Tee Off, San Diego-Style

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The rates: Public greens fees range from $100– $135, while Rancho Bernardo Inn’s All Play–No Pay packages spa treatments, Veranda dinner and unlimited golf for two from $259 nightly through Dec. 31.

the grand del mar resort & spa The property: Less than a half-hour southwest of Rancho Bernardo Inn, The Grand Del Mar Resort & Spa is a world away in attitude. Nestled within the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve near the swank communities of La Jolla, Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego’s newest luxury resort captures the elegance and comfort of a grand Old World Mediterranean estate. Embellished with rich decorative arts of Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Spain, the 2-year-old stunner has quickly vaulted to AAA five-diamond status.

It’s no surprise that a resort of this caliber would fashion guestrooms as posh private retreats. These lavish quarters are polished in an elegant, yet inviting turn-of-the-century style with distinctive appointments like pillow-top beds dressed in Pratesi linens, 40-inch LCD TV and sofa covered with pristine white Jaquard. Even the marble wet bars are a cut above, flashing a selection of Schott Zwiesel barware, private-label wine and 200-milliliter bottles of premium spirits.

The greens: Sprawling within 380 acres of meadows, hillsides and valleys, the Grand Golf Club flaunts Tom Fazio’s distinctive style of bunker use with many tucked into rolling terrain. “Fazio really succeeded in not making this course a guessing game for club selection,” says head golf pro Robert Gensler. “You play either valley holes or ridge holes—not one hole that makes you work both. It’s a challenge, but not a monster that makes you want to give up the game.”

Gensler also applauds the club’s forecaddie program, a long-standing tradition rarely found these days. An experienced caddie guides and assists with course strategy, measuring distances, repairing divots, raking bunkers and spotting errant shots. “It adds to a golfer’s experience while keeping the course in shape and maintaining play pace,” Gensler says.

Players are also privy to the luxurious 50,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse with pro shop and The Clubhouse Grill, a 5,000-sq.-ft. practice tee, a 300 (plus)-yard driving range and three short-game practice areas.

Distance from the Grand tees on the par 72 course is 7,160 yards. It has a rating of 74.8, a slope of 139 and three par 5s over 400 yards. There are also three par 4s exceeding 400 yards.

The amenities: An exotic architectural scheme exudes in the 21,000-sq.-ft. spa as well. Reflecting the beauty, grace and culture of the renaissance, it’s equipped with indoor and outdoor whirlpools, European-style wet rooms and cozy relaxation areas with fireplaces.

While it features a slew of treatments, the signature Core Elements is no doubt most novel. Not recommended for those who are ticklish, this exclusive 60-minute therapy targets lower back, hips and abdominal via massage and nutrient-rich mud wraps. The extended 90-minute version works the neck, shoulders and upper back.

Post-treatment, you can hit the adults-only relaxation pool for swimming laps, soaking in the jacuzzi, lazing in the sun or lunching al fresco. Other diversions include additional pools, two tennis courts and a bevy of guided activities along the preserve’s 37 miles of trails. Or for those enticed by coastal breezes, a short 5-mile drive dead ends at the Pacific.

Perhaps no other culinary venue could so perfectly punctuate this grand resort experience like Addison. Reaffirming its status as one of the region’s top dining destinations, the opulent restaurant has garnered both AAA five-diamond and Mobil five-star status. Chef William Bradley spins his magic with 3- and 4-course French-influenced options that change seasonally.

The scene: For those into guilty pleasures, this one’s definitely splurge-worthy with near-decadent levels of luxury throughout. All its bells and whistles make it an ideal complement to the Del Mar area, where members of old Hollywood once jockeyed for seclusion. The Del Mar Racetrack comes alive each July for those into watching the ponies. And the resort’s backyard is literally an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. So it’s a fine fit for those type A personalities who want it all at their fingertips.

The rates: Greens fees are $195 Monday through Thursday and $215 Friday through Sunday. A Grand Golf Getaway plan with accommodations, unlimited golf and daily breakfast for two is from $680 nightly.