We all have those spots in the world that we consider our “happy places.” One of mine is La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, partly because it’s an accessible 10 minutes away, but mostly because it is refined yet casual luxuriousness that leaves you feeling like you’ve done something right with your life.
After months of extensive head-to-toe renovations to the tune of $50 million, La Costa is now better than ever as I found out one recent Sunday afternoon. Seated in the open-air patio at Legends Bistro, one of La Costa’s casual dining options, I sipped on an iced tea while noshing on the Grilled Chicken on Ciabatta – a delectable sandwich with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and an zippy pesto aioli – while overlooking the 18th hole of La Costa North. Pascuzzo & Pate Golf Design, known for their work at Nipomo’s Monarch Dunes Golf Course, Maderas Golf Club in Poway and La Quinta Country Club in the desert, beautifully renovated the classic course, which opened to the public in late fall 2011. On this sunny San Diego day among friends, it was a tempting sight. Especially since I was dining with architect Damian Pascuzzo and friends – always enjoyable listening to what goes into renovating a golf property.
I had more intensive things on my figurative plate than golf, however. It was time for my visit to the renowned and newly renovated Spa at La Costa, named the No. 1 Wellness Spa in the Nation by Spa Magazine. After checking into the 28,000-square-foot facility and being led to the large, well-appointed locker room, I settled into the soft leather couches of the co-ed relaxation area, utilizing warm, light California colors while allowing the afternoon sun to stream in. One of the most intriguing parts of the spa is the Reflexology Path – a winding design in the Spa Garden that uses smooth cobblestones of varying sizes, and placed at all angles, to hit the sensitive pressure points of the soles of the feet. I took a stroll on the path while I waited, settling my tight feet onto the large smooth stones – a painful yet absolutely refreshing reminder as to both how badly I treat the foundation of my body and how important it is to take care of the body from the feet up. Ahhh.
I opted for the deep tissue massage, and the masseuse – who I shall refer to as Mr. Masseuse – got down to business quickly. Each therapist I’ve had at La Costa has done an impressive job of hunting down offending knots and working them out in a way that “hurts so good,” as John Cougar Mellencamp sang. Mr. Masseuse was no different. I even learned something that, despite being in some of the industry’s nicest spa properties, not one therapist had ever told me: “Make sure to wash off these massage oils on your skin before you do anything else,” he said. “Leaving the oils on actually traps in the toxins that we’d been working out, which you don’t want.”
And here I thought all of the other times I’d been “indulging” in leaving the oils on. Brilliant.
After showering I took two hours and gave every aspect of the spa a test run. I took another stroll down the Reflexology path, then meandered through the adjacent herb garden – the thyme, rosemary, basil and other herbs that grow there are used both for spa treatments and in cuisine served by the Spa Café. I then found myself in the Roman showers – semi-private enclaves near the pool that forcefully stream water from an overhead faucet. They have a deep-tissue-massage effect, at which you move your body around beneath the stream to target your muscles. At times it takes your breath away, but when the water shuts off it’s remarkable what a difference it has made.
All that relaxing also builds up an appetite, I discovered, so I strolled past Blue Fire Grill, the resort’s delectable fine dining restaurant, to Vibez. Random? Slightly. Ever wanted to have dinner at the game stop at La Costa that offers pool, video games and other family fun? Well, you can’t. But I did, and was treated to a VIP family-style dinner that included a squash soup served in a small pumpkin, a surf-and-turf free-for-all of lobster tails and steak, and warm bread pudding, apple-infused crème brulee and house-made truffles to close. Yes, it was remarkable as it sounds.
After a nightcap at La Costa’s newest addition, Diversions Sports Lounge – conveniently located in the hotel lobby and complete with more than enough flat-screen televisions, a refined bar menu and Stone Pale Ale on tap – I rolled my gorged self out to the valet and took one last look at the elegantly lit resort. I’d definitely be back for a taste of the good life again.
La Costa Resort & Spa
2100 Costa Del Mar Road
Carlsbad, CA 92009