort. One part Italy, one part Spain, one part Morocco, and set in Southern California — the sum of these pieces equals elegant perfection. With weather to match: from 49 degrees F winter lows to 78 degrees F summer highs, there seems to be nothing missing.
Hidden in the hills of San Diego's north county, it's deceptively close to the ocean and the action. The beach is mere miles. The villages of Del Mar, La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe are nearby and in season (July - September) the addictive excitement of the Del Mar Racetrack is a complimentary town car ride away.
From the public area's four heated pools (including one that is adults-only with state-of-the-art underwater speakers) to your guestroom's European-style soaking tub, the resort seems to anticipate your every need...even before it becomes a conscious desire. And yes, you'll find chocolates on the pillow but that's merely the beginning.
Addison and more
Orchestrated by artist-chef William Bradley and showcasing contemporary French cuisine the signature restaurant, Addison, excites legitimate connoisseurs. And when adding wine to complement the epicurean landscape, top-tier sommelier Jesse Rodriguez (of French Laundry fame) is at your service. Responsible for Addison's wine list of more than 3,000 selections and more than 20,000 bottles, the assuredly knowledgeable, yet uncommonly approachable Rodriguez ensures that a glass of grape intrigues even the most critical oenophile.
Suggestion: Select Chef Bradley's Carte Blanche Menu, a creation of seven courses for the table. Making the experience even more delicious is the element of surprise that comes with this young, renowned chef's masterful creativity.
For a mere taste of The Grand, visit the Library for Afternoon Tea or stop in the Lobby Lounge for one of the newly debuted signature cocktails... maybe Las Ramblas Sangria or perhaps a Jalapeño Margarita.
Dubbed where "the elements of nature meet the elegance of the Renaissance," the 21,000-square-foot spa is designed to connect spa-goers with earth's enriching ingredients — warm mineral muds, native herbs and calming botanicals (most products from the nearby Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve). The Spa and its practitioners are so committed to the effectiveness of these wellness products that an assortment are offered under private label and sold exclusively at the resort.
The interior is serene, posh and sigh-inducing: canopied lounge chairs, a fire-place appointed relaxation room and — my personal favorite — framed Hermès scarves...the enviable setting to unwind, unfold, unwrap.
Suggestion: Sample a Triad of The Grand Del Mar, a multi-tiered trio treatment (example: Expression - stone, scrub and tonic massage).
Grand Golf Club
For those who think green is the new black, there is the sweeping, undulating 18-hole, 72-par golf course that spans 380 acres, encircles the hotel and features an 18-foot cascading waterfall. The best part: the course accommodates all levels of play. And paying homage to the more civilized past the club reinstituted the fore caddie program, where an experienced caddie accompanies each golfer.
Additional perks: Customized golf fitness screening (a comprehensive golf and physical evaluation typically reserved for the world's top players); Grand Golf Performance Academy, the Club's newest instructional arm, which showcases a series of one-, two- and three-day comprehensive golf programs and San Diego's first Dave Pelz Scoring Game School, where the focus is on the short game.
Suggestion: Even if you don't intend to play a round, bring your clubs for the complimentary custom club fitting reserved for hotel guests.
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve
Spanish for "little cliffs," the nearby 4,100-acre preserve has 37 miles of trails for hiking, nature walks, biking and horseback riding. Because nothing simplifies a busy life like an outdoor outing, The Grand has incorporated innumerable possibilities to explore this around-the-corner wilderness into its activities.
Suggestion: Take advantage of the complimentary bird watching, hiking, nature walk and mountain bike outings guided by onsite naturalist, Dylan Jones.
Relax & Renew
Time slows when you visit The Grand Del Mar. Once you step through the ornate, oversized entry doors only two credos apply: there is no rush, there are no rules. Where sophistication and serenity rendezvous, Southern California is an unexpected source for luxury at its Old World best.