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Rancho Bernardo Inn: Suburban Splendor

Rancho Bernardo Inn Pool
Rancho Bernardo Inn Pool
Courtesy photo

A half-hour north of downtown San Diego, The Rancho Bernardo Inn is a bucolic site for a staycation. The 287-room property sits on 265 acres nestled into a tony Rancho Bernardo neighborhood, and sits adjacent to an 18-hole golf course. The resort underwent a $25 million renovation in late 2007, with special enhancements made to remodel The Spa.

Sleep Here: My quaint, standard room had a huge, semi-circular bed frame. It offered views of the large flat-screen TV and a working desk (Wi-fi is free), and through wooden, cantilevered blinds was a great panoramic look at the spa pool. We could sit on the patio and watch spa-goers, see golf carts driven on paths by the bell staff and point at brown-and-white bunnies darting down the hilly lawn and into hedges.

Eat This: RBI’s fine-dining restaurant El Bizcocho is a big deal. They still have a dress code—coats are no longer required for men, but denim jeans are a no-no for both genders. The signature restaurant offers seasonal, tasting-only menus featuring modern French and nouveau California cuisine. My dinner: Santa Barbara prawns with an avocado-and-uni mosaic for dipping, followed by a sweet onion bisque poured over a slow duck egg, manchego and shaved chives. Then came a unique seafood dish: seared tamales bay abalone, with razor clams, octopus and hama oysters. Up next was a taste of slow-roasted prime New York strip steak. I’m not a dessert person, but I had to try the rocky road, chocolate mousse sponge cake and burnt marshmallow ice cream (made tableside).

Rancho Bernardo Inn Spa
Rancho Bernardo Inn Spa
Courtesy photo

Do This: The Spa offers a “Made Fresh Daily” program that’s a menu of seasonal body treatments developed by the spa staff working in conjunction with the property’s chefs. A mixture of watermelon, cucumber, three tablespoons of sugar and a nice dollop of aloe was rubbed on my hands. Then, a savory-smelling blend of a cup of ground coffee, brown sugar, almond oil and a tablespoon of vanilla extract was brewed on my back.

These treatments are generally 50 minutes, but The Spa also offers them in 20 minute increments—for those who are busy and don’t have a lot of time, or want to sample several services back-to-back-to-back. You can also order small tasting bites that correspond to your “Made Fresh Daily” treatment. All of these options in The Spa bringculinary arts into the mix.

By The Way: There are more than 20 fountains on the RBI grounds. All are architecturally different. You can pick up a map at the front desk and do a walking tour…The resort is offering a family-friendly Kidcations program. Youngsters can watch Dive-In movies at the pool, and play video games in the Wii Lounge.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: (858) 675-8500
  • Name: Rancho Bernardo Inn
  • Address: 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive