TRAVEL: Destination Del Mar — Opulent Luxury or Beachy Vibe

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marymcgrathBY MARY McGRATH




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    L'Auberge king room (click to enlarge)
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    Black Cod at Kitchen 154, L'Auberge (click to enlarge)
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    Grand Del Mar entrance (click to enlarge)
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    Grand Del Mar Amaya (click to enlarge)
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    Parrot Free Flight Birds (click to enlarge)
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    Del Mar L'Auberge (click to enlarge)
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    Grand Del Mar Mizner Suite (click to enlarge)
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    Grand Del Mar (click to enlarge)
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    (click to enlarge)

Another getaway was in order, and this weekend, Del Mar was our chosen spot. I hadn’t been to this area in a number of years. My fond recollections only centered on my rich wild aunt who liked to test her skills at the track.

But Del Mar’s got many charms besides gambling, and that’s why we were here. It’s a mere two hours south of Los Angeles, and well worth a visit.

Although there are several places to stay in Del Mar, two crop to the top for those wanting pampering, luxury and fine dining.


Grand Del Mar

Grand Del Mar

The Grand Del Mar, an opulent resort nestled in the rolling hills of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, provides the ultimate in luxury. Whether it’s top-notch golf you’re after, the bounty of nature that is nearby, specialized spa treatments, tennis, or top-dining options, this resort has it all.

If Hearst Castle were a hotel, this is the feeling you get when checking into the Grand Del Mar. The Mediterranean style of the resort permeates throughout its 249 rooms, the property lavishly appointed with gold and wrought iron accents. Erected in 2007, this place is San Diego County’s only Forbes Five-Star AAA Five Diamond luxury resort destination.  It’s easy to see why.

We stayed in one of their suites, and it was larger than my condo. Sporting views of the golf course, the room contained two full bathrooms, each with sunken marble tubs. I could have easily done a few laps, the tubs were so large.

At the spa, my massage was one of the best I’ve encountered. I asked Jennifer if she could do anything with my golfer’s elbow. She gave me a specialized treatment, and today, my three-year pain seems to have gone away.

Bring the kids and let them disappear for the day at the Explorer’s Club, while you whittle away the hours among the many amenities of the property, including some fine restaurants.

There are a number of dining options, but we dined at Amaya, one of their premiere restaurants, and we were impressed. Go for the Grouper, if it’s on the menu, but save room for their Lemon Ice Cream Pie, designed to inspire divine dreams.  (Editors Note: For another restaurant on the property, check out  MDF writer Jennifer Evans Gardner’s article about the Addison).

Del Mar L'Auberge

Del Mar L’Auberge

If it’s a beachy vibe you’re after, then head to the L’Auberge Del Mar, right in the heart of downtown. This boutique hotel is a happening spot, bracing the Pacific and is a quick stroll away from the lovely Seagrove Park, where you can take your pooch, gawk at the surfers, or watch the trains whizzing by. Reminiscent of a private, coastal estate, this place emanates a cool relaxed vibe.

We dined in their heralded restaurant, Kitchen 1540, with its eclectic wow factor that will rival many of the finer restaurants I’ve enjoyed in LA. This modern place infuses energy and intrigue into its many creations, thanks to Executive Chef Scott Thomas Dolbee.  I love food that out of the box, and this restaurant has earned its chops. Check out the Wild Boar, if it’s on the menu, or if you’re game for less experimentation, you might try the cod. My tongue did somersaults with Scott’s creations.

What else to do while you’re in Del Mar? How about heading to the Del Mar Horsepark, a few minutes away, where you can watch the riders do dressage and jumps. It’s free, and the kids will love it.

There’s also Free Flight Birds,  where a few bucks will give you a chance to encounter wild parrots, many which have been abandoned or are rehabilitating on the premises.

Breakfast is a must at the Americana Restaurant  next to the hotel, the building erected in the 1930’s. They even have a photo gallery of days gone by, with notables like Red Skelton, Lucy, Desi, Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Durante.

Del Mar’s worth visiting, if you’ve never been. Immerse yourself in the opulent luxury of the Grand Del Mar, or head for the coastal vibe at L’Auberge.

It’s your call.

The Grand Del Mar, 5300 Grand Del Mar Way, San Diego, California 92130 (858) 314-2000

L’Auberge, 1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA. 92014 (858) 259-1515

Mary McGrath is a freelance writer and photographer who contributes to, AOL, Angie’s List, Rangefinder Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and many other publications.  She can be reached through her web site at:


About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.