My husband and I took a spontaneous trip from Los Angeles to Carlsbad this long weekend. We jumped on the southbound Amtrak train, and started looking for places to stay along the way. Luckily Amtrak's own website recommended the Park Hyatt Aviara property. $337 a night with AAA discount includes free breakfast for both of us. Not exactly a bargain, but we took the bait.
We were promptly upgraded to a king bed room on the 4th floor with view of the Pacific Ocean. The grounds reminded us of another similar resort up north in Santa Barbara (start with a "B" and ends with an "A"), but we found the Park Hyatt Aviara far more pleasing and expansive. The grounds were well manicured and lush.
We then learned this property used to be a Four Seasons resort not too long ago (a juicy tale in its own right). Having been to a few Four Seasons, and no Park Hyatts, we were curious. Hyatts are not known in the US as top end properties. But in the rest of the world (at least in Asia), the Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt brands are very exclusive. Think Park Hyatt Tokyo in "Lost in Translation", or the magnificent Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt in Shanghai. Turns out although this is not a Four Seasons, and some attention to detail is nolonger, we sort of enjoyed a best of both worlds situation.
First, the price. Ever heard of Four Seasons offering AAA discount?! Free breakfast (har har har~)?! Free Wi-Fi (well hidden in Hyatt's daily $25 "Resort Fee" actually)?! I think if this was still a Four Seasons property, we would have paid at least $100 more per night.
Then, the service. Park Hyatt kept most of the same staff that was with the Four Seasons, and it is a good thing. Everyone we encountered from the numerous restaurants to the spa are very friendly and accomodating. Everyone we met at the halls greeted us.
And the facility. Perch high up on the hills (some might say the compound is a bit too massive and too sprawling --- one bank of elevators, really?!), the place is part of a planned community of "Spanish" resort architecture: lots of greenery with buildings of white stucco and red ceramic roof tiles. The interior of the Park Hyatt Aviara is a Four Seasons thru and thru. There is no hiding the grand lobby with the light wood panels because all its cousins in Las Vegas, Miami, and even Istanbul Sultanahmet have the same opulent spatial relationships and aura. The carpet might be a bit spotty if you look closely (they can keep dimming the hall lights!), the furniture might be stained and falling apart a little, the caulking might have cracked at some places, but we were only there for 2 nights, and (sorry to say) for an American-managed propery, this is *may* be as good as it gets. Did I mention the fantastically huge free breakfast buffet?!
Since the reason we took the trip was for a weekend getaway, we were very pleased that south of the property is the Batiquitos Lagoon. There is a very pleasant trail for walking or jogging. It rejuvenated us with its peacefulness. Except the part right near the 5 freeway, which got a bit distracting due to the traffic noise (and much to the chagrin of the cute senior volunteers in the Lagoon's Nature Center).
The floral arrangement in the front entrance was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn't terrible, but the styling was old-fashion and tiny compared to the entry space that for a moment I actually thought they might be fake flowers (I never got close to check, since it was not very interesting). Usually visitors gawk at the entry area flowers of a 5-star facility and would rush to take photos next to the arrangements. I did not witness any of this during my stay there. Well, at least there was the cool outdoor heater at the port cochere... you know the kind were you can see the giant flame?
And the toilet paper in the guest room is... 1-ply SUPER thin. Incredibly rough too. Part of my AAA discount, no doubt.
The in-room TV had lousy picture quality. Giant blurry pixels. They have not heard of HD TV here. Ironic with the huge modern flat panel TVs, only to have analog reception. The TV's show guide was also very confusing, since some programs follow East Coast times, others West Coast. So the guide was useless for half the programs, but we don't know which ones for sure! Frustrating. After this, I refuse to order a movie for $18!
The Fire and Safety video (yes, I even watched that...) had no mention of what to do during a fire, only to not "let strangers into your room" and "use common sense" type of information. Hmmm...
We did blow our money at the wonderful spa. Highly recommended to decompress from the hustle and bustle of life. My husband and I both received great servcie (My person was Tammy. Excellent!) The 80-minute massage was the perfect after our time at the lagoon and the fitness center. The aromatherapy oils were fantastic, and really soothing and relaxing.
The food was terrific. The poolside restaurant hits the right spot for lunch (we went back twice!). Love the jumbo shrimp cocktail. Vivace is their flagship Italian restaurant. Service was excellent at the restaurant. We did not go to their steak house, but did stop by downtown Carlsbad for some interesting French fusion at Paon. Did I mention the gigantic breakfast buffet? The staff there does tend to get flustered when it gets too busy.
All in all it was a delightful and unexpected experience. Just go see for yourself. And enjoy your free breakfast buffet.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- On California’s sun-drenched Pacific coast, in the seaside community of Carlsbad, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort lies on the north shore of Batiquitos Lagoon – a vast protected wildlife sanctuary and an enclave of natural beauty. From atop the highest ridge, overlooking the ocean and the lagoon, the AAA Five Diamond San Diego resort provides a respite from the ordinary. Located amid 200 acres of verdant hillsides and rolling valleys, within the master-planned community of Aviara, our North San Diego luxury hotel and resort provides an appealing setting for any function. The resort’s Spanish colonial architecture welcomes with a sense of casual elegance. Each of the 329 spacious guest rooms – including 44 suites – features a private balcony or landscaped terrace offering magnificent views. Expansive facilities for meetings and special events are enhanced by complete resort amenities, from acclaimed dining to a full-service spa, swimming, tennis, a fitness center and an Arnold Palmer-designed 18-hole championship golf course. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Park Hyatt Aviara Hotel Carlsbad
- Four Seasons Hotel Carlsbad
- Four Seasons Carlsbad
- Aviara Resort
- Carlsbad Four Seasons
- Four Seasons Aviara