Our La Jolla Weekend
If you are from LA, you know that “a weekend getaway” usually means one of two places: Going Northeast to Las Vegas or South to San Diego. They are both less than a half-day away by car. There are other options, but these two seem to have the most draw from my personal experience. Unless, of course, you decide to have a “staycation,” in which case the options are seemingly endless. But that’s another topic altogether.
This time we decided to go south. I have been to San Diego more times than I can count on both hands, but La Jolla is an often overlooked beach town just North of San Diego proper. Known for the famous Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla has much to offer for the weekend visitor. You can play golf, take a hike, walk on the beach, go for a swim, enjoy a spa treatment, or eat out in a fancy restaurant. Use your imagination. And when you’re done, hop on the 5 freeway, and you’ll be back home in half the time it takes to travel to Vegas, minus the gambling losses. One primary difference I should point out: what you do in La Jolla doesn’t necessarily stay in La Jolla, so keep that in mind when you plan your trip.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines
The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a unique property with a similarly unique history. Originally "Torrey Pines Lodge," which was built in 1923, it was entirely reconstructed between 2000 and 2002 to become The Lodge at Torrey Pines. It features 1900’s Craftsman-style architecture, an onsite spa, two restaurants, a lovely pool, a library, and many other amenities. The Lodge is a resort with AAA Five Diamond status that sits immediately adjacent to La Jolla’s Torrey Pines State Reserve and Torrey Pines Golf Course. As a guest at the Lodge, you have access to special Tee times at the Golf Course, with is a definite plus for the golfer. Our room had a balcony, with a view overlooking the botanical reserve designed central courtyard. Standing on the balcony, you could reach literally out and touch the pine trees. A perfect setting for some relaxation.
Torrey Pines State Reserve
While staying at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, I was able to take a couple walks around. First, just around the property at the Hotel/Resort. That, in and of itself, was a treat for the eyes. Better yet was my trek to Torrey Pines State Reserve. Truth be told, I only made it to where I could see the famous Broken Hill, just beyond the end of the "accessible" trail. As I sat on the wooden bench provided for hikers, the thing that struck me the most was the stark contrast between that vista, and the heavy traffic on Torrey Pines Road less than a few hundred yards away.
Famous Golfing for Pros and Amateurs Alike
La Jolla is well known in golf circles. It is the location of Torrey Pines Golf Course, where a PGA Tour event named the Farmers Insurance Open is played. We stayed at The Lodge at Torrey Pines the weekend before this event, and preparations were in full swing (stands were being built for spectators and so forth). Also, you could observe signage still visible from when the 2008 U.S. Open was played at Torrey Pines. The 2008 U.S. Open is famous as the time an injured Tiger Woods won in the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, the third such sudden-death playoff in U.S. Open history.
Torrey Pines Golf Course is actually a municipal course (as opposed to a private club). It is named after the Torrey Pine, a rare tree that is indigenous to this particular local stretch of coastline, distinguishable by its clusters of five pine needles. Known for the marvelous views of the Pacific Ocean and deep ravines, it is an easily recognizable course that most golfers know by name.
The course, which opened in 1957, was designed by William P. Bell, and later completed by his son. It is the site of two 18-hole Championship courses, North and South. It is a challenging course, with narrow fairways, thick and dense rough and frequently harsh weather to deal with. It will again host the United States Open Championship, schedule for 2021.
The Spa at Torrey Pines
A stay at the Lodge at Torrey Pines would not be complete without at least one treatment at The Spa. Due to its locale, it has what they call their “signature treatment,” which includes a scrub made from coastal sage. You can’t get much more unique than that. I, however, opted for the more traditional spa pedicure, which was advertised as a way to bring my “overworked feet” back to life. I can’t vouch for any resurrection, but it was very soothing. Plus, when you have any therapy, you are granted access to the relaxation lounge (complete with fireplace), both a dry sauna and a steam room, plus an aromatherapy inhalation room. For the truly ambitious, you can opt for a yoga class or time in the cardio/strength room as well. If you don’t find something to refresh and rejuvenate yourself, you aren’t trying very hard.
Dining at The Lodge
They have two restaurants located on the property at The Lodge: A.R. Valentien (The Lodge’s signature elegant restaurant) and The Grill (more casual, but still nice). Or, if you don’t want to leave your room (say, after a hard day of golf); there is also 24 hour room service available.
For our stay, we had room service for breakfast, and dined at the Grill in the evening. The Grill’s famous trademark entrée is the Drugstore Burger, which I selected. I had half that evening, and there was plenty left for lunch the next day.
All in All
I have some difficulty giving The Lodge a summary rating. I found it to be a delightful, high class, luxurious, and restorative. I have been told that, while lovely, it’s simply not worth the lavish costs. I suppose it all depends on how you like to spend your hard earned cash. My advice would be to go and give it a try, providing the sticker shock will not diminish your experience.