The Grand Del Mar A Resort Fit for a Diva

The Diva, draped appropriately in silk and designer duds,  felt right at home as she walked through the extravagant entrance of the Grand Del Mar, a $300 million, and 249- deliciously comfortable room resort situated in northern San Diego County.

Although its about as opulent as it gets, there is no sense of pretentiousness evident. Highlighted by a vibrant Mediterranean-Roman pan tiled roof and finely-tuned touches such as cast stone, copper, layered light, custom woodwork, glazed tiles, the resort conveys a surprising down-to-earth ambiance.

 I usually pick up a sense of a place from the check-in experience—which moved seamlessly from arrival at the elegant entrance where the attentive valets whisked our bags and escorted us to our posh Palazzo suite–a magnificent two bedroom affair with a huge balcony overlooking the golf course and mountains.

We were welcomed with champagne and snacks set neatly on the wet bar which separated a little area with a microwave and mini-fridge. Upholstered ceilings—a décor touch new to us—hinted at the unadulterated opulence of suite. Marble counter tops, gold-colored fixtures, rich woods, Italian linens, a sumptuous sofa, comfy chairs, flat screen TV, king bed, two full bathrooms with tub, shower, big, fluffy robes, slippers and upscale spa amenities completed the leit motif.

After we unpacked we walked around the interior which was decorated like a Christmas wonderland with gorgeous Yule time trees, poinsettias and lavish decorations. Even the outside areas were decked out for the season with more Christmas trees and ornamentation. We checked out the spa, a comfortably lavish facility with men’s and women’s areas. The female side provides peace and serenity with a gorgeous fireplace warmed lounge area appointed with canopied lounges, steam, sauna, lockers, Jacuzzi and of course showers and toiletries (all complimentary for guests). The adjacent spa pool was so inviting we aborted our tour to go get our swim suits.

We took a soak in the oversized Jacuzzi, which is surrounded by cushy lounges, did laps and headed into our respective spa areas for steam baths. I picked up the extensive, uniquely-designed spa menu and must confess the prices were a bit shocking with facial therapies starting at $175 to $270 plus a 20 percent automatically-added tip. But then considering the source and the quality of the treatments you do get what you pay for. Our 90 minute massages (which we had the following day) proved among the 10 of the all time list of this spa snob-maven-diva whose indulged in pampering all over the world.

We had reservations for dinner at Amaya, the hotel’s three meal restaurant, and decided it was best to boost our appetites with workouts in the perfectly equipped fitness center. Trust me when I tell you this hotel takes attention to details seriously. This Diva isn’t easily impressed and can be known to be a tad edgy at times. Our first meal at the Grand Del Mar was dinner at Amaya—an atypical three meal a day restaurant with a sophisticated setting.

 The experience proved flawless in every way, save for a slight problem with the air conditioning over our booth that left me chilly but was quickly remedied by the manager who brought me a shawl. Our meal was fabulous starting with Richard’s perfect martini and my glass of Lewis Chard. The food portion of the evening began for me with carpaccio of Balik salmon with candied onions and crème Fraiche and Richard’s Catalan-style shrimp with chile and lime broth, followed by braised short ribs cannelloni with beech mushroom ragout and a perfectly prepared veal chop and seared sea bass. We shared a cheesecake for dessert that was well worth the caloric splurge.

The next morning we participated in thehotel’s complimentary nature hike around the adjacent Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve.  The 90-minute trek, led by a naturalist (Dylan) explores the natural wonders of one of the last remaining undeveloped coastal canyons in San Diego with its 500,000 year old soils of vernal pools to 140 million year old sedimentary rock deposits. We climbed and trekked through varying terrains lush with 500 plant species, sycamore trees, live oaks, scrub oaks, birds, brooks, and a boulder-studded waterfall with volcanic rock.

 Dylan provided captivating narratives about the various Indians (La Jollan, Kumeyaay and San Digueno) that inhabited the area 7,000 years ago.   There we are (Richard and the Diva poised on the hike)…

This tour is not to be missed. We spend much of the afternoon in the Spa where I happily succumbed to the magical movements of David who worked out my sore muscles with 90-minute Athletic enhanced with aromatherapy oils, hot towels and much TLC. It was amazing.

The evening was spent over a much anticipated, leisurely dinner at the award-winning Addison, a fitting showcase for noted chef William Bradley’s culinary skills dramatized by iron and glass doorways trimmed with 22 karat gold accent, 20 foot high pyramid ceilings, and a limestone fireplace imported from Italy.

 The restaurant receives regular raves not only from the media and pleased clientele,  but the hotel staff each who are treated to Bradley’s multi-course menu. “It’s awesome,” beamed the valet who drove us from the hotel to the Clubhouse where Addison is situated. “You are in for a treat.” And we were.

You can opt to let Chef design a 7-course personal feast or choose your own selections. We opted for the latter. It was all good from Richard’s Martini and my Lewis Chard (okay I love the stuff) to the amuse bouche—a fondue of Parmesan, champagne and cream with curried yogurt spiced with orange– and beyond. We  tasted each other’s courses: butter baked salmon, rack of lamb, Japanese Hamache, Dover Sole, and pear confit ad black fig brulee with English bitter toffee. Each serving impeccable save for one episode where my salmon tasted like it fell in the salt shaker—apologies were proffered and a replacement made.

 I should point out that seasoning is left to the chef. No condiments are on the tables. None needed as recipes are fairly fussy and well sauced. Prepare to dine well and shell out at least $100 per person for a decent sampling with wines (of which there are many with a savvy sommelier (Jesse Rodriguez) to make suggestions and do pairings.

 The Grand Del Mar sits inland just jorth of San Diego. On site  diversions include a Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course, tennis, the 21,000 square foot Renaissance-style spa, four swimming pools, and hiking, cycling and fine dining. Please check out the slide show as photos are definitely worth 1000 words. , 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, San Diego, CA. 858-314-2020.

More Sizzling Summer Specials in the Southland

Sizzling Summer Specials at THE GRAND DEL MAR 

If you live in the Southland, hop in your car or take the Amtrak Surliner and head over to The Grand Del Mar  for some fun in the sun. The Mediterranean-inspired resort offers attractive, high style accommodation,  a Tom Fazio-designed golf course,  proximity to San Diego family attractions, hiking/walking trails, biking, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and surfing.

The hotel features fine dining at   Addison, a grand Spa  and to enjoy it all, appealing packages such as:

 The Grand Golf Getaway– unlimited golf (with cart) for two players at The Grand Golf Club from arrival until departure the following day, one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $670 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 The Grand Spa- with its emphasis on renewal and rebirth, offering comprehensive programs and á la carte services. Includes one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, $350 spa credit for use toward services or products at The Spa, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $695 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 Grand Bed & Breakfast– one night’s room accommodations and overnight valet parking, daily breakfast for two and 20-percent discount on retail purchases throughout the resort. Rates start at $395 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

 Family Fun– create family-time and fond memories, this package features one night’s room accommodations, overnight valet parking, complimentary Children’s Menu dining for up to two children ages 8 and under at Amaya or Poolside; and one four-hour program for up to two children (ages 4 to 12) at The Explorer’s Club. Additionally, one connecting guestroom is available at 50-percent off the Family Fun package rate. Rates start at $465 per night (exclusive of tax and gratuities). Please contact reservations at 1-888-314-2030 to add a connecting room to your reservation.

 The Grand Life– I love the name of this packaged, designed for those who simply want to relax and enjoy a leisurely stay. Includes accommodations for a minimum of three nights; $100.00 resort credit for use in The Spa, The Grand Golf Club, at any of the six dining venues or resort shops, and overnight valet parking. Rates start at $999 for three nights (exclusive of tax and gratuities).

Call: 1-888-314-2030 or book online at


Los Peñasquitos Canyon and the Pacific Coast Invite Active Participation


Nearby to The Grand Del Mar, guests may select from:


Canyon to Waterfall Hike. Discover prehistoric pasts, an abundance of flora, wildlife communities, flowing creeks and waterfalls, and scenic vistas along this guided four-mile hike.


Adventures on Wheels. Cycling and mountain biking provide fast-paced outdoor adventures – participants can bike the scenic paved trails located conveniently next to the resort, or enjoy the more than 37 miles of mountain biking trails located in the adjacent Los Peñasquitos Canyon.


Horseback Riding – The Adobe Experience. Explore Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve’s scenic terrain and unique landmarks, including a restored Adobe Ranch House originally built in the early 1800s, on a guided 2.5-hour horseback adventure.


The Grand Beach Service. The resort’s complimentary beach service offers an easy way to soak up the San Diego sun, and includes roundtrip transportation to/from Del Mar’s 15th Street Beach; set-up of beach chairs and umbrellas; beach towels and bottled waters.


Cave Kayaking. Guided kayaking tours of the La Jolla Sea Caves and the fascinating marine paradise of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve.


Kayak and Snorkel La Jolla. Kayaking and snorkeling adventures allow guests to get up close and personal with the gentle leopard sharks, Garibaldi and other local fish.


Surf’s Up! Surfers of all aptitudes can head to the beach for private surf lessons with locally acclaimed Surf Diva. Adult, kids, family and group lessons are all available; surfboard and wet suit rentals included.


Mesa to Sea Hike. A guided two-hour hike from the famous cliff top groves of Torrey Pines State Reserve to the pristine beach below.


Cliffside Walk. Participants enjoy a two-hour guided coastal hike along La Jolla’s historic Cliffside Trail and learn about sea life, nesting birds, Native American lore and beach culture.


For more information or to register for hikes and other activities, please call the resort’s concierge at 858-314-1988.


Onsite Activities Abound


At The Grand Del Mar, there are tons of active enticements on the property. Two pro-style tennis courts beckon tennis buffs, while the resort’s four heated pools – with underwater speakers and a friendly outdoor pool bar – provide a relaxing retreat for the aquatically inclined. The resort’s spectacular 18-hole course offers championship caliber golf, while the 21,000-square-foot spa features an array of treatments, as well as an expansive fitness facility and movement studio. Here, guests can choose from an array of classes, such as Yoga, Pilates, Spin or Total Body Workout. Others may opt for tennis clinics, golf lessons or a quick fitness walk around the resort’s beautiful grounds.

 About The Grand Del Mar

Situated amid a private preserve in Coastal North San Diego County, The Grand Del Mar opened its doors in October 2007 and features: 249 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites; San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course; two outdoor tennis courts; a 21,000-square-foot Renaissance-inspired spa; four swimming pools; regional dining, including Addison, the award-winning restaurant; an enclave of residential Villas; and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space.

Deep Discounts Hit Travel Industry Big Time

On  Land, Sea,  and Golf Course

And so it begins….
Deep discounts to lure money strapped travelers like $9 Golf promo at La Costa & Cool Specials in Santa Ynez 



La Costa Resort and Spa is offering  $9 golf fees from now through February 28, 2009, to in-house guests. FYI: green fees typically begin at $175 per person.


Room rates begin at $259 per night for a plaza room plus  $22 daily resort charge. The $9 golf fee includes green fees and cart rental. Reservations can be made at 1-800-854-5000 or at


Golf at La Costa

La Costa Resort and Spa has enjoyed an international reputation as the place for championship golf. It is the only resort in Southern California that boasts two 18-hole tournament-caliber courses on property, both designed by legendary golf architect Dick Wilson. Golfers who play La Costa’s courses walk in the footsteps of the greats – Nicklaus, Woods, Palmer, Trevino, Player, Miller and Crenshaw. Both North and South courses feature lush fairways, flawless greens and plenty of challenges, including large, high-lipped bunkers on many holes, expanses of water and sneaky streams with fast bent grass greens.  The North Course is 7,094 yards, par 72, with a slope of 141, while the South Course is 7,077 yards, par 72, with a slope of 140. Extensive practice facilities and an attractive club house complete the golf experience.


About La Costa Resort and Spa

Nestled among the  coastal foothills of Carlsbad, Calif., north of San Diego, La Costa Resort and Spa boasts the 43,000 square-foot Spa at La Costa, 552 spacious and well-appointed guestrooms and 76 deluxe one- and two-bedroom suites, a Clubhouse with a fitness center, two acclaimed restaurants – Legends and BlueFire Grill and two championship golf courses. The entire resort, linked by walkways and washed in color by lush vegetation and gardens, enjoys a village-like ambience. For more information on La Costa Resort and Spa, call (800) 854-5000 or visit


 Visitors to California’s Santa Ynez Valley Get 2 for 1 Savings
The Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association (SYVVA) has announced a new offer today rewarding winter visitors with “two-for-one” savings at a dozen area businesses. “Winter is one of the best times to visit the Santa Ynez Valley,” says SYVVA president Douglas Ziegler, owner of the Santa Ynez Inn, “Our weather is warmer, skies clearer and hills greener than most of the country—and we’re only two hours away from LA. People need a break. This ‘Double Your Pleasure’ promotion is a great excuse for a getaway.”

          To obtain a copy of the “Double Your Pleasure Santa Ynez Valley Savings Certificate,” go to and click on the icon to view and print the savings. “It’s incredible to get two guest rooms or two wine tastings or two food items for the price of only one,” says SYVVA Executive Director Mary Harris, “It’s easy to click and print out the PDF that describes all the savings offered and visitors can print out as many savings certificates as needed to use throughout their stay.”

          These SYVVA members are offering “Two-for-One” savings Sunday-Thursday through March 19, 2009. 




          RANCHO OSO GUEST RANCH & STABLES (Two nights in a cabin, covered wagon or full-service cabin for the price of one night—valid any night except February 13-15; subject to availability, reservations required); SANTA YNEZ INN (Two hotel nights for the price of one (subject to availability, not valid for existing reservations); SOLVANG INN & COTTAGES (Two nights for the price of one OR two rooms for the price of one (subject to availability, not valid for existing reservations).


          HADSTEN HOUSE RESTAURANT  Two desserts for the price of one dessert.

OLSEN’S DANISH VILLAGE BAKERY Two Danish pastries for the price of one pastry of equal or lesser value. RED VIKING RESTAURANT Two entrees for the price of one entrée of equal or lesser value.


          PERFORMANCE FITNESS SOLVANG Two All-Day Fitness Passes for the price of one pass—includes use of 17,000-sq ft premier fitness facility & group exercise classes.


          The Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association is a non-profit membership organization formed in 2001 to conduct marketing activities promoting tourism in the communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. For further information: contact Mary Harris, Executive Director at or call 805-686-0053; toll-free 1-800-742-2843 or

Silversea Cruises Sweetens the Pot

$1,000 shipboard credit ain’t hay

Silversea Cruises sweetens the pot with a $1,000 per suite “Onboard Spending Credit” promotion on select voyages in Alaska, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean this summer.  

The  limited time $500 per person (or maximum $1,000 per suite) Onboard Spending Credit offer is food on bookings  made on or before March 31, 2009.  The special promotion is available on the following:

ALASKA:   Silver Shadow cruises departing May 28 through September 12 (Voyages 3912 – 3923).

NORTHERN EUROPE:  Silver Cloud cruises departing May 30 through September 19 (Voyages 1911 – 1923).

MEDITERRANEAN:    Silver Wind cruises departing April 15 through June 26 (Voyages 2911 – 2920) and Silver Whisper cruises departing May 19 through June 20 (Voyages 4912 – 4916).

To take advantage of the Onboard Spending Credit offer, the guest or travel agent must request promotional code WWSBC500 at the time of booking. 
The promotional offer  allows guests to apply the Onboard Spending Credit toward their onboard purchases without limitations; this includes any spa treatments and shore excursions (none are excluded).  In addition, the offer can be combined with other available discount promotions, including Early Booking Incentive, Advance Payment Bonus, Silver Sailing, and Free Air programs.  

For example, the Onboard Spending Credit is available on Silver Wind’s May 14, 7-day Mediterranean cruise (#2915) sailing from Barcelona to Nice with calls in Valencia, Corsica, Livorno (overnight stay) and Antibes.  Promotional cruise fares start at $3,196 per person — a savings of 50% — plus free roundtrip economy air transportation is also available from select U.S. and Canadian gateway cities.

“This new summer promotion is designed to reward travelers with an extra perk that provides added value and flexibility,” said David Morris, Silversea’s executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing. “With the Onboard Spending Credit they have the freedom to apply the savings toward a rejuvenating spa treatment, a sumptuous gourmet dinner in our Relais & Châteaux Wine Restaurant or an enriching shore experience — the choice is theirs.”

The Onboard Spending Credit is being launched simultaneously with the introduction of new branding and other enhancements to the line’s shore excursions.  The changes have been created to emphasize the new flexibility, unique qualities and personalized service that characterize the tours.  Under the new umbrella name of “Silver Shore,” the optional tour programs include:

** Silver Shore Excursions — intimate and rewarding small-group touring.

** Silver Shore Collection — unique and exclusive in-depth explorations of local history and culture.

** Silver Shore Expedition — adventurous and educational tours for the active explorer.

** Silver Shore Concierge — during the cruise, the Tour Manager and, on many sailings,  the new Destination Specialist (a position created in conjunction with the upgraded Silver Shore programming) are available to assist with knowledgeable suggestions, personalized planning and hassle-free coordination of all private, independent touring, including sightseeing, sporting activities, and securing behind-the-scenes or after-hours access to exclusive designer shops, museums, cathedrals, and more.

Starting in the next few months, the Silver Shore Concierge service will also be available in advance of sailing.  The company will announce more details about this enhanced service at a later date.

** Silver Shore Privato — private car service that can be reserved on board or in advance of sailing via

Guests might choose to apply their Onboard Spending Credit toward a “Silver Shore Privato” tour of fascinating St. Petersburg.  They’ll spend the day exploring the city’s history, opulent palaces, and museums at their own pace, in a private, air-conditioned car with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide. Or, in Alaska, they might use their credit toward an exhilarating “Silver Shore Collection” air adventure over the spectacular Misty Fjords by private aircraft, or use it to explore Juneau’s glacier-carved fjords at their own leisure aboard a private catamaran with personalized itinerary.  These are just a few of the exciting optional Silver Shore adventures that await guests this summer.