Happy Hours Happen at San Diego Hotels

San Diego Marriott Del Mar

Everybody delights in a great Happy Hour – especially those that include yummy bargain eats along with their drink specials. An increasing number of budget-conscious travelers (and locals, too) are turning Happy Hours into dinner dates. So, when considering San Diego lodging options, it makes savvy sense to investigate your hotel’s HH scene. Here’s a sampling of what’s available:


Andaz San Diego, in the heart of Gaslamp Quarter, calls its HH “Happier Hour.” Ranch & Coast recently named it San Diego’s very best HH – for good reason. Enjoy the party from 5 until 8 PM Mondays through Fridays in three hotel venues: Quarter Kitchen, Ivy Rooftop, and the Ivy Wine Lounge. Specialty cocktails, usually priced at $15, go for $5. In the Wine Bar, taste five select wines for $5. Food offerings, half-off regular prices, include fresh burrata in a jar, with mint walnut pesto, heirloom tomatoes and grilled country bread – for $7. Chow down on a short rib and roasted tomato pizza for $7 – or a blackened salmon sandwich for $8. Sushi-grade ahi/Alaskan king crab tartare runs $7.

At Odysea, the stylin’ dim-sum lounge at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, get half off well drinks, draft beer and food offerings during twice daily HHours from 4-6 PM and 10-Midnight. Snack on steamed shrimp shumai or beef picadillo dumplings for $3. Or opt for an oven-roasted turkey panini, layered with Gruyere, avocado, bacon, tomato, lettuce and served with fries – all for $6. The “Vela Tasting Board,” for $8, includes artisanal cheeses, air-dried meats, olives, hummus and rustic bread. Late night HH offerings include the tasting board, a club sandwich with chips for $5.50 and either a grilled chicken/feta wrap or a chicken Caesar salad for $6.

Humphry's Backstage

On Shelter Island, Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites stages a fab HH from 5 until 7 PM daily in its Backstage Lounge. Get full portions of offerings on the bar menu – at half price: Choose lemon pepper calamari with sweet chili dipping sauces for $4.75; jumbo shrimp skewers or a toothsome BLTA with fries for $5; a half-pound burger layered with horseradish-havarti and grilled onions, with fries or coleslaw for $5.50, or a warm shrimp and scallop salad made with spinach, avocado, mango and pickled ginger – for $7.50. (There’s no HH on Concerts by the Bay nights.)

At the new Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant, smack in the heart of Old Town State Historic Park, HH is offered from 3 until 6 PM seven days a week. Visitors can sip draft beers or house wines for $3.50 each; cocktails for $4.50. The “Drunken Pescador” includes a fish taco and margarita for $6.95; for two bucks more, get a “Steer & Beer” – a draft with a half-pound Angus burger.

In North County, Arterra at the Del Mar Marriott stages HH every day from 4 until 7 PM. Along with $6 premium drafts, $7 glasses of wine and specialty cocktails for $8, enjoy extra-crispy roasted garlic parmesan fries for $5, pizza-like tomato/mozzarella flatbread or a “cold pizza” (smoked salmon, grapefruit sections, slices of avocado, watercress and crème fraiche on flatbread) for $9 each. HH calorie counters can sip 50-calorie Cosmos or “No-jitos,” for $8 – and add a big bowl of lightly sauteed and seasoned edamame for $3. After 5:30 PM, there’s a selection of bargain-priced fresh sushi ($4-$11). There’s indoor and outdoor seating.


Winter Deals in San Diego

Winter in San Diego? While the rest of the nation is in deep freeze, San Diegans are enjoying 70-degree temps. Ok, so maybe it dips into the 60s some days. It’s still a pretty perfect place for a winter getaway: Crowds are gone – and lodging prices are at their lowest.

Imagine sleeping over the surf in one of the 23 white clapboard cottages on historic Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. Units have fully equipped kitchens and private patios. In summer, 1-bedroom cottages go for $300 a night – and there’s a 3-night minimum. The regular off-season rate is $235, with a 2-night minimum. But, midweek through February, cottages are going for as little as $125 a night, with no minimum stay required. Book by phone at 800-748-5894 – and be soothed to sleep by sounds of surf.

Not far away, at The Dana on Mission Bay, where standard rooms typically run $169 in summer, the off-season “Sleep Like a Baby” package has rooms for as little as $89 a night – and the deal includes free parking (an $18 value), free WiFi ($9.95 value) and a daily $20 food and beverage voucher for use at hotel restaurants, the pool bar or room service. There’s a 2-night minimum stay required and the deal must be booked online: Full nonrefundable prepayment is due when booking.

Most of the 20-plus hotels in Mission Valley are offering blockbuster deals through February (except Presidents Weekend). When I checked in late January, I found rates of $50-a-night or less at the Mission Valley Resort, Travelodge and Super 8 on Hotel Circle. Restrictions, such as advance purchase, may apply.

Head North to the Best Western Stratford Inn in Del Mar for a $219 deal that includes overnight lodging, two 50-minute massages in the hotel’s new spa (a $180 value), continental breakfast, WiFi, parking and taxes. Along with the new spa, the hotel has two pools and a whirlpool; it’s a short walk to the beach. The deal requires 3-day advance purchase, is nonrefundable and must be booked online:

There is, quite simply, no bad time to visit San Diego – but for those hunting for top value, there may not be a better time than right now.


Mini-Madness at Spa Na’Mara in Del Mar

The holiday season is almost over and what better time to celebrate then by treating yourself to a relaxing spa treatment. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend an event and have a sampling of some really great treatments. Spa Na’Mara, a new boutique spa in Del Mar, had their grand opening in December. Nestled inside the Stratford Inn, Spa Na’Mara incorporates the power of touch with natural marine-based products. Locals and visitors alike can savor a variety of treatments and services that help achieve maximum rejuvenation and balance – from signature massages and facials to body wraps and nail therapies. The new spa is one of the initial renovations to the Stratford Inn, which will soon feature façade improvements and a new restaurant.

To help you feel rejuvenated and rebalanced before your New Year’s festivities, Spa Na’Mara is offering a special “power hour” on Wednesday, December 29th from 10am-7pm. Join them for their signature spa cocktails, snacks and mini-facials. Guests will get their glow on with a mini-facial and a Glowtini. Or sit back, relax and sip some of their Spa Nectar by the fires. For only $40 per person you can reserve your facial and your visit will also include a Mini-Madness Goodie Bag of samples. For more details and to pre-book, call the Spa Receptionists at 858-356-0307.


New Year’s Eve at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

Spending New Year’s Eve in San Diego is great way to ring in the New Year. One sure hot spot every year is the Gaslamp District. With over 35 pubs and nightclubs, 100 restaurants and over 20 hotels, visitors will find something that suits their party style. One celebration that is sure to create an evening to remember is the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter’s Bottom’s Up party.

Guests start their evening at the Marriott Gaslamp’s street-level Soleil @k and Latitude Lounge. Party revelers will sample a whole new standard of cuisine with assorted fresh greens, decadent raw seafood bar, street taco stand and artisan flatbreads. There will also be happy hour specials from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Then guests head up 22 stories in the sky to their rooftop bar, ALTITUDE Sky Lounge. If you didn’t get your fill at the bottom, guests will find a sushi bar, carving stations, assorted desserts and a chocolate fountain. Once your palate is satiated, guests can dance the night away with beats by DJ Rooster and DJ Ramsey as they count down to 2011. There will be a celebratory midnight toast on the 1st and 22nd floors with party favors. (Did I mention this is an evening to remember?) For only $125 per person, this celebration is sure to please. Ticket sales are limited and go fast!

Sound like fun? How about free tickets? Comment on the blog below and one lucky winner will win 2 tickets to the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp District’s Bottom’s Up bash. Comment by Tuesday, December 28th at 10:00 a.m. P.S.T.


These Diamonds Are A Traveler’s Best Friend

The Grand Del Mar. Sparkly!

Earlier today, it was announceed that three San Diego area resorts were awarded the AAA Five Diamond status, the highest rating possible from the American Automobile Association, for 2011.

To arrive at the rankings, AAA’s professional inspectors evaluate more than 58,000 lodgings and restaurants.  The Five Diamond Award is applied only to offerings that consistently meet the highest standards of quality.  It signifies meticulous service and above-and-beyond travel and dining experiences.  Only about 0.28 percent of lodgings and restaurants earn the distinction.  

The San Diego hotels that received the 2011 AAA Five Diamond Award are:

The signature restaurant at the Grand Del Mar, Addison, was also awarded Five Diamond status for the third year in a row, making it one of only two Five Diamond restaurants in all of Southern California. 

So, next time you visit, consider staying or dining at one of these jewels!


Relax Away the Day at Kin Spa

San Diego is a place most people already think of as a relaxing destination. With year round great weather, the beach, fantastic hotel pools, etc., there are so many options for visitors looking for a little R&R. One spot I like to go to when I have girlfriends in town is the Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

Located on the third floor, the spa offers everything from facials and massages to hair services and mani/pedis. The adult-only pool has some of the best views of San Diego Bay and features spacious cabanas with plush couches and chairs, perfect for napping, lunching or curling up with a book. You’ll never have to leave! In fact, you can even have pool-side treatments in one of the cabanas.

The other night, I was lucky enough to attend an event and have a sampling of some really great treatments. And boy could I use it! Between work, my kid’s school, and baseball and dance practice, I really needed some help. Oleg came to my rescue and treated me to a great massage. I left feeling very relaxed and ready to face another day! Right now, my favorite treatment is the Gold Coast Facial. They use pure golden nectar from the honey bee, called Propolis. It is rich in antioxidants and is renowned for its unique anti-aging properties. My skin is left feeling smooth and hydrated (perfect after spending time in the pool!)

To get you ready to face the holiday stress, Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is treating one lucky person to a $50 gift certificate. Simply post a comment on our blog by Saturday, October 30th by noon PST. Winner must “like” San Diego and the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego on Facebook.


20 San Diego Green Facts

San Diego’s commitment to the environment and the protection of its most treasured resources – 70 miles of beautiful beaches and the best year round weather in the country – is far reaching.

Below are 20 Green Facts about San Diego. On your next visit to San Diego, be sure to check one of them out!

San Diego International Airport

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National Dessert Day – San Diego Style

It’s National Dessert Day, not that I think there needs to be one, to me every day is dessert day. My go to dessert is chocolate. Pretty much anything with chocolate will get my attention. Below is a sampling of some delicious creations you can find in San Diego. Tell us, what is your favorite dessert?

Cucina Urbana–This Banker’s Hill hotspot located at 5th and Laurel is well known among locals as a great place to get an affordable meal without comprising taste and ambiance. Currently, Pastry Chef Ben Rollins is featuring an Apple Gratin. They serve the dish in a miniature cast iron skillet with shortbread acting as the crust below layers of apples that are slow baked with brown sugar and custard, forming an intense layer of moist apples. They then warm it in the oven and finish with a layer of brandy sabayon which is toasted using a torch, then crumbles of walnut brittle are scattered over the top, adding a nice crunch. All I can say is Yummy!
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Katie S.

Restaurant Week and The Ultimate Foodie Slumber Party

San Diego Restaurant Week is just around the corner. The foodie in my is screaming, “YAAAY! Think of all the things I get to try this year,” while the sensible money-saver in me is screaming, “YAAY!! Three-course meals for only $20-$40 per person!” SO basically, every little part of me wins this battle.

San Diego Restaurant Weeek takes place twice a year, once in January and once in September. It runs from 9/19 through 9/24 and includes over 180 of the city’s best restaurants. Everything from the waterfront Marine Room in La Jolla to the hip Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar is offering these amazing deals. In January I went to Pacific Coast Grill in Solana Beach where you can not only bring your doggie to dine on their outdoor patio, but where I ate fish tacos that were literally to die for, come back to life again and continue eating good, and only $30.

The other great thing about Restaurant Week is that most hotels are offering deals, so you can literally hop on the train from L.A., eat a delicious meal, spend the night at a hip, downtown hotel and then hop back on the next day. I think of this as the ultimate foodie slumber party.

Since Restaurant Week hosts some of the most popular restaurants, it’s a good idea to make reservations in advance (are you on your phone yet?).

Bon Apetit!


Sheraton San Diego Officially Earns Green Seal Certification

Recently, Green Seal awarded its highest award certification: Gold level. After five months of preparation, a rigorous on-site audit followed by two months of follow-up and verification, they officially received the news on August 5th. This marks the first hotel in San Diego to achieve Gold status from Green Seal. At the time of their certification, there were only 97 hotels certified in 23 states and only 2 are at the gold level. The Sheraton San Diego is the largest Sheraton on the west coast to be certified.

Green Seal is a non-profit organization whose mission is to use science-based programs to empower customers, purchasers, and companies to create a more sustainable world. There are three levels of certification awarded: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Their standards focus on waste minimization, energy conservation and management, management of fresh water resources, waste water management, pollution prevention, and organizational commitment like environmentally sensitive purchasing.

This certification marks the Sheraton San Diego’s true commitment to sustainability. Congratulations!