As an early anniversary trip my husband took our family to the Grand Del Mar in San Diego. It was a really easy decision, the conversation went exactly like this:
ME: You know it’s our anniversary, right?
MR G: Yes, I do.
ME: They why did you let them schedule a conference in New York City during our anniversary week?
MR G: I don’t actually schedule the conferences. I just attend them.
ME: But don’t you know people there? Couldn’t you say, “listen guys, you’ve always had this thing later in the month. I don’t think my wife will like you changing the date.”? Why couldn’t you say that.[he just sort of looked at me]
ME: You know this is going to cost you, right?
So then I realized that Jane had to be dropped off at camp on the Sunday before Mr. G was to leave for New York and I thought swanky hotel. A few phone calls later and we were booked for a Friday afternoon arrival. Unfortunately Mr G couldn’t make Friday a half day so we wiggled that around, arrived early on Saturday and he still owes me a half an anniversary gift. I’m sure the wives will see the logic in this.
The Grand Del Mar is tucked away in the foothills of San Diego. It’s a decidedly luxurious resort. When you drive up to the guard gate it’s like entering a gated estate. You’re surrounded by hills that are mostly vacant (it’s bordered by the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve). As we approached the resort Mr G and I rolled down our windows and ahhhhhed at the sight of the Tom Fazio designed golf course. I can’t pretend to know what he was thinking, but I was thinking crap, why did we have to bring these kids? I want to play golf all day and get boozy all night.
We pulled up to the front of the hotel and it’s just beautiful. I don’t really have words to describe it fully, but it’s grand and stately and Mediterranean without looking like those hideous cardboard cutouts that remind me of Marvina Reynolds singing Little Boxes. It’s a resort that looks like it was constructed to take up just as much space as it would like to ThankYouVeryMuch.
Check in was mostly uneventful, except they offer you warm towels to freshen up with. This is the first hint that you’ve arrived somewhere exceptional.
One look at the rooms and you’ll never want to leave. Ever. These are iPhone photos, but OMG just look. The two bedroom suite is bigger than my first house… and my second… and cleaner than my third.
When you are being taken to your room you’ll notice that the ceilings are high, the decor is aristocratic and the doors are spaced quite far apart. Our suite left me delighted. The rooms are over sized and beautifully furnished. Each of our rooms had sliding glass doors and a patio that overlooked the golf course (the golf course we couldn’t play on… argh to parenthood). We tossed our stuff, threw on swimsuits and shorts, grabbed rackets and headed off for tennis and swimming.
The tennis pavilion is lovely. There are two courts and it overlooks the horse stables and the canyon. It’s a good spot for the kids and I, but lacking in space if you’re a big hitter (my husband felt squashed). Everything about it is immaculately maintained and I know I’m repeating myself but it’s luxurious. Clearly there are landscapers, maintenance men and janitorial staff, but they move around like ghosts and you feel like you’re living in Gatsby’s garden.
After a few minutes (yes minutes) of tennis with the kids I was pooped and decided that I really needed to lay by the pool, read a book and sip a mojito. After sipping enthusiastically a fruit plate sounded like a good idea, and by then the kids and Mr G had finished knocking balls around and a few sandwiches, some smoothies and a beer were ordered. The smoothies were all fruit and delighted the kids. I was stunned at how good the poolside food was. The fruit plate came with a little side of yogurt for dipping that tasted a little bit like marshmallow. We ended up getting two additional fruit plates for the kids, and they’re begging me to call the hotel and find out what the dip was made of.
I could have spent a solid week at the pool and ignored everything else. The level of service surpassed my expectations.
After a few hours poolside we went back to the room and changed for dinner. I’d really worked up an appetite from… not doing anything all day. First I had drinks in the lobby bar with a friend. Even if you’re just running through town this is an experience you really want to try. The hotel has wisely employed Jesse Rodriguez as their wine director. I was presented with interesting wines, some that I’d never heard of, to sample. The staff were all very educated about wine and wine pairings (but not pretentious about it so I still felt comfortable). If you know a wine lover all of the restaurants on the property would delight them.
We had dinner on site at Amaya. The Grand Del Mar has three spots for on-site dining (not including the yummy poolside stuff) Amaya, Addison and Club M. Since we had kids with us we skipped the five star/five diamond Addison and had a lovely dinner at Amaya. The kids started with lobster bisque but it was creamy with no lobster chunks, they did not love it (I did). I started with Seared Foie Gras and it was the perfect portion, just heavenly. Our dinners were grilled prawns, seared scallops, crispy skin duck breast and a duo of beef. I didn’t share my scallops with anyone, but tasted a little bit of everyone’s dinner and they were all delicious. You should know though, that meals at Amaya are leisurely. The staff is very attentive and you’ll have drinks, pashminas and bread just about the first minute you sit down, but meals are a drawn out affair. Settle in and slow down, because it’s a resort, not a diner.
Of course we had to order room service. We just did. It’s part of a nice night out. Hint: the chocolate cake is amazing if you like heavy frosting, if you are a mutant don’t like frosting pick something else. One piece of cake can easily be shared with three people. We didn’t do much sharing, but we practice gluttony.
If you like hiking or horseback riding there are 4,100 acres of land for you to explore. Just remember take only pictures, leave only footprints. I swear I could have spent a happy week here without leaving the property.
There are adult pools. Everyone there looked tanned, fit and sexy. I shuffled past with the kids. Happy Anniversary to me. We spent a second day poolside and left Sunday after lunch to bring Jane to camp. I’m pretty sure that since we were only there one night Mr G should bring me back for the other half of my anniversary.
*Our dinner at Amaya was on the house