By: Susan Howard
Tucked away and surrounded by rolling hills sits La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA (near San Diego). As a private trainer, I am often concerned that my clients will lose headway when they go on vacation. High fat foods, an abundance of cocktails, and nowhere to workout except the one stationary bike left there from the 70’s in a room full of mirrors and a broken bench –not very appealing. Therefore, I am constantly on a quest to find the best vacation destinations in which to luxuriously relax and stay fit.
I undoubtedly found it in La Costa Resort and Spa. San Diego is one of the healthiest cities in the country and the vacation spots reflect that. With a stellar 8,000 square foot gym, up to the minute classes, and the Chopra Yoga center right on the premises, how could you not workout?
La Costa has 8 pools. The family pool area consists of two huge, fast watersides that will awaken the kid in any adult, a little slide for the toddlers, a big spray water station, and a beach that fades into a wading pool. Two-year-olds will have a heyday just walking from the beach to the wading pool then back out to the beach as the very kind waitress offers overtired parents delicious Bloody Mary’s.
Our room was spacious and well designed, including wooden trim and clean lines and a luxuriously large bathroom with marble floors and a spa-sized sunken tub. The bed was comfortable, pillows just right. They also have villas that you can rent if you want to go with another family or bring the in-laws –always a plus for more workout time.
At the gym I sifted through the varied class schedule and picked the trendy Kettlebell Cardio Crunch class. I got to experience some cool new moves from a veteran instructor working on the BOSU ball and balancing the bell overhead then onto the row machine for a 5-minute blast. They also offer Zumba, spinning, and pilates classes, to name a few. The gym, which overlooks a huge golf course, is equipped with tons of cardio machines, a full strength room with free weights, and cable machines.
Oh yeah, La Costa has a full PGA 18-hole golf course. Seems very impressive –not our thing, but if one of you enjoys golf this could definitely be a selling point. They have 17 tennis courts as well, 4 of them clay.
I also went to the mediation class and omm’d in a very peaceful and unifying setting with gong and all. Brandy, my wife, took a yoga class. When the bouncy San Diego blond instructor with the squeaky voice started talking Brandy thought, “oh well, can’t leave now,” then proceeded to take one of the best yoga classes she’s had in a while. There is something centering and calm at the Chopra Center, based in Deepok Chopra’s philosophy. The adjoining shop has all the books and soothing music you could ever want.
The spa has great amenities: steam, sauna, outdoor whirlpool, and a quiet area with fireplace. The pool has a waterfall that pounds down on your shoulders, giving you a massage before you even get to the treatment. When I went it was a popular weekend for the spa and most of the women wore their swimsuits, so be warned. (I am a prude from the Midwest, but even I go naked in a spa.) I got the signature Spanish Herbal Body Rub, which is 100 minutes of exfoliating massaging bliss. It starts with a salt scrub and then lavender tea leaves; I was scrubbed from head to toe. Then I rinsed off and went back to the table for a deep massage. My skin felt soft and my spirit as easy as Sunday morning.
Each meal we tried was delicious. The first night we ate out on the patio of Blue Fire Grill surrounded by fire pits and live jazz. The setting was beautiful with a family-friendly atmosphere. Brandy had a seafood trio that was amazing, fish caught locally, and I had the roast chicken with polenta and veggies, both meals were flavorful and light. Little Sophia skipped her hot dog and went straight for the ice cream with sprinkles. It is vacation, after all. The menu even delights the children with a milk flight- chocolate, strawberry and regular.
The next night we ate at Legends Bistro on the patio right beside the crackling fire. I was struck by the bountiful vegetarian selections. This menu featured some meals inspired by the Chopra Center. Lentils over basmati rice, vegetable risotto, and butternut squash ravioli were a huge welcome from the standard steamed veggie plate option. They also have a delicious buffet brunch each morning.
We took long, beautiful, late night stroller walks through the vast lush property and still didn’t see everything. The grounds are well manicured and filled with succulents and flowering plants. The staff was very friendly and accommodating.
For families, the resort offers a kid club called Kidtopia, which is a huge supervised playroom for children 6 months to 12 years old. So while you and your mate head out to workout, or drift to the spa or just chill in your room, your child will have just as much fun as you. They also take care to give kids a little goody box full of healthy treats and toys upon arrival. Our daughter hung tight to her box most of the trip, oh the little things that really do matter.
La Costa has thought of basically everything for a family to have a fun active vacation. Once you get there you likely won’t leave the grounds, as there is a ton of stuff to do. Once you do leave you will likely be back the next chance you get.