High on Perigord truffles and aged wine, I waltzed back to the dinner table without a care in the world.
Meanwhile, the staff at Addison, the Forbes Travel Guide (FTG) Five-Star restaurant at Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, were on guard at their posts. As I approached my chair and activated the muscles needed to extend my hand, I was intercepted by
a member of the team who pulled out my seat — just seconds before my arrival.
“A few of us were watching this chair,” he revealed with a smile. The moment my body touched the cushion, a napkin appeared on my thighs and the staff member disappeared.
Addison might be the pinnacle of Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s offerings, but I found this same on-point hospitality from the hotel’s entire staff — from the gym attendant restocking towels into a perfect pyramid to the pro-shop attendee who patiently explained
the property’s golf program before offering to let us play a few holes on him.
Before my arrival, I was prepared to encounter superlative staff. Fairmont Grand Del Mar recently received FTG Five-Star ratings for Addison, the hotel and its spa, a trifecta achieved by only 12 other properties in the world. Since FTG’s rating algorithm
weighs service three times more than other standards, I knew that staffers would be at the top of their game.
Nonetheless, the facilities are nothing to sneeze at. The architecture, inspired by Addison Mizner’s Spanish-Mediterranean buildings in South Florida, is what attracted me to the property in the first place. Once vacation brain sets in, it’s easy to imagine
that the hotel’s palatial peach-colored building — surrounded by palm and cypress trees, patios and garden fountains — belongs to some prince or aristocrat in an undisclosed Mediterranean oasis. And its location within the green sloping walls of Los
Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is a convincing stand-in for a citadel.
Furthering the fantasy are beautiful arched doorways, snaking staircases, ornate rugs and decor, regal columns and tiled floors. Even the expansive gym has framed mirrored walls and gilded chandeliers. It’s functional enough for a working princess, too:
A lounge off the lobby — complete with a green velvet couch, European novels from the early 1900s, a chevron-patterned parquet floor, and leather and jacquard chairs — is a nice place to think, especially during evening piano performances. Another
showstopper is the indoor patio opposite Cent’Anni Cafe, the casual grab-and-go gelato and espresso spot. Here, the windows and light are in constant conversation, creating different patterns on the floor throughout the day.
Indeed, this hotel looks and feels like no Fairmont I’ve ever stayed at, which makes sense since The Grand Del Mar opened in 2007 and wasn’t purchased by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts until 2015.
The 249 guestrooms and suites are microcosms of the greater property: Sliding doors reveal wrought-iron balconies with views of a pool, the golf course or the canyon. A golden corner sofa is a comfortable space to admire the ceiling’s crown molding or
the large bathroom’s liberal use of marble (I counted four kinds of marble surrounding the tub alone).
But, despite the aristocratic European influences, guests can expect the best of California cool, too.
The Tom Fazio-designed, par-72 golf course is world-class, and guests can also take lessons or practice at the driving range (the latter is free for guests to use). There’s casual but elegant food at The Clubhouse Grill and a hip atmosphere at Club M,
which also features dancing on some nights. Plenty an Instagram feed features Amaya’s al-fresco brunch: Imagine an aerial shot of its super-green smoothie bowl, a cold-pressed juice, an almond-milk latte and a plate of brioche French toast.
The Spa at Fairmont Grand Del Mar is also an FTG five-star facility. Currently undergoing a renovation, the 21,000-square-foot spa features 11 treatment rooms and a varied menu of facials, wraps, massages and more. There’s also an on-site equestrian center,
available for lessons and rides for a fee; as well as two tennis courts, available either for free games (rackets and balls provided) or lessons offered at an additional charge.
Popular with guests are the hotel’s four pools, which have a Cinque Terre look thanks to red pinstriped chaise lounge chairs and umbrellas. Couples can head to the adult pool, which includes a beautiful Jacuzzi lined with couches, while families will
love the main pool and its sand patches.
Despite the sophisticated vibe here, I spied many happy families with young kids running around on the grass lawns that surround the hotel’s perimeter.
Some were acting out fantastical make-believe stories, and I realized I had been doing the same.
During my stay at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, I was the star of a grand life.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar