Grand Del Mar

By Al Petersen

It’s exciting to travel a short distance and feel far from home.

If that destination is the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, be prepared for a great escape that’s a two-hour drive or less from most locations in Southern California.

Except for signage, not much has changed at the property since Fairmont assumed management of the site in April 2015. Apparently, the Fairmont folks know a good thing when they see it.

“You can never be stagnant in the hotel business, but this not a property that needs a lot attention as far as renovations and upgrades,” said Christof Luedi, the resort’s regional vice president and general manager. “The property is widely perceived as one of the premier resorts in the country. It’s a spectacular hotel.”

Indeed it is. The theme of getting away from it all is enhanced by a property that has the aura of Southern California cool and a look that’s pure European charm. With a Mediterranean décor at heart and Moroccan, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese elements enhancing the palette, all areas of the resort are warm and welcoming. The 249 guestrooms have patios with golf course or canyon views. Most are 600 square feet, while 31 others range from the 1,100-square-foot Prado Suite to two Presidential Suites of more than 2,800 square feet.

Addison, the resort’s signature restaurant, is the first in San Diego to earn the AAA Five Diamond Award and a Forbes Five-Star rating. The designations enhance the location’s status for elegance, as top Forbes accolades for the resort and spa make the Fairmont Grand Del Mar the only triple Five-Star resort in California.

“We can fulfill all of our guest’s passions in life,” Luedi said about the combination of amenities on property. “We really have all the elements here for a memorable stay.”

Having good memories at The Grand Golf Club will likely occur no matter your score. San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed course is a gorgeous accompaniment to the hotel because of its layout in the Los Penasquitos  Canyon Preserve. The tucked-away setting makes the 380-acre layout feel like 18 separate corridors because of the chutes, dips, curves, mounding and Fazio bunkering that’s as pretty as it is penal.

The Grand Golf Course

The Grand Golf Course - 4th Hole

“Because the topography goes through canyons and hillsides and has a lot of elevation changes, most holes have you feeling like you’re on your own private course,” said Shawn Cox, the club’s director of golf. “Fazio did a masterful job. The layout makes it enjoyable to play.”

That enjoyment is enhanced by fairways that are ample enough to accept drives and mostly banked on the edges to keep errant shots from straying out of sight. As a package, the four par-3s are a fun test, with the 198-yard 17th hole requiring special attention because of a lake that juts in front of the tee box and abuts the left side of the green.

The course, which opened in 1999 as Meadows Del Mar, became The Grand Golf Club in 2006. Recent renovations include the planting of about 250 pine and pepper trees and the addition of color with good use of vibrant florals. Another visual enhancement will likely want golfers coming back for more, as the approach shot to the par-4 18th green is backed by the Mediterranean clubhouse and an 18-foot waterfall that flows into a river cutting across the fairway in front of the putting surface.

“The golf course was a big part of the appeal because it adds another destination element to the equation,” Luedi said about the attraction for Fairmont officials. “The course here is perfect because it’s so natural and fits nicely into the landscape.”


Another nice thing about the Grand is its location in the La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar triangle. For golfers, that means easy access to other nice courses, including the North and South layouts at Torrey Pines.

With that in mind, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar has partnered with Torrey Pines to create the Canyon to Coast Package that offers a two-night stay at the Fairmont and two rounds of golf – one at The Grand Golf Club and one on Torrey Pines’ South Course, host of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open and the 2008 U.S. Open, in addition to being the selected site for the 2021 U.S. Open.

“We couldn’t be more excited to present this package to our guests,” Cox said. “With Torrey Pines and The Grand Golf Club, you experience two very different types of courses in very different settings. Yet each is iconic to Southern California golf in its own way.”

Rates for the package begin at $525 per night with a two-night minimum. Golf at The Grand Golf Club is included in the price, with the resort concierge providing booking services for guests to play Torrey Pines, a typically tough place to secure a tee time. Green fees at Torrey Pines are paid by guests to the course.

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