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Great expectations

The Grand Del Mar follows in the fine tradition of luxury hotels known for offering world-class amenities.

BY MICHELLE FLORESPublished: September, 2009

To understand the special roost taken by one of the newest grand luxury hotels on the block, you need to know a bit of Southland history. Because the fairest comparison to the luxuries offered at The Grand Del Mar in north San Diego County is the original West Coast grand dame herself: Long Beach’s Virginia Hotel.

The beachfront Virginia Hotel cost $1.25 million to complete in 1909. Imagine the off-the-hook amenities that amount of money bought then, including Italian marble floors and columns, chandeliers, imported furnishings, masterpiece paintings, gilded statues and Oriental rugs. Guests arrived in droves from the Midwest to indulge in refreshing coastal weather, delectable food and entertainment that ran from ballroom soirees to orchestral salons. Golf, too, was an amenity, as hotel guests were allowed access to a newly built private course known as Virginia Country Club.

Virginia Hotel’s opulence set the standard for its era and that of The Grand Del Mar nearly 100 years later, when San Diego developer Douglas Manchester spent $300 million to buy and refurbish the property that includes the Tom Fazio-designed golf course formerly known as Meadows Del Mar.

The property: Your getaway begins with the drive through Rancho Santa Fe. The turn into the 249-room resort is met with the awesome sight of a Mediterranean-style palace hallmarked by etched stone pillars and a Roman fountain.

As you enter the lobby, the sense of being transported to an exotic locale with timeless ambiance is achieved with impeccable decor and architecture: mosaic marble floors, vaulted ceilings, an elegant restaurant-bar with the sexy vibe of a Prohibition Era speakeasy, an expansive lounge with gorgeous views and an intimate library complete with fireplace.

The 550-square-foot guestrooms let you live large, thanks to amenities such as marble-clad bathrooms with soaking tub, separate shower, dual sinks and a 13-inch flat-screen TV. A curved corner couch, elegant writing desk with Internet access, 40-inch flat-screen TV, private balcony with fantastic views of the golf course and a wet bar provide every modern comfort for achieving perfect tranquility.

Larger suites range from 1,010 to 2,840 square feet with two to three bedrooms, fireplaces, expanded patio, kitchenette, six-seat dining table and his-and-her bath suites.

The golf: You won’t easily find these in the Southland: forecaddies, whose expert guidance and assistance enhances the enjoyment of the par-72 course that stretches to 7,160 yards.

Winding past part of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, the course boasts varying elevations, diverse bunkering and superbly manicured greens and fairways. The 16th hole was made a more challenging par 5 with the addition of 115 yards. A water feature complete with a small stream and an 18-foot waterfall was added to the finishing hole, along with a short-game practice area, a 4,200-square-foot putting green (for a total of three short game areas) and a 5,000-square-foot practice tee on the eastern backside of the existing driving range.

On this new practice tee, you’ll find the new SAM (stands for Science and Motion) Putt Lap where you can receive a personal putting stroke analysis via computer and laser technology. Way cool. Plus, avail yourself of a wide-ranging menu of instructional, golf fitness and playing lesson programs conducted by Director of Golf Shawn Cox, head pro Robert Gensler, Erik Wilson and other staff pros. Après-golf, relax in the newly renovated 50,000-square-foot clubhouse with its own casually elegant grill featuring California cuisine.

The dining: The signature restaurant, Addison, is led by Executive Chef Will Bradley, whose très chic interpretation of French cuisine has won national recognition and the coveted Five Star award from Mobile Travel Guide. Trust us on this: Count Addison as a transforming life event. Wine Director Jesse Rodriguez, a top-5 national sommelier, oversees the resort’s 35,000-bottle cellar. The must-have vino: Hanzell chardonnay out of Sonoma County.

The spa:
For serious pursuit of the three Rs (relax, renew, revitalize), visit this expansive 21,000-foot facility boasting 11 treatment rooms equipped for massage, facials and hydrotherapy. Separate men’s and women’s areas each offer a steam room, sauna and whirlpools, a lounge and a patio. The therapeutic treatment programs feature the use of natural enrichments, including native herbs and botanicals and warm mineral mud. Heavenly.

The activities: There’s something for everyone, from golf buddies to romantic couples to action-seeking families. Get your workout on, take a trail hike, go surfing! Families, take heart — the resort offers wonderful kid-friendly venues such as the 2,000-square-foot Explorer’s Club featuring an interactive mural and marine wall, along with children and toddlers’ pools.

To make reservations: (858) 314-2000 or


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