The Fairmont Grand Del Mar was a two-hour scenic drive for me from Palm Springs, California. While dark clouds suggested threatening weather in the west, once I turned south for the rest of my journey, the blue sky was stunning with white puffy clouds that made gazing up at the sky such a joy.
LaJolla is a 17-minute drive from the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. The San Diego International airport is a mere 25 minutes away. Google Maps led me to the entrance to Fairmont Grand Del Mar. I turned up the drive and marveled at the tree-lined winding road, revealing my first peek at the award-winning Grand Golf Club in the distance.
Three-quarters of the way up, I came to the security gate. I was greeted with a huge smile, and the gatekeeper checked the guest list and then said, “Ms. Condon, welcome to the Fairmont.” Following his directions, I turned right at the top of the hill and drove to a beautiful grand entrance. The valet opened my door, asked if I had luggage, and assured me he would take care of everything and deliver it to my room. That was the last time I saw my car for three days because there is only valet parking and I had no need for a car at this luxury hotel.
I was hosted for this trip, but I often took off and explored on my own.
1. Escorted Check-In From Door To Door
The doorman held the door open and directed me to the registration desk; to the right of the entrance as I walked in. Since their website gathered all my information before I arrived, it was quick to check in. Then a staff member led me to my room because the property is enormous.
With 249 rooms, this property seems like a maze where I should be leaving crumbs so I could find my way back to the lobby. Frankly, I was relieved when we approached my suite. He pointed out an elevator nearby that would easily take me up to the lobby of this hotel. My escort smiled and said, “I took you the long way to your suite, for I wanted you to see some of the resort’s layout.”
He opened the door and we walked down a hallway and into the suite, with sunlight flooding the Mediterranean decor living room-like area. I smiled when I spied the lounge chair with a lamp perfect for late-night reading or if I wanted to stretch out on the sofa, that was a possibility too. Though when I saw the large king-size bed in the adjacent room, I knew it would be my perch for most of my in-room stay.
The minute I saw the large soaking tub available in most of the rooms, I added a bath to my list for a late-night ritual while staying here (yes, I checked that off my list. I was impressed that the hotel even provided fragrant lavender bath salts). The well-stocked minibar and room service were extra touches that made the accommodations superb for any guest with everything she needed.
2. Golf Lessons At The 19th Hole
I had about 15 golf lessons about 20 years ago. Here, at the 19th hole, I met for classes that can be arranged ahead of time for newbies or advanced players. I had no idea there were markings on the clubs to be aimed at your target. Thus, I gladly accepted my fate as a new golfer. After being reminded how to hold the golf club, I practiced strokes by driving the ball down the fairway.
The instructor was excellent and reminded those of us taking lessons, golf should be fun. If it is not, you need to rethink why you are doing it. With new supportive guests cheering me on, I have to say it was fun, and I learned a great deal.
As a result of taking lessons, I am seriously considering taking classes and playing on some of our Palm Springs courses. I asked the golf pro what I should ask for if I do not have my own golf clubs. His response was, “Just ask for a set of right-handed women’s clubs. They will set you up.”
3. Amaya Restaurant At The Fairmont Grand Del Mar
The Amaya Restaurant, named after the owner’s daughter, has an elegant, inviting atmosphere. Floor-length tablecloths and sparkling crystal glasses adorned the china, setting the tone for what would be a special meal.
While sipping a glass of wine from a local winery, whispers appeared to be surfacing. When I asked our server what was the apparent excitement, he shared that the chef of the Addison Restaurant was nominated for a Michelin three-star rating. The results of the nomination are to be announced at any minute.
Then it came: Chef William Bradley became the first three-starred chef in San Diego. There are only seven three-starred chefs in California. There were cheers and an additional toast — the perfect ending to a lovely evening.
4. Tom Fazio Designed Golf Course
The golf course is too hilly to walk, so golf carts are mandatory. It is designed so that you cannot see another hole when you are playing. In addition, the course now has 19 holes. The extra hole is available to ensure the course never has to close down for maintenance. Thus, it is open all year round.
With 7,160 yards, its design follows the confluences of the Los Penasquitos Canyon. It is a challenge for professionals because of its elevation and bunker placements.
With my newfound golfing pals and our instructor from the driving range, four of us hopped on two golf carts and proceeded to play a scramble game. It wasn’t long before I realized I would have been better off staying on the driving range longer.
During my stay, I was measured for the size of the putter I should be using. Once that was determined, I tried one. I was off and working on developing my swing and “trying” to read the greens to see which way the ball would roll once it had lost its momentum.
It was the right decision to take lessons at this beautiful resort, for the staff is knowledgeable and patient.
5. The Grand Golf Club House
Located on the 19th hole, the Fairmont Golf Course Club House’s 50,000-square-foot building serves several purposes. It is just a short walk from the main resort, but if you want a ride, attentive staff will gladly take you down to it on a golf cart.
The Pro Shop is well-appointed with familiar golf clothing brands. If you have forgotten golf accessories needed for your round of golf, they have them there.
The Clubhouse Grill not only offers sumptuous sandwiches and salads, but the view alone will keep you mesmerized for its bird’s eye view of the 18th hole.
6. Spa And Wellness Center
With muscles given a workout, a massage appeared to be a good idea. Thankfully, I had scheduled a massage for the 21,000 square feet five-star Fairmont Spa and Wellness. The minute you step through the door, the essence of Mediterranean décor envelops you and makes you feel like you have stepped into an old world of elegance only seen in movies.
The changing room and lounge area are adorned with touches of marble, beautiful wooden accents, and crystal chandeliers. A sidebar displayed tea and lemon water while the scent wafted through the spa and softly played music, telling my busy brain it was time to relax.
As I entered one of the 11 treatment rooms for my massage, there was an elegant tray burning a candle, a sprig of an herb, and a sign that said, “Welcome, Ms. Condon.” A little touch, but it certainly did not go unnoticed, nor had I ever seen that before when getting a massage. Afterward, I headed to the sauna and hot tub.
The indoor and outdoor fitness centers were well equipped and ready to help you stay on your wellness exercise program or encourage you to start a new one. Want to join a fitness class? No problem, they are scheduled too.
7. The Gift Shop At The Grand Golf Club
The spa had an elegant gift shop, which enticed me to try on a couple of things, but in the end, I realized I had already gotten two new pieces of apparel from this beautiful resort that would remind me of this visit.
Another gift shop on the premises offered an array of unusual gift items. Many of them are small and can easily be tucked away in a suitcase.
8. Immaculate Grounds
With my stay ending, I took time for a leisurely walk through the property. White roses graced patios, fountains, and paths that led to one of the four-heated outdoor pools with hot tubs. Cabanas are available to help you relax poolside.
Nearby the swimming pools, the tennis and pickleball courts were being used, and laughter was floating through the air from the happy guests. At another stop on my exploration, I watched archery being taught. Some guests chose to ride bicycles on the many paved paths that run through the heavily wooded property. Just ask the concierge and she will be happy to help you sign up for many of the activities or make special arrangements to meet your vacation needs.
Following another path, I found myself at the equestrian center. Here, beautiful horses were housed, waiting for visitors to arrange a horseback riding experience on the 400 acres of property adjacent to Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, Carmel Valley, and Torrey Pines. The horses gladly accepted attention and their reaction could not help but make me smile.
I had hiked one of the more accessible trails one morning, which elevated me above the golf course, and made me understand the San Diego suburbs surrounding the resort; yet, the outside world was not on my mind for three days.
9. Top-Notch Service
My suite was so comfortable. The bed with the exquisitely soft linens encouraged me to stay and luxuriate, as I called it, until the very last minute for checkout time. Heaven forbid I carry or pull a suitcase. This woman was spoiled, so I asked an employee to take my belongings down to where my car would be waiting.
After one last glimpse at the hotel, I slipped behind the wheel, was handed a box of water for the trip home, switched on the car key, and descended the picturesque exit.
While I emphasized my experience taking golf lessons here at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and The Grand Golf Club, no way do I feel this beautiful Southern California resort should only be sought out for a getaway if you like to play golf. My experience revealed that if you truly want to shut out the world, revive and refresh, eat fabulous food, and experience outstanding customer service, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, a luxury hotel, should be high on your vacation list.