Tag Archive | "San Diego"

Tower 23 – San Diego


Tower 23 is situated right on Pacific Beach in San Diego. It’s cool, modern, and comfortable, it’s all you need for a no-fuss, swanky getaway. In our room, we were greeted with a chilled bottle of white wine, cheese, fruit, nuts and a view of the ocean. Not a bad way to start the day!

Our “Sanctuary Suite” was huge and spacious, with an adjoining patio that crept out onto the large common patio facing the beach and the gorgeous Crystal Pier with cute little bungalows perched on it. Now, Tower 23 does not have a pool on their deck, but their fountain is definitely big enough to sit in. I don’t know if anyone actually does this (our host claimed it’d been done), but I do know that if it hadn’t been freezing outside, I would have sat right down in there. Nick and I walked around and scoped out the place. There’s a great fire pit on the patio and a glass partition saving us from the beachcombers, so we planned to get up in there to catch the sunset. Just below the deck was the JRDN restaurant where we had dinner reservations later. Cool, now we know where everything is, time to get out and play.
We decided to take up the bike rental discount offered to us upon check in. It’s cool that there are lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants within walking distance (as was the bike shop), so you don’t have to get back into your car at any point, really. Totally got our $20 worth.

We hopped on the bikes ($10 for the day) and cruised waaaaaaay down the beach, sticking to Mission Blvd. Once we decided to turn back, I thought it would be cool to ride on the beach. Nick, as usual, looked at me like I was an alien. I figured since we were on ‘beach cruisers’ didn’t it seem appropriate to actually cruise on the beach? Yeah, duh. So he conceded. We got about 4 feet in the beach sand before we both fell over. Ok, well at least we tried. I mean, why are they called ‘beach cruisers’? Seriously. We dragged our ‘cruisers’ back up the dunes onto the street and headed towards the hotel. It was a beautiful breezy, sunny afternoon in PB! I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday to celebrate your birthday, Nick! Sorry I got so carried away with the beach cruising.

So, when we got back, we took in some sun and ordered coffee drinks on the patio. The cappuccinos we got there, no lie, were some of the best I have ever had. Now, it is customary for me to nurse a coffee, yes one coffee, over an entire day. I am not kidding! I sip it a little while it’s hot, and then literally sip on it all throughout the day, hot to cold. I’ve even been known to refrigerate the last few sips of a coffee and bust it out the next morning. Disgusting? Hey, to each his own. Anyways, the cappuccino was so effing delicious, I downed 2!

We lounged around until the sun set, and I took a million pictures because it was stunning. Plus there was a guy walking around on the beach with a surfboard and nothing else. Yeah he was naked, walking around with a surfboard. It was awesome. I tried to get some pictures of him without him noticing, but it was kind of crazy how he kept looking right at me whenever I pointed my camera at him. I guess that’s how they do it down there.

Once the sun was gone, it got super cold and windy, so we went inside to clean up and primp for our dinner reservation! Now, I didn’t mention the bathtub earlier, but I had been thinking about it all day. I was about to get the full effect. The water spout for the tub COMES FROM THE CEILING!!! Yes, the water comes out of the ceiling. That is not a joke. You sit in this bathtub and let the water pour out onto your head from a hole in the ceiling. I won’t say it again, but dude…where’s my car??? Haha! THE CEILING! It was hilarious. And messy because the water bounces off of your head and splashes all over the floor. But once the tub is full of water, you can turn on the JETS! Woo-hoo! I didn’t think we were gonna make it to dinner. It was so much fun! The soap and shampoo they provided was really nice-smelling too.
But we had a dinner reservation at JRDN, so we called it quits on the crazy overhead water spray situation and got dressed up for dinner. But not before I jumped up and down on the big giant bed. I think it was a California King with a feather bed on top. It was heavenly. How did they ever expect us to get to dinner? Nick had to drag me off of the bed, and I’m so glad he did.

The restaurant is super slick with this big wall with some kind of fiber optic wave effect on it. It changes color throughout dinner, so I guess you could say it’s a ‘dynamic’ dining experience. There’s also the awesome looking wine room, where it looks loke you can sit at a conference table and drink wine. Fun?

Our server was super nice, professional, and well-versed. The wine list is out of this world, which wasn’t really a shock given the aforementioned wine-drinking conference room. And the food was incredible. We each had a really nice salad, and I indulged in a Dungeness crab cake appetizer. WOW. Delicious crab cakes! Nick ordered grilled fish with fingerling potatoes, which he loved, and I had a steak. Steaks are a big deal here as there are 6 or 7 choice cuts for you to choose from (porterhouse, top sirloin, rib eye), 5 ‘Rubs’ listed (blackened, maitre d’hôtel butter, tri peppercorn, JRDN rub, and charmula), and 8 sauces classic béarnaise, chimichurri, salsa verde, etc). I chose a 6oz tenderloin, JRDN rubbed with 5 peppercorn marsala, pan roasted wild mushrooms and asparagus. It was PERFECT. Perfectly cooked, perfectly rubbed, and perfectly joined with perfect vegetables. And, as if it couldn’t get any better, we had the most delicious flourless chocolate cake ever, a dollop of coffee ice cream, and some of that scrumptious coffee. Oh, what a night.

-Amy Jo Diaz

723 Felspar Street
San Diego, CA 92109

Andaz – San Diego


Any place that hands me a glass of wine upon arrival is going to score major points. My husband and I arrived in San Diego on a Friday night at around 8pm to loads of young people, lipsticked and perfumed, roaming the streets of downtown. We gladly handed the keys to the valet and stepped into our mini vacation.

The charming hosts in the lobby of the Andaz greeted us, not from behind a counter, but freely roaming and offering up the aforementioned glasses of wine! Our personal belongings were gracefully lifted from our hands and swept away to our awaiting suite. Our host efficiently checked us in and led us through the lobby, onto the elevator and down the hall to our room. Once inside, he pointed out all of the amenities, pulled back the window treatments, and directed our attention to the beautiful fruit and cheese delights on the desk. Ahhhh, the good life. I showered, nibbled on fromage, and slipped into a big, fluffy Andaz robe.

Since our room was equipped with a duo of overstuffed queen beds, I felt compelled to jump from one to the other and back. And back again. And again and again while Nico was showering. I couldn’t help myself! The beds are so big and comfortable, and there are no low-hanging lamps or fans, so it’s perfect for this back and forth. I had my iPod all set up in the little dock on the desk, so I jammed out and jumped for about half an hour. This is such a great way to decompress from Friday night traffic that I’m trying to convince the husband that we need two beds at home.

I decided I’d write him a letter about the 2 beds from the room, using the pad of Andaz-emblazoned paper atop the desk. I was stoked when I found a pencil, a pencil sharpener and a rubber eraser (with “oops” printed on it)! I intentionally pushed so hard on the pencil lead that it broke, and I made all sorts of grammatical errors just so I could use all of my new gifts.
Not much else happened on Friday night, sad to say. I mean, nothing I care to share with the general public on the worldwide web, anyways. No offense, but Nico and I are private people! I don’t dare go on and on about the Beauty Parlor “sensual” items available in the mini bar here at the Andaz. No, I will not describe the “Karma Sutra Kit” or the lipstick sized vibrator, or the ribbed condoms! Forget it!
There are big white cushy platform beds, palm trees and a bar on the roof of the Andaz, in addition to the huge beautiful pool. All of the walls up there are platen glass, so the view is 360! We could see the harbor, the stadium, and the whole city skyline. We nabbed one of the platform beds and soaked up the sun for hours while the rest of the world scuttled around on the mean streets below (I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s totally how it felt!).

As the sun went down, we cruised back to our room and cleaned up for drinks at the bar. The wine list is great here, and the bartenders are nice. Kind of Midwestern nice, you know? Like nice, regular guys with good arms and strong teeth. I’m not sure what that means, really, but it’s what comes to mind, “nice guys with nice teeth”. We had a couple of drinks and decided to go back up onto the roof to see what it was like on a Saturday night.

We needed a wristband from the charming hosts, proving that we were hotel guests, since it’s some kind of private thing up there on the weekends. Once we were there, we noticed that all of the tables, chairs, and the platform beds were ‘RESERVED’. Essentially, there was nowhere to sit unless you ordered the bottle service. If you’re there for just 1 or 2 drinks, you are relegated to standing around; your glass shall never touch a table. So, we bailed. We went back downstairs and asked the concierge if he could recommend a nearby bar that wasn’t a nightclub. Took him a few minutes, then he busted out with a nice place with “an older crowd”. Me? Nico? Older crowd? What? Are we part of the “older crowd” because we didn’t want to go to a nightclub? We actually wanted to talk to each other? Weird. Maybe it was true. I did have a cane and he does wear a hearing aid, but come on! Anyways, we walked around and had a couple of drinks out side of the hotel, although we were hard-pressed to find a place without a mechanical bull or a stripper’s pole on the dance floor. Since we were now part of the “older crowd” in San Diego, we called it a night.

As we walked back to the hotel lobby, the doorman greeted us with the biggest, warmest smile. He checked in with us about where we’d ended up for a drink, and did we have a good night. NIco and I were both totally blown away by the fact that he’d remembered us. We hadn’t spoken to him or acknowledged him when we left, but he remembered us! I have to mention this part, because these are little gestures that really stoke people out. He took the time to recognize us, and seemed to be genuinely interested in our experience. I don’t know, it just really touched both of us and I wanted to say “KUDOS TO YOU MR DOOR GUY! YOU TOTALLY MADE OUR NIGHT!”

The line to go onto the roof was now in full effect. Mini dresses, dudes with too much cologne, blingy watches and stilettos lined up in front of the elevator. As hotel guests, we did get some preferential treatment, thank goodness. We zipped up to our room and locked ourselves in. The sound from the hallways came in, too, though…all night long. No big deal, we just couldn’t figure out what the people from the roof were doing wandering around the halls of the hotel. Nabbing butter pats from the room service pick-up trays outside of the rooms? Who knows.

I do know that Sunday morning came around too quickly. We woke up late, packed up our stuff, and stumbled down to check out. We were pleasantly greeted with coffee and croissants. Seriously, I can’t get enough of this kind of stuff! Lavish me with complimentary treats, and I’ll love you forever!
The Andaz in the Gas Lamp District of San Diego, a lovely place. Smells good in the elevator, offers guests a ride to the club in a Cadillac Escalade, and treats them to Orangina in the room! It’s the little things that count, and they count them all over the place.

-Amy Jo Diaz

600 F Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 849-1234

The Grand Del Mar – San Diego


By Julie Sahley

From beginning to end of your stay at The Grand Del Mar Resort, you can rest assured that every detail of your trip will be tended to.
Once you’ve reached the main driveway that leads you to the resort- you know that you’re in store for a vacation that truly feels like you’ve left the city. Nestled high above main roads, you instantly find yourself amidst beautiful scenery surrounded by nature and perfectly manicured gardens. The Valet Service greets you as though they have been personally waiting for you all day. When you enter the main lobby you don’t know where to look first- in every direction there is something unique or beautiful to see. If old style Mediterranean married Modern day luxury- they would create The Grand Del Mar.

We were cheerfully greeted and escorted to The Palazzo Suite. Wow. You feel like you’ve stepped into a mini palace all your own. There are all the comforts of home combined with all the luxuries you would expect from a high end resort. The room was equipped with surround sound, iPod docks, multiple flat screen televisions (even in the bathroom mirror), a formal dining area and table, a fireplace, and oversized bathtubs. As if that wasn’t enough… The suite doors open up to two different private garden areas with sitting and sunbathing space. The whole time you are surrounded by lush, gorgeous greenery, overlooking the mountains. Say goodbye to L.A…. It was a beautiful day and I decided to venture to the pool… There are different pool areas to choose from, one being an adult only, cell phone free zone and the other is a family friendly atmosphere with cocktail service and a poolside cafe. The wait staff promptly prepared my drinks and made sure I was comfortably set up to enjoy lunch from the cafe, which has a well rounded menu of options.
The pool itself is an oversized infinity style with views of the golf course, the perfectly manicured hotel grounds and a mini sandy beach area. From there I scrounged up enough energy to walk through the gardens to the adult jacuzzi. The whole time you’re surrounded by the whistles of birds and sightings of small wildlife scurrying on and off the paths. It is so easy to relax there while taking in a beautiful breath of nature. Meanwhile back in the hotel, I hear guests being greeted with sincerity and I see staff gladly showing guests around the enormous property. The attention paid in detail can not go unnoticed while staying here. The floors have incorporated different textures, the walls have combined an array of materials and color pallets, even the ceilings have been decorated originally and tastefully. There are many dining options and lounge areas to choose from, both indoor and out. The coffee shop had a wonderful selection of pastries, authentic tasting espresso drinks, and superb service. Attached is a well thought out gift shop, with unique one-of-a kind gifts certain to please everyone on your list. I chose to have dinner at Amaya, the resorts Mediterranean style casual cuisine. Upon entering you feel warm and welcome. Fireplaces are crackling in the background while beautiful chandeliers create a dimly lit inviting ambiance. It was a warm, beautiful evening so I decided to dine on the outdoor patio.
The service was impeccable. The waitress was extremely knowledgeable of the menu- particularly regarding ingredients and wine pairings. I took her recommendations and suggestions and was definitely not disappointed. I started with the Chilled Pea and Ginger soup, which was delicious and refreshing. Then I tried the Catalan-Style Shrimp which was to die for. For the main entree I opted for the New York Steak which was cooked to the perfect desired temperature and served atop Broccolini, Potatoes and Sweet Onions. All of the plates were displayed and delivered with the same detailed fashion that’s consistent with the rest of the hotel. Some almost too beautiful to eat… Then came dessert. It was a Chocolate Bread Pudding, drizzled with a rich Chocolate sauce and served with the most delicious Peanut Butter Ice Cream I’ve ever had. Dinner was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. For a night cap I wondered into the lobby bar and ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. I walked around the grounds some more and discovered a fire pit hidden alongside one of the paths. They kept it lit into the wee hours and it was truly the perfect end to a wonderful evening. Upon awakening, the two newspapers of my choice had already been delivered outside my door. I ordered room service for Breakfast and it arrived promptly and exactly as I had requested.
It was now time to investigate the Spa. I booked their signature treatment- The Renaissance. I arrived early for my appointment and was so glad I did. The spa had all the amenities a girl could hope for! Top of the line products, a spacious changing room, soft plush robes, large whirlpool, steam and sauna areas and a very soothing decor. Right on time- my therapist, Julianna picked me up and escorted me into to the treatment room. She was very sweet and professional and explained the details of the service to me. It sounded so wonderful I hoped it would translate exactly the same on the table. I laid face up on the free-floating bed ( which alternates between a regular massage table and a bed that surrounds you in warm water without actually getting you wet .) Julianna rubbed my body from neck to toe in the most wonderful smelling potion of detoxifying mud and mineral rich oils. She paid particular attention to areas like my kidneys and digestive system. Then she wrapped me up in a warm cocoon of blankets and set me off to float in this amazing bed. You feel your body sink into the bed as if you were getting the best rest of your life… in a jacuzzi. All the while you lay happily warm and wrapped, she performs a Reflexology foot and scalp treatment. Voila! The bed alternates back to a table and she helped me sit up slowly. She walked me over to the Swiss shower and excused herself from the room- so I could scrub the mud off myself and enjoy this unique shower experience… which was incredible. It is an overhead rain style shower along with multiple shower heads placed vertically on all three walls. Your body is immersed in warm water from every direction possible. Upon stepping out of the shower there are warm towels waiting for you. Of course! As instructed beforehand I laid face down on the other unused massage table in the room. She came back in the room and proceeded to give me one of the best massages I’ve ever had, she was very intuitive, aware and thoughtful. By the time the treatment ended I was complete mush. It surpassed all my hopes and expectations ten fold. The Renaissance is a must try 90 minutes of heaven. I wouldn’t change one thing about my stay at The Grand Del Mar. This hotel truly stands out from the others of it’s class and beyond. You can reserve a getaway here and expect it will be exactly what you desire and exceed your highest hopes.

The Grand Del Mar
5300 Grand Del Mar Court
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 314-2000