At my husband’s urging, I’d just unfollowed 50 social media accounts, an effective start to improving my mood. Life had been overtaken by current events, natural disasters and breaking news about Kardashian pregnancies. I needed to clear my mind, aware that the days when that could be accomplished on a lounge chair with the latest John Grisham and a tube of Bain de Soleil were BiP (Before iPhone).
Enter Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa. No, they don’t make you delete Twitter when you check in. It’s just that the intimate resort in San Diego County offers a balanced blend of luxury, comfort and activity that during my two-and-a-half-day stay left me engaged, pampered and well-fed. Unplugging was a happy byproduct.
For the uninitiated, Rancho Valencia has been around since 1989, now spiffed up, the result of a $30 million upgrade and transformation. Caring attention and personalized service take center stage. The 45-acre property sits as an oasis inland from Del Mar in Rancho Santa Fe, a little-over-an-hour drive on a weekday from Orange County for my late-morning arrival.
I immediately fell in love with my one-bedroom Valencia suite, so spacious and warmly decorated that I had the feeling of staying at a villa guest house in the resort’s Mediterranean-inspired California ranch setting. My favorite spot was the casita’s huge patio, with its fireplace and private whirlpool spa.
As inviting as the room was, I didn’t stay put long. Not when one of two pools is always nearby, where 18 tennis courts (and a tennis pro) are available, and when a spa is at the ready. Not when I could hit the fitness rooms by myself or join an organized Pilates or spin class. Not when a gorgeous indoor-outdoor yoga pavilion beckons.
But first, a welcome cocktail. The place to be at Rancho Valencia clearly is The Pony Room, a draw for guests and locals who come to imbibe and enjoy the casual fare. Tequila is the star, with more than 100 available and eight margaritas on the menu (don’t miss the ginger and agave Palomino). The bar opens to a patio overlooking Rancho Valencia’s manicured croquet lawn; time your beverage near sunset and you’ll watch a colorful spray of hot air balloons floating above.
The next day began, as do all, with a delivery of…