If you’re looking for a luxury resort in southern California, look no further than the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad. It’s about a 40-minute drive north of San Diego International Airport. This Five Star, Five Diamond accredited resort offers all the luxurious amenities and services you could dream of. Situated on a hill and overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon, an Arnold Palmer designed golf course, and the Pacific Ocean, this resort is the epitome of comfort and relaxation. Boasting an impressive spa, a large fitness center, 2 pools (including an adults-only pool), access to local hiking trails, a kid-friendly game room, several casual dining options, and an upscale restaurant, this resort has something for everyone.
Upon arrival at the Park Hyatt Aviara, you’re greeted by the friendly valet staff under the porte-cochere. The entrance to the resort is lovely, surrounded by flowers and an abundance of bright pink bougainvillea. The only parking option is to valet, which makes it nice and easy to get in and out whenever you need to. The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the lobby is the incredible flower display they have in the entryway. The entire hotel is filled with gorgeous orchids and flower arrangements, but the table in the center of the foyer is beyond beautiful!
Past the foyer is a long, open space that leads to humongous windows overlooking a gorgeous courtyard, with views of the sparking Pacific Ocean off in the distance. To the right of the lobby is a bar with live music in the evenings, as well as a hallway leading to the resort’s upscale Italian restaurant, event rooms, and a staircase leading downstairs to the game room. To the left of the lobby are comfortable indoor and outdoor seating areas (complete with fire pits) and the hallway leading to the elevators and guest rooms.
There are guest rooms on 5 different floors. I’ve stayed on the 1st floor and the 5th floor, and they are equally nice. The 5th floor has the better view, but the 1st floor is where you’ll find the spa, the fitness center, and access to the pools and courtyards.
Vivace, the resort’s Italian restaurant, is an excellent choice for fine dining. It is the only restaurant that actually has a specific dress code: no sandals. You can wear jeans, as long as they are on the nicer side. The food is delicious, and a lot of the dishes are locally inspired – with an innovative seafood influence. We tried the scallops and a seafood pasta.
The Ocean Pool Bar and Grill offers casual dining at its finest. With poolside service, you can’t beat it! The Mahi Mahi tacos are my favorite, but you can also order a variety of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and nachos. Be sure to try the refreshing Blueberry Thyme Lemonade – one of the resort’s featured cocktails.
The Lobby Lounge is a popular place for drinks in the evening, because they have live music nearly every night of the week. You can also order food from the bar – burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and the like.
The California Bistro is available for breakfast and lunch, with a popular brunch on Sundays. It features seasonal cuisine and sources from local farms, so everything is fresh and delicious.
There is a steakhouse, Argyle, located at the golf course. We didn’t have a chance to try it out, but the menu consisted of various cuts of beef, with options for you to pick the marinades and seasonings.
And, of course you can always order in-room dining. We ordered waffles for breakfast one morning, complete with whipped crème and strawberries. We also indulged in an order of crème brulee for a midnight snack!
If you’re a golfer, you won’t want to miss the resort’s beautiful course that was designed by Arnold Palmer. A complimentary shuttle service runs from the hotel to the clubhouse throughout the day.
If you’re looking to be pampered, the Aviara Spa is just the place. Their facilities and services are top-notch, and everything you would expect from a spa at a Five Star resort. I highly recommend their signature Facial Ritual – it did wonders for my skin, and nearly two weeks later, I was still getting compliments on how smooth and glowing my face was. Take a eucalyptus steam, soak in the whirlpool, and relax in the warm and sunny solarium before your treatment. When you’re finished with your spa service, you’ll be given a healthy and tasty chia seed shot, if you wish. Also – the spa has what they call “Healthy Hour,” in which you can book signature appointments at a discounted rate during certain hours of the day, depending on availability. So go ahead and indulge!
For those of you looking for a little outdoor adventure, there are ample miles of hiking trails spread throughout Carlsbad. You can access one of the trails just outside the pro shop at the Aviara golf course. It’s a beautiful, safe, and well maintained trail that runs along the Batiquitos Lagoon. The perfect place to clear your head and get some fresh air!
Soak up some sunshine at one of the resort’s pools. The family pool is large and has ample seating. It’s also directly adjacent to the pool bar and grill. The adults-only pool is quiet, private, and relaxing. From the pool, you can see out over the Batiquitos Lagoon and all the way to the ocean. There is chair-side service at the pool, so you can order food and drinks anytime you want, without missing out on any pool time. The resort also provides complimentary towel service and sunscreen at both pools, which means less for you to pack!
((image: Park Hyatt))
If you’d like to spend a day at the beach, the Park Hyatt Aviara offers a beach concierge service at certain times during the year. They will shuttle you to and from the beach, as well as provide you with chairs, towels, and an umbrella for use. They also offer a surfing program, in which guests are given a surfboard, a wetsuit, and 2 hours of learning time with an instructor. I’ve never tried surfing and always wanted to, so I was disappointed to find out this program wasn’t offered when I was there. Hopefully next time it will be! Access to the nearest beach is approximately 3 miles from the resort.
Finish your day with a stroll through the Palm Courtyard, a glass of wine in hand. This courtyard, located just under the main lobby’s big windows, reminds me of a modern-day Garden of Eden. Various kinds of towering palms cast shade over the courtyard, which is anchored in the middle by a soothing fountain. The lawn is immaculately manicured, and lined by fragrant orange trees on one side and the prettiest rose garden on the other. I’m talking: big, bright roses in shades of pink, red, white, and yellow; flowering vines crawling up the trunks of palm trees; little white and purple flowers mingling with hot pink geraniums… this courtyard is a dreamland. There are plenty of romantic benches placed about, inviting you to sit a while, taking it all in and waiting for the stars to come out over the Pacific Ocean.