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
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
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
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.
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
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.