Finding That Ahh Moment in Carlsbad
Driving towards the Cape Rey resort in Carlsbad, one sees surfers and paddle boarders in the water at Ponto Beach, and a striking California Beach Craftsman-style resort across the street. Instead of flying to Hawaii to get away from it all, I escaped to Northern San Diego County to play in the Pacific Ocean, eat good food, exercise, and squeeze in some spa time.
It's the quintessential staycation for Los Angelenos down to Zonies (Arizonians who love Carlsbad and other beach communities). Plus since it is affiliated with Hilton Hotels, one can accumulate their Hilton Points.
Rooms at the Cape Rey Carlsbad
Taking full advantage of its unobstructed Pacific Ocean views, most rooms look out to water, either the ocean or enormous heated swimming pool and whirlpool tub.
My room 3010 offered panoramic ocean views, a balcony with two chairs, modern beach decor with dark brown woods, water ripple design carpet, Hilton Serenity bed with high end bedding, 42-inch flat screen television, large shower (no bath), in room safe, Peter Thomas Roth amenities, white robes and complimentary wi-fi.
For those who can't travel without their furry family member, small dogs 25 lbs. and under are welcome to stay with their owners for a one time $75 fee.
Dining at the Cape Rey
Opened in June, 2012, the resort offers a full service restaurant: Chandler's. Serving local, coastal inspired breakfast, lunch and dinner items, Executive Chef and Culinary Director Teri McIllwain supports all the seasons with her cuisine. The restaurant is a beauty, with a relaxed environment filled with guests and locals dining inside or outside during brunch on the al fresco patio. Entrees include Huevos Rancheros, Pork Belly Hash, Lobster-shrimp Benedict and a Cali Breakfast Burrito. These dishes pair well with bottomless blinis, craft Bloody Mary's and freshly blended pink, orange, green and white healthy smoothies.
Situated near the pool with expansive pool decking and lounge chairs, guests may order drinks and menu items throughout the day while sitting under an umbrella or enjoying a semi-private cabana.
The restaurant takes advantage of the panoramic water views, and is a hot spot during sunset before dinner. The seats at the Sunset Terrace are very popular with a fire lounge offering casual couch-like seating. The covered terrace offers ocean views and a full menu. Live music is offered every Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. from March to October and a Sunset Terrace Happy Hour is offered daily from 4 to 6 p.m.
The inside of Chandler's boasts rich woods, sunset colored fabrics, and an oversized bar and well stocked wine room.
Chef McIllwain prepares innovative, hyper-local menus using wholesome ingredients such as cold-pressed olive oil, housemade blood orange vinaigrettes and warm breads. She enjoys roasting whole white seabass and making her signature sushi grade ahi poke served on a bed of rainbow quinoa with Thai chili aioli, cucumber, marinated seaweed, lime and ponzu sauce.
Water Activities in Carlsbad
Being near the Pacific Ocean, water activities are a large draw for visitors and locals. Here are four fun activities:
1. The pool at the Cape Rey is heated and extra large for swimming and family splashing.
2. Across the street is one of the best surf beaches in San Diego County. The Cape Rey offers beach chairs, boogie boards and umbrellas for guests to take across the street. Want to take a surf or paddle board lesson? The concierge team can arrange that for you.
3. If you bring your own surf board, the Cape Rey has surf board storage. It's become a popular staycation for surfers and their families, due to its location to some of the best surf spots - Ponto and Swami's Beach.
4. The resort shuttle will also take guests to the Carlsbad Lagoon for a day of play, paddle boarding, kayaking and jet skiing. There is a shop with supplies for fun-in-the sun items—bathing suits, towels, snacks and refreshments. Located on a Marine protected tidal wetlands area, the bay is calm and picturesque. Rent an enlarged three wheel flotation bicycle with a loved one while exploring the area. Kayaks, jet skis and paddle boards are also available to rent by the hour, half day or full day.
Spa Time at the Cape Rey
The Ocean Crest Spa offers 5,700 sq. ft of serene spa experiences with a spacious couples suite with a tub and private outdoor relaxation area. The decor offers ocean elements to promote energy, serenity, calmness and enhance beauty.
I booked an appointment after paddle boarding for a massage with Tabitha to get the knots in my muscles loosened. She was fabulous with her magic fingers as I relaxed in one of the seven treatment rooms.
There is a separate mens and women's locker room. Be sure to arrive thirty minutes early to shower, don a plush robe and plastic sandals, and read a magazine in the relaxation room before your massage, facial, mani or pedicure treatment.
This spa offers Osmosis Harmonized H20 water. There are 9 different waters for guests to experience. They tout only 5 squirts into a Dixie cup may enhance your treatment experience. There is a rejuvenate mind & body water, environmental protection water, skin perfection and digestive health benefit.
Across from the spa is a 24 hour fitness center with views of the pool and ocean.
Where to Walk in Carlsbad
Mornings and late afternoons are the best time to take a walk on the manicured paths through the Batiquitos Lagoon. Hike up to a viewspot to take in the beauty of the lagoon and Pacific Ocean. The staff at the Cape Rey will drive you to the lagoon and pick you up when the shuttle is available. I left for a sunrise walk led by a lagoon docent.
Another fun stroll is admiring the Street Art in Carlsbad Village. Carlsbad attracts an array of creative people seeking inspiration from the beach and beyond to express their vision. There are over 20 colorful murals gracing the downtown landscape.
Start at Carlsbad Blvd. and Grand Ave. to see a stunning painting of a tiger family under rainbow colored rain by Michael Summers sponsored by New Village Arts and the Matt Mclaughlin Fund and the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation. Walk a few steps down Grand Ave. to see a can of yellow paint tipped over on bright blue steps. Look for the yellow tiger paw prints.
Nearby along Carlsbad Blvd. is the character MARIO surfing on green pipeline with spotted jellyfish jumping out of the surf. Very creative!
On Carlsbad Village Drive is "Carlsbad Baby" with her long lashes painted on the full side of Senior Grubby's #CarlsbadArtWall. Across the street and on the corner is Choice Superfood serving organic cold pressed juice, superfood smoothies, salads and wraps from a portable structure in a park like setting. Notice The Robot by Tekst street art that looks as if water if falling down from a window to water the herbs growing on the wall in tidy planters.
Exploring Carlsbad Village
Leave the Car at Home
For those who don't want to drive to Carlsbad, look into the schedule of the Pacific Surfliner Train.
Guests can take the Surfliner train into the Carlsbad station and then have a friendly staff member at the Cape Rey resort pick you up and take you to the resort in their hotel van or BMW 7 series car. They are happy to provide complimentary transfers within a 10 mile radius.T here are also bicycles for guests to pedal to Carlsbad Village or to neighboring beach communities.
By car or train, Carlsbad is a destination that offers a quick getaway that I guarantee will renew your senses.