By Kathleen Sterling
There are a few iconic resorts in California, and Torrey Pines Lodge has to be at the top of the list.
Set on a rise overlooking the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, the Lodge with its vistas of the Pacific beyond offers a quiet, or if you choose, quite busy, retreat just two hours away.
The Craftsman-designed hotel beautifully pays attention to detail, from the arts and crafts architecture to the deco elevator doors and vintage prints lining the halls.
Our extra-large room on the fifth floor overlooked the greens, and the large lawn under our window where guests can play old-fashioned croquet, or, as during our visit, host a most gorgeous ocean-side wedding.
We had the perfect balcony spot to oversee it all. A delightful repast of wine and cheese made for a lovely, lazy afternoon relaxing from the stress of the work we left behind.
Not quite ready to retire to the king bed with its crisp white linens set in front of a gorgeous tiled fireplace, we got ready for our dinner date. The large bath boasted both a tub and shower – so I was in heaven.
Relaxed and refreshed we strolled to the Lodge’s signature restaurant, A.R. Valentien, which highlights regional cuisine from Executive Chef Kelli Crosson.
We chose to dine indoors next to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the golf course and the ocean. There is an actual Torrey Pine that gracefully arches through the dining room itself.
Crosson has designed a menu around locally sourced ingredients. The farm-to-table menu changes daily depending on the season. With perfect service we dined on the pan-roasted California lamb rack and the special short rib ravioli with cherries. Both were divine, but I have to admit, it was the house-made biscuits topped with sea salt that stole the show. Served with butter and honey they were a treat all by themselves!
At the sommelier’s suggestion we paired the lamb with a Far Niente cabernet from the restaurant’s wine list of primarily California vintages.
After a night of perfect slumber we breakfasted at The Grill, a more casual dining spot adjacent to the pro shop.
The Grill offers panoramic views of the course, and features wood-fired dishes and craft beers. It’s a favorite spot for guests and locals alike as it serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch – with such specialties as smoked baby back ribs, a “drugstore” hamburger, half chicken or grilled flat iron steak.
After breakfast Glen grabbed his golf cart for a 9 am tee time and off we went. I drove the first six holes – just to see the spectacular views from the course, which edges the cliffs of the Pacific. The rolling greens were still touched with mist, making for a gorgeous vista.
The 36-hole course is actually owned by the City of San Diego, originally designed by Williams F. Bell into a north and south course. The South Course was redesigned in 2001 by Rees Jones in preparation for the 2008 U.S. Open and is now 7,698 yards with a par of 72.
We joined two other couples and I was pleasantly impressed with Glen’s game – not quite 72 but he did well! After six holes I left the golfers to their game and retired to the large pool.
I read, swam and switched between the pool and the gazebo-sheltered jacuzzi with the same spectacular views offered throughout the property. I whiled away a few hours with a book and a pina colada from the poolside bar.
Then it was heavenly spa time! The Spa at Torrey Pines offers face and body treatments utilizing eco-friendly, marine and botanical based products from EmerginC Organics, SkinCeuticals, Phytomer and Farmhouse Fresh.
My facial was an amazing experience, and I took time to use the spa’s steam room and sauna. I wish I could have had more time for even more services – the sweet rose and honey scrub sounded incredible.
It’s there – I saw it! – but did not use the cardio/strength room featuring state-of-the-art treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary cycles, and weight-training equipment. I was more into the spa’s relaxation room with its fireplace. This was a total chill weekend and the facial let me zone out and be pampered completely.
After golf and swimming we were tempted to nap, but the great outdoors called and we went on a guided hike, offered by the resort, of the adjacent Torrey Pines Nature Preserve.
The hike takes you through the 2,000-acre coastal state park, where we saw all sorts of native plants and amazing rock formations. The three-mile trail was worth it for the drop-dead views of the ocean from the rugged wind- and water-sculpted cliffs.
Relaxing on our balcony post-hike we decided to order room service and just stay in.
We had a quiet dinner fireside of grilled flatiron steak with polenta and mushrooms and one of the smoked hamburgers. A lovely Silver Oak cabernet to share and we were ready for slumber.
Awaking to the spectacular view below us we had to play – and went down to the lawn for a fun – but competitive – game of croquet before wandering over to the pool for another few hours.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines is just 10 minutes from Del Mar and 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, if you wanted to explore the racetrack or the city’s attractions such as the zoo or SeaWorld.
We chose to make the Lodge not only our home base but our only destination. The long weekend gave us time to relax, time to golf and time to be pampered. It offered everything we wanted and needed in a quick weekend escape.
The beautiful resort, superior staff and attention to detail made it a perfect getaway, and I’m sure we’ll be back to golf – and get away – very soon!
For more information or to make reservations at the Lodge at Torrey Pines visit lodgetorreypines.com.
For golf information and reservations visit torreypinesgolfcourse.com. (Note – the course is extremely busy with both residents and guests and reservations should be made weeks in advance).