The Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas, which opened in March 2021, is one of the newest additions to Hyatt's portfolio.
Prior to our visit, I had read mixed reviews online about the hotel and quality of the service. However, when I finally had the chance to stay there with my parents in February 2022, we were completely blown away. Not only was the hard product top-notch (still smelled incredibly new and refreshing!), but the service was one of the best I've experienced outside of Asia.
Read on to find out more about our experience!
How I Booked
I booked one award night using 25k Hyatt points (which you can transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards, BILT rewards, or earn from the Hyatt credit card) when the hotel was still a Category 6 property, but is unfortunately now a Category 7.
At the time of booking, only the "ADA Two Queen Beds Coastline View with Balcony" standard room type was available. The cash equivalent for the same room type was $920 after taxes.
Resort fees are waived for award stays. Note that parking is valet only, and costs $52/day. They do offer complimentary EV charging though, so that was very convenient for our Tesla rental!
We were upgraded at check-in (Hyatt Explorist status) to a top floor unit with direct ocean view (as opposed to the coastline view), which at the time had a rate of $1200+/night! This means the redemption has a value of almost 5 cents-per-cent, a terrific deal!
$1226.37 / 25,000 points = $0.049 per point
Additionally, I took advantage of a Hyatt promotion at the time and earned bonus points on my stay, plus points from parking and on-site dining:
The property is located in Encinitas, California. which is about a 30-minute drive from downtown San Diego.
As seen from the satellite imagery, the property is located on a thin stretch of land between the public South Carlsbad State Beach parking lot and an existing residential development. As a result, the hotel is very long and narrow - so be prepared for long hallway walks to/from your room (which was the case for our stay). We were lucky enough to get one of the units facing the coastal bluff with direct ocean views, but more on that later!
Note that the property also has a direct pathway (staircase) down to the public beach, which is very convenient. The hotel also offers complimentary surfboard and beach chair service, but unfortunately we did not have time to try those out.
The check-in area, like at many Alila locations, do not have a traditional check-in area. Instead, it is more of a casual area with seating and welcome drinks served while checking in. We came on a Sunday afternoon, so occupancy seemed light.
Upon check-in, we were upgraded to a top-floor direct Ocean View room (market rate $1200+/night!!!). We were told by the manager this room had one of the best views at the property!
Finally, I texted front desk via the Hyatt App and the hotel granted us a 3pm late check-out (even though Explorists only get at most until 2pm) - so this was really nice of them to grant that!
Here's a couple pics of the hotel:
Even though we booked the base standard ADA coastline view room, we ended up being upgraded to a top-floor room that directly faced the ocean! Needless to say, we were blown away the moment we walked in (so much natural light!).
Being upgraded to the top floor ocean view made a huge difference, especially the moment you open up your room door and can see the ocean fill up your entire view!
Gorgeous sunset from the room:
It was also amazing to hear waves crashing at night (when door is opened). Pool is right below and can get noisy during the weekend/afternoon but they do close it off in the late evenings.
A few more pics of the bathroom:
Some more pics from the hotel room:
Some more pics from the balcony:
There are also many room types on the ground level with "firepit" - which is pretty cool! If I go back again, I'll definitely want to check those out.
The daily $49 + tax resort fee (waived for award stays) many services such as a free shuttle within 3 miles of the property, access to fitness center, surfboard rental, and beach chair / towel service. Some notable ones:
[Complimentary E-bikes] - complimentary E-bike rental was super fun! Highly recommend going up north for the ocean view ride and going south to check out some delicious restaurants (French Corner is a MUST!)
[Morning Yoga] - just as advertised, the resort offers complimentary yoga classes just after sunrise.
[Direct Ocean Access] - there is a direct pathway down to the beach
Note that parking is not included, and is an additional $52 if needed (valet only). However, if you do pay for parking, free EV-charging is included! We were able to head out with a full battery on our Tesla Model 3 the next day!
We had dinner at VAGA, which is the main restaurant at the resort (but is also open to the public). I will let the pictures below do the talking, but overall the food was very fresh and delicious, service was excellent, and in my opinion VERY reasonably priced, especially at such a high-end property.
Some photos of the dining environment:
There's a good amount of indoor or outdoor seating, depending on your preference. We watched sunset from our room, but otherwise you should plan on trying to arrive around sunset to enjoy the view!
Here's some photos of the food we ordered:
Overall, we were very impressed and would gladly come back again!
The service we received from the moment our vehicle pulled up to the hotel to when we checked out was nothing but impeccable! Every staff we encountered was professional, friendly, and seemed truly proud and happy to be there (counter to what I read in some online reviews). I could go on and on about how positive of an experience I had there, but hopefully this will be consistent going forward for every guest there and not just because I somehow got very lucky.
If I really had to nitpick, the only incident was it took a while (and an extra reminder) for the items we requested to be brought up to our room. They did bring it up eventually and apologized profusely about the delay and offered us fresh cookies and milk. Due to the design of the resort, it is actually a really long walk from the main area to the ocean front rooms, and the fact the staff went all the way back to grab the food really touched us.
Overall the property was clean, beautiful, and modern (and smells VERY new!). The service we received from valet to front desk to room service and restaurant staff were all beyond excellent. I had read mixed reviews prior to coming regarding bad customer service and the hard product having issues - but we didn't experience any of during our stay.
The only downside is none of the units really have good privacy (since the property is only 3-stories high), so I can see this "$1000+ vacation resort" not feel like one when occupancy is high and all you see are people staring into your room. Additionally, we got lucky with direct ocean view, which is on the narrow side of the property and only has a few rooms. Most rooms will be "coastline", meaning you will still see the ocean, but with a mix of the coastline and perhaps even a bit of the public beach parking lot north of the property.
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