The Park Hyatt Aviara Resort is tucked away into a lovely residential neighborhood in Carlsbad, California. With gorgeous grounds and views of the Pacific Ocean, the 327 room resort offers an abundance of outdoor activities for the whole family and is just a short drive to all of the major attractions located in the San Diego area. You can spend the day playing golf, playing tourist, relaxing in the spa, or relaxing at the pool, soaking up the sun; which by the way, you will find shining over 250 days of the year!
We recently flew to San Diego to celebrate my husband’s aunt’s 100th birthday. Yes, I said 100. She actually lives in Carlsbad, so we wanted to stay close to the celebration. We chose the Park Hyatt Aviara where we had been to before and since we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, decided to make life easy and rebook. It happened to be during the holidays, so the resort was all decorated and looking splendid.
Some of the highlights include:
- The resort is located in a residential area, so it is off the beaten path a bit and nice and quiet.
- The area has absolutely tons of family activities, including the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Sea World, Safari Park, Birch Aquarium, and I could go on and on.
- For adults, there are lovely restaurants and plenty of shopping opportunities in the gorgeous oceanside towns of La Jolla and Del Mar and an outlet mall is close by.
- While it may be off the beaten path, it retains easy access for getting to all of the major attractions.
- There are several very nice restaurants on the premises and a well-stocked shop.
- The resort really caters to kids with a Game Room, rec center, movies, and Aviara Kids Academy by Camp Hyatt, which offers activities for kids aged 4-12 (there is a charge for this service). There is even a Kiddy Cafe with pint size picnic tables!
- Babysitting service is available.
- There are both adult and family swimming pools.
- If the valet knows you’re going to the beach, they will load up your car with towels, beach chairs, and toys!
- The staff are all very professional, pleasant, and accommodating. We had an issue in the dining room our first day and they comped us dessert and coffee for our wait.
- The rooms seem reasonably priced for the area and the amenities, with rates starting under $300.
- The resort is pet-friendly.
- There are multiple packages available, including spa, golf, and dining.
What Doesn’t Work
- You really do need to have a car to both get to the resort and to get around once you’re there. It is California after all!
- It is not located right on the ocean, so if you want to spend some time at the beach, you have to drive. That said, they do offer a shuttle to Moonlight State Beach for $15 per person.
- There is a $30 daily resort fee which covers a variety of services and amenities.
- You have to pay for valet parking at $35 per night. Self-parking is not available.
- Breakfast is not routinely included, but you can get dining packages.
- The rooms are a bit dated and in need of a remodel. They definitely show their age.
Depending on where you’re coming from, you have many transportation options. You can fly into the San Diego International Airport, rent a car, and drive the 30 miles to the resort; you can drive down from other locations in California; have the hotel arrange transportation for you; fly into the local airport on your private jet (don’t we all!) or from LA; or hit the rails and arrive at the nearby Amtrak station.
If you plan on doing any sightseeing, I would highly recommend having a car so you’re not dependent on anyone for transportation. You can rent a car at the hotel through Enterprise, also. Be forewarned that traffic can be really bad on the 405 Freeway, so be prepared and plan extra time. You just never know.
If you have kids, Park Hyatt Aviara should be a great retreat for the family. Not all resorts have a dedicated kids’ programs, such as Camp Hyatt, with pools, a Game Room, a Kiddy Cafe, and a Rec Center. You can leave the kids at camp or with a babysitter and have some time to yourselves to explore or relax. Unfortunately, it’s only available from Memorial to Labor Day, but fortunately, there’s still tons to do when the camp is not in session.
If you are a Hyatt Gold Passport member, you can get special rates and earn points for free nights.
The resort offers tons of activities, has really pretty grounds, and is laid out very nicely. On-premise activities include a golf club, spa, 24 hour fitness center, game room, adult and family pools, and tennis and rec center. But, if this is not enough to keep you occupied, the resort can easily arrange any off-site activities you may be interested in, such as sailing, deep sea fishing, surfing, or visiting Temecula Wine Country, just to name a few.
I have to say the service and staff have always been exceptional. We had an issue with having to wait a bit long in one of the restaurants and they apologized, even though we hadn’t complained, and comped us dessert and coffee. The valets are always smiling, fast, and helpful and the concierge recommended her favorite restaurants off premises.
As I noted, the room we stayed in was in need of a bit of a make over, except for the more modern bathroom. We were upgraded to a suite, as we were Virtuosso clients through my travel agent, and had plenty of room and a lovely view of the pool and lagoon. The beds were quite comfy and plush and the room featured all the amenities you come to expect at a resort.
You have options of several different views including the pool area and lagoon, golf course, or Palm Courtyard. We had a view of the pool and lagoon and even with people enjoying a swim, the noise level was just fine. In terms of cost, rates start under $300 a night and go up to just over $550. This does not include the $30 resort fee per night, $35 for parking, or breakfast, but does include wifi!
All the standard amenities are available at this class of resort, such as in-room dining, Frette robes, laundry services, 24 hour business center, turn down service, espresso maker, daily newspaper, etc. While the rooms have a nice plasma TV with cable, they do not offer in room movies, but do provide DVD players with access to a library of children’s DVD.
I think the Kiddy Cafe with the pint sized picnic tables is such a great perk and if you’re headed for the beach, the valet is happy to throw some towels, chairs, and toys in your car. Another nice perk is the 2 mile hiking trail around the Batiquitos Lagoon with a bird sanctuary. You can get your exercise outdoors and the kids will love being one with nature.
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If you’re by the pool and your phone goes dead, no worry. They have solar powered charging stations available. The resort is also pet friendly and accept pets up to 50 pounds. They do charge a $150 nonrefundable deposit, however.
The 15,000 foot Spa is truly first rate and offers not only the usual treatments, but has a couple’s suite designed for the ultimate in luxury and romance, complete with candlelight and a whirlpool. Can you say decadence?
If you are a golfer or tennis player, you will be quite happy at Park Hyatt Aviara. The Aviara Golf Club is rated one of the top courses in America as is the tennis program. Maybe it’s time for the kids to take a golf lesson or sign up at the tennis academy! As would be expected, neither are complimentary.
The resort has 4 dining options on the premises; Vivace, California Bistro, Ocean Pool Bar & Grill, and the Argyle Steakhouse, but you don’t have to stay at the hotel. The area has plenty of other options available should you want to venture out, including one of our favorites, Bistro West (great with the kids by the way). That said, we have eaten at all, but the poolside options. As with the rooms, the Bistro is a bit dated and lacks much ambience. The food is decent, but nothing to rave about. Viviace is a very nice Italian restaurant and the Argyle, which you take a shuttle to at the golf club, was very good.
The Lobby Lounge/Bar also offers light fare along with cocktails and they do have tea service in the afternoon, which is a very nice touch. There was also live entertainment on the Saturday night we were there.
I have to say the Park Hyatt Aviara is a great resort to take the family and both a good value, yet luxurious. There are only a couple of downsides as I’ve noted, but not enough to keep me from going back.