SoCal luxury at its finest

Thomas Voss
Thomas Voss

For those who haven’t traveled to Southern California, a visit there is a must. The weather is brilliant with sunshine almost every day and a warm climate tempered by a soft ocean breeze. Then you have all the attractions in L.A. and downtown San Diego as well as all the eco-tourism activities.

Over the past decade, I’ve been drawn to the area north of San Diego with its many resorts lining the coast. Nestled in the hills overlooking Torrey Pines and less than 30 minutes outside the city, The Grand Del Mar opened in 2007 with 249 rooms as the region’s only 5-star, 5-diamond resort. To learn more about its success to date, I sat down with the hotel’s president, Thomas Voss.

Larry Mogelonsky: Let’s start with your background.

Thomas Voss: I grew up in the hotel industry. My father owned an oceanfront golf resort near Hamburg, Germany, and I worked at the property in various capacities. While I had never worked in a property quite at the same level as The Grand Del Mar, I have worked at similar properties in the Middle East, Germany and Switzerland. Coming to the States in 1992, I joined the Hyatt family, which turned into a 17-year tenure with them.

LM: Who goes to The Grand Del Mar?

TV: The Grand Del Mar offers something for everyone, from golfers on “buddy trips” and families on vacations to CEOs holding board meetings and couples on romantic weekends or celebrating milestones. Our guests have a wide age range and come from all over the world, but the majority comes from North America. The one common trait is that they all tend to be well traveled and affluent.

LM: How do you differentiate the property from key competitors such as Montage Laguna Beach, Park Hyatt Aviara or Pelican Hill?

TV: The Grand Del Mar is the only Addison Mizner-inspired resort on the West Coast. Mizner was an iconic architect whose worldly design approach defined the resort communities of Palm Beach and Boca Raton in the 1920s. Our design team reflects Mizner’s exotic style with a colorful palette, arched doorways, rotundas, vibrant tile, wood-beamed ceilings, ornate stone and wrought-iron accents, decorative columns and parquet flooring.

The resort is located within Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, a pristine nature preserve where guests have access to 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares) and 37 miles (60 kilometers) of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. The nature preserve provides a beautiful and tranquil backdrop for our resort and championship-quality golf course, which captures the essence of SoCal’s coastal environs.

Other key differences include our Renaissance-inspired spa with treatments designed exclusively for The Grand Del Mar; fine dining headed up by Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef William Bradley on top of our award-winning wine program; an equestrian center; Club M, an ultra-luxury nightclub; and our onsite chapel for weddings and other events.

LM: Does The Grand ever experience a low season?

TV: Because of San Diego’s temperate climate, we don’t experience a typical low season like other parts of the country.

LM: What sorts of green initiatives are you working on?

TV: Our resort was recently named a member of the Climate Registry, which we are proud to be affiliated with, as well as its Cool Planet Project. Our sustainability efforts have expanded considerably since the resort opened more than six years ago as we are continually looking for ways to reduce our energy consumption.

LM: Are you looking at emerging markets such as China?

TV: We do have high-net-worth visitors from across the Pacific who come for a vacation, to golf or to hold business meetings. Currently, our largest market in Asia is Japan due to the nonstop JAL flight from Tokyo. However, we are seeing an influx of Chinese and Korean visitors; both overseas markets are expected to grow.