There is something magical about driving up to the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in the dark. Through a creaking gate, the quiet winding roads of North San Diego lead, at last, to a glowing fountain and a warm valet greeting. The Mediterranean-inspired property glows a golden orange as massive ornate doors open to the lush interior: a giant floral arrangement alone in the centre of the lobby, with plush chairs to the left and the concierge to the right. Further in, a lounge for sipping night caps and a library for quiet time—though the hotel sits on 400 acres, there are less than 250 rooms, and as such even when it is completely booked up, it feels serene.
Designed by San Francisco’s Warren Sheets Design, the AAA Five Diamond resort pays homage to architect Addison Mizner. The Grand Del Mar mixes SoCal with Mediterranean Europe, employing tiles, arched doorways, and columns—most made in Europe—to create a truly luxurious, spacious, and sensual feeling. And that is without mentioning the outside, covered with manicured lawns, fountains, and courtyards, perfect for weddings or simply strolls in the sun. There are four heated salt-water swimming pools, with one dedicated to adults (and featuring underwater music) along with a Moroccan-style Jacuzzi with colourful tiles and cushioned lounge seats; there are horses on property, two tennis courts, plus a spa (with encased Hermes scarves lining the women’s hallway) and fitness centre, not to mention the Tom Fazio-designed Grand Golf Club. It is difficult to imagine heading off property with so much to do, but also available to guests is a free, unsupervised, two-hour drive behind the wheel of a Porsche E-mobility.
This is a place of solace but not solitude, a haven and a heaven.
And then there are the rooms, with pillow-top beds and Pratesi Italian cotton linens, 1oo per cent goose-down pillows, extravagant love seats, and a 4o-inch flat screen television wrapped in a gold gilded picture frame. It all makes the chocolate cookie at turn-down service even more delicious. Delicate mirrored windows open to the washroom, complete with large European-style tubs that easily fit two people, dual vanities, embroidered 100 per cent woven cotton towels, soft and swish bathrobes, and a 13-inch flat-screen television ideal for watching a movie with a cold beer during a nighttime soak. Complimentary laundry and shoeshine services round out a fantastic guest experience, as does free-of-charge town car carriage to nearby towns including Solana Beach and La Jolla.
When it comes to food, there is of course fine 24-hour room service, but also a bevy of restaurants, such as the Southern Italian-oriented Amaya, for which executive chef Dana Hauser came from the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver. It is a great place for food any time, and indeed it is open all day, though steaming omelettes and fritattas are a fantastic way to begin, only made better by fresh house-made grapefruit juice. The Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s fine dining takes place at Addison, a French restaurant helmed by James Beard Award-nominated William Bradley.
This is a place of solace but not solitude, a haven and a heaven. Attentive service staff and friendly fellow guests mean even a night at the Grand Del Mar is one of peace, indulgence, and escape. Pleasant surprises are found at every turn, with gentle touches paired among grandiose statements of comfort that silkily unfold like Egyptian cotton. The place radiates a warm light that blooms into the night, and follows visitors all the way home.
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