Any seasoned San Diego traveler can tell you: the soul of America’s Finest City—let alone Southern California—doesn’t reside downtown. Instead, head north on Highway 101, the classic coastal route that reveals charming beach towns and an increasingly laid-back lifestyle with each passing milemarker. After a scenic 25 miles, you’ve reached the embodiment of California beach culture: the village of Encinitas. This quiet, sun-kissed stretch of sand crowned with dramatic cliffs has long been a mecca for surfers and artists, but the recent addition of a boutique luxury resort is now allowing travelers to experience this unspoiled enclave and authentic lifestyle.
Perched upon a bluff overlooking the Pacific, Alila Marea Beach Resort emanates barefoot luxury and the spirit of the Southern California coast at every turn. Upon arrival, you are treated to the calming beauty of the ocean, framed by stone, warm woods, clean lines, and modern minimalistic décor inviting you to lose yourself in the natural environment. Nearly every guestroom offers incredible water views, while many include balconies, patios and private fire pits (think elevated beach bonfire) for basking in the ocean breezes. Luxury suites on the bluff’s edge take comfort to new heights with plush ocean view living rooms, deep soaking tubs and indoor/outdoor fireplaces. While the accommodations, elevated oceanfront pool, and land-and-sea-inspired Spa Alila all supply an endless stream of beach bliss, it is Alila Marea’s unique guest and culinary experiences that truly give a taste of the local life.
The property offers an array of thoughtfully curated, locally inspired programming, including a complimentary house quiver of Almond Surfboards, beach ambassadors and surfboard butlers to enhance the beach-going experience, e-bikes by Encinitas company Electra Highway to cruise along Highway 101, and an artist-in-residency with native and internationally acclaimed ocean photographer Aaron Chang. The menu for the resort’s signature dining destination VAGA was written by Chef Claudette Zepeda (a multi-season Top Chef alum) as a love letter to her hometown of San Diego. Boasting the area’s best dining with a view, the restaurant celebrates the rich and diverse cultures of the region using sustainably sourced ingredients. VAGA’s mantra is “one hand in the ocean, one hand in the farm, and both eyes on the horizon, ” the final phrase of which is bound to be the common theme throughout your stay at the resort, and certainly your last longing look before beginning the journey home.