It was the sunniest weekend in San Diego, California’s history and my daughter and I had the pleasure of being captivated by every single sun ray that beamed down on us at the San Diego Hilton Resort and Spa.
This four star resort is an island unto itself right on Mission Bay. It’s a romantic paradise of palms and perfect sandy bay fronts, complete with every vacation amenity imaginable.
The SUN-SATIONAL San Diego Hilton Resort & Spa on Mission Bay.
The tropical palm trees swaying in the ocean breezes caressed all of my life’s worries away. My eyes squinted in the bright sun as I looked up to catch the palm fronds dancing gleefully in the air. The sky was so regally blue that it made me feel that I had landed in heaven while the radiance of the sun’s rays created an angelic halo around us.
I was sure this is what heaven must feel like. This ephemeral property was bursting with lush jungle foliage, intermixed with a colorful paint palette of freshly planted spring flowers. The quiet ambiance of our private paradise was interrupted briefly by the sounds of tennis balls being bantered off tennis rackets and pristine green courts.
The pool or Mission Bay Beach . . . SUN-SATIONAL choices.
The hotel’s five star service was friendly and accommodated every vacation whim we had. The tropical pool setting was complete with a thatched roof poolside bar; oversized comfy chaise lounges nestled under large canvas cabanas; larger than life checker board and tiles, ping pong games and soothing bay breezes, gave us the perfect place to play and relax. Their garden Jacuzzi’s myriad of waterfalls and winding pathways made us feel we had found ourselves secluded in our own tropical paradise.
Paradoxically it was close to every San Diego attraction we would want to visit . . . Sea World, The San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, the Gaslamp District, Legoland, Horton Plaza, the Padres, the Chargers, and the ocean!
Mission Bay beaches are closeby the Hilton.
The San Diego Hilton is a family friendly property that makes everyone feels like a privileged guest.
It is just six miles from the San Diego Airport and right on San Diego’s famous Mission Bay. This inspired property catered to every vacation whim my daughter and I could have imagined!
We had our choice to play tennis, go wake boarding, sailing, or rollerblading or bike riding along the board walk, or just splashing around in their 80 degree heated swimming pool.
We never left the property all weekend because it was so FUN-SATIONAL to enjoy all that the resort offered.
Besides basking in the SUN/FUN-SATIONALISM of the resort’s play activities, we found an inner peace and relaxation in Spa Brezza that was totally SPA-SATIONAL! It was hard to choose from the plethora of pleasurable body therapies on their spa menu. Did we want to try their Eco Escape Facial, an organic facial that was designed to restore and rejuvenate our skin? Or was it the Transformation Facial Treatment that provided instant radiance and brilliance to the skin with resurfacing that gently whisked away damaged, aged skin cells with a customized mask that regenerates skin? Perhaps our bodies needed to be indulged with a milk and honey body wrap, or an airbrush tan, or a deep detox ritual that would exfoliate and eliminate toxins and purify the body while relaxing our tense muscles? Having to decide on one of their exotic spa treatments was the most tension I’d felt in our three day stay.
My daughter and I decided on their signature Balinese Massage Therapy. I guess it was the exotic feeling of Bali that captivated our imaginations. Bali is known for the unique culture of spiritual renewal and ambiance. The Balinese bring enlightenment and self-content. It’s not an exaggeration that when a Balinese is asked what heaven is like, they say, “. . . just like Bali without the worries of mundane life”. The Balinese people never want to leave their island. They want to live and die in Bali. After experiencing our Balinese massages, I understand why.
Balinese inspired Spa Brezza.
This signature massage uses a combination of gentle stretches, acupressure and aromatherapy oils to stimulate the flow of blood, oxygen, and "qi" (energy) around your body to achieve deep relaxation and well being. An ancient technique, Balinese massage uses a variety of massage skills including skin rolling, kneading and stroking, acupressure and reflexology. I don’t know if it was because I was imagining myself in Bali or because of the expertise of my masseuse but I felt I had just visited heaven. The use of aromatherapy with the essential oils of lavender permeating my pores was the piece de resistance of my stay. I made a mental note to put Bali on my bucket list of places I needed to visit.
As my daughter and I sipped our herbal teas in the Spa Brezza’s relaxation room, we found our inner peace nestled in our cozy spa robes. We shared a quiet moment intoxicated with the Balinese traditions to create a heaven on earth memory. This five million dollar spa truly is a crown jewel of the property. We were positively pampered and left feeling SPA-SATIONATIONAL!
Our day of relaxation and renewal could only be surpassed by an evening of SIN-Sational Dining! We dressed to the ‘nines ‘ to dine. With our high heels and wraps we sauntered through their luscious tropical grounds, thrilled to be spending an evening at their award winning restaurant, Acqua. An outside patio, blazing fire pits, and a pristine glass wall with a view of the bay framed the restaurant so that wherever one sits, there’s spectacular view of the ocean, resort, or the crystal blue poolside water reflections. The rich aroma of tropical flowers and the salty ocean air was a pleasant transition for us as we entered the dining area.
To my right was the Olive Bar, where you can enjoy an extensive bar and martini menu while waiting for a table or have a few laughs with old friends for a post dinner drink. To my left was the path to the dining room area, lit with the warm and welcoming glow of the restaurant to preview the sin-sational feeling of what lies ahead for the evening. Straight ahead was a smiling face that greeted my daughter and me. Her tone soothed the air with relaxing calmness.
Put olives in the martini at the Olive Bar.
We knew we were in good hands when Chelsea, our server, introduced herself. Her professional demeanor and warm smile immediately gave me the feeling that she knew the menu inside and out and could recommend something for us to try right off the bat. “You’ve gotta try one of our most popular drinks! It’s the Berry Infused Lemon Drop”. Of course, we had to have it! No surprise, I was in cocktail heaven and knew we were about to embark on a sin-sational experience of wine and dine at the mercy of their Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage, Herman Schafer.
Acqua received the ‘Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2009’. Intentionally paired with each menu item, one cannot go wrong in choosing the complimentary flavors that their award winning wine selection offers. As if the flavorful selection of entrees and appetizers wasn’t enough, the wine pair brings even more bursts of flavor to the table. The first course couldn’t come soon enough as our stomachs began to rumble. Chelsea moved swiftly to bring us their inventive Yellowfin Tuna Tartar with avocado, cucumber and chili vinaigrette. The first dish set the stage for creativity, presentation, and the aftertaste that cleansed the palate for the remaining dishes.
Indoor or al fresco fine dining at Acqua.
Chelsea’s recommendations for the second course was the rich 5-Spiced-Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with lobster and cream made me sip, savor, and repeat with each spoonful. Both the crisp Beet and Goat Cheese Salad and the Grilled Medallion of Venison and Quail Egg were unique in flavor but held a comforting and familiar feeling up until I finished the last morsel. The main course was the Grilled Hawaiian Swordfish, with lemon basmati risotto, basil essence, olive tapenade, and roasted pepper. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it brought me straight to the beaches of the Hawaiian Islands. The soft, moist bites of fish melted in my mouth as if Herman had sung to my heart with his careful preparation of this fresh catch of the day.
Creative palate creations.
The piece de resistance, and the inspiration behind the ‘Sin Sational Dining‘ label was our dessert experience. Chelsea surprised us with two amazing and fast-disappearing dessert delights. The triple threat was the triple flavor crème Brule, and the hazelnut ice cream crepe. Both were off the charts. With each bite of the crème Brule, my urge grew to repent my sins for the indiscretion to want to lick my plate. My favorite part of the crème Brule is breaking the caramelized layer to find the rich smooth custard waiting for my spoon to devour the confection. It’s hard to choose which my favorite was. Both had a sinfully sweet appeal.. But after a thoughtful respite in between spoonfuls . . . the hazelnut ice-cream crepe won my award.
From our first sip of champagne to the final dip of my dessert spoon, our time at Acqua was filled with unexpected flavorful pleasures intermixed with the surprise of numerous decadent delights. I could never picture the beach without sand, now I can’t imagine the San Diego Hilton without Acqua. Cheers to your amazing success and to our anticipated return to Acqua, for the sequel of the sea!
An airy standard room at the San Diego Hilton Resort.
All the newly renovated 357 guest rooms at the San Diego Hilton are SENSUALLY-SENSATIONAL! Our luxurious accommodations were decorated to match the soothing warmth of a bright summer day and the festive feelings of tossing Frisbees and chasing beach balls found only in our bay front oasis. The burnt orange quilted comforters were accented with green and brown flecked studio pillows with silk bolster stripes of green, lime, chocolate brown, pink, and aqua grey.
A Baron Suite.
The bathroom was richly appointed with chocolate brown granite counter tops with a blue sky pique shower curtain and grass cloth walls that made the room look like a sandy beach day. The designer décor and luxury bedding and linens combined with the open and airy sunshine and breezes that streamed through the white chiffon floor to ceiling drapes that created a cozy, casual elegance. As the white see thru drapery gently fluttered above the brown zebra stripped carpet, I realized how lucky we were to stay in this sensually-sun-sational retreat.
The Presidential Suite.
All the FUN...SUN...SPA, SIN, and SENSUAL “sensations” we experienced at the San Diego Hilton Hotel and Spa are there just waiting for you. So when you make your next choice to take a family vacation, business trip, or a special romantic get-a -way, make it easy on yourself. www.sandiegohilton.com is the key word search. All you need to do is show up and have a Sun-sationally good time!
Feature by Janice Wilson, Jetsetters Magazine Spa Editor. Photos courtesy of the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa.