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.

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.

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.

Where to celebrate NYE 2014

clip_image002-1Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to plan what to do this New Year’s Eve.
Here are some great spots that offer scrumptious dining or packages to stay
safely overnight, so you don’t need to drive after the champagne toast.
2014 near Palm Springs
La Quinta Resort is offering a family New Year’s Eve for couples to bring their
Kids. While parents enjoy a romantic dinner, the kids will be at Kid’s Kamp
enjoying all of the festivities. The property has planned enough fun until 2 a.m. 
Make reservations at Morgan’s, Adobe or TWENTY6.
Call to RSVP: 760-564-4111 ext. 7258
Morgan’s in the desert’s New Year’s Eve Dinner
5 p.m. – midnight
RSVP:  760-564-7600
TWENTY6 New Year’s Eve Dinner
5 p.m. – midnight 
RSVP: +1 760-564-5720
or enjoy NYE at  Adobe with a New Year’s Eve Dinner from  5 p.m. – midnight 
RSVP: 760-564-5725 –  All events are subject to change or cancellation.
The resort is a member of Hilton Worldwide’s Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.
For more information, call +1 760 564 4111 or visit
Hyatt-Regency-Indian-Wells-Villa-PondHyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa invites locals, weekend getaway-seekers, and visitors from all over to get into the holiday spirit – desert-style – with special resort packages, sumptuous holiday dining experiences at Lantana Restaurant, and festive spa treatments at the award-winning Agua Serena Spa

 Holiday Breakfast Package

Enjoy a romantic desert escape for two this holiday season, including a gourmet breakfast from Lantana Restaurant to start the day off right.

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells’ Holiday Breakfast Package starts at $169 per night, and is available from November 25, 2013 – January 4, 2014.  The Holiday Breakfast Package includes:

·         Overnight accommodations

·         Daily breakfast for two at Lantana Restaurant

·         “Holiday Cheer” gift from the resort at check-in

Travel dates are until January 4, 2014. Reserve the Holiday Breakfast Package online at or by calling the resort at 760.341.1000.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells (December 31, 5:30-10 p.m.)Hyatt-Regency-Indian-Wells-Adult-Pool

Ring in 2014 at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells with dining offerings and festive celebrations throughout the evening:

·         Guests can enjoy a four-course, prix-fixe meal by Chef Geoff Bogorad at Lantana Restaurant, with highlights such as  Skuna Bay salmon, champagne lobster risotto, and yellow beet relishbraised Kobe short rib, truffle sunchoke puree and roasted turnips; and housemade pappardelle with Meyer lemon, butternut squash, chanterelle mushrooms, and crispy horseradish, along with a complimentary glass of champagne.

·         After dinner, revelers will take in live entertainment by John Stanley King from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., with party favors and a champagne toast provided when the ball drops at midnight.

Pricing: New Year’s Eve Dinner and Celebration at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells is $65/person, exclusive of tax and gratuity.Admission to entertainment at Agave Sunset is complimentary for resort guests and diners at Lantana Restaurant. All other admission to entertainment at Agave Sunset is $25/person. Advance reservations for New Year’s Eve at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells are encouraged, and can be made by calling 760.674.4165.

About Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa

Nestled among 45 acres of lush gardens, Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa, formerly Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa, is a newly renovated destination resort located within the exclusive Indian Wells community. The resort offers unmatched hospitality and service, and easy access to a myriad of activities, inviting guests to Relax, Play and Indulge during their stay. Providing a cool oasis in an iconic desert setting, Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa offers the area’s only private one- and two-bedroom villas – 43 in total – with butler service. The spacious modern 530-guestroom resort provides the warm service Hyatt is known for, seamlessly integrating relaxation, indulgence and endless outdoor activities set against the natural beauty of the desert. Featuring the award-winning Agua Serena Spa and the Medical and Skin Spa, delectable dining options, seven pools, and more than 88,000 square-feet of flexible function space, the resort offers both leisure and business travelers the quintessential Palm Springs experience. Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa has received numerous, notable awards, including the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award for 25 consecutive years, “Top 121 Golf Resorts in the U.S.” by Condé Nast Traveler readers and Leadership level in California Green Lodging Program in 2012. For more information, visit

Montage Beverly HillsMontage Beverly Hills

The elegant Marquesa Ballroom will be transformed for the New Year’s Eve Gala, recreating the film noir mystique of the decade. Enjoy live music, dance to the era’s big band sounds and indulge in hors d’oeuvres including truffled cheese puffs and caviar roasted potatoes.Beginning at 8 p.m., guests may enjoy an open bar, and at 9 p.m., a five-course dinner with wine pairings. Classic dishes from the 1940s will be served; Lobster Thermidor Prince de Monaco, Filet Oscar and the most sumptuous Banana Split. Of course, no New Year’s Eve past or present is complete without a Champagne toast at midnight. Special room packages are also available for the New Year’s Eve celebration.


Celebration Includes Dining, Dancing, Music 

With L’Auberge Del Mar’s À Votre Santé New Year’s package, guests begin the evening enjoying a four-course dinner for two in the hotel’s signature KITCHEN 1540 restaurant. Afterward, it is off to get their groove on at the hotel’s New Year’s Eve Bash with live music 5-9 p.m. followed by San Diego’s Best DJ, Gabe Vega, from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. When it’s time to retire, guests retreat to one of the hotel’s cozy guest rooms for a restful slumber to wake up refreshed and relaxed on the first day of the new year. The À Votre Santé package is available only on December 31, 2013. The package is based on double occupancy and some restrictions apply. Rates start at $629 and include tax, resort fee and $250 dinner credit valid on New Year’s Eve only. For reservations,

New Year’s Day – Join the hotel’s 9 a.m. group hike to Torrey Pines Preserve, one of the wildest stretches of land on the Southern California coast with eight miles of stunning overlooks, peaceful trails and a beautiful clean environment. Guests preferring something a bit less strenuous can lounge by the pool or slip away to the ocean-inspired spa for a special price on a festive champagne facial or holiday de-stresser body treatment. Visit

About L’Auberge Del Mar
Located in the heart of Southern California’s most picturesque coastal village of Del Mar,L’Auberge Del Mar overlooks the Pacific Ocean and offers a resort experience reminiscent of a private, coastal estate. Managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, this historic seaside hotel offers 120 guest rooms and suites, refreshing dining options, a cheerful and cozy spa, a private path to the beach and peaceful pool area. The award-winning, signature restaurant, KITCHEN 1540, blends energy and intrigue with a fresh, lively atmosphere. The restaurant’s extensive offerings meld the classic and the unexpected, making KITCHEN 1540 something one simply has to try when dining in Del Mar. For more information, please visit

It’s the Holiday Season at Hotel Del’s 1500 Ocean

A 30’ tall Christmas tree adorned with sugarplums, peppermint swirls, Santa, and beach themed ornaments graces the lobby of the Hotel Del Coronado. Over 100,000 glittering lights illuminate the resort at night to give it a celebratory feel. Built in 1888, this Victorian style masterpiece is still the centerpiece of the Coronado peninsula.

Wishing to experience Chef Brian Sinnott at the Del’s signature restaurant, 1500 Ocean, we booked two nights at the Del to experience his menu and the festivities of this grand resort.

Stepping into our room on the fifth floor of the Victorian building, we were pleased with the two Queen size beds and partial ocean/garden views. The small bathroom and low ceiling is indicative of rooms from another era. Professional basketball players would prefer the Beach Village cottages and villas that we admired while strolling the grounds at sunset.

Years ago, my husband and I dined at the Girl and the Fig in Sonoma and remember Brian Sinnott.  He is part of a group of like-minded chefs that call themselves, Cooks Confab. Confab means to exchange views or ideas on a familiar topic.  These well-respected chefs create meals every few months with a common theme or ingredient.  Most of the chefs are from some of the finest restaurants in San Diego. Since the San Diego County has over 7000 farms, Brian continues to create a menu based on what the sustainable farms in the region offer each season.

While sitting in a booth with flowing curtains tied back, it felt like we were sitting in an elegant beach cabana.  Wing back chairs near the windows offered views of the newly installed ice rink on the main lawn, which we enjoyed immensely earlier that afternoon. 

Our personable waiter suggested a few of the guests’ favorite appetizers.  We started with lightly tempura squash blossoms filled with ricotta and served in a small pool of golden tomato with basil puree.  It looked prettier than it tasted and lacked the burst of flavor I expected. Next, arrived the lobster salad with three ounces of lobster on a bed of arugula, fennel, avocado, grapefruit and lentil flatbread that was shaped into a pyramid.  This dish offered just the right amount of zing with the white sherry vinaigrette complimenting the poached lobster nicely.  My favorite appetizer was the black ink spaghetti with Dungeness crab, crisp snap peas, sea urchin butter and gremolata (lemon zest, garlic and parsley) crumbs.  Very satisfying.

For entrees we ordered the Alaskan halibut with butterball potatoes and tarragon aioli with garlic, olive oil, and egg yolk.  The lemon scented fingerling potatoes and fried shallots on top of the halibut gave the dish a savory and crunchy texture.

The duck arrived with a fig duck jus. Served with roasted red seedless grapes to provide an earthy sweetness to the duck. It was served with a red rice pilaf with chopped carrots and zucchini that offered a well-balanced taste.

An extensive wine list offers whites from California, South Africa, New Zealand and France. I ordered a glass of Ramey from the Russian River. It was a rich oak Chardonnay that balanced the flavors of my meal nicely.

Many of the servers have worked at the Del for over thirty years. While refilling our water glasses, Rudy shared how he enjoyed waiting on Muhammad Ali, Billy Joel and President’s Bill Clinton, George Bush and George W. Bush. He hopes President Barack Obama will dine at the Del soon.

Still craving something sweet, we ordered the chocolate malted Bavarian Cream.  Tiny chocolate malt beads decorated the top of the mousse-like dessert with a rice crispy base and raspberry puree.

As we leisurely walked through the grand hotel back to our room, we stopped at a picture of Marilyn Monroe that was taken at the hotel while she filmed Some Like It Hot with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. It’s a movie regarded by many film critics as one of the finest American movies ever made.  Debuting in 1959, it still delights audiences, just as the Hotel Del Coronado enchants guests every holiday season.

The Del is offering Holiday Escape packages from $299 that includes accommodations, a commemorative 2010 Hotel Del holiday ornament, daily breakfast buffet for two adults at Sheerwater and 50% off self-parking. Another special is the Holiday Stocking Stuffer package starting at $299 per night that includes a $75 daily resort credit to be used as you wish. Ice skate by the sea, share a Victorian tea or enjoy a lavish Victorian buffet dinner in the one-of-a-kind Crown room for Christmas dining. Taxes and a daily resort charge not included. These specials are available until January 1. 2011. 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado (800)Hotel-Del or visit

Published also in the Beverly Press 12/9/10 via It’s the Holiday Season at Hotel Del’s 1500 Ocean.

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