By Greg Aragon
There are many great sights and sounds that come to mind when thinking about my recent escape to the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa. There are ocean breezes flowing through palm trees, a crystal blue pool sparkling in the sun; sprawling Tahitian-inspired grounds surrounded by a sandy beach, and ducks – yes ducks.
For some reason I keep thinking of these little web-footed creatures. Maybe it’s the soothing sounds their feathers made against the water when they swam past our room. The sound was similar to a trickling fountain and went very well with a glass of wine and the sunset on San Diego’s Mission Bay.
My getaway to the Hilton began when a friend and I checked into a comfortable suite at the 357-room resort. The room overlooked Mission Bay and a sandy beach, as well as an ocean-front bike and walk path, and the resort’s sports dock, where kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, small boats, bikes and surreys are rented.
The Southern Californian-styled room featured bright and festive hues and came with a large flat screen TV, comfy king bed, lounge chair, office area with internet, and a big balcony. From the balcony we could scan the beautiful bay, watch kayaks and boats drift past, ducks paddle by and the sun set into the water.
When not in the room, we explored the rest of the four-diamond property. Celebrating 50 years on Missions Bay the resort is a recreational paradise on 18 acres. The resort is about 1 mile from Sea World, just 6 miles from the San Diego International Airport and 15 minutes from the Gaslamp District and La Jolla.
One of our favorite hotel spots was the pool area, where we swam in the warm water and relaxed in a big cabana with soft recliners. While lounging here we enjoyed lunch from Fresco’s Grille and Bar, the outdoor pool café which offers a full menu of grilled favorites, snacks and refreshing cocktails.
After sitting by the pool I liked working out at the fitness center or hitting tennis balls on one of the resort’s championship courts. Next to the tennis courts and gym is the hotel’s renowned full service Spa Brezza.
Signature indulgences at the spa include the Tranquility Massage, a gentle, relaxing massage that improves circulation and vitality; the Sacred Stone Massage, an innovative full body rub using warmed basalt stones that helps in achieving a greater sense of relaxation; and the Noble Massage, a personalized experience, where you orchestrate the massage exactly how you want it. Your therapist combines Pedisage, Swedish and Deep Tissue techniques focusing on the specific areas of tension in your body as you direct.
For dinner at the hotel we experienced Acqua California Bistro, a casual waterfront restaurant overlooking Mission Bay. Offering a creative mix of classic traditional dishes with a European twist, Acqua brings together innovative flavors combined with a complete social dining experience. Recipient of the prestigious Wine Spectator Award, Acqua’s extensive wine list boasts more than 3,000 bottles from world class wine makers of the old world and the new world. For the beer enthusiast, guests are treated to a selection of rotating award-winning craft beers.
Our dinner began with yellow fin tuna tartare, with avocado, cucumber and chili vinaigrette. The menu suggested we pair the appetizer with a pinot gris from the Adelsheim vineyard of Willamette Valley, Ore. We did and it was amazing.
For the main course my friend enjoyed grilled filet mignon with cauliflower puree, roasted seasonal vegetables, and port wine reduction. I devoured seared diver scallops and pancetta wrapped jumbo shrimp with lobster potato puree, roasted yellow-red tomatoes and lobster beurre blanc. We paired our food with Robert Mondavi cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley.
After dinner we took a moonlit walk along the shore past crackling fire pits and through a park located next to the resort.
The San Diego Hilton Resort and Spa also features a gift store, coffee shop, a 9,600 square-foot garden pavilion that can accommodate groups up to 1,100, and a 9,600 square-foot ballroom, divisible into six separate meeting rooms. The resort is located off the 5 Freeway, at 1775 E. Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, 92109. For more information, current specials and reservations, call (619) 276-4010 or visit sandiegohilton.com.