Rock out in San Diego at the Hard Rock Hotel

Pressure on. Friends from my considerably more “energetic” college years in NYC are on their way to San Diego for one night only and ready for a reunion of epic proportions. As master of ceremonies, I am charged with orchestrating the unforgettable affair.  So, undoubtedly, I booked us a Rock Star Suite at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego in the notorious-for-its-nightlife Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.

VIP treatment begins immediately at the Hard Rock. “Rock Royalty” checks in amidst drink service and plush couches in a private lounge while a VIP Manager takes care of every whim – whether that means dinner at Nobu, a guest list for the ultra-hip bars 207 and Float or an appointment at Rock Spa.

The Rock Star Suite has stunning, floor to ceiling windows, a fluid, open layout and tasteful, modern decor. Champagne room service and a stocked minibar makes leaving seem like a crime – but I can see San Diego’s best rooftop pool bar, Float, beckoning from my window. On this clear, autumn day we enjoy panoramic views down to Mexico and relax a bit before the night ahead of us, when we will be back to see Float in its evening wear, replete with fire pits, DJ and throngs of beautiful people. It is testament to the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego’s quality that Float translates so easily from sun-soaked luxury to star-studded playground.

When night falls, the Hard Rock buzzes with electricity and the hotel is our oyster. At the drop of a hat we move from our Rock Star Suite, to Float, to the glamorous-but-laid-back bar, 207. Each beguiles the senses with a unique combination of ease and excitement and ushers us through to the next morning with effortlessness.

And a good morning it is! Sunday brunch at the Hard Rock’s retro-chic diner, Maryjane’s, is the perfect place to recap the evening’s tomfoolery and refuel with breakfast burritos, eggs-your-way, STELLAR hash browns, sticky buns and a whole lot of coffee. Some advice? Make sure to request late check-out in advance. After last night’s frenetic fun, breakfast is a sacred thing that shouldn’t be rushed.

Are you ready to rock? Enter the “Rock Out in San Diego” Sweepstakes to win a one-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego with VIP check-in, one “Sugar and Spice” spa treatment at the Rock Spa, VIP entry for two to 207 and Float nightclubs and breakfast for two at Maryjane’s.


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?


10 Reasons to Visit San Diego in 2011

10 to Try in 2011Ready or not, the New Year is upon us and so, I’ve put together my list of 10 reasons to visit San Diego in 2011.

In no particular order…

  1. A World Premiere: This February, the La Jolla Playhouse brings us the World Premiere of Little Miss Sunshine.  This new musical based on the Academy Award-winning film, is sure to be outrageously funny (if not Broadway bound?), as it follows the Hoover family on a cross-country trek to a children’s beauty pageant where they hope their bad luck will change as the youngest daughter, Olive, chases the coveted title of “Little Miss Sunshine.” 
  2. Fabulous Food: The Nation’s Restaurant News released their list of dining trends for 2011 and among the top was locally grown ingredients, locally sourced meat and seafood and sustainability. How did San Diego restaurants respond? Check, check and check!  Stop by The Linkery, Sea Rocket Bistro and A.R. Valentien to see what I mean.
  3. RC 44 San Diego Cup: The NASCAR of all boating events will speed into San Diego in March for the first time ever! The RC44San Diego Cup highlights the world’s best sailors as they compete in high-performance boat races along San Diego Bay. 
  4. New Attractions: This summer, SeaWorld will debut Sea Turtle Bay, a new attraction all about sea turtles. Highlights will include Turtle Reef, a 300,000-gallon aquarium with a massive, a ride where you spin in boats on a sea turtle rescue mission and much more.  Also, stay tuned for news about BIG changes to come at LEGOLAND
  5. New Flight: I dedicate this one to our friends in the UK – In June, British Airways will offer daily, nonstop flights between from London’s Heathrow Airport and San Diego.
  6. Five Diamond Properties: That’s right; we’ve got some top dogs here in San Diego that are waiting to wine and dine visitors. Three hotels and one restaurant were recently awarded 2011 AAA Five Diamond Awards, the highest rating possible from the American Automobile Association and the most coveted symbol of excellence in the hospitality industry. Congratulations to: The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, The Grand Del Mar and its signature restaurant, Addison.
  7. Weather or Not: In Travel + Leisure’s recent America’s Favorite Cities Reader Poll, San Diego was voted the #1 destination for Best Weather. We also scored #2 for Most Athletic/Active People; #2 for Most Attractive People; #3  destination for Best Time to Visit – Spring Break and #4 destination for Best Time to Visit –  Summer. Check us out! 
  8. Centennial of Naval Aviation: In February, Coronado’s North Island Naval Air Station and San Diego Bay will celebrate the 100th anniversary of naval aviation and the first-ever flight of a Navy aircraft. The special event will include Navy ship tours, aircraft exhibits, music, food vendors and a large flyover in the afternoon featuring over 200 vintage aircraft.
  9. Wildflowers That Wow: San Diego has had the rainiest winter that I’ve seen in years! While that disrupted my wintertime summer dress wearing, it does mean that our famous wildflower display will be bursting with blossoms this spring.  If you want to see a natural phenomenon, head over to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see colorful wildflowers bejewel the desert landscape; make sure to double check the status of the wildflowers prior to your visit by calling the Park’s 24-hour “Wildflower Hotline” at 760-767-4684.
  10. Baby Animals Galore– Who doesn’t love to ooh and ahh at the sight of cute and cuddly little creatures? In 2010, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed a variety of calves, cubs and cutie pies, including newborn tigers, cheetah, rhino, zebra, giraffe and four elephants!  Come by the Safari Park to congratulate the new moms and watch these little guys grow.

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.