Passion Points: Family
Families looking for a taste of Southern California high living adore this billion-dollar resort that was modeled on a Tuscan village. Terra cotta roofed bungalows are scattered amidst hundreds of ancient olive trees imbuing the owner’s love of all-things Italy. The over 300 villas and bungalows each have their own outdoor space (though none have a private pool), and are extremely spacious—the smallest rooms seem more like junior suites.
That the hotel is still owned and managed by the Irvine Company results in a country club sensibility that is ideal for big families or groups of friends traveling together. An extensive kid’s club is separate enough from the adult’s pool that grown-ups will feel removed but still be close. The beach, which is a four-minute drive away, features a club that serves snacks and drinks throughout the day.
Multiple dining establishments means that guests can enjoy different restaurants each night (one of which features 17 different kinds of fresh pasta) or can pop into nearby Newport Beach for dinner. The gelateria and caffe off the lobby is beloved by kids and their parents alike for sugared- and caffeinated treats.
Those looking for an intimate boutique property or something right on the beach will be happier elsewhere, but families, golfers (the property features two Tom Fazio–designed courses) and spa enthusiasts will be delighted.
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
Vibe: Family-friendly, laid-back
At a glance: Located within the coastal foothills of Carlsbad, California, La Costa Resort and Spa is an ideal destination for families looking for a kid-friendly resort experience with extensive spa and wellness facilities.
When entering this 400-acre and 611 room resort, a first-time visitor might feel as if she’s stumbled upon an idyllic Southern California town. A sprawl of Spanish Colonial style buildings are connected by manicured pathways. In the center of it all, the hotel’s bustling main plaza houses several retail boutiques and dining options.
Of the six on-site restaurants, BlueFire Grill serves the most formal cuisine with dishes inspired by costal California’s local produce. The more casual Legends Bistro offers a family-friendly menu and al fresco dining with panoramic views of the golf course. There are also plenty of options for those looking for a quick bite including the Spa Café, Diversions Sports Lounge, and the poolside Splash Café.
Having recently undergone a $50-million renovation, the hotel’s rooms are spacious and airy. While the style might not be everyone’s taste, décor exudes relaxed Southern Californian comfort. For families looking for apartment-style accommodations, the two-bedroom villas come complete with full kitchens and dining areas.
The activity options at La Costa are endless, ensuring that boredom should not set in. Aside from the resort’s two championship golf courses, 17 tennis courts and six swimming pools (one of which has waterslides for the kids), La Costa offers dozens of daily resort activities. Choices for the kids include arts and crafts classes, waterslide races and reptile shows. Adults can choose from tennis clinics, spin classes, meditation and stress therapy sessions at the resort’s Chopra Center. The 43,000-square-foot spa offers a host of treatments as well waterfall Jacuzzis, sauna and steams rooms and a relaxation area.
Who Should Stay: Those looking for a break with access to world-class spa treatments and activities for their little ones.
- The adult-only EDGE Pool for parents and couples who are looking to avoid the chaos of the children’s pool area
- Health and Wellness inspired menus designed to take advantage of San Diego’s local and seasonal produce
Ibiza Insider: Maria Borromeo
Maria Borromeo, the CEO of Thakoon, earns an impressive amount of frequent flier miles during the year with frequent trips to Asia, as well as Fashion Weeks around the globe. But when the summer arrives, she and her family, including children ages three and six, head to one of their favorite escapes, Ibiza. Here, she shares her favorite places to eat, swim and relax on Spain’s White Island.
What’s your first stop when you arrive on Ibiza?
Fish Shack (near Sa Punta in Talamaca) restaurant. This might be one of my favorite places to eat on the planet. It is not far from Ibiza Town, at the end of Talamanca Beach. It is quite literally a fish shack out on the end of a rocky point with the best, most fresh fish. Not fancy at all, super delicious and just the place to kick off a vacation. Make sure you get the sardines. Cash only.
Where do you head for lunch on the beach?
One of the best is Es Torrent, a small, beautiful beach not far from the town of San Jose. There is a restaurant on the beach – also called Es Torrent (34-971-802-160) – that is not cheap but serves the best John Dory you will ever eat. The food is absolutely gorgeous, and the beach is fantastic for the kids to play. We usually do a late afternoon lunch here then swim after lunch.
Cala Carbo is another great beach for kids, also close to San Jose. There is a restaurant on the beach that has really great fideuà (black squid ink pasta). Another place famous for their squid ink dishes is Sa Caleta (just east of Cala Jondal), on the beach of the same name. Follow the unpaved road, which has a sign that says Restaurant Sa Caleta.
There are also some stunning beaches on the north of the island. My favorite is called Cala Xuclar. It’s a gorgeous little cove with a delicious fish shack for lunch or dinner and calm surf for the kids.
Are there any beach clubs that are well suited for families?
I really like Tropicana (34-971-802-640) on Cala Jondal. I find if very child friendly. The restaurant on the beach at Tropicana is good, and their white sangria is really, really good. Keep in mind that you do have to pay for chairs at the beach clubs, though. Another one to try is Jockey Salinas (34-971-359-788), a longtime favorite of a friend who spends every summer on Ibiza. It’s on a gorgeous beach within a nature reserve. Both also have yacht service if you come in a boat and want lunch delivered on board.
If anyone still has room for dinner after these lunches, where should they head?
Don’t miss a night at Camí de Balàfia (Carretera Sant Joan, Camino Santa Eulalia; 34-971-325-019). This place has outrageously amazing food if you’re meat eaters. It’s set outside in a pretty garden and serves traditional Ibizan grilled meats and potatoes. The only sides are fresh tomato and onion salad, green olives and bread with aioli. In other words, it’s not great for vegetarians, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Cash only. Our kids also love Macao Café (Venda des Pobla 8, Sant Gertrudis; 34-971-314-707) in Sant Gertrudis. It’s a mellow Italian trattoria with great pizzas made in a wood-burning oven.
Any hidden gems most people won’t find?
Most people tend to eat breakfast in their hotel or villa, but there are some great spots if you like to head out early. Right in the town of San Jose, there is a cute outdoor restaurant and juice bar called Raco Verd (Plaza de la Iglesia, San José; 34-971-800-267) that’s been around for fifty years. They make delicious fresh juices and a yummy breakfast or lunch, complete with pain-au-chocolat imported from France. Come back at night for live music.
We usually stay in Sant Gertrudis and always hit La Paloma (San Lorenzo; 34-971-325-543), which is in the small neighboring town of San Lorenzo. It’s amazing for breakfast (or dinner, for that matter) and is a great stop along the way to the beaches in the north.
Any other tips for families visiting Ibiza for the first time?
Bring rash guards because sometimes there are jellyfish in the water. We’ve never been stung, but our nanny was stung last year. And bring water shoes because some of the beaches are a bit rocky. When you’re ready for a break from the beaches, explore Old Ibiza Town and Santa Gertrudis, both of which are quite charming.
Also, be prepared for a very diverse crowd. There are all walks of life in Ibiza, which is what I absolutely love about it, but it’s not right for someone who wants the more traditional, luxury beach resort scene. Keep an open mind and you are going to be in heaven.
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