Carlsbad Calling

All in for fun, sun and relaxation at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara


I want you to picture taking in views of San Diego’s coastline from a helicopter or hot air balloon. Below you are La Jolla coves, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and multi-million-dollar estates owned by the likes of Bill Gates. At Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, taking flight is an activity the concierge can arrange for guests—among many other excursions. “A lot of people come here with the intent of exploring,” shares the club’s Jessica Roach.

The five-star property, nestled in Carlsbad’s green hills and rolling valleys, is unlike most Four Seasons. Here, each accommodation is a vacation residence rental—outfitted with living and dining room areas, a fully equipped open kitchen or kitchenette, and furnished balcony or terrace. Plus, parents will appreciate an in-unit washer and dryer—just one of the many reasons this destination makes a great family getaway.

Accommodations include all hotel amenities like room service, in-villa massages and access to the recently debuted Driftwood Spa. The concierge can coordinate other experiences like Coffee & Tea By The Sea, complete with beach setup, transportation and—as the name suggests—coffee or tea and pastry ($45 per couple).

In April 2015 Residence Club Aviara underwent a $6 million renovation, which featured the openings of the Driftwood Spa with three treatment rooms; a dedicated nail salon; and Seasons Restaurant, which welcomed new chef de cuisine James Waters. Mid-month, the Philadelphia transplant and his team will reinvent the menu entirely and will continue to change it seasonally. At the Kitchen Counter and Chef’s Table, the menu will be different every time, shares Chef James.

During our visit we indulged in a five-course menu designed specifically for that day with seasonal and organic ingredients. The impeccably presented dishes featured lobster agnolotti prepared with ricotta, charred corn and citrus foam, and the best scallop crudo we’ve ever eaten, in which the Tabasco vinaigrette offered a flavor instead of a feeling like spicy foods often do. The delicate dish also incorporated garden snap peas and sea bean.

As a Southern California chef, James likes to use ingredients as they are—fresh and raw—as much as possible. He explains that his style of cooking is to use five ingredients or fewer in each dish. “After that I feel like you lose the essence and flavors of the ingredients,” he says as he thoughtfully sears Muscovy duck breast.

Throughout our meal at the Kitchen Counter, which seats up to six, we watched as one of the line chefs stretched dough by hand and baked one wood burning pizza after another. Despite dining for five courses—which were also perfectly paired with wine—we couldn’t help but consider ordering a pizza to enjoy in our room later. However, after the final course of angel food cake with lemon curd, berry jam and brown butter poppy seed tuile, we reluctantly decided against it.

For little ones who also love pizza, the Chef’s Table—another interactive private dining experience option spacious enough for 12—doubles as a pizza “Craft and Crust” workshop every Wednesday afternoon.

Another dining experience not to be missed is Seasons’ daily breakfast. Enjoy stacked huevos rancheros (gluten-free) and short rib Benedict served with duck fat hash browns on the outdoor patio. A step away is the resort’s heated pool, where a casual poolside lunch and drinks are offered. Here, servers continually come around with spritzes of Evian, chilled towels and frozen drinks.

If after all of the dining and poolside lounging you’re in need of an activity, opt for stand-up paddleboarding lessons in the Carlsbad Lagoon or book the resort’s Coastal Photo Safari in advance. Introduced last summer, the package includes a two-night stay in the villa and a day accompanied by renowned surf photographer Aaron Chang.

The morning begins with Aaron picking up guests in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to hike at Torrey Pines, followed by the option to take surf lessons as the photographer captures the action. Next comes free-diving La Jolla Cove with underwater equipment, followed by lunch at Galaxy Taco, a private tour of Aaron’s gallery in Solana Beach and finally a helicopter ride over San Diego. For guests who want the full experience, the price is $12,000 for four. It is also completely customizable for guests who prefer to do only some of the excursions.

There’s truly something for everyone—from foodies to adventure seekers to couples and families—at this Carlsbad locale.