CARLSBAD, Calif. - The La Costa Resort and Spa is the world headquarters of the world-renown Chopra Center, which says a lot about the mission of this 400-acre southern California institution.
Sure, there are two solid 18-hole golf courses and a world-class tennis center at this playground for the rich and famous, but the underlying mission, it would seem, is well-being and relaxation. From the wellness center founded by physicians Deepak Chopra and David Simon, to the garden walkways, redesigned spa and many pools, La Costa is all about feeling good about you – and loving it.
They call the grounds at La Costa "the sweet spot of the universe," and if you spend a little time there, it's hard to disagree. Upon arrival, guests are encouraged to take advantage of a free yoga and meditation session, which goes along nicely with the property's sculpted fountains, lush plants and palms set among white Spanish Colonial architecture.
Redefining La Costa Resort
In 2001, KSL Resorts acquired La Costa and spent more than $160 million over the next seven years renovating every part of the resort, including guestrooms, clubhouse and restaurants.
First off, KSL created the Plaza, which serves as the center of the village-like property that was created in the 1960s to cater to celebrities, athletes and the rich and famous. The Plaza includes large fire-lit fountains, a coffee shop, stores, the clubhouse and the main entrance and lobby for the resort.
KSL renovated the Legends Bistro restaurant as well as the clubhouse, then built the new signature restaurant, the BlueFire Grill. Designed by Pucinni Restaurant Group of San Francisco, BlueFire Grill serves southern California fare such as fresh local seafood and seasonable vegetables, along with an extensive wine list.
Guestrooms were also renovated, and the company built an additional 137 villas, many of which are privately owned and leased back to the resort. These villas feature fireplaces and private patios, and many offer a full kitchen, living area and dining area.
KSL also added "Splash Landing" pools and waterslides, the "Kidtopia" kids club and "Vibz" game lounge as well as the new Costa del Sol Ballroom. The golf courses got a new practice facility as well.
Perhaps the most impressive improvement was the spa, which was completely rebuilt in 2003. That's where you'll find the Chopra Center, which offers programs based upon the ancient principles of Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old healing system of India. La Costa guests can enroll in three- or five-day programs, attend a seminar, lecture or receive an Ayurvedic spa treatment.
The Spa at La Costa has 42 treatment rooms, which include two VIP spa suites for couples. The menu is extensive, everything from exotic massages to herbal wraps, scrubs, facials and new clinical treatments for the face.
The outdoor spa courtyard includes a lounge pool, Jacuzzi and Roman waterfalls. The spa also features private men's and women's wet areas complete with sauna, steam room, whirlpool, cold plunge and lounges.
Golf at La Costa
Chopra has written many books on wellness and meditation, including one called "Golf for Enlightenment," which might help when you play the 36 holes at La Costa.
There are two courses, the Champions Course at La Costa Resort and Spa and the Legends Course at La Costa Resort and Spa. A tournament 18 is a combination of selected nine holes from each course and has been the site of PGA Tour events, including the WGC-Accenture Match Play, as well as the LPGA's new Kia Classic.
The original 27 holes were designed by Dick Wilson, with another nine being added to the Champions Course by Joe Lee in the late 1980s. Both courses are championship caliber. The Legends is a little tighter, while the Champions Course has a few more forced carries over water hazards. You can expect perfect tour conditions most of the time.
La Costa Resort and Spa: The verdict
Unfortunately, I only had a couple of days at La Costa Resort and Spa (www.LaCosta.com), enough time to play both golf courses, receive a spa treatment and attend a press conference by the LPGA and officials from the Kia Classic, which debuts at La Costa in 2010.
I would have liked to explore the programs at the Chopra Center (let's face it, most of us could use a little spiritual healing and calmness) and spent a little more time at the spa, which ranks with the best anywhere.
While I had a terrific massage, I was particularly impressed with the spa facilities. My therapist recommend that I try the Roman Waterfall, an outdoor setup with a large-diameter pipe that spews swirling warm water from above, creating the perfect pressure to relax every muscle in your body. In some ways, I liked it better than the massage.
I was also impressed with the dining at La Costa. There are plenty of healthy and tasteful options on the menus at all the restaurants, which include the Legends Bistro over the golf shop, the Spa Café and the Blue Fire Grill. The Vegetable Hash, a dish of perfectly poached eggs with organic baby spinach served at the Legends Bistro, was perfect.