I spent last week visiting two extraordinary properties in San Diego:

The Grand Del Mar and Rancho Valencia. They are both five-star resorts, but each does luxury in its own way. The seven-year-old Mediterranean-inspired Grand Del Mar has 249 guest rooms, with rich furnishings like brocade upholstery, cut crystal lamps and burled wood dressers with burnished gold accents. The more than 20,000 square feet of flexible meeting space includes a 10,000 square-foot ballroom, a outdoor event lawn that’s nearly as large, a 3,300 square-foot chapel and private dining in the resort’s wine cellar. Rancho Valencia, which recently reopened in time to celebrate its 25th anniversary after a $30 million property-wide renovation has 49 hacienda-style private casitas with fireplaces and sprawling patios. Their meeting space includes light-drenched event rooms--with details like open-beamed ceilings and turquoise fireplaces--that open onto terraces and patios; private wine room; a 8,400 square-foot croquet lawn and a garden with gently rolling lawn that can accommodate up to 500 guests.

You’ll be reading about both The Grand Del Mar and Rancho Valencia in future issue of the magazine, but I do want to share a glimpse into a few of the experiences I enjoyed.

 * The eight-course tasting menu at Addison, prepared by Grand Chef William Bradley, featured gorgeously plated dishes like a coddled farm egg served with stinging nettles and morel mushrooms; roasted duck in a coffee-miso glaze, paired with a spectacular Margaux du Chateau Bordeaux, and a trio of briny kumamoto oysters with preserved lemon, fresh horseradish and watercress.

* Among the amenities at Rancho Valencia are a pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice delivered to your room each morning and complementary use of one of three Porsches. We drove our Carrera to dinner at the nearby Searsucker restaurant, where we dined on perfectly prepared diver scallops, short ribs, more oysters and a very satisfying cocktail made with buttered-popcorn tequila.

So, what mind-blowing properties have you visited lately? I’d love to hear from you!

Lately, I’ve run across two companies offering Bear Camps, and they both definitely piqued my interest. Living in the mountains of Colorado, I’ve had bears cross my back patio early in the morning and at dusk and enter my garage to snack on treats in the freezer late at night when the door didn’t get shut (think homemade ice cream and chocolate truffles).

 

Incorporating the host city into the framework of the meeting is an effective way to enhance the content of the conference.

Host in Local Hotel
While attendees might flock to flag hotels, consider a boutique hotel as overflow to showcase the destination. In Lubbock, the DoubleTree by Hilton offers a local flair through design and cuisine; meanwhile, just a few streets over, the Cotton Court Hotel pays tribute to the area’s cotton history. 

 

Plano, Texas is truly the land of plenty. Blending historic charm with modern luxury, the city brims with attractions and amenities. With nearly 60 hotels of various price points, 1000+ restaurants, world class shopping, a lively arts and nightlife scene, abundant natural beauty, and four walkable districts, Plano is the perfect city for a meeting of any size.