Captivating Carlsbad

Driving up to the coastal inspired Cape Rey Carlsbad resort, I noticed the hotel is directly across the street from the beach. It’s California Craftsman design takes full advantage of unobstructed Pacific Ocean views. The hotel opened in June, 2012, and is part of the Hilton Resort family.

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Walking into the inviting lobby, a friendly staff member checked me in and gave me a tour of the grab and go market, technology lounge with work stations, Ocean Crest Spa, and full service restaurant Chandler’s.

Checking into my room, number 3010, I opened the balcony door to admire panoramic ocean views. Inside, the modern beach design room offered dark brown woods, water ripple design carpet, Hilton Serenity bed with high end bedding, 42-inch flat screen television, in room safe, Peter Thomas Roth amenities, white robes and complimentary wi-fi.img_6453
After unpacking, I visited The Ocean Crest Spa for a one hour massage before dinner. The 5,700 sq. ft spa offers ocean elements to promote energy, serenity, calmness and enhance beauty. There are seven treatment rooms for facials and body treatments, manicures and pedicures using many products made from ingredients found in the ocean. Across from the spa is a 24 hour gym that looks out to the large heated pool and expansive deck area filled with lounge chairs and umbrellas.

After a relaxing massage, I walked back to my room and noticed the Cape Rey is an art hotel with gallery pieces on the walls of the public areas, and in each guest room. Artists include local surf photographers Aaron Chang, Jon Prud’homme and Roy Kerckhoff.

Meeting friends by the pool for a pre-dinner drink, I also met the new General Manager Thomas Lee. He shared with us the new expansion plans for the Sunset Terrace to include additional al fresco seating. This is a very popular spot for locals and guests throughout the day and especially at sunset to sip a local craft beer, and enjoy some tapas. We sat on casual couch-like seating and later moved to a table at a covered terrace. Live music is offered every Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. from March to October and a Sunset Terrace Happy Hour is offered daily from 4 to 6 p.m.img_6464

Chandler’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by Executive Chef and Culinary Director Teri McIllwain. Her menu is inspired by the seasons with many local fresh ingredients. The next morning, I ordered a green smoothie and light breakfast at Chandler’s, before I explored five different attractions in Carlsbad.

Guests can leave their car in the hotel’s parking garage and take a shuttle into the village to shop, dine and admire the colorful outdoor street art.

The hotel also offers complimentary bicycles for guests to ride along a bike path into the village. I spent about one hour in the village, before visiting the Batiquitos Lagoon for a nature walk along tidal wetlands. Inside the Nature Center are free trail guide sheets offering various points of interest and trails to explore along designated pathways.

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A few minutes away is the Carlsbad Lagoon to rent paddle boards, kayaks, motorboats and jet skis by the hour. We rented a couple stand up paddle boards and kayaks to skim along the calm protected waterway.

Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium is a fun activity if you have little ones, however I wanted to tour the Museum of Making Music to learn more about music from the early 1900s, through the jazz era, folk, rock ‘n roll, pop, to hip hop and rap. It’s an interactive museum with musical instruments, audio and video clips. Known as one of the most informative music museums in the world, this was one of the highlights of my visit in Carlsbad.

Below the Music Museum is an outlet shopping mall filled with brand name stores at discounted prices. There are also a few fast food spots to grab a hot or cold beverage and snack before driving back home.

Looking at the traffic on the freeway, I wished I had reserved a seat on the Amtrak Pacific Surfrider train. It starts in San Luis Obispo (SLO) and stops at two Carlsbad stations before cruising down to San Diego. Then it makes a reverse trip up to SLO with stops from San Diego to Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura County and Santa Barbara before reaching SLO. At up to 90 miles an hour, travelers get to see some of the most beautiful untouched areas in California, while sitting in comfortable seats with free wi-fi and power outlets.

Guests may call the Cape Rey upon arrival at a station, and a staff member will pick up and take them straight to the resort. When guests check out, they will drive them back to the station to board a train for a stress free ride back home.

To learn more about the Cape Rey Carlsbad, 1 Ponto Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92011, call (760)602-0800.

This review was featured in the January 2017 issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

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