Elegant swans along the 18th green symbolize luxury at The Grand Del Mar. A hidden gem in Carmel Valley, minutes from San Diego or the beach, Tom Fazio leveraged nature’s elevation through the lush terrain to make a dream like state of golf until the awakening of the last 3 holes. 16 is a long downhill par 5 lined by dense brush with a lake behind the green that illuminates at dusk. Tee over the water on 17’s par 3 and steady yourself for one of the most beautiful and challenging finishing holes. The fairway rolls into the swans’ stream with cascading waterfalls above the green. Difficult to reach in two, Club M patrons above are entertained by attempts. The sports mix is completed by hiking trails, tennis courts, and an equestrian center. After all that, get stoned at the spa. The 90 minute “Stony Silence” is a massage treatment with warm rocks slipped into pockets between sheet and skin, left to transfer heat to muscles. It’s the best rock collection ever. Chaise lounges with soft blankets and a fireplace further relax the body and spirit. Someone is always whispering an offer of a warm neck wrap, tea, fruit or truffles. For a hearty meal, Addison is famous among locals for special occasions but Amaya is also exceptional, from the lump crab eggs Benedict with chipotle sauce for breakfast to fruits de mer for lunch, lobster for dinner. Wine sommeliers assist in pairing one of 3600 labels with every exquisite morsel. Listen to live music in the lounge and retire to your lovely Palazzo suite, large enough for a family reunion overlooking the golf course and statues. At turn down, rose petals are sprinkled throughout.
Up the coast, La Costa Resort and Spa is a coveted destination – close to the beach yet tucked away. Home to the LPGA Kia Classic and PGA history, tournament memories are etched in wooden signs on tee boxes. Each hole on the south course has special character, with floral, topiary designs and bridged water features. A pear alliance martini pairs with an extensive menu and views after the round. “Spa-tacular” in the Spa at La Costa is the variety of amenities – therapeutic shoulder falls, reflexology path, pools, saunas, cafeĀL and boutiques. A slide pool, workout room, tennis and golf provide plenty of exercise or zip down to the beach for a hike in the sand.
A few miles north, the realty mantra, “location, location, location” is epitomized by Pelican Hill. Palladian style architecture throughout the Newport coast complex brings nature inside and coziness out. The largest circular pool in the world is accented by chaises and custom equipped cabanas for ocean view lounging. The Pelican Grill gives new meaning to “see and be seen”. People, ocean or sports watching on the largest of screens make this the happening place.
Voted the number one golf resort in the world, these Fazio courses are perhaps his most fabulous, laid out so that every one of the 36 holes has at least a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean on 500 acres in one of the most affluent zip codes of southern California. Golf concentration is challenged by the question of where the ocean will be seen if not from the tee box, then greenside, or a point along the fairway – mesmerizing views of Newport Harbor, Catalina Island and full crashing waves with real pelicans. One on course home is listed for 18 million dollars, making a one month stay in a 2bedroom bungalow for $8500 a bargain, special services included. If you are bent on ultimate luxury, a resort Bentley awaits as well as a personal butler. Sold out for the week, we stayed at their sister property, the Island Hotel in Newport’s Fashion Island with balcony views of the marina and Catalina Island. Where else could you say the Brussels’ sprouts were to die for along with the Kansas City Steak and Barramundi. Saiko (pronounced like psycho) means best in Japanese. Saiko performs massage treatments on professional athletes, cirque du soleil stars and you! She is indeed the best in the business with the spa’s “travel rejuvenation treatment.”
Pelican Hill’s sister course is Oak Creek in nearby Irvine, half the price without the ocean but another fully satisfying Fazio design. Drive beside Lamborghinis, maseratis and more exotic cars along the Newport Coast. This playground of the rich and famous is welcome to ever y wallet worldwide. Reasonable or outrageous packages abound.
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