Author: Jill Weinlein
Date of Trip: October 2016
Driving to the coastal inspired, three-story Cape Rey Carlsbad, you can see the 215 room hotel directly across the street from the legendary Ponto surf break and beach. This property attracts surfers with families, girlfriends seeking a reunion, beach themed weddings, and couples looking for a romantic 24 hour getaway.
The California Craftsman design takes full advantage of its unobstructed located Pacific Ocean views. Opened in June, 2012, the inviting lobby offers a grab and go market, technology lounge with work stations and a printer, and full service restaurant Chandler’s.
My room 3010 offered panoramic ocean views with a sliding door leading out to a balcony with two chairs. Inside the modern beach decor features dark brown woods, water ripple design carpet, Hilton Serenity bed with luxurious soft bedding, 42-inch flat screen televison, in-room safe, Peter Thomas Roth amenities, white robes and complimentary wi-fi. Cape Rey is also an art hotel with gallery pieces by local surf photographer Aaron Chang, Jon Prud’homme and Roy Kerckhoff in each room and in all the common areas.
As a guest, I visited the Ocean Crest Spa next to the 24 hour fitness room and near the large outdoor pool and hot whirlpool. The spa offers a 5,700 sq. ft serene spa experiences with a spacious couples suite with a tub and private outdoor relaxation area. There is a separate mens and women’s locker room offering ocean elements to promote energy, serenity, calmness and enhance beauty. The seven treatment rooms have professional aestheticians for facials and body treatments, manicures and pedicures using many products made from ingredients found in the ocean.
The large pool area is family friendly with a beach-type entrance. Guests can order breakfast, lunch or dinner from Chandler’s and eat poolside prepared by Executive Chef and Culinary Director Teri McIllwain and her staff. She supports all the seasons with her cuisine. The inside of the restaurant is filled with rich wood, sunset colored fabrics and a friendly beach atmosphere. The oversized bar and well stocked wine display allows guests to presonally select their favorite spirits and wine.
Chef McIllwain’s innovative menus are filled with wholesome ingredients such as cold-pressed olive oil, housemade blood orange vinagrettes and breads. She enjoys preparing fresh fish that includes roasting whole white seabass, and sushi grade ahi poke served on a bed of rainbow quinoa with Thai chili aioli, cucumber, marinated seaweed, lime and ponzu sauce. Locals come for the beet and citrus salad with seasonal citrus blue cheese and pumpkin seeds. The lobster and shrimp tacos are served with a chipotle slaw, guacamole and cotija cheese.
The new General Manager Thomas Lee is going to expand the Sunset Terrace to allow more guests to sit outside at sunset and enjoy the fire lounge offering casual couch-like seating for al fresco socializing and dining. The covered terrace with ocean views is popular for special parties at sunset. Live music is offered every Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. from March to October and a Sunset Terrace Happy Hour is offered daily from 4 to 6 p.m.
In the morning there is coffee service from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and throughout the day is a water station with complimentary sliced fruit water.
This hotel has become a popular wedding destination due to its coastal location across the street from the gentle waves crashing and unobstructed sunset views. All of the event rooms are off to the right of the hotel offering more privacy for intimate and grand parties. Many of the meeting rooms offer outdoor patios with ocean breezes and views. Wedding parties have street access down to a stairway to the sand for coastal wedding photos.
The Cape Rey has become a surfers hotel offering surfboard storage for guests. These are executive surfers, taking a break from the working world and enjoying some beach time with family and friends. Some of the favorite surf spots are nearby Pontos, Swami’s and Stone Step Beach.
Guests can take the Surfrider train into the Carlsbad station if they don’t feel like tackling the traffic on a Friday night. The property has a hotel van and BMW 7 series car to pick up guests within a 10 mile radius.
The property also has bicycles for guests to pedal two miles to Carlsbad Village or to neighboring Encinitas. This route is frequented by world class bicyclists riding past the Cape Rey to Newport Beach.
The Cape Rey shuttle will take guests to the Batiquitos Lagoon for a day of play. Located on a Marine protected tidal wetlands area to rent paddle boards, kayaks, and jet skis on a calm bay. They also transport guests to LEGOLAND, The Museum of Making Music, and popular outlet mall for a shopping spree.
If you only have 24 hours to explore North San Diego County, staying at the Cape Rey Carlsbad is a winning destination.