SAN DIEGO'S GRAND DEL MAR
Looking for a destination that offers exquisite golf, spa and cuisine? Behiye Hassan on why Grand Del Mar in California is the answer
When it comes to luxury travel it can be a challenge to find a resort that ticks all the boxes; a resort that offers luxury golf, spa and gastronomy under one roof, and where all these elements match up to the same impeccable standards. Does such a thing even exist?
Introducing Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Located a short drive from San Diego airport, the five-star resort may just be the answer to your prayers. It’s won a clutch of awards – it was named the number one luxury hotel in the US by the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards and is TripAdvisor’s number one luxury hotel in California in 2016. It’s also a Forbes Travel Guide Five-star resort; and it received the AAA Five-Star Diamond Award from 2009-2017. All this, in addition to its award-winning spa and golf course.
When we arrived on a sunny Friday afternoon we were wowed first by the stunning Mediterranean-inspired architecture and then by the jaw dropping flower display in the lobby that greets guests as they step over the threshold. And the wow factor doesn’t stop there: 50 custom-built chandeliers line both the grand and spa staircases, which are sprinkled with 18-carat gold.
Built in 2007, Grand Del Mar is spread across 400-acres of a coastal canyon and, as a result, the lobby is on the top floor and guest rooms are spread across two more floors underneath. Despite the feeling of being underground all 249 rooms have windows and/or balconies and offer the best possible views. Taking advantage of its canyon location, the rooms are also as far apart as possible to offer ultimate seclusion.
We were located on the adults-only ground floor, also home to the five-star spa (one of only 56 five-star spas in the world). Voted one of the top 100 US Resort Spas in Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice, 2013-2014, the Grand Del Mar Spa has 11 treatment rooms and offers a range of treatments using organic and natural products. Highly recommended is the Herbal Reflexology Treatment which includes a hand and foot massage and relaxes your whole body. Guests can also enjoy the relaxation pool (one of their four salt water pools), saunas and fitness centre.
For sporty types, the 18-hole golf course will not disappoint: spread across seven acres, and featuring a cascading waterfall, it has won Premier Golf Resort: Gold and named one of the Top 10 Golf Resorts in Southern California. Guests can choose a four-caddy programme and GPS on the range, so they can email your scores to you.
Overlooking the golf range, the Clubhouse Grill serves Californian-inspired fare – everything from burgers to tacos and guacamole and fries at weekends. Don’t miss their signature dish – fried chicken and waffles.
Elsewhere, Amaya – an Italian restaurant with a Californian twist – affords stunning views, while the fine dining restaurant Addison offers a French-inspired menu. The latter has also won several awards including AAA Five Diamond Restaurant and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Restaurant.
Open to both public and guests, the Addison serves two set menus; a four-course meal and an 11-course meal – easily a three to four-hour dining experience. Our four-course included tuna with eggs and peppers, and mushroom lasagne with a sauce made from stinging nettles, which is tastier than it sounds.
The Grand Del Mar is truly deserving of the title ‘number one luxury hotel in the US.’ As it celebrates its 10th anniversary we can be sure that there’s plenty more to come.
Room rates at Grand Del Mar start from $495 (£375.57) per night