Thanks to the welcoming weather, lush landscapes and breathtaking coastal views, Southern California hosts a treasure trove of lovely resort destinations.
So how does a resort that has only been around for six years manage to not merely stand out but earn, among other accolades, both the AAA Five Diamond Award and Forbes Triple Five-Star rating for their resort, spa, and restaurant? The Grand Del Mar, located in the foothills of San Diego’s Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, has been able to achieve this feat with what sounds like a simple menu of ingredients, but when executed correctly, results in a home run.
The Mediterranean-inspired resort is beautiful, impeccably landscaped, the rooms are pristine and spacious, and the spa and restaurants absolutely top-notch. It also features a Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole golf course. However, what separates the Grand Del Mar from the others can be traced to the fact that they cornered the market on service.
From the moment we drove up and were greeted by the attendants who offered to throw away our travel trash, to the warm lavender-infused hand towels we were offered when checking in, to the helpful housekeeping staff, everyone without exception seemed to be genuinely eager to help and knowledgeable about the resort. On several occasions when we asked directions to a restaurant or room, the staff stopped whatever they were doing and not only told us how to get there but graciously took us there themselves.
When we checked in we were upgraded to a suite without even requesting an upgrade. Our suite was huge, yet warm and inviting. I especially loved the fireplace and the bathroom. The tub was so large and deep that I briefly considered donning a flotation device when entering, but being the brave soul that I am, I decided to go for it. This has to be the best bathtub on the market.
Unfortunately we had to leave our mini-mansion to get a spa treatment. I got their signature Renaissance wrap, which is hard to explain, but it involves among other things, mud, a warm free-floating bed, a Swiss shower and rocking motions. My ankle had been hurting me, so I asked the therapist Polly to avoid it. Instead she whipped up a poultice of mud, herbs, and I don’t know what else, and put it on my ankle. By the time my 90 minute treatment was over, not only did I feel renewed, but my ankle no longer hurt. I was sure the pain would return the next day, but it did not, despite taking part in their challenging and informative two-hour hike at the nearby Torrey Pines State Reserve. It is now several days later, and the pain has still not returned. I don’t know what you did, but thanks, Polly!
The next treat for us was the restaurant Amaya. This is not their five-star Addison restaurant (named after the architect Addison Mizner), but I could not have asked for a better dining experience. My roasted baby beet and fig salad with basil-pistachio purée and brioche tuile was unrivaled, and my husband, who is the ultimate foodie, gave the Catalan-style shrimp the highest rating possible for his appetizer. The lobster and crab pappardelle was also a winner, as was their spicy jalapeno margarita. The waitstaff was knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.
The general feeling you get at the Grand Del Mar is that they have not cut corners on anything. They anticipate your needs and are more than happy to oblige. I’ve been to many resorts but this one earns the overall five-star rating for me. Whomever does the training or chooses the staff is to be congratulated. No matter how beautiful the setting or how good the food, the personal service enhances the environment and contributes enormously to the all-around positive or negative experience of a resort stay. It is hard to find a negative when reviewing the Grand Del Mar. The only negative I can think of is that it took time to get the lay of the land. At first, finding our way around was a challenge, but we caught on easily, especially once again — with a little help from our friends — the staff.
CAROLE can be reached at Carolesorlin@yahoo.com.
If you go
The Grand Del Mar
5300 Grand Del Mar Court
San Diego, CA 92130