San Diego Spas Get Top Honors by Travel + Leisure

Between the year-round mild weather, gorgeous scenery and the easygoing attitude of the locals, it’s hard not to feel relaxed in San Diego. But if you’re looking for the ultimate rejuvenating escape, San Diego County is home to some of the best destination spas in the world. Just ask Travel + Leisure magazine: they recently recognized four San Diego area spas with their 2011 “Worlds Best” award for top destination spas!

Here’s a peak at what makes these spas four of the best in the world:

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa's scenic setting

Nestled on 200 private acres in the rustic community of Vista, located approximately 40 miles northeast of downtown San Diego, Cal-a-Vie health spa and resort offers an unparalleled level of personalized attention with a 4-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio.  The resort combines luxurious European spa philosophies with the California concepts of fitness, health and nutrition.  Three-, four- and seven-night packages include gourmet spa cuisine, fitness classes, golfing, hiking, beauty and spa treatments.  Guests stay in private, luxuriously appointed Mediterranean-style villas featuring breathtaking views from private balconies.

The Golden Door's serene accommodations

The Golden Door, located on a winding country road five miles north of Escondido in San Diego’s North County, greets guests with a  jewel-encrusted entrance gate flanked by camellias and fuchsia. The facilities include three guest lounges, a dining room, kitchen, indoor/outdoor exercise studios, the Dragon Tree Gym, two swimming pools, two tennis courts and a private hillside for hiking. The bathhouse contains a steam room, sauna, showers, fan-shaped therapy pool and sequestered rooms for body scrubs and herbal wraps.  With a clientele that includes the very famous and ultra-rich, the Golden Door has earned a reputation for exclusivity, luxury and unparalleled relaxation and rejuvenation.

A relaxing Shirodara treatment at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing

Located in the beautiful La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, the Chopra Center for Wellbeing was founded by the internationally renowned Dr. Deepak Chopra.  The Chopra Center explores new frontiers in the expansion of human consciousness through programs, products and services that integrate the mind, body and spirit.  Here, spa guests can relax with an exotic mix of body massages, treatments and facials.

Rancho La Puerta's world-class views

The #1 pick in Travel + Leisure‘s poll, Rancho la Puerta, located just an hour’s drive southeast of San Diego in Tecate, Baja, Mexico, is a fitness-spa showplace featuring 84 handsome casitas set amongst 3,000 beautiful acres.  Active endeavors include hiking, Pilates, yoga and tennis, while the more indulgent pursuits include massages, hydrotherapy, herbal facials and body wrap treatments.  The riches of the earth are also celebrated at the six-acre organic farm that serves the Rancho La Puerta kitchen.  The farm is a vibrant tapestry of orchards, raised vegetable beds and herbs where the flavors of freshly picked produce are available year-round, as are the homemade honey and extra virgin olive oil.

Out of the four listed, which one would you pick for a relaxing getaway?


Searsucker. So Hot Right Now.

Searsucker says eat. Don't mind if I do!

Have you heard the news? OpenTable, the top online restaurant reservations site in the US, just announced the winners of its Diners’ Choice Awards for Top Ten Hot New Restaurants and San Diego’s favorite hot spot Searsucker took the number two spot in the nation.

This is a true national ‘people’s choice’ award and the field was huge. Winners were culled from more than seven million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants across the United States.

Brian Malarkey, the restaurant’s chef and chief merrymaker, sums the honor up in this way, “Searsucker is a restaurant designed for the people, from the food to the drinks to the ambience, so to be recognized by our diners is incredibly special to us.”

Located in the heart of downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, Searsucker pairs approachable, playful New American cuisine with local craft beer, handcrafted cocktails and wines from all over the world. The culinary experience that won them the award takes place daily and nightly in an inviting dining room nestled next to an exhibition kitchen with bar-style seating where Malarkey is regularly seen cooking and entertaining the crowd.

How else is he keeping the people happy?

First dinner, then lunch and now, new for summer, brunch. That’s right, Malarkey and his team will begin serving up my favorite meal of the week on May 1st. Color me happy!


VIA Approved!


Beautiful Balboa Park on the cover of VIA!


San Diego made the cover of VIA, the publication of AAA Clubs up in Northern California, with an awesome story in the January/February 2011 issue detailing how to visit without breaking the bank.  They found it was easy to visit on a budget!

The article, titled “San Diego Bargains,” talks about all the great winter deals available for AAA members (from any club!) but it also highlights offerings that are fun and free for everyone, like the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays, hiking at Torrey Pines State Reserve and Balboa Park’s amazing gardens and free organ concerts every Sunday at Spreckles Organ Pavilion.  Plus, great deals like the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation’s $10 walking tours

To read the story for yourself, just click here

You’ll need to input a Northern California ZIP code to access the article – use 94597.


Phil’s BBQ Opens in San Marcos!

It was only a matter of time before the famous Phil’s BBQ expanded. Has anyone ever visited their Point Loma location and not encountered a line? For the past nine years San Diego Magazine has crowned it the Winner of Best BBQ in San Diego. Even the television show “Man vs. Food” had to stop by! And now visitors and residents in North County can rejoice – today they open their second location in San Marcos.

Located in the Creekside Marketplace, the 7,000 sq. ft. restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner starting at 11:00 a.m. and will have seating for 250 people and will feature 14 flat-screen TVs.

Next time you visit San Diego, be sure to check them out!


Coronado’s Village Theatre Renovation

Coronado's Village Theatre

When we visit Coronado it’s like being dropped into a small town. You can ride your bike anywhere, and the island has everything a visitor could need. And now, it will have even more. Re-opening March 2011 is the Village Theatre located on Orange Avenue. Closed for a decade, the theatre will finally receive its much needed renovation. Opened originally in 1947, the theatre will be transformed into a three screen cinema. The original illuminated “Village” sign will remain intact and the theatre’s interior will feature an Art Deco theme. This small intimate theatre is another reminder of simple times and quaint places that Coronado is so well known for.

Tomorrow, September 29th, there will be a big groundbreaking ceremony where visitors can see for the first time the Interior Design Concepts for the Village Theatres. Freshly popped popcorn and soft drinks will be served from 12-6 p.m. Hope to see you there!


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!


Come Sail Away

Ahoy, it's the Stars & Stripes on San Diego Bay

That’s what American Way, the inflight magazine for American Airlines, is inviting its readers to do this month with a cover story on sailing with Dennis Conner’s America’s Cup Experience right here on San Diego Bay.


Surfing with Vogue and Rob Machado in Encinitas

Photo Credit to Vogue and Mario Testino

Have you seen the June 2010 issue of Vogue?

There is a great article featuring Gossip Girl hottie Blake Lively and San Diego’s own surf god, Rob Machado.  In it, they take to the waves right here in San Diego.

Below is a quick review of the surf breaks and beaches mentioned in the Vogue article – you can always check out the full scoop on our surfing options with our beach guide.

Encinitas’ Swami’s is named for the Indian-styled Self Realization Fellowship complex on the bluff, is another San Diego surf spot with a well defined peak and a crowd beyond its capacity. Swami’s makes just enough of a bend in the coast to pick up a little extra swell energy, so it’s always a bit bigger and better than its neighboring breaks.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s break is a short cobblestone beach with reefs at either end. Tabletops to the south and Cardiff Reef to the north are both fun shouldery waves, best on southwest swells and ideal for cutbacks and action in the lip. In these nurturing conditions, pros like Rob Machado and Taylor Knox honed their trade.

La Jolla Shores is one of San Diego’s best and most popular beaches. Somewhat protected from the prevailing southwest wind, it’s a safe, gentle spot to learn and enjoy surfing. There are year-round lifeguard services, good beach facilities and decent parking. Most of the formal surf schools operate here for this reason, and a lot of local kids practice their basics at the Shores before graduating to bigger and better breaks.

Are you itching to get out on the waves?

Submit a comment and one lucky winner will receive a 1.5 hour surfing lesson from Surf Diva at La Jolla Shores – recognized world-wide as one of the best surfing schools.

Photo Credit to Vogue and Mario Testino


Wow, Fancy This!

Our tails are wagging!

Our tails are wagging!

The puppy gurus at Dog Fancy magazine have released the results of their fifth annual Dog Town USA contest and guess where tops the list? 

Yep, for the second time, San Diego was rated the best big city in the country for dogs and the people who love them.  Editors and readers loved San Diego’s dog beaches and parks and our wide array of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and more.


San Diego Is On The (Menu) Radio

On The Menu Radio

Listen Up!

A couple weeks back, Peter Haigh of the internet radio show On The Menu was in town scoping out the San Diego restaurant scene.  Peter and his co-host (and lovely wife) Ann have been doing this show for years and have interviewed some of the culinary world’s biggest stars.  So, I was really excited to get an opportunity to chat with him on-air. 

We got to talk about San Diego in the fall, all our amazing farmer’s markets including the Little Italy Mercado (a personal favorite) and our incredible fall culinary events like San Diego Restaurant Week on Sept. 13-18, Celebrate the Craft  on Nov.1 and the first-ever San Diego Beer Week coming up Nov. 6-15. 

Peter also got a chance to interview a great local chef, Adam Bussell from the Vela at the new downtown Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Adam’s a native San Diegan (they are hard to find here!) who spent the last several years in the kitchens at the Five Diamond Award-winning Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Michael Mina’s Aqua at the St. Regis Hotel Monarch Beach and Montage Studio Restaurant at the Montage Laguna Beach.  Now, he’s back and cooking at Vela.

Listen to us online in the On The Menu archives (look for the Sept. 6 show) or click here.