Set within Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar is a luxurious Mediterranean-inspired resort, just five miles from the beach. Award-winning service, amenities and design deliver at every turn, including a championship golf course, Five-Star spa, exquisite dining, and an abundant array of activities for kids. It’s no wonder the Fairmont Grand Del Mar is TripAdvisor’s #1 Luxury Hotel in California.
Disclosure: The writer was hosted for this trip.
In a word: Magnificent. Beautiful. Luxurious. Classy. Okay, that’s several words, but it’s hard to define a resort of this level in just one word. That’s not to say it isn’t also kid-friendly. Sure, words like magnificent, classy and luxurious don’t normally denote a resort that’s designed for family fun, but in this case family fun is exactly what you’ll find at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
Set amidst the breathtaking Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, this luxury San Diego, California, resort captures the elegance and comfort of an old-world Mediterranean estate with an enviable Southern California locale. Though it looks like a grand estate that has been basking for decades, it was actually just built in 2007.
Located just five miles from Torrey Pines State Beach North San Diego County and minutes from some of Southern California’s most pristine beaches, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar is also conveniently located near San Diego International Airport, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Solana Beach, La Jolla and LEGOLOAND.
What Works for Families
• Three pools
• Spacious, comfortable rooms
• The Explorer’s Club — an interactive kids’ center offering supervised children’s programs
• Up to two hours free access to the Explorer’s Club when you have a Spa reservation.
• Super attentive and friendly service
• Free parking
• Free shuttle service to nearby destinations
What Doesn’t Work for Families
• Upscale environment can be off-putting if your kids are loud, rambunctious or just plain kid-like.
• Sprawling property and long, winding hallways can make for a long walk depending on your destination
• Expensive, but you get what you pay for!
Architecture & Design
An intriguing mix of Mediterranean elements make up the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, and the different styles lend a relaxed, yet sophisticated ambiance. The interior and exterior details pay tribute to the indelible architecture of Addison Mizner, a turn-of-the-century visionary whose worldly design approach defined the resort communities of Palm Beach and Boca Raton in the 1920s. Mizner’s exotic style is evoked throughout Fairmont Grand Del Mar, with its arched doorways, rotundas, wood-beamed ceilings, ornate stone and wrought-iron accents, decorative columns and gracious verandas. The architecture is complemented by lush landscaping, fountains, courtyards and meandering walkways.
The Fairmont features 249 guest rooms and 31 suites, all with private balconies and beautiful views of the resort’s gardens, golf course or pools. Rooms feature wrought iron accents, a deep blue, pale yellow and gold color palette, large flat screen TVs and marble bathroom counters.
We stayed in a room with two queen beds, with a lovely view of one of the courtyards. The beds were very comfortable, and the bathroom was luxurious and well-appointed, with a separate shower and deep soaking tub.
Recreation & Activities
The Fairmont boasts four heated swimming pools. And by heated I don’t just mean “not freezing.” At the Fairmont the water is downright delightful. Even in the dead of January, my husband and son were able to frolic for hours in the comfortable water. (I meanwhile enjoyed the comfortable lounge chairs nearby with my book, and super friendly poolside service who kept the fresh towels and drink refills coming.) There is an adults-only pool and spa in a separate area. As to be expected at a resort of this caliber, private pool cabanas are available for rental.
Two tennis courts, a golf course and an array of hiking and jogging trials wind through the property. Every Saturday morning the resort offers a complimentary Canyon to Waterfall Hike, where guests 12 and older are past scenic vistas and waterfalls.
Located adjacent to the tennis courts is the Equestrian Center. Trail rides through Los Peñasquitos Canyon and professional riding lessons are available and reasonable priced. And if you just want to come say hi to the resort’s six horses, that is fine too! We took a trail ride and enjoyed the experience immensely.
For those times when grown-ups need their alone time, the Explorer’s Club awaits. With the latest gaming systems, movies, arts & crafts and a variety of activities, the Explorer’s Club will entertain children and teens while you do your own exploring at Fairmont Grand Del Mar. At the Explorer’s Club, children can play the latest video games, as well as board games, foosball, ping-pong and air hockey.
A floor-to-ceiling Seawall offers additional interactive fun with a state-of-the-art plasma mural that illuminates life under the sea. Rounding out the entertainment options are fully stocked arts and crafts stations with themed creative projects each day, from designing a reusable shopping backpack to alfresco watercolor painting.
The Explorer’s Club costs $15 per hour per child. However if you have a reservation to visit the spa, your kids get two hours at the Explorer’s Club complimentary.
Six dining venues offer a wide array of dining options. Enjoy elegant fine dining for adults only at Addison, or bring the kids to a family friendly meal at Amaya. You can enjoy poolside dining, a meal at the Clubhouse overlooking the golf course, a quick coffee and pastry off the lobby, or afternoon tea in the Library. And of course, 24-hour room service is always available.
Healthy Tip for This Destination
Miles of hiking trails ranging from moderate to strenuous begin right outside, winding through canyons and up scenic hillsides. Trail maps are available from the Concierge. For the less adventurous or more time-crunched, a .7 mile loop encircles the resort.