Sunday, February 9, 2014

Girls Getaway to Carlsbad

January is not the most pleasant time of year to be in Chicago. Particularly after the -38 wind chills of “Chiberia.” So I was thrilled to escape to sunny Southern California for a four-day getaway.

After a smooth flight to San Diego, I headed north to Carlsbad, a leisurely 30-mile drive from the airport. Carlsbad is a sleepy beach town known for being home to the Gemological Institute of America and golfers may recognize the name since both Callaway and Titleist have fitting and testing centers here. I wasn’t here to golf or hunt for gems though, but to soak up the sun and relax at the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront.

Unlike the majority of hotels in Carlsbad, which are located east of the freeway and tucked into the hills, the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront lives up to its name with incredible ocean views. The resort is right across the street from a pristine beach of smooth sand, even smoother pebbles and the Pacific Ocean. Sixty percent of rooms have a view of the ocean and I was surprised by how different the hotel was from what I expected of a Hilton property. The design is clean and bright; stone, wood and glass to evoke the ocean and bring the outside natural elements inside. I especially love the fun bubble wall behind the front desk in the lobby.

Meet friends old and new for a drink at the firepits around the pool. You can watch the sunset like we did before heading to dinner at Chandler’s. I loved that it was warm enough to sit outside while enjoying porcini-dusted scallops with fingerling potatoes, spinach and pomegranate and Arctic char with red quinoa, asparagus, leeks and chestnuts. I’m a more adventurous eater, but there were many thoughtfully prepared options on the menu to satisfy every taste. One of the most impressive aspects of the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront is that it manages to successfully cater to so many types of people, from families, to couples, to corporate events, and most importantly – a girlfriend getaway!

A fresh and light breakfast (I recommend Chandler’s honey-whipped Greek yogurt parfait with fresh berries and housemade pumpkin seed and cashew granola), followed by a walk along the beach, and it was time for the spa. I had a chance to experience a Lomi Lomi massage for the first time at Ocean Crest Spa, and had no idea what to expect from this Hawaiian-style treatment. Amy, my masseuse, was wonderful and I actually felt taller when I got up from the table. It felt like she was actually elongating my spine and limbs with her long, gentle strokes.

Skincare products are all eco-friendly brands including vegan sea products with many different types of algae from Osea Malibu and Organic Male for the gentlemen. The Ocean Crest Spa even has its own line of lotions, candles and body scrubs created by Los Angeles-based Tasha & Co. Organics. My absolute favorite scent is the grapefruit and white tea – incredibly fresh and reinvigorating. My experience at Ocean Crest was as luxurious and relaxing as at spas that are twice the price.
Overall, the Hilton Carlsbad is a wonderful value, delivering five-star service and unbeatable views at an affordable price. Rooms start at $199 a night and if you’re looking to escape, this is about as idyllic as it gets. I can’t imagine leaving here feeling anything but happy, sun-kissed and calm.

Author Amber Gibson is a Food/Travel Writer, Model & Actress from Chicago. To find out more about Amber, 

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