I’m not going to lie. I just tried mezcal for the first time this year. It reminded me of bonfires on camping trips with family friends. The second sip was akin to the Santa Ana winds that blow through around Halloween each year: mysterious, moody. I’ve always had a fondness for fall in Southern California – it can certainly be hot and blustery for a few days, but it’s also the best beach weather we get all year.
In San Diego County, cities like Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Carlsbad absolutely shine. The days are barely shorter than high summer, but all of the tourists are back at school or work, far from the verdant links, rugged trails, and luxurious accommodations of the Park Hyatt Aviara.
Tucked away on 200 lush, private acres in Carlsbad, this AAA Five-Diamond and Forbes Five-Star luxury resort is ideally located within easy reach of all of San Diego’s offerings, but feels like a private, secluded retreat. While there are abundant attractions off site, there are so many world-class opportunities for recreation and relaxation on property that our family saw no reason to leave on recent weekend stay-cation.
Fresh from a $50 million resort-wide transformation, guests are transported from the moment they step into the gorgeous Mediterranean-style lobby with its open-air design. A one-of-a-kind sculpted chandelier floating down from the ceiling showcases the migration of birds taking refuge in the neighboring Batiquitos Lagoon. A coastal wetland between the glittering Pacific Coast and the Park Hyatt, Batiquitos offers tremendous bird-watching opportunities if you just can’t figure out what to do amidst the multitude of offerings on site.
The luxury coastal-chic accommodations here feature private balconies, stylish artwork, deep marble baths, teak furnishing, uber-comfortable beds and fabulous courtyard, lagoon, golf course or pool views.
With regard to the latter, our kids couldn’t wait to spend the afternoon upon arrival at the Splash Pool Deck with its brand-new two-story waterslide (for swimmers 4-feet tall and above), zero-grade entry and splash pad. My husband and I were equally excited to watch them frolic, while sipping a craft cocktail happily ensconced in one of the spacious private cabanas.
From our vantage point on the Ocean View Pool Deck, we reviewed our options. Indulge in a massage or body treatment in the lavish 15,000-square-foot Aviara Spa? Hit the links at the only Arnold Palmer signature designed golf course in coastal California? Try our hand at one of six lit tennis courts (including two Har-Tru clay courts) set against a backdrop of lush botanicals and greenery?
A given was to embark on a locally inspired culinary adventure (or two). Happy hour at Pacific Point Restaurant is defined by craft cocktails, sushi and spectacular sunsets.
For a fine dining experience in the newest of Park Aviara’s signature restaurants, Ponto Lago serves up locally sourced coastal cuisine in a refined modern setting. An added attraction for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of where the magic happens? A show kitchen where you can watch the restaurant team in action bringing Chef’s creations to center stage.
I fancy myself a fledgling foodie so I was particularly thrilled to learn of the Chef’s Corner – a multi-sensory culinary offering where our epicurean journey began with a phone call from Chef. He asked about our dining desires and flavor preferences before crafting a personalized menu that proved to be unbelievably decadent and delicious. He asked about our dining desires and flavor preferences before crafting a personalized menu that proved to be unbelievably decadent and delicious.
Chef de Cuisine Chris Carriker crafted a series of culinary creations, each paired with the perfect wine accompaniment per our server Udi’s suggestion. Local albacore was enhanced with farm fresh melons, watermelon aguachile and speck ham while the octopus taco with saffron potato crema pickled red onions (for me) and the pork belly taco paired with chiccarones, salsa macha and serrano crema (for Tim) were equally flavorful options. Other courses incorporated perfectly grilled ribeye with mole negro and charred onions, wood-fired salmon and roasted duck.
By itself, Ponto Lago is an incredibly refined setting for any of their Baja-inspired dishes, or craft cocktails. But a tequila or mezcal pairing is sure to set things into a different orbit alongside Chef’s Corner. Explore over 50 different tequila and mezcal selections – indulge in a sweet. floral-inspired agave from the Highlands of Jalisco or savor in the spicy, earthy and herbaceous flavors produced in the Lowlands. You might not find the flavors of a bonfire, sharp and smoky, but you’ll certainly have a taste for fall in San Diego for years to come.