by Susan Derby
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a four diamond-rated luxury property, has the seasoned air of a place that’s been around for ages. They know what they’re doing here, and, for their guests, they make the living very easy.
The picturesque 6.5-acre resort with 170 guestrooms (including eight suites) extends a warm welcome that begins even before check-in, with friendly kilt-wearing doormen. And the helpfulness and efficiency of the staff, from the concierge to the restaurants’ servers, don’t tend to waver.
Common areas at the resort feature fireplaces and cushy couches, with distant Pacific Ocean views. The layout of the large California Craftsman-style building, with plein air paintings hanging along its hallways, is such that everything — a fitness center, gift shop, and even a 9,500 square foot full-service spa — seem tastefully tucked away. The resorts’ two restaurants include the high-end A.R. Valentien.
In short, the property is serene, its staff hospitable, and the aesthetic lovely. But what does such a place do with the kids?
The Lodge at Torrey Pines is not, by any means, a family-focused resort. But it is family-friendly in a positively refreshing way that lets mom and dad get a little pampered, along with the kids. Though it is more populated with couples than families with kids, don’t worry — the reception to youngsters is cheerful, and like the tucked-away amenities, you’ll stumble upon unique child-friendly delights during your stay.
The lodge is an excellent jumping-off point for local excursions in La Jolla — rich with outdoor beauty — and, just beyond, attraction-rife San Diego.
Our Editor Loves
- Warm saline pool
- Crochet lawn
- Extras like in-room Nintendo
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
You can't go wrong with the view from your room. Either you'll be looking over the golf course, or you'll peer over the resort's central courtyard, which could otherwise be referred to as its natural reserve, since, like the nearby Torrey Pines Park, it is teeming with flora indigenous to the area. Almost all of the rooms here have a patio or balcony, though, if you want one, do request one when you reserve.
The square footage, view, and price tag are what, for the most part, differentiate the non-suite accommodations here. The standard Signature rooms range in size from 470 to 520 square feet and feature one king bed or two queens. These rooms as well as the slightly larger Reserve rooms (530 to 550 square feet), equipped with a king bed, face the aforementioned courtyard. The Palisade rooms (around 600 square feet) feature a king bed or two queens; they overlook the Torrey Pines Golf Course and offer a distant view of the Pacific Ocean (request the fifth floor for best look-out potential).
Rooms are furnished in a California Craftsman style, exuding simplicity both comfortable and elegant. Tiffany-style lamps provide warm lighting, and a Stickley-style chair and ottoman await next to a rear sliding glass door. Cotton linens line the ultra-comfy, duvet-topped beds. The spacious bathrooms have marble and granite flooring, stress-reducing over-sized tubs, a separate toilet, and lovely bath products custom-formulated for the Lodge (rosemary and sage shampoo and conditioner, and lemongrass and sage body lotion and gel).
Amenities include a stereo system, lap-top-sized safe, small fridge, mini-bar, desk, free wireless Internet, and a phone with personal voicemail. Currently, the flat-screen TVs are analog; at time of writing, an upgrade to HD was soon to come, according to the management. If you want a DVD player, ask Concierge, who can arrange delivery.
Now, here's the only paragraph in this section that won't make kids yawn: All rooms are equipped with Nintendo controllers, and 64 games are available for a fee. The limited free TV includes Nickelodeon but not Nick Jr. The fee-based TV shows available include PBS cartoons.
Wooden cribs are available. Rollaways can be had for the asking for king bedrooms but not for rooms with two queens. Both are complimentary. Connecting rooms are also available upon request.
The eight specialty suites range in size from 1,000 square feet to nearly 2,500 square feet. The two largest, highest-priced suites -- the Blacker and Gamble -- offer, among their marvels, full kitchens.
We enjoyed our stay at the Lodge. It was beautiful and relaxing with a gorgeous ocean view. Everyone was friendly and very accommodating. I did get woken up by barking dogs and vacuum cleaners in the morning which I didn’t like. Other than this we really enjoyed our stay.
This hotel is fabulous!
Expensive, yes, but worth the dish.
The service, the accommodations, the venue—all spectacular.
But the food, even in the banquet rooms, was superb! In each restaurant, the food lived up to the views.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines does not offer a children's program. Local babysitting services are available through Concierge.
The water in the junior-Olympic size pool is saline and heated year-round to around 80 degrees. Its depth spans three to five feet. A few cabanas and plenty of chairs line the deck, including four little-kid-size, incredibly cute wooden chaise lounges. The pool area is open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and the stand-alone hot tub provides a front-row view of goings-on at the adjacent golf course.
Other Outdoor Amenities
A popular pastime with families here is croquet, which gets set up on the Arroyo Terrace, overlooking the 18th green of the neighboring Torrey Pines Golf Course. You can play during daylight hours (the equipment is broken down before sundown). Be warned that weddings at this resort usually take place on this lawn, so if there's a wedding on or forthcoming, croquet becomes temporarily off-limits.
The property also offers two tennis courts, which are lit at night. Families can use the putting green next to The Grill & Bar free of charge. Bring your own equipment, or rent clubs from the golf shop.
The tiny gift shop, Greene's, offers unique gifts, jewelry, and spa products, and one corner holds stuffed animals, a few toys, and children's clothes. A small library and game room features a TV, pool table, and games like chess, checkers, and backgammon.
Torrey Pines Golf Course
Adjacent to the resort (but a separate entity) is the Torrey Pines Golf Course, stretched out upon cliffs overlooking the Pacific. On Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings, its Junior Club offers classes for locals and visitors ages 7 to 17.
Around La Jolla
The resort is walking distance from the 2,000-acre Torrey Pines State Reserve, home to one of the world's rarest pine trees and plentiful scenic beauty. Guided tours leave the resort (meet at lobby entrance) at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily; the one-hour round-trip walk is nearly a mile each way. Or, go on your own and explore the park's view-blessed paths.
Nearby beaches include Torrey Pines State Beach, La Jolla Shores, and Black's Beach (a note on the latter: the northern portion of Black's Beach is, and has long been, swimsuit-optional). Closer to the Village of La Jolla is the popular, family-friendly beach La Jolla Cove, which is great for snorkeling and watching sea lions. Picnic lunches can be arranged through the resort concierge.
Also in La Jolla: The small Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography features a seahorse exhibit, a shark reef, a kelp forest tank, touch tanks, and more. A stop by the Torrey Pines Gliderport is worthwhile, especially around sunset, if you want to watch the brave gliding over stunning cliffs and seascape. Food and snacks are available onsite.
The contemporary California cuisine, the service, views, and ambience in this high-end restaurant are all topnotch. If your child can handle a white-cloth atmosphere that is friendly and far from snooty, he or she will be welcomed, but parents might enjoy themselves (perhaps with a bottle of wine) more if they save this place for a date-night out.
If you decide to brave it with your little one(s) -- we did -- then rest assured that booster chairs and high chairs are available. Crayons and a coloring worksheet are offered, and, better yet, there's at least one Etch-a-Sketch floating around that you can request. A special kids' menu includes a beef hot dog, chicken tenders, a hamburger, and pasta, all of which come with a side of veggies or French fries.
My daughter gobbled up her hot dog and, to our surprise, her veggie side, which included carrots and broccoli. A highlight of our experience was witnessing her delight at getting an amuse-bouche sorbet between our starters and mains ("An ice cream before dinner's over?!" she squealed.) My duck breast was exquisite, as was my husband's perfectly cooked leg of lamb. Don't skip dessert here.
The Grill & Bar
Perhaps more comfortable for families is the Grill, close to the Golf Course Clubhouse. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, the casual eatery opens at a bright-eyed 6 a.m. daily.
At breakfast, there's no separate kids' menu -- instead you can order half-portions of just about anything (my daughter's half-portion of buttermilk pancakes was good but still too much for her little belly). The separate kids' menu at other meals includes strozzapretti (hand-rolled pasta), chicken strips, tuna sandwich, and mac-and-cheese -- all with fries. The "starters" options include applesauce, and an activity sheet and crayons are readily provided. Plenty of comfy booth seating is on hand, but if you sit on the outdoor patio, you can watch putters on the green.
A ten-minute drive away is one of the area's glittering centerpieces, La Jolla Village, which boasts, along with high-end boutiques and galleries, a great selection of restaurants. Brockton Villa is a favorite of ours, with its crab benedict and other yummy offerings as well as, for kids, crayons and a decent selection of menu items. Good picnic spots in this area include the postcard-perfect Scripps Park.
Planning & Tips
All about the Extras
The motto here seems to be, "It's yours for the asking." So you know what to ask for: Lincoln Logs and Legos are readily available -- call Concierge to arrange a drop-off. Also, if your little one(s) want child-size bathrobes, these too are available (and adorable, I might add); if they aren't offered to you, call Housekeeping.
At the spa, open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., all adult hotel guests can use amenities such as the steam room, dry sauna, and inhalation room, as well as a delicious menu of treatments. Children and teens can take advantage of certain services like nail treatments, but the minimum client age for facials is 12 years old. Teens may receive body treatments from a same-sex practitioner when a parent is present.
Across from the spa, the nice-size fitness center is equipped with elliptical cross-trainers, exercise bikes, treadmills, free weights, and more.
The Art of Smart Timing
San Diego County is a year-round destination, with pleasant -- arguably perfect -- weather most of the year. Summers can get hot but are rarely scorching, and winters can get chilly but usually bearably so.
The busiest season for leisure visitors is July 1 through September 15. There are also peaks at this resort during Thanksgiving week and the week before Christmas, as well as sometimes for spring break.
About half of this resort's business comes from large, organized-business groups, who utilize the property's conference and meeting spaces; the high season for such groups is generally January through the first week in June.
Though you won't find bargain-basement deals here anytime, you might try the following "softer season" periods for some lower-than-usual rates: December 10 through 23, the last couple of days before Labor Day weekend, and the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Downtown San Diego and the San Diego International Airport (SAN) are about 16 miles south of the resort. The resort is on North Torrey Pines Road, accessed from a couple possible exits off of Interstate 5; consult the resort Web site for exact directions.
The Lodge does not provide airport transportation. Access Shuttle is one door-to-door shuttle service available (but the cheaper rates here probably don't translate well to overall value unless you're traveling solo), and La Jolla UTC Taxi Service is one of many car services serving San Diego County and beyond.
Valet parking and self-parking are available at the Lodge.
For Mom and Dad
Set aside some time for the spa. In addition, complimentary yoga classes are held at the resort twice per Saturday and Sunday morning year-round; check with Concierge for the schedule and location.
For a date-night dinner, the onsite restaurant A.R. Valentien is a pretty fantastic option. Otherwise, there are a number of establishments in La Jolla that are perfect for a romantic meal, including the Sky Room at La Valencia Hotel.