(page 1 of 3)LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE SANG, “It’s only a day away.” Sometimes, though, it’s only a matter of hours. Depending on traffic, of course.
Our weekend getaways have one thing in common: You’re only a drive away. Starting in downtown San Diego, you could:
* An hour from now—be making friends with a La Costa Resort & Spa masseuse.
* Two hours from now—start waxing up a surfboard out front of the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa.
* Three hours from now (excepting gridlock)—be munching a meal in an authentic speakeasy in The Georgian otel in Santa Monica.
What are you waiting for?
SAN DIEGO NORTH COUNTY
La Costa has pumped millions into its spa experience
I’M NOT A SPA GUY. I’m happy in an old pair of jeans and an even older pickup truck. But after a weekend at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, I’m getting in touch with my inner metrosexual.
I could get used to this.
In 1965, La Costa became the first U.S. resort to offer a full-service spa. Earlier this year, new owner KSL Resorts completed a $140 million renovation.
The California Colonial architectural style, with white stucco walls and exposed beams, welcomes visitors as they check into the hotel. It creates the perfect mood for dinner at Legends California Bistro. But first, a reminder of La Costa’s proud—and exclusive—golf tradition. Photos lining the walls outside the restaurant show Bing Crosby and Bob Hope swinging away.
Back to the restaurant. Executive chef Cary Neff has created the trademark Conscious Cuisine, based on the premise that eating healthy does not have to be boring. But the good chef must have seen me coming all the way from Ramona, because he also features an entrée called the Cowboy Steak. It’s so big the waiter practically needs that pickup to deliver it to our table. It’s also delicious, and I eat every bite. My wife, who hasn’t eaten beef since 1983, goes for the crab and shrimp cakes with green apple salsa. Another excellent choice.
We head off to our room, which features a high-speed Internet connection. I bring my laptop and catch up on email. It’s a great feature.
The next morning, we visit the new, $12 million Spa at La Costa, the centerpiece of the resort’s makeover. There’s a full range of treatments, from exotic massages to herbal wraps, scrubs and facials. Guests are asked to declare their intentions for visiting the spa—to be indulged, invigorated or inspired. I want invigoration; my wife prefers indulgence.
We go off to the private men’s and women’s areas of the spa, complete with steam, sauna, whirlpool, cold plunge, showers and luxurious lounges. For the first time in my life, I start to smell like coconut and mango.
La Costa schedules a couple’s massage for us, in one of two VIP spa suites. There are side-by-side massage tables, a shower, bathroom, fireplace and a private outdoor garden patio with a whirlpool tub. Chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne are also included.
It’s my first professional massage ever. Phil starts working on me and quickly becomes my new best friend. When he’s finished, I decide to include him in my will when he leans over and whispers in my ear:
“You and your wife enjoy yourselves in here. Take as much time as you like.”
Cowboy up, as they say in Lakeside.
We relax in the VIP suite until our worldly cares disappear, along with the strawberries and champagne. We have our own poolside cabaña for the weekend, so we wander over there for a few hours.
In the afternoon, we get haircuts at the Yamaguchi Salon at La Costa. Celebrity stylist Billy Yamaguchi has integrated the ancient philosophies of feng shui into modern hairdressing. I fill out a questionnaire for my stylist, Homaira, who determines I’m a mixture of metal and water. I’m rusty. My wife is metal and earth; her stylist, Misty, recommends more fire. Misty convinces her to burn her “mombob” hairstyle and get a sassy new look. It works.
My hair? Strange women stop me on the street to run their fingers through it. Okay, not really. But I’m looking as cool as a 47-year-old can look.
Our final day at the resort starts with a champagne brunch overlooking the La Costa links. A guitarist entertains us as we stuff ourselves with more delicious food from the Legends crew. After brunch, we get another massage at the Chopra Center at La Costa. Two years ago, renowned philosopher and health expert Dr. Deepak Chopra established his official business headquarters and flagship location at the resort. My wife and I head off to separate rooms for these treatments, which include a monastic-sounding CD of different musical tones and a “singing bowl.” Lori, who is replacing Phil as my new best friend, alternates between working on the bowl and me, making us both vibrate with a distinctive pitch.
As Lori rubs my back, I achieve an altered state of consciousness. Pretty good for a cowboy.
IF YOU GO
La Costa Resort & Spa (760-438-9111; lacosta.com) is at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road in Carlsbad. Suites are $450; the “Romantic Journey” spa treatment for two is $450; haircuts run from $85 to $125. The Gandharva spa treatment at the Chopra Center (888-424-6772; chopra.com) is $185.