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Destination… San Diego

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Luxurious Staycations that will make you resolve to stay home more often in the new year

By Michelle Lyn

Consistently ranked as a top vacation destination, San Diego boasts beautiful weather year round, gorgeous beaches, mountains, desert and our very own wine country. With so much to offer, one has to think long and hard for a reason to vacation elsewhere. When the answer escapes you, skip the long lines at the airport and look no further than your own backyard for your next vacation.

Hotel del Coronado
Established in 1888, the historic Hotel del Coronado, is one of the most iconic properties in the world, with its beachfront locale and red turrets visible for miles.
Well-known for its Hollywood connection, The Del has been the spectacular backdrop to many films, most notably “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, and has played host to movie stars and presidents since its creation.
In 2007, a staggering $150 million transformation updated the Victorian landmark with ultra-luxe modern amenities, an award-winning spa and dining options.  ENO Wine Room provides a wine-tasting experience that engages all the senses with flights of wine, cheese and chocolate.
Ocean view rooms offer unparalleled views of Coronado’s white sand beaches and bustling activity on the property grounds below. Ideal for a romantic or relaxing escape, The Del is also a fantastic destination for a family getaway. (hoteldel.com)

The Grand Del Mar
Secluded among the rolling hills of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, The Grand Del Mar’s opulence is obvious the moment you pull up the drive.  Genuine hospitality instantly welcomes you to this old-world estate. Richly decorated with Mediterranean influences, complete with sweeping views of the Tom Fazio-designed golf course and lush grounds, you are instantly whisked away to a world of grandeur.
Addison, the signature five-diamond restaurant of The Grand Del Mar, introduces acclaimed Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef William Bradley’s artisanal approach to cooking, combining local ingredients with contemporary French influences.
Bradley invites you to order blindly and trust him with your four- or seven-course dinner, paired exquisitely with unique international wines or inventive alcohol-free concoctions, such as a lemon grass, lime and mint sparkler.
Depending on the season, you may experience his delicate roasted sable fish with baby romaine, tomato confit and sauce vermouth or an indulgent cured lemon risotto with parmigiano-reggiano and crispy shallots. Make sure to save room for the artisan cheese course and if you’re lucky, a decadent nutella mille-feuille for dessert.
Large banquettes and a roaring fireplace ensure your comfort during your dining experience at Addison, but you are constantly reminded of the caliber of the restaurant by the impeccably trained staff that provides white glove service when serving each perfectly choreographed course. Service is almost whimsical, with each guest receiving each dish from a different server, to guarantee synchronized timing of delivery. (thegranddelmar.com)

Rancho Valencia
Tucked away in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Valencia, an Auberge Resort, is a 40-acre oasis of tranquility. This hidden gem offers individual casitas, stocked with complimentary refreshments, all the comforts of home, relaxing steam showers and soaking jet tubs and private patios. The coveted property also boasts a rejuvenating spa and world-class amenities.
Ranked the No.1 tennis resort in the United States by Tennis Magazine, Rancho Valencia’s tennis program features 18 hard courts nestled among acres of rolling hills and citrus groves. Complimentary 2010 Mercedes-Benz are also available for guest use at their leisure.
The Restaurant, acclaimed for its farm-to-table spirit, is enjoying the recent addition of Executive Chef Eric Bauer, formerly of Anthology. Bauer is introducing guests to an innovative new menu of upscale brasserie-style comfort cuisine balanced with time-honored favorites inspired by local ingredients. Stop by for M&M Mondays, Wine Down Wednesdays or experience The Restaurant during San Diego Restaurant Week at the end of January.
San Diego County residents can indulge in a discounted getaway to Rancho Valencia with Auberge Resort’s special “Love for Locals” package available through Jan. 6.  Experience relaxation amidst rolling hills, cozy up fireside with in-room dining with 70 percent off room rates, starting at $229 weekdays and $259 weekends. (ranchovalencia.com)

L’Auberge Del Mar
After a $26 million renovation in 2008, L’Auberge Del Mar is the definition of coastal chic. Part of the Destination Hotels and Resorts collection, L’Auberge Del Mar has infused a much-needed swankiness to sleepy Del Mar. Located steps from the ocean and opposite the Del Mar Plaza, this property is centrally located, yet private enough for a romantic escape.
Upon entering, you’re immediately exposed to wall-to-wall ocean views in the stylish open-air lobby. Welcoming furniture and soft lighting and a sophisticated bar create an ambience unlike any other in Del Mar.
Cozy rooms offer an interior balcony or patio overlooking the courtyard, some with ocean views. Fireplaces add an ambient touch as you curl up to page through one of the many beach cottage coffee table books placed thoughtfully throughout the room.
Adjacent to the lobby, signature restaurant KITCHEN 1540, helmed by James Beard Chef Paul McCabe, is hip and youthful, with an air of elegance.  The menu is seasonally-driven and innovative, with the chef’s play on Cracker Jacks seen in a Diver Scallop dish with popcorn puree, candied almonds and salted caramel.
KITCHEN 1540’s farm-to-plate cuisine is made from the freshest produce, seafood and meats, showcasing bold, exciting flavors. Additionally, there is an excellent selection of Artisanal Cheeses and Charcuterie, such as cured Spanish Chorizo and Morbier, a semi-firm cow’s milk, always accompanied by Temecula honeycomb, seasonal marmalade and house made pickles. (laubergedelmar.com)

La Costa Resort and Spa
Originally created in the 1960s as a playground for celebrities and athletes, La Costa offers amenities for the whole family. Nestled on 400 lush garden acres, the sprawling Spanish colonial property provides a village-like atmosphere for guests. A wide range of daily resort activities include yoga, tennis drills, Chopra meditation hours, arts and crafts classes, zumba and golf clinics.
Ranked the No. 1 spa for Southern California by Spa Magazine in 2010, the Spa at La Costa offers a wide variety of memorable massage and body treatments, including the signature Spanish Herbal Body Rub. This highly celebrated spa creates an environment in which guests feel connected to nature whether they are indoors or out. Feng Shui-inspired design can be seen throughout the spa, including a fountain topped with an “eternal” flame that welcomes guests.
The world-famous Chopra Center at La Costa complements the Spa at La Costa with cutting-edge mind/body programs. Founded by renowned philosopher and health expert Dr. Deepak Chopra, the center offers a wealth of programs built upon the ancient principles of Ayurveda — the 5,000-year-old healing system of India.
A standout, the Gandharva Therapy is an Ayurvedic massage performed with energy and marma therapy, incorporating healing sounds of the crystal singing bowl. Treatment rooms are acoustically designed to transfer the sound of the bowls during the massage to awaken your senses. The incorporation of Eastern modalities provide the guest with a meditative and relaxing experience that is hard to come by. (lacosta.com)

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
Just one hour north of Carlsbad, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa offers an all-inclusive, upmarket escape for the whole family. Tucked into Disney California Adventure Park, steps away from Disneyland’s main entrance, this Craftsman hotel easily transports you to any mountain destination of your choice.
The striking architectural style is based on the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 1900s and its interior design evokes the towering Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, with its darkened wood paneling, oversized fireplace hearth, lofty ceilings and sweeping crossbeams. Chandeliers inspired by California woodlands glow above the vibrant yet rustic hues of the lavish lobby.
After a day of fun-filled attractions, begin your journey to relaxation at the Mandara luxury spa that features prime pampering in a setting of rustic elegance steeped in ancient tradition. Treatment features include exotic rubs and body wraps such as the Coconut Rub and Milk Ritual Wrap, and Frangipani Nourish Wrap.
From Jan. 4 through April 11, 2011, you can get your fourth night free with a three-night, four-day room and ticket package. Or, get three days of magic and memories for just $169. Park Hopper tickets let you enjoy rides and attractions at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park on the same day. (disneyland.com)
It may be home to us, but sunny San Diego has plenty of luxury, epicurean delicacies and year-round recreation to satisfy outdoor enthusiasts of all types. Time to plan a family vacation? Do yourself a favor, forgo airline baggage fees, TSA screenings and rough seas and indulge in all San Diego has to offer.

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