San Diego Shores

A La Jolla resort offers clients a laid-back, barefoot attitude

By: Maribeth Mellin

Gary and I could hardly believe our good fortune as we settled into our suite at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Our spur-of-the-moment getaway looked quite promising. We’d managed to snag one of the precious few hotel rooms in San Diego with a full-on view of the sea. We rushed through unpacking, fueled by coffee freshly brewed in our kitchenette. Within minutes we were walking hand-in-hand on the sand, celebrating our anniversary.

Southern California’s dreaded coastal haze (or “May Gray”) couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm, though it did alter our itinerary. The boogie boards stayed in Gary’s truck, along with wetsuits and fins. Instead of splashing about, we enjoyed sitting at the table in our bay window watching

wetsuit-clad kayakers, surfers and rough-water swimmers enter the chilly waters. Vowing to return in sunnier September, we stuck with long walks on one of the finest beaches in Southern California.

The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club has an enviable location at the south end of La Jolla Shores. Smooth, hard-packed sand runs a mile from the club to Scripps Pier at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The club’s beach is private (California beaches are public only to the high-tide line). Brightly striped beach umbrellas and toy boxes with buckets and shovels are thoughtfully placed along the beachfront esplanade. Guests wander barefoot between their rooms and the sand. A mood of laid-back camaraderie prevails.

The club’s 90 rooms and suites are functional and comfortable, designed for sandy feet and damp bodies. Twenty rooms were undergoing a complete makeover, and workers were busy painting walkways and walls. Water splashed in tiled fountains and flowers bloomed everywhere within the 14-acre property, which includes a nine-hole golf course, 12 tennis courts and a playground.

The club was established in 1927 by F.W. Kellogg, who envisioned a yacht club at the scrubby beach. The yacht harbor never materialized, but the club concept stuck. Today, some 5,000 members have access to all the facilities, including the beach. The crowd overflows to the Sea Lodge, another waterfront hotel opened by the Kelloggs in 1970. In the summer, members and guests (who book the same rooms annually) turn the sand into a huge playground.

The scene was more subdued during our visit, but guests seemed determined to get the most out of their beach vacations. One family ordered a sunset picnic complete with barbeque and fire pit from the clever Beach Services Menu, which offers everything from firewood to steaks and s’mores. We opted for a more refined dining experience at the Marine Room, a fabulous restaurant just a few steps from our doorway.

Our candlelit table was tucked in a corner beside windows with a 180-degree view of the ocean. In winter, when the tides are especially high, the surf crashes against the restaurant’s windows. The view alone would make the restaurant a standout, but thanks to executive chef Bernard Guillas, the food is equally stunning.

We lingered long after dark, watching the waves turn silver in the restaurant’s lights, while savoring divine goat cheese creme brulee, soft-shell crab and chocolate crunch cake with a pomegranate mojito. We couldn’t ask for a more romantic evening, especially when sleep came with the background music of the sea.


La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

The club’s 90 rooms are in heavy demand in summer, but some dates are available. Rooms are more readily available from Labor Day through the winter, except during holidays.


Rates: Summer rates range from $269 for a standard room with kitchenette to $1,179 for a beachfront, three-bedroom suite. At other times, the rates range from $219-$809.

Sea Lodge

The 128-room hotel is nearly buried in palms and flowers beside the beach. The best rooms face the sea and share a common balcony, but clients can still hear the ocean in rooms facing the lush gardens. Chef Guillas oversees the hotel’s Shores restaurant (as well as the club’s restaurant). The menu and prices are stellar.


Rates: Summer rates range from $279 for a garden patio room with kitchenette to $639 for a deluxe beachfront room with kitchenette. At other times, the rates range from $229-$459.

Commission: 10 percent. Commissions are not offered on rooms booked for stays at the Beach & Tennis Club from June 16 through Labor Day.