To get a sense of just how luxe Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is, consider two elements. If guests of the 45-acre Mediterranean-inspired Relais & Chateaux property want to strike out and explore the upscale neighborhood of Rancho Santa Fe on their own, they can borrow a complimentary Porsche from the resort’s fleet of three.
Meanwhile, those who stay on property can enjoy “coastal ranch” cuisine at Veladora, one of the resort’s two restaurants. (The Pony Room is the other more casual option.) There, amid the rustic glamour of enormous wrought-iron chandeliers and leather coaches, their eyes will be drawn to a striking mosaic called “Imploration.” Created by British artist Damien Hirst, it’s made of thousands of pairs of butterfly wings, and valued at over $1 million.
Rancho Valencia opened in 1989, was acquired by a San Diego-based investment group in 2010 and went through a $30 million, 10-month refresh in 2012. The property’s 49 casitas average 1,000 square feet and each has either a private garden patio or a spa patio. The Spa, with its outdoor therapy pool, gardens, treatment rooms that include private patios, a plunge pool circuit and two spacious couple rooms, sits on 1.5 acres.
The Forbes Five-Star resort has been ranked among the best in the country and the world by publications like U.S. News & World Report, Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. And, with 18 tennis courts in a lush garden setting, including a center court with seating, Rancho Valencia has been named the No. 1 tennis resort in the U.S. by Tennis Magazine every year since 2008.
This is a venue for groups with generous budgets. “Our guests in general are movers and shakers,” says Senior Sales Manager Cathleen Flowers, “and that’s true of our corporate groups, too. These are, typically, boardof- director or C-level leadership retreats.” Rancho Valencia is the only Relais & Châteaux property in Southern California and the corporate guests—drawn from the upper ranks of the pharmaceutical, bio-tech, financial and legal industries—appreciate, Flowers says, that the property upholds the standards of the global luxury collections: charm, courtesy, cuisine, character and calm.
“There’s a level of intimacy and exclusivity here,” Flowers says. “People feel productive when they’re here. They’re not looking for bells and whistles, they want to get work done.” That was true when Gwyneth Paltrow took her team at Goop, her website and lifestyle brand, to Rancho Valencia for a two-day getaway last summer.
“While they’re known for their gorgeous tennis courts, spa, and pool, there would be (only a little) of that for us,” Paltrow wrote of the resort. “We busted out the oversized sticky note posters and PowerPoint presentations.”
Still, it’s not all work and no play. Flowers says that groups sometimes buy out the yoga pavilion or spin studio for exclusive classes or head to nearby Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for hikes. Flights of tequila or singlemalt scotch can be arranged as part of a reception on the croquet lawn, along with lessons of croquet or bocce ball.
12,000 sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor meeting space, including a 2,000 sq.-ft. ballroom
8,400 sq. ft. croquet lawn that can be tented to accommodate up to 500 guests
5,000 sq. ft. hacienda, featuring three bedrooms, full kitchen, private pool, with enclosed cabana and historic wooden table that seats 8
90 miles south of Los Angeles; 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego
85 complimentary fitness classes a week