The Grand Del Mar, San Diego

In Editor Picks, Hotels, North America by LA Travel Magazine

A mandatory first start after checking in, is to head straight to the spa.  With an array of services, 11 treatment rooms and 21,000 square feet how could I decide?  Mental Note: This is the only acceptable form of stress on a vacation.  I went with the spa’s signature Renaissance treatment, a 90-minute body ritual that will blow your mind.   My treatment began with mineral-rich mud and aromatic oils and ended in a relaxing warm body wrap on a free-floating bed. Throw in a rosemary-infused Swiss shower followed by a soothing stretching massage and I was in heaven.

Yes, this is how vacation should start; followed by a drink at the Old Hollywood-style swimming pool, some horseplay, golfing and then off to an incredible dinner at the resorts restaurant Addison.  Life is rough.

Sitting in the cart while slinging back margaritas counts as playing golf right? Ok maybe not to some.  The golf course at the Grand is so amazingly beautiful I had to check it out.  Hoping for a quick lesson from Phil Mickelson a frequent visitor and some decent pictures of myself looking like a pro, I set up our tee time.  “All I need are some lessons,” I told myself.  Cute outfit, check, pink golf balls, check and a round of drinks from the beverage cart check, check!

The Grand Golf Course is a challenging Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole par-72 course fit for all levels of play. Opened in 1999, the Grand Golf Club also provides avid golfers with a 2,000-sq.-ft. putting green and a 5,000-sq.-ft. practice tee.  I should’ve started there!

It looked so easy. The ball just sits there. Any moron could figure it out. But every instinct I had was wrong. You’re supposed to hit the ball down to make it go up. What? I want to hit it up to make it go up. When I try to hit down, it’s like I’m splitting a log with an axe.  The whole thing didn’t make a lot of sense; luckily there was no one else but our caddy to witness my horrible attempt.  I pledged then and there I would get better. At the next few holes I did gain some distance but it wasn’t much to write home about.  I guess I will just have to try my luck in Palm Springs.

Next stop the resorts onsite Equestrian Center, of course I finagled my way into the center and convinced one of the workers to let me feed the horses.  The 20,000-square-foot facility offers kids’ programs, lessons and trail rides for all ages. We fed the horses now it was our turn to be fed.  We headed off to Addison.

Where old money mixes with new money and the Old World gives way, albeit reluctantly, to a bit of modernity the Addison is a must. The only 5 Star/5 Diamond Restaurant in Southern California.  One of those things you should add to the bucket list, yes it’s that good.  Prepare yourself mentally for an extreme dining experience.  This restaurant is no joke with multiple courses and white glove service.  Wine aficionados will face a challenge here with 3800 wines to choose from, selecting a wine could take hours, I suggest adding the wine tasting option and leaving the decision making up to someone else. I kicked off the four-course tasting menu with Black Mission Figs enhanced with whipped Chevre and caramelized endive, then round 2 the Superfino Risotto with preserved lemon and San Daniele prosciutto and finally the Kobe Beef Short Ribs.  Feel free to Google these words, I did while the server wasn’t looking.  For dessert, caramelized banana bread was to die for, if you can still find room.

One more stop before we leave, and what better way to start the day then a leisurely 4 1/2-mile hike through one of San Diego’s most desired trails.  Even if you’re not into crystal balls and vision quests, it’s hard to deny the rejuvenating aura of the majestic Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.  A 4,100-acre spread located 12 miles north of downtown, guests of the resort, as well as the public, can enjoy the parks 37 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.