A kosher surprise at San Diego’s Grand Del Mar


Back when JTA had a regular travel section, I spent a couple of nights at the Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego on my way to cover the Reform movement’s 2013 biennial. My aim was to write about the brief getaway for JTA, but in 2014 we ended our regular JTA travel features, and I never did write anything.

As the end of the year approaches, I’d like to wrap up my unfinished business. And with a getaway in warm San Diego not such a bad idea as the Northeast settles into a deep freeze, I figured now is a good time as any. So here goes.

The Grand Del Mar is a nice place to stay. And when I say nice, I don’t mean, tell-your-aunt-Sally-she’d-be-comfortable-there nice. I mean omigod-the-cleaning-people-tied-up-my-iPhone-charger-cord-with-a-little-gold-ribbon nice. They seriously did this. And they delivered the most delicious chocolates to my room in the evenings. And the unbelievably well-trained staff addressed me by name whenever they saw me. And they keep a Porsche and other luxury vehicles on hand to provide complimentary local rides for guests.

But what really knocked me out of the ballpark – and here’s what makes this a Jewish story (that, and the fact that I was hosted for one of the two nights of my stay) – was that unbeknownst to me they had procured kosher breakfast meals for me, should I have wanted them. And these weren’t those kosher airplane-style meals you’re embarrassed to unwrap in a public place. They had fresh smoked salmon, granola, vegetables, bagels and dessert. It was a simple gesture that underscored the quality of the service at the Grand Del Mar.

Now, to the resort itself. Rated as the No. 1 hotel in the United States in 2014 by TripAdvisor, the Grand Del Mar is a sprawling Mediterranean-style resort estate nestled in the foothills of San Diego just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. All you’ll see from your room’s windows are verdant hills and meticulously groomed gardens – and maybe a tennis court, golf course, bridle paths and a swimming pool or four. The address says San Diego, but you may as well be in Tuscany.

There’s free transportation to the beach a few miles away, a kids club for parents who want to leave their children in day care for an hour or a day, guided hikes in the canyons surrounding the hotel, and an award-winning spa, among other amenities.

The spacious rooms themselves are exquisitely appointed, down to the deep Jacuzzi bathtubs, plump bedding and gold frames that surround the flat-screen TVs. But the grounds are so beautiful you might not want to spend too much time in your rooms. Plus, the hotel’s complex layout may make it hard for you to find your room, anyway.

And did I mention the southern California sun?

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