A Splurge in San Diego

Everyone deserves a travel splurge now and again. You know, a trip to a place your budget wouldn’t normally allow in order to celebrate some significant event—a birthday, an anniversary, a promotion, or one of those precious weekends when your parents are able to watch the kids.

There are plenty of places to splurge in Colorado but for those really, really special occasions when you fancy going a bit further afield, can I suggest a couple of nights and a couple of rounds at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego, Calif.? And, if you count yourself among the 1%, the 2,840-square-foot, $5,000–a-night Manchester Suite is just the thing for entertaining, relaxing, indulging, and, perhaps, a little romance.

Opened in October 2007 and developed by Doug Manchester, a prolific San Diego businessman responsible for much of the downtown area’s growth in the 1980s and ‘90s and whose ridiculously lengthy résumé makes you wonder how on earth he found time to do it all, the Grand Del Mar features 249 guest bedrooms and five exceptional suites.

It was built in a Spanish Revival style that Addison Mizner fans will appreciate. Mizner was, of course, the Florida architect behind the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, the original Cloister Hotel at Sea Island, Ga., the Boca Raton Resort & Club, and numerous other Spanish colonial/Revival-style buildings erected in the 1920s.

Manchester built his extravagant fantasyland adjacent to the old Meadows Del Mar GC, designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1999. In 2003, Manchester bought the course, which winds through the Los Peñasquitos Canyon, and turned it into a private club called Del Mar National.

A few years later when the business model changed again and the $270m resort was taking shape, he changed the name once more—to the Grand Golf Club. He built a state-of-the-art golf school with a little help from Phil Mickelson, and brought Fazio back for a $1-million upgrade to the course that saw new bunker sand put in, new turf, a water feature (a little unnecessary perhaps but the rest of the course is so good you can forgive this moment of showboating) at the 18th and an extended 16th hole which became a dramatic par-5. A $50-million clubhouse went up too.

Fazio has so many layouts among America’s top 100 according to national golf publications, it would be wrong to suggest this is among his best, but the Grand GC is a wonderful course nonetheless, full of exciting shots and nonstop entertainment.  

The course is open only to members and resort guests so you should have no problem getting on and getting around in good time to dress up for dinner at Addison, Southern California’s only Five Star Five Diamond restaurant. Here Chef William Bradley prepares the sort of food you taste in your dreams and which, like the rest of your stay at the Grand Del Mar, will require some deft financial-planning on your part to procure.

A trip to the Grand Del Mar might be something you do only once in your life. And you’ll probably be wincing at your bank statements for a while afterwards. But when you see how grand the hotel is, how good the golf course is, how amazing Chef Bradley’s food is, and how extraordinary everything else is, you might say that whatever you did end up spending was actually worth every last cent.


Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.