The Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad Gets a Test Run.

Talk about a pleasant surprise!

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  • Written by
    Karen Young

Whether traveling locally or abroad, I prefer boutique lodging to a large-scale hotel. So when my traveling partner and I set out to visit the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, while open to any unique offerings, I fully expected a bustling, big-brand experience. And frankly I was concerned that its proximity to Legoland would take away from an adult getaway.

Perched on a verdant ridge, a mile from the Pacific Ocean, the 327-room resort (including 43 suites) was originally built as a Four Seasons in 1997 but changed hands in 2010 and was refurbished. In 2018 the resort received a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating for the fourth consecutive year.

The combination of Aviara’s Spanish Colonial architecture and its tropical landscape radiates a luxurious, yet casual elegance. Enormous picture windows complement palatial ceilings. Fine art and antiques meet modern design flair. Perfectly appointed touches appear at every turn—from fruit-essence water to elaborate fresh flower displays to Kai fragrance lightly filling the air.

While strolling the lavish grounds, we were surprised by the quietude and happy to find two designated pool areas—one for families and the other strictly for adults. A panoramic view of the Batiquitos Lagoon wildlife sanctuary from the adult pool extends to rolling hills, winding nature trails, and the prestigious, 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-designed Aviara Golf Course and Clubhouse—where the annual LPGA KIA Classic tees off in March.

Six tennis courts sit adjacent to a large, grassy field, where we observed a small group exercising. We learned the guests were part of VeraVia, a customized, all-inclusive wellness program that partners on-site with Aviara. At a high-end price point, it provides a unique, holistic, medical, and behavioral approach to fitness and nutrition.

At the spa I opted for a soothing, 50-minute, “Bliss” massage. As I relaxed afterward in the spa’s peaceful solarium, sipping tea and gazing at palm trees through a skylight, I overheard two women chatting about how much their children loved the hotel’s kids’ camp. Nice.

All traditionally designed, standard guest rooms measure over 500 square feet and feature a balcony, oversized marble bathroom and sitting area with pullout sofa.

We took the complimentary shuttle to dinner at the resort’s Argyle Steakhouse and sat on the outdoor terrace overlooking the lagoon and 18th hole. A “steak knife concierge,” armed with a sleek collection, directed us toward the proper utensils for our perfectly prepared, organic rib eye and filet mignon. I chose a sharp little number by Porsche. Our artistically plated salads and vegetables were also standouts for freshness; produce is hand-sourced at local farms. A nightcap around the fire pit, and listening to the sounds of soft jazz from a pianist in the hotel’s lounge capped off our evening.

Another dining choice is Vivace, the stylish, signature, Four Diamond, Italian restaurant. For those seeking more casual fare, there is California Bistro, which also features an impressive breakfast buffet. All restaurants at Aviara are overseen by executive chef Pierre Albaladejo, whose credentials include several European Michelin restaurants. The chef also leads a special wellness program that incorporates surfing with cuisine.

From friendly service to on-point amenities, the Park Hyatt Aviara has a boutique hotel personality in the guise of a large brand hotel. Another takeaway from this experience: opening your mind beyond preconceived notions can yield wondrous results.

Park Hyatt Aviara | 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad | 760-448-1234

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