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San Clemente Journal

The Lodge at Torrey Pines: A five diamond resort nurturing body, mind and spirit

Jan 01, 2011 11:12PM ● By Brian O

by Jamie Brinkman

Two years ago, as newlyweds on our honeymoon, my husband and I discovered a place a mere 45 miles south of our quaint town that has become a favorite of ours. Nestled on the coastal bluffs of La Jolla, among hundreds of the rarest pine trees in the United States, the Lodge at Torrey Pines is a hotel unlike any other. It was built in the true California Craftsman style of the early 20th century, modeled after the Green Brother’s Gamble and Blacker houses in Pasadena. Owning two successful hotels, the Evans family wanted a hotel that incorporated indoor and outdoor living, matching the natural beauty of the landscape with an inner architectural sense of comfort and luxury. It features 170 guest rooms, a luxurious spa, world class dining, golf packages, and activities for the whole family. A five diamond resort, the Lodge beckons you to steal away for a night, or maybe five, and revitalize your body, mind, and spirit in a place that will make you feel like you’ve escaped to a simpler, older California. The most enjoyable route to the Lodge is a simple cruise down Coast Highway 101, enjoying the miles of ocean off to your right. As the road dips down and crosses over the Los Peñasquitos Marsh and Torrey Pines State Beach, the sight of great sandstone cliffs rising from the sand, with groves of pine trees perched on top is awe-inspiring. Just at the top of these bluffs, next to the golf course, lies the Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Pulling into the driveway, the entrance exceeds expectations. A cobblestone drive loops into the front of the bungalow style hotel underneath an impressive porte cochere. A small clinker brick wall, entangled in vines, meanders around the hotel, perfectly charming in its imperfections. Dressed in Scottish kilted attire, the same doorman has greeted us by name for the last three years in a row, with warmth that can only be authentic. The door leading inside the hotel showcases a beautiful, hand-crafted stained glass window featuring a sprawling Torrey pine tree. Walking through these luminous glass doors, the smell of the fireplace greets us warmly, as well as the friendly faces behind the front desk. The towering timber beamed ceiling and floor to ceiling windows illuminate the lobby with natural light and a sprawling view of the golf course and ocean. Snug nooks of craftsmen leather furniture offer comfortable places to relax next to the fire after a long day of traveling, hiking, or golf.

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After checking in, Brett the bellman leads us down the Honduran mahogany and Brazilian cherry wood lined hallways. The woodwork is polished and rich in color. The Lodge is softly lit with customized broad hooded lanterns, and is home to an amazing art collection by California impressionist artists. All of these elements lend an elegance that is lacking from most modern hotel hallways. The guestrooms facing west have a breathtaking ocean and golf course view with an in room fireplace. All other rooms have a lavish native California garden as their backdrop. With signature Stickley leather and wood chaise lounge chairs and customized Torrey pines Tiffany lamps, the warmth and sophistication of the rest of the hotel is extended to the privacy of the bedrooms. The rooms are decorated in the colors of nature, with deep browns and greens accented by golden tones. The original arts and crafts architect, William Morris, designs detail the walls and bedding.  No detail has gone unnoticed and though everything is authentically linked back to the arts and crafts movement, modern luxuries do not escape you here. Every room has high-speed Internet access, personal voicemail, separate data ports, state-of-the-art telecommunications and room safes large enough to hold laptop computers. The large double sink bathrooms feature natural slab marble and granite floors and countertops, deep soaking tubs, and a spacious lit closet. Though spending time in your room is key to the unwinding and relaxation process, at some point or another, hunger will summon you to one of three options: the AR Valentien for world class fine dining, the Golfer’s Grill for a more casual California bistro cuisine, or 24 hour room service. Both restaurants offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner and both are extraordinary. There are two bars that also serve food and drinks, one adjacent to the Lobby and one adjacent to the Grill. The A.R. Valentien is named after the early 20th century impressionist artist and is decorated with his works. It holds many large semi private booths and window front tables, all with fabulous views overlooking the terrace, pool, and golf course.

On any given night you might be greeted by Sigi, Maya, or Dean, all veterans to the Lodge and experts on the many dishes and hundreds of vintage California wines that are served. The restaurant menu changes daily due to the fact that Executive Chef Jeff Jackson serves only local farm fresh, organic food. Dishes are prepared with minimal handling and in simple combinations to let the intrinsic textures and flavors shine through. If you choose to have dinner here, delight your palate with a tasty first course, such as the incredibly smooth Heirloom Squash Soup with salsa verde and crème fraiche. Some of the main courses to try are the California Lamb Chops or dry aged Niman Ranch Strip Steak; both are tender and flavorful. For breakfast, remember to sample the lemon ricotta pancakes with raspberry syrup, which are so popular the hostess keeps a stack of the recipe with her at the front. After dinner, you might choose to cozy up in front of the fireplace to play a game of backgammon, have a warm drink in the lounge, or even take a dip in the salt water spa. Relinquishing technology for a night really can be freeing. The Golfer’s Grill, the more casual of the two restaurants, offers items like the Sloppy Joe and Drugstore Style Hamburger.  For breakfast, the Belgian waffle with strawberries and whip cream is delectable and the juevos rancheros is one of my favorites. If you’re in the mood for some comfort food and sports TV, the Grill is definitely the place to go. Though it’s generally filled with hungry golfers, I still felt that it was a beautiful, relaxing place to have a meal. At night, with the lighting dimmed, and soft classical music playing, it is an elegant and comfortable alternative to the A.R. Valentien. Both restaurants often host events that support the local economy, such as the beer and food tasting that was going on during our stay and featured three local brewery’s on-tap beers that were paired with samples of the Grill’s fabulous food.

The Lodge offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for all ages, such as yoga classes, a grass terrace for croquet, boche ball, and badminton, the infamous Torrey Pines Golf course and driving range, trail walks through the reserve, the beach, a library full of games and books, a business center, and of course the world class spa. The spa veers a little away from the overall décor of the Lodge, but stays close in terms of the time period, modeled after the Scottish Art Nouveau of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A feng shui expert was brought in to make sure the ambiance and flow of the entire layout was as calming as possible. The spa offers an aromatherapy inhalation room, an herbal infused steam bath, and a dry sauna. The men’s side features the same amenities as well as a private lounge that shows ESPN all day long on a big screen. A full spa menu is available for everything from massages and facials to wraps and hydrotherapy treatments. A perfect way to complete the day after a visit to the spa is the heated outdoor pool and hot tub, which are open until 11pm. The vanishing edge, salt water spa looks out over the first hole of the south course and the ocean. Covered with a gazebo and surrounding deck with three elegant Torrey pines poking through, the hot tub is a comfortable place to unwind, relax, and take in the view, especially at sunset. The pool is large enough to swim laps or just float on your back, and to complete the feeling of extravagance, even plays classical music underwater. The Lodge at Torrey Pines is one of two 5 diamond resorts in San Diego and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Less than one-half percent of all properties inspected by AAA achieve this prestigious distinction and that means their customers can and should expect an extraordinary experience. From the authentic architecture and décor, the plethora of activities, and the impeccable service, the Lodge at Torrey Pines is one place that will leave you feeling refreshed. Like the tree it’s named after, the Lodge at Torrey Pines is truly one of a kind and worth every penny. b

The Lodge at Torrey Pines 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, 858.453.4420