Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, California, boasts a white sand beach and a new hotel with a casual vibe, Pier South Resort. The laid back luxury starts with the friendly valet parking attendants and extends to large airy rooms, every one ocean front. The million dollar view includes the white sand beach steps from the pool and hot tub, and a long wooden pier with a restaurant at the end.
Why Stay at a Beach Resort?
Hotels right on the beach are like catnip to travelers: convenient for families, romantic for young marrieds or empty nesters, Instagram-worthy for the social media crowd. The Pier South Resort, south of San Diego, California, also has an extra advantage of near-perfect year-round weather and a nascent foodie scene.
I was in San Diego to drive the new Hyundai Elantra, and the Pier South was our home base for a couple of days. We got to enjoy the sun and beachfront setting, with easy access from the San Diego airport. The hotel is part of the Autograph Collection, under the Marriott umbrella, but it does not feel like a chain hotel.
Eat Well at a Beach Resort
On Fridays, there is a Farmer’s Market a hundred yards or so down the road. We sampled a variety of citrus and bought some unusual lemons for cocktails at home. One vendor made doughnuts at her stand and another offered samples of delicious hummus. Across the street, a ‘street taco’ restaurant has cheap, fresh tacos and then there’s a cupcake cafe. And the pier that the hotel is named for has a seafood restaurant at the end of it, with chowders and more cheap fish tacos. What more could you want?
Dining at Pier South
The hotel has a seafood based restaurant, SEA180º, with a large outdoor patio. Cool nights are kept at bay with heat lamps, fire pits and piles of blankets that you can borrow. The jalapeño infused margaritas are delicious. There is also a decent selection of local craft beers. The kid’s menu had healthy, child-friendly fare.
I had delicious fluffy biscuits with perfectly cooked eggs at breakfast and a lobster roll weighty with succulent meat for lunch.
As a vegetarian, I have a particular concern for the environment. Pier South received LEED Silver certification and uses solar heating and cooling, as well as advanced water conservation methods. The hotel, built in 2013, is smack by a wildlife conservation area, and naturalists lead tours of the river estuary. The hotel is also involved with beach conservation efforts.
The ultra comfortable pillow top king sized bed had luxury linens and a down comforter.
All rooms have balconies, and the beach is quiet enough that you can turn off the air conditioning and enjoy the ocean breeze. We stayed there in January, during a storm, and we actually had to shut the door and turn the heat on briefly one night. There are also ceiling fans which help cut down on air conditioning needs.
Comfy robes are provided, along with bath products from Gilchrist & Soames.
There is an outdoor heated pool and hot tub. The fitness center is really a hallway, with just a couple of cardio machines and free weights, along with a weight bench. There are no exercise mats, nor is there space to use one.
One day when I was there, there were no clean towels and workers kept wheeling equipment through the door. The room is also the back door of the hotel. It has plate glass windows so you are really on display here. Much better to run on the beach.
There is a day spa, D’Ames, offering massages, facials and scrubs; you can also have a massage in your room.
The beach resort provides free WiFi and coffee makers in every room. There is also tasty salt-water taffy in a bowl in the lobby.
What Works for Families
- Huge rooms with pull out coaches
- Refrigerators in rooms
- A public playground is just steps from the hotel
What Doesn’t Work for Families
- The Pacific Ocean can be pretty rough, and the (public) beach right outside the hotel has no lifeguards
- Some rooms have no tubs, just showers; be sure to check
Note I was a guest of Hyundai, which paid for my travel and accommodations; opinions expressed are my own.