A New “Old” Legend !
A friendly valet took my car. Two kind bellmen eagerly helped with my bags. I began to feel like a Hollywood starlet. And why not? This was La Costa, the place where the rich and famous came to play.
Natural woods peak in the lobby.
Rumor has it that three “Hombres”, from Carlsbad, Chicago and Vegas in the early 1960s, went horseback riding along the Southern California coast and dreamed up this hideaway and included every amenity imaginable. How lucky was I?
Even as I stepped into the lobby with its dark cherry wood floors, black beamed Spanish ceilings, crackling wood burning fireplace, ornately framed deep red poppy flowered oil paintings, and elegant wooden tapestry furniture, the aura of famous legends descended upon me.
Hold an event poolside.
As I waited in line for check in, I gazed at the over-sized mural behind the long wooden and marble check-in counter. The sprawling landscape of this famous coastal property was painted in muted greens and browns. I wondered what stories lingered on that wall?
The woman from the other side of the check in desk interrupted my reverie, “Can I get your signature?” In the spirit of my new found celebrity paradise, I wondered if she thought I was a movie star. I smiled and played, “Well normally I don’t’ give out autographs, but for you…” and with a flourish I signed the credit card slip. What a fun way to begin my stay.
Private pool cabanas.
The spell of old legends quickly vanished as I walked into the bright sunshine of this balmy California afternoon. Families were everywhere. It felt like a Spanish village on a holiday brimming with the electric energy of children playing, families planning, and friends reconnecting.
This colorful vibrant scene painted the red cobblestone courtyard. The old elite hideaway metamorphosed into a California playground – for all ages.
The kids love La Costa, too.
Five foot tall Birds of Paradise with Marigold blooms as large as golf balls flowered the gardens. Navy blue market umbrellas punctuated the courtyard. The white stucco of the buildings, Spanish tiled roofs, and huge water fountains bubbled over with excitement and fun.
Splash Landing had three swimming pools, three water slides with more twists and turns than Wet and Wild! The kids around the pool were feasting on smoothies, burgers, yummy pizzas, and French fries. And that was just the outdoor entertainment.
La Costa’s tennis pro – Mike Casey.
The indoor lounge for the teenagers was unbelievable. I wished I could turn my star status into teen just for an afternoon. There was every game activity imaginable – with X-Box 360, two billiard tables, air hockey, foosball, basketball pop-a-shot, PGA golf, and car racing, bowling lane, ping pong and flat screen television.
My envy for the kid’s fun disappeared after I booked a lesson with the pro Mike Casey. More affectionately known as “tennis instructor to the stars,” he lights up the courts with his energy, enthusiasm, teaching skills, and joie de vivre for tennis.
Mike played with all the tennis greats. His wall of fame is brimming with pictures of Martina, Agassi, Chrissie, Federer, Andy, and so many more. His tennis program is one of the finest in the country, complete with his signature video tennis makeover. There are four clay courts and 13 hard courts and seven lighted courts for night play. This was my kind of playground!
La Costa is also about golf.
I got goose bumps as I stepped onto the court. The power left behind from the Men’s Davis Cup competition and the Women’s Acura Classic oozed through my tennis shoes. My top spin back hand sailed over the net. My forehand returns painted the base line and my volleys found unreachable angles. I didn’t know what inspired me more, Mike Casey’s “It’s all good” teaching skills or the aura of legendary competition that transformed my game in those cool Californiabreezes.
I glowed like Serena Williams after three sets and a tie breaker and was more than ready for a shower and nap in my beautiful casita. I looked at the six by six foot sunken tub walled by a mirror of similar size and wondered if a hot bath with their signature bath salts was a better decision than taking a shower in their oversized marble glassed alcove.
A Garden Suite.
A Parlor Suite.
I opted for both.
I loved the purple orchid plants that graced the back of the tub. The oversized fluffy towels, white cozy robe and La Costa toiletries were spa perfect. The dark wood of the furniture, the rich blue aqua and gold bedding with matching stripped bed skirt was Old World opulent.
The pewter knobs on the night stands with matching lamps gave the room a chic glamorous radiance. As I closed the heavy celery green velvet drapes and crawled into the most luxurious bedding for an afternoon nap, I knew this was the best day of my life. Although a tinge of guilt did grab me for a nano second.
What was still waiting outside for me to explore?
Fluffing my elegant feathered pillows I decided sometimes luxury is all about what you don’t take advantage of. I snuggled deeper under a heavenly comforter… the prerogative of my adult playground.
My mother always said the food makes the party. La Costa’s two restaurants made our party. The buffet breakfast served in the newly renovated Legends restaurant was the best ever. The eggs were fluffy, the fresh sausage juicy, the OJ fresh squeezed and homemade pastries But it was the coffee that took me by surprise. WOW! My waiter Alex flexed his muscles and proudly exclaimed, “It’s my job to make it!”
One of La Costa’s comfy guest rooms.
Dine around golf or cocktails.
Lunch surpassed breakfast on the open seated patio over looking the golf course. Chilled Arnold Palmers drinks, oversized Reuben sandwiches, crisp California Cobb salads, and chocolate cake for dessert. I needed another nap!
La Costa magic lit up the property as the sun began to set. We had dinner reservations at the outdoor patio. near the Mexican Adobe fire pit. I sipped my Cosmopolitan at the bar as if I was Michelle Phieffer waiting for her husband David Kelly. (two more star legends that frequent the property)
Feast under the stars.
Roman Roblos our waiter, an employee for thirty years, was really the true legend for the evening. He loved his job and it showed. His service was impeccable and the pride he had for the resort beamed as he served us under the stars. We feasted on succulent shrimp and crab cakes with a tangy original aivoli sauce. The Porter House Steak was juicy, the Prime Rib and garlic mashed potatoes were scrumptious. The Crème Brulee and banana crème pie were mythical.
After dinner Roman took me on a personal tour showing me the pictures of all the legends that he had personally served: Dean Martin and Rock Hudson riding horses, Desi and Lucy Arnaz were on their family vacation with little Ricky. Celebrity photos covered every inch of the inside dining room.
The astounding Blue Fire Grill.
Dinner at the Blue Fire Grill was astounding. The white port poached Bartlett pear salad with arugula, endive, dried cranberry, and toasted pistachios, was accented with Cabrales blue cheese and dressed with sherry vinaigrette. Scrumptious!
The sweet white corn soup with black truffle flan tasted like the corn was fresh picked and simmered to perfection. My entrée of lobster and filet melted in my mouth. But my face broke out in a grin when I spied the exquisite dessert. The strawberries had just been picked and marinated in an aged balsamic and, were seasoned with crackled black pepper. The creamy Tahitian vanilla gelato coolly smoothed the dazzle of the pepper with the sweetness of the syrup.
Joey Alfano, the manager, beamed at us as we devoured our dessert. His attention to detail and generous spirit infused our evening with amazing memories of a fabled dining experience.
La Costa has upgraded all aspects of its enormous spa facility.
The Spa at La Costa is heaven.
My intuition guided me to experience the Spanish Herbal Body rub. It was 100 minutes of sheer bliss. The masseuse’s healing hands wrapped me in a fragrant exfoliation with ground Rosemary and Sage with fresh lavender buds that were saturated with extra virgin olive oil.
She massaged my scalp as the wrap embraced each cell of my body. The full body lavender massage left me feeling light and smooth. Was it the magnificence of the 43,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor spa facilities? Was it the fountain topped with an “eternal” flame? Or the charming courtyards and pristine pool? Or was it the feelings of being indulged, inspired and totally invigorated that touched and tantalized all my senses?
As I emerged from this elegant sanctuary, the world felt strikingly different, yet so familiar. I had become part of the La Costa Legend. Yes, it’s truly a place where legends are born.
La Costa Resort & Spa
2100 Costa del Mar Road
Carlsbad, CA 92009
— Feature by Janice Wilson, Jetsetters Magazine spa, tennis and golf Editor; photos courtesy of La Costa Resort and Spa.