By Greg Aragon
First impressions mean a lot. So, when I pulled into the L’Auberge Del Mar, by Destination Hotels, and saw the sun reflecting on the ocean, as it loomed slightly above the peaked roofs of the hotel, I knew I was in for something special. My getaway began recently when a friend and I drove south to the beautiful, seaside town of Del Mar, where we checked into the L’Auberge and a charming suite overlooking the hotel pool and the Pacific Ocean. To get to our room, we walked past a spacious lobby with sweeping ocean views and rode the elevator to the third floor.
In the room, we found a comfortable coastal space, with a blend of beach style and luxury. The room was highlighted by a cozy king bed, 42-inch flat screen TV, work station with Wifi and desk, iPod docking alarm clock radio, fully stocked mini-fridge, a classy marble bathroom, and a private balcony with chairs and awesome beach views.
After unpacking we explored the 121-room, Four-Diamond boutique hotel and surrounding area. Located in Del Mar, about a mile from the city’s famed race track, the mansion-like property rests on 5.2 gracefully landscaped acres, with a private pathway to a secluded beach. The hotel features a signature restaurant, a 5,000-sq-ft. full-service spa with 10 treatment rooms, a couple’s suite and outdoor relaxation areas; a pool and Jacuzzi, two tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and 12,000-sq-ft of meeting space. L’Auberge Del Mar is also a dog-friendly hotel.
The hotel also boasts an outdoor bar and restaurant, and a fun indoor Lobby Bar, where we sipped vodka martinis and relaxed on the patio watching the sun begin its descent. But before the giant yellow orb could disappear into the ocean, we walked a few hundred yards to Seagrove Park, which sits on the beach. Here we saw silver Amtrak trains zip past sand and water, with the sun’s golden hue creating a beautiful backdrop.
Back at L’Auberge we discovered Kitchen1540, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant. Modern and spacious, the place boasts white vaulted ceilings, an elegant fireplace, contemporary-chic furniture, an inviting wine bar, and an open kitchen. The menu highlights locally-sourced ingredients that “capture bright, seasonal tastes of Southern California,” says the hotel’s website. “Served amongst an open presentation kitchen and contemporary table settings, Executive Chef Nathan Lingle prepares a menu that will captivate and delight you.”
Our meal at Kitchen1540 began with Octopus Anticucho, a Peruvian-styled grilled octopus, with pee wee potatoes and avocado emulsion. With this we sipped red wine. For the main course I devoured NY strip, with olive oil, smashed sierra purple potato, smokey blue cheese and creamed winter greens. My friend experienced the Salmon Roulade, with morels, asparagus, peas and watercress foam. For dessert we split Grand Marnier Cheesecake with blood orange syrup and Marcona almonds.
After dinner we walked across the street to Jimmy O’ sports bar for a drink and to watch a basketball game. We concluded the night with a walk along the beach.
The hotel is currently running a special for guests interested in the 2018 Del Mar Thoroughbred Club season and the hotel’s acclaimed “after party” to be held on July 18. Named the “official” opening day after-party by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, presale tickets for Del Mar’s “summer party of the year” are priced at $199 each, plus tax – a $61 discount. After the presale cut-off date, advanced tickets will be sold from May 20 to July 17 at $229, plus tax, and day-of party tickets will be sold on July 18 at $260 until capacity, plus tax.
The party takes place after the opening day festivities at the race track and will feature live entertainment and specially created foods and bites from Chef Nathan Lingle, available at a variety of food stations located throughout the resort. For more information, visit: www.openingdayafterparty.com.
L’Auberge Del Mar is located at 1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014. The hotel is dog-friendly. For more information, current specials and reservations, call 858.259.1515 or visit www.laubergedelmar.com.