A stay at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas is a truly bespoke experience. As only the third Alila hotel in the United States, all of which are in California, the resort offers an unprecedented level of personalized hospitality and private spaces to give its guests a truly relaxing experience.
Alila, which means “surprising” in Sanskrit, describes the character of its properties. “Marea” means tide in Italian and Spanish, so the combination literally translates to “surprising tide,” which can ostensibly refer to the service that resort guests receive. Perched high atop a bluff overlooking the South Ponto State Beach, the resort is located on one of the most dramatic stretches of California coastline. It’s about 35 minutes from San Diego Airport if you want to fly in for your stay.
Like other Alila properties, the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas is committed to environmental sustainability, adopting EarthCheck Certification and a holistic environmental vision that includes developing the local workforce through skills training and using products services from local suppliers.
Sophisticated, understated elegance with room to breathe is what you can expect at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas. You can make your bespoke experience at this resort even better by booking with extra benefits through me. Note that as travel conditions remain uncertain, amenities and services at the resort can change.
WHAT I LOVE
- Oceanfront location in Encinitas
- Fire Pit guest rooms with large outdoor sofas
- Multiple small private spaces throughout to relax
- Emphasis on local foods
- Full portions instead of the typical haute cuisine mini plates at Vaga
- Reusable water bottle available to guests for purchase that helps fund the conservation efforts of the Rob Machado Foundation
GOOD TO KNOW
- Every room has a $49 per day resort fee
- Valet parking only in an underground garage is $52 per day
- A limited menu is currently only offered for overnight guest at this writing
- The resort’s pool is small and shallow and more appropriate for kids than adults
- The resort plans to adopt a policy banning large vehicles
- Beach concierge services may not be available in colder weather
- It’s not for those looking for a big resort experience
- You’ll need a rental car to explore other parts of San Diego
Guestrooms and Suites at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas
All of the 130 luxurious guest accommodations feature stunning views of the coastline and the Pacific Ocean or peaceful garden views.
Guests will find 114 guest rooms, with 68 of those featuring coastline views, 16 with firepits, and 26 with full ocean views. The remaining larger accommodations include nine studio rooms/junior suites, five one-bedroom suites, and the spectacular Ponto and Grandview Suites located at the southwest corner of the property.
Each accommodation includes a patio or balcony, coffee and tea service by Lofty Coffee, mini bar offerings, bath amenities, in-room safe, 65-inch wall-mounted television, and Tivoli audio model one Bluetooth.
All accommodations have a palette of natural materials, warm woods, and clean lines designed to engage the senses while calming your spirit. Features such as stone and driftwood add a sustainable character of understated elegance accented by the modern amenities one would expect in a high-end resort.
These are among the smallest guestrooms at the resort yet are still spacious at 437 to 522 square feet. If you want seclusion and don’t need an ocean view, these rooms are for you.
Located on the second and third floors, these guestrooms have king beds and a balcony that looks out onto a secluded garden so you can relax in privacy.
Coastline View Rooms
There’s nothing more relaxing than waking up in the morning to the sound of the surf hitting the beach and then looking out on the dramatic California coastline. That’s just what you’ll get with a 527-square-foot Coastline View room, which gives you a spectacular panorama of the Pacific Ocean, Ponto State Beach, Batiquitos Lagoon, and historic California Highway 101.
Depending on your floor, you’ll get a patio or balcony. These rooms are available with one king and two queen beds and can accommodate two to four people.
Fire Pit Rooms
Fire Pit rooms are all located on the first floor and have views of the pool or the coastline. While the guest rooms themselves are slightly smaller at 437 to 464 square feet, the overriding feature here is the oversized patio with a cozy fire pit where you can gather with friends and family for an intimate evening on cozy and comfortable seating.
With your choice of either one king bed or two queens, these rooms are ideal for either a romantic getaway or a family escape.
Ocean View Rooms
Dramatic ocean views are what these guest rooms, ranging in size from 437 to 464 square feet, are all about. Enjoy gorgeous sunsets from your patio or balcony while also having quick oceanfront access via the beach stairway or to the pool deck and The Pocket Restaurant. Your choice of one king or two queen beds makes these accommodations great for couples or families.
Are you looking for more room to spread out? These mini-suites will fill the bill as they range from 538 to 816 square feet of space. Furnished with either one king or two queen beds, studio rooms feature an additional sitting area perfect for watching television or enjoying time with friends or family.
Guests will also get additional amenities as some studios come with a fire pit terrace or with a deep soak tub and a dual vanity in addition to the standard shower for a spa-like experience.
Enjoy a heightened sense of luxury in one-bedroom suites that feature a separate living area and two large flat-screen televisions. You’ll also get a soaking tub to relax in after a long day exploring, cycling, hiking, or surfing. Each one-bedroom suite has private patios or balconies with coastline or direct ocean views. Choose from one king bed or two queen beds over 738 to 829 square feet.
Ponto and Grandview Suites
The Ponto and Grandview Suites represent the epitome of California coastal living, each with 1,037 square feet of space, located one right above the other. The Ponto Suite on the first floor and the Grandview suite on the second floor.
Your luxurious accommodations feature floor-to-ceiling and picture windows that allow you to enjoy direct views of Batiquitos Lagoon and the splendor of the Pacific Ocean as the sun sets. A double-sided fireplace opens onto the living room as well as your patio or balcony to keep you toasty on cool evenings.
A separate bedroom with either a king bed or two queen beds and a large bathroom with a soaking tub and dual vanities completes the scene.
Dining at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas
The dining experience at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas is one area where the brand’s commitment to the local area is on prime display. Featuring modern cuisine with the finest local and sustainably sourced ingredients, the resort’s restaurants will emphasize dishes that represent the cultural influences of San Diego and its various landscapes.
James Beard nominee Claudette Zepeda will oversee all culinary operations at the resort, including food presented for weddings and other catering operations such as meetings and special events. Zepeda is best known for the authentic Mexican cuisine she prepared on “Top Chef.”
She honed her culinary schools as a teen cooking in her aunt’s restaurant in Guadalajara, following by mentoring by well-known chefs Denise Roa and Gavin Kaysen. Zepeda was hand a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef West in 2019 and appeared on Esquire’s 2018 Best New Restaurant’s list, while also receiving 2018 Chef of the Year honors from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The resort’s main restaurant takes its name from a Spanish term of endearment for someone who has wanderlust. Zepeda’s grandmother used to call her Vaga as a child. Vaga’s menu will feature Zepeda’s take on her favorite childhood ethnic dishes that run the gamut from Indian fare to Filipino noodles and Ethiopian dishes.
Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas has given her creative freedom to create bespoke menus for catering and changing the menu frequently to allow for seasonal variations.
Guests can dine inside or outside at Vaga, which serves brunch daily and dinner every night. Bar and lounge hours are in the late afternoon, but you can still order cocktails during brunch. As California eases its health restrictions, Vaga will open to the community with a full menu.
This laid-back hang-out near the pool deck has a relaxed vibe along with unparalleled ocean views. Local shaper Brian Szymanski created custom surfboard-inspired wall panels for this eatery to complete the California cool image. The Pocket will also feature lighter meals like tacos and local fish, along with a selection of craft cocktails.
The Coffee Box
Whether going to or from the beach, you’ll appreciate the Coffee Box. This informal venue with walk-up windows sells coffee from local Encinitas coffee roaster Lofty Coffee Company, along with other treats like prepared espresso drinks and coffee cocktails, pastries and other fresh baked goods, fresh fruit, acai bowls, and a variety of light snacks that are perfect for a day on the beach. Guests will also find a retail store selling local artisanal products and surf merchandise inside the restaurant.
Hotel Amenities at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas
True to the brand’s concept, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas provides a total destination experience. This starts with your choice of a Low Cobra shot, made of ginger turmeric lemonade and vodka from San Diego’s You & Yours Distillery, or a bottle of sparkling or still water at check-in.
Even though the hotel is small by resort standards, you’ll find a long list of luxury amenities that will keep you relaxed and pampered. Your escape can be as laid back or as active as you desire.
Daily Resort Fee Amenities
Hyatt members who stay on points have their resort fees waived while Globalist members enjoy waived resort fees on paid, point and free night stays. The resort fee gives guests a lot of fun perks, including:
- Electra Go! electric bikes
- Shuttle service with a three-mile radius
- Unlimited Lofty Co. coffee and tea
- 24-hour fitness center access
- Daily wellness activity
- Bath amenities
- Beach concierge service
- Surfboard use
- Storage of your own surfboards and bikes
Although the bikes have lights, the resort doesn’t want its guests to ride in the dark. Bikes are only available from 6 am to 6 pm or from sunrise to sunset. Bike helmets are available in small, medium, and large, with small fitting for most children. Pick them up from the valet.
Pool, Daybeds, and Cabanas
Pool hours are 9 am to 9 pm. In addition to the outdoor swimming pool, which has a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll also enjoy an infinity-edge whirlpool.
Guests can rent daybeds but note that if you place yours on the pool deck you can expect to get splashed frequently as this area is small. Four cabanas are also available for rental and come with perks that include:
- Two loungers
- Bottled water
- Fruit plate and snacks
- A bottle of wine
- SunBum sunscreen
- Cabana attendant
Alternately, you can also have food from The Pocket delivered to you on the pool deck.
The well-equipped fitness center is open 24 hours. You’ll find a good selection of free weights, kettlebells, strength machines, stair steppers, two Peleton bikes, and a rowing machine. The resort also offers daily wellness classes that include sunrise yoga, BodyFlyFitness, a hike around Batiquitos Lagoon, and a beach run.
Open from 9 am to 11 pm daily, Spa Alila sports a relaxed contemporary environment where guests can partake in unique, customized spa experiences. Guests can choose from rejuvenating spa treatments and personal service provided by friendly, understanding therapists. True to the brand’s mission, Spa Alila only uses natural, pure, handmade ingredients for all treatments.
Alilia Marea’s leisure concierge can help set up optional experiences such as surfing lessons from Surfin Fire Surf School, biplane tours from San Diego Skytours, or anything else you desire, including the resort’s seasonal experiences.
Depending on the time of year, you can choose from nightly sunset programs, evening poolside activities, stargazing on Ocean Bluff, and behind-the-scenes experiences at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Mint Studios, a collective of local artisans, will also create unique curated experiences for guests.
Versatile Function Spaces for Weddings and More
Whatever the nature of your event, the resort offers versatile spaces to fit your needs. Alila Marea has a 3,800-square-foot ballroom, an indoor/outdoor foyer, and terrace with views of the ocean and coastline, and an upscale boardroom. All have integrated hospitality space.
The resort’s hospitality team o can provide you with custom catering and a full itinerary for your event to ensure that it is memorable. The ballroom can accommodate up to 350 guests, while the terrace and foyer can accommodate 300. Other private spaces can accommodate from 10 to 75 people.
Surrounding Encinitas and Carlsbad Area
Alila Marea Beach Resort’s location, perched atop a stunning coastal bluff in San Diego’s North County, allows guests to embody the soul of Southern California beach culture. The resort is just steps away from six miles of gorgeous sand at South Ponto Beach in Carlsbad, one of the most popular San Diego beaches, and some of the world’s best surfing spots.
The resort offers a unique opportunity to explore the adjacent Batiquitos Lagoon, an estuary and coastal wetland, one of the few remaining on the southern California coast. The Batiquitos Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area works to preserve the lagoon and educate people about its natural history. The Conservation Area has a nature center that conducts programs and guided walks that detail the lagoon’s birds, mammals, fish, insects, plants, and benthic organisms. You’ll find a 1.75-mile nature trail on the northside of the lagoon that is wheelchair- and stroller-friendly and is also one of the area’s most beautiful spots for hiking.
Nearby Encinitas is one of the most unique towns along California Highway 101. The vibe here is unpretentious, chill, and arty at its many boutiques, sidewalk cafes, casual restaurants, and galleries. Encinitas is a haven for artists, so you’ll find a thriving arts scene here too.
Known as the flower capital of the world, Encinitas is home to the San Diego Botanic Garden. The 37-acre botanic garden has rare bamboo groves, a tropical rainforest, desert gardens, succulents, a subtropical fruit garden, Mediterranean landscapes, native coastal sage natural areas, California native plants, and fire-safe landscaping. You’ll also find the Hamilton Children’s Garden here, the largest interactive garden of its kind on the West Coast. The botanic garden offers four miles of beautiful trails through its varied exhibits.
If you’re in the mood for more outdoor beauty, spend a day at Moonlight State Beach, which also has various seafood restaurants. If you’re lucky enough to book your stay between March 1 and Mother’s Day, another great choice is The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, with its unique displays, fields of growing flowers, self-pick blueberries, and fun tractor tours.
Taking an eco-tour is another great way to explore the local area. Appropriate for ages six and up, you can explore local wildlife through a kayak ride, view local birds on a bike tour, or get an up-close view of whale migration from December through April.
Those who want the complete surfing experience should head over to Grandview Surf Beach. This beach is great for beginning surfers as the waves here offer some consistency yet aren’t too difficult to ride. When a good size swell comes along, you can expect a great ride.
Further afield, Oceanside Pier provides a day of fun, especially if it’s hosting one of its myriad events. Located about 14 miles north, the iconic pier is home to concerts and performances at the outdoor amphitheater, surf competitions, the Ironman triathlon, and more. Go for the events or simply spend a day strolling and watching surfers. Nearby is Oceanside Harbor, where you’ll find a variety of one-of-a-kind experiences.
From mid-July through Labor Day, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club hosts thoroughbred horse racing Thursdays through Sundays. The racetrack also hosts concerts and special events at other times of the year.
Consult the Alila Marea leisure concierge for the latest schedule or help with booking events, tours, restaurant reservations, and more outside the resort.
See also: Best Things to Do in Encinitas and Best Things to Do in Carlsbad
What Makes the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas Special
The interior design is tastefully integrated into the entire resort so that it becomes seamless with the exterior world. One of the things you’ll appreciate most about the resort is its understated elegance. Joseph Wong Design Associates and Mark Zeff Associates are responsible for the understated interior and exterior design that carefully integrates into the coastal bluff so as not to disturb the beauty of the coastline.
Throughout the property, you’ll find artwork that has received international accolades from local artist Aaron Change, known for his breathtaking images of local surfers. Chang is the resort’s artist-in-residence. The resort will feature a permanent collection of his work along with a rotating collection in the Vaga restaurant.
Alila, part of the Hyatt chain of operations, has 15 additional locations in Indonesia, India, China, Malaysia, and Oman. Developed by JMI Realty and Fenway Capital Advisors of San Diego and built by Suffolk Construction, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas marks a significant milestone for the brand as its first new-build resort in the United States.
Photos are courtesy of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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