Rancho Valencia | Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Rancho Valencia is an award winning, Relais & Chateaux luxury resort located in Rancho Santa Fe, a suburb of North San Diego, CA. The resort has garnered a reputation as one of the most highly-rated five-star resorts and spa destinations, not only in the U.S. but worldwide. The property is annually recognized as one of the top resorts on numerous distinguished award lists such as Forbes Five Star, Travel + Leisure, U.S. News, Conde Nast, AAA Five Diamond, and has the unique distinction of being the only Relais & Chateaux property in Southern California.

The surrounding area of Rancho Santa Fe is known for its luxury real estate, and has even been listed as one of the most expensive zip codes in the country by Forbes. If you’re lucky enough to call this area home, you will find yourself among some very notable neighbors such as well-known actors, musicians, athletes, and entrepreneurs to name a few.

The Property

While the drive through the surrounding neighborhood up to the resort exudes opulence, there is an understated elegance upon reaching the gated entry to Rancho Valencia. As I drove through the entrance, I found myself surrounded by a 45-acre oasis of lush landscape, citrus and olive groves, tennis courts, meandering walkways leading up to Spanish Hacienda-style casitas and then I made my way to the reception round-about and was welcomed by a majestic tree that appears to be extending its arms out to greet each guest as they arrive.

Upon arrival, I was personally greeted by name by the friendly staff. I was then escorted to the quaint reception area for a pleasant check-in process and after an overview of the property, I was shown to my casita.

Guest Rooms

Editor's Note: This property was visited during Covid 19 imposed restrictions, therefore, not all facilities were operating under normal procedure and/or open to be viewed and experienced. This review will be updated upon a return visit after Covid 19 restrictions are lifted and ongoing projects on the property are completed.

CASITAS

The property offers 49 all-suite hacienda-style casitas set among a backdrop of well established, mature trees and landscape that give this resort an old-world charm. The rooms offer generous sized patios, some with indoor and outdoor fireplaces and some offering jetted hot tubs, rooms range in size from 900-1,300 square feet. The casitas offer a unique residential feel with a Spanish-Colonial inspired design and are spaced on the property to allow the utmost privacy for all guests.

All the rooms offer the same beautiful characteristics and are spacious with high ceilings and adorned with hand-crafted custom furniture, hand-painted tiles, rustic wood accents, as well as wrought iron light fixtures and door details. Vibrant commissioned artwork from Mexico hang on the walls along with many other custom details that would usually be found in a high-end residential home.

On a personal note, I stayed in the Valencia Suite #126, it was a one-bedroom suite with a spacious living room with a fireplace, small dining space and coffee bar. There was also a very sizeable private patio with an outdoor fireplace, a jetted hot tub and comfortable outdoor furniture for lounging. This casita comfortably accommodated myself and 7 other family members when I hosted a small get-together for the evening. We all ate a casual dinner in the room, enjoyed some libations, sat around the fireplace and shared a lot of laughs. I felt as though I was entertaining in my own living room and it was a real treat to share this experience with my family. All the rooms at the resort are lovely and quite spacious but to include all the amenities mentioned above, takes the experience to another level and I highly recommend this suite.

RESIDENCES

For large families, groups of friends or small retreats, you may want to consider one of the three private homes offered on property. These private residences are perfect for those looking for privacy and spacious accommodations with all the amenities of home.

Rancho Valencia guests may stay at the property’s original Hacienda, a 3,800 square foot, 3 bedroom/3 bath residence with a full kitchen, pool and spa that feels like a resort within the resort.

The property also offers two residences that, at the time of my visit (February 2021) are being renovated for future guest visits. Casa Valencia is a 6,000 square foot, 5 bedroom home with beautiful grounds that will make for a perfect small wedding venue or retreat location; and the Spa House is a 5,000 square foot, 4 bedroom home to be dedicated as a fitness and wellness retreat experience. This would be a great option for a girl’s weekend getaway or for anyone wanting to jump-start a new health and fitness program. These properties are anticipated to open mid-year 2021.

Also offered on property are twelve luxury 2,500 square foot, 3 bedroom/3 bath villas which are part of a private ownership program and allow access to the Owner’s Clubhouse. See {here} for all room descriptions.

AMENITIES

The room amenities here are among the finest I have seen with 600-thread-count linens, down bedding, plush Frette terry robes that were so soft and comfy I wanted to purchase one, espresso machines, and nightly turndown service. The bathrooms are extremely spacious with large showers, soaking tubs, walk-in closets and luxurious, generously sized Natura Bissé bath products that are replenished daily.

I don’t find this often but I certainly find it a nice touch when a resort offers a complimentary minibar. The minibar is well stocked with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks at no additional charge and they are restocked daily. In addition, each morning a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and a newspaper are delivered to your door…that feels decadent to me.

Dining

Rancho Valencia offers several dining options where the cuisine is crafted using fresh, seasonal produce and herbs grown right on the property. The steaks come from prime and grass-fed, pasture-raised beef and the fresh fish is picked up directly at the Port of San Diego. It all adds up to an exceptional dining experience that offers a perfect coastal ranch cuisine for each guests’ palate.

Veladora, the finer dining restaurant, was closed at the time of my visit {February 2021}. The restaurant is undergoing a reconception phase and is scheduled to re-open in early 2022.

The Pony Room {or Pony Camp as it’s being called while under the outdoor tent due to Covid 19 restrictions} serves up craft tequilas and cocktails alongside rustic American cuisine for lunch and dinner. Rancho Valencia has done a beautiful job in re-imaging how to accommodate and serve their guests with an al fresco environment under a clear-top tent where you can see the palm trees swaying above while dining in casual comfort. The atmosphere is intimate and creative in its design concept. As the evening progresses, the fire pits start to glow and the tent takes on a magical ambiance. I enjoyed that our waiter was knowledgeable and didn’t hesitate to offer advice on which wine and meal to order, which surprisingly was the burger…that my husband said was one of the best he’s had.

Other dining options available are in the Fountain Courtyard, Pony-To-Go, In-Room dining and Rein located at the spa pool. The dining facilities are open to the public and are a local favorite so making reservations is highly recommended.

As a special treat, enjoy a culinary experience in the tranquil setting of the secret garden, where they grow the fresh herbs and vegetables for the in-house restaurants. In addition, Rancho Valencia recognizes the need and value in giving back to the community and has teamed up with ProduceGood to provide “quick pick” days {or a process called gleaning} where volunteers will come and pick excess crops from Rancho Valencia’s groves and garden to donate to local food banks. Good people, doing good deeds!

Spa & Fitness

SPA

The Spa at Rancho Valencia is a full-service spa and has been awarded the prestigious Forbes 5-Star rating. The main spa facility was undergoing a complete renovation during my visit {February 2021}, however, the spa remains open and operating in alternate locations at the resort. There are 95 fitness classes offered including Yoga, Pilates, and TRX classes to name a few; in addition, there are {4} Spa Casitas that are available for treatments, so there is no disruption to spa services. See spa renovation disclosure {here}.

The exciting news is that the spa is anticipated to reopen in May 2021, and as such, the new facility will offer 14 treatment rooms, separate men’s and women’s hydrotherapy spaces, along with a coed space for those who prefer that option. Other exciting additions will be salon services, a blow-out bar, and the adult-only spa pool which will serve healthy poolside meal options.

TENNIS

Rancho Valencia’s property actually had its beginning as John Gardiner’s Rancho Valencia, a high-end tennis resort developed by tennis legend John Gardiner. The resort opened in 1989 and operated as a tennis resort for nearly two decades.

When the current private owners acquired the resort, they decided to maintain the genesis of its tennis roots and today Rancho Valencia is ranked Southern California’s #1 Tennis Resort by Tennis Magazine since 2008. Rancho Valencia’s 14 beautiful Plexipave championship courts, 2 European Red Clay courts and 3 Pickleball courts provide a world class players’ experience in a stunning oasis of lush gardens and citrus groves. Players of all ages and abilities can enjoy a friendly match or team up with a highly experienced tennis pro for one-on-one or group instruction. I think John Gardiner would be proud of how Rancho Valencia has maintained his vision all these years later.

Activities

Southern California is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and active people. The resort is located in close proximity to numerous activities and sights that will please people of all ages, some options that await you are..

Drive a Bentley. Yes, really! Rancho Valencia, in conjunction with Bentley Motors, offers a Bentley Test Drive Program that allows guests to reserve one of their in-house Bentley automobiles for a 4 hour excursion. It’s first come, first serve each day, so you must call early to reserve it. I took a drive in to La Jolla in the convertible Bentley on a gorgeous, sunny day and it was a memorable experience.

Play tennis, or brush up on your game with a pro instructor.

Go for a bike ride, the resort offers complimentary bikes.

Golf at one of the many prestigious golf courses in the San Diego area, including the Torrey Pines Golf Course, who will be hosting the U.S. Open in June 2021.

Stake a bet on your favorite horse at the Del Mar Racetrack. Del Mar is hosting the Breeder’s Cup in November 2021.

Hit the beach only 5 miles from the resort, visit Legoland, San Diego Zoo, or Balboa Park. Kayak the La Jolla Caves, then have lunch at George’s at the Cove. The options are endless.

For the kiddos, the main pool is open year round, inquire about the Kids Camp and see additional list of family activities {here}.

Contact the concierge for more suggestions or booking assistance.

Summary

One of my favorite aspects of this property is the intimacy, personalized service and luxurious comfort it offers its guests. When you drive through those front gates, you are welcomed into this secret oasis where you can choose to seize the day or do nothing at all, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, a luxury resort should elevate your experience beyond your expectations and leave you wanting more…Rancho Valencia accomplished this for me and I’m confident it will for you too.

Rancho Valencia’s motto is “far from ordinary”, and I agree…Rancho Valencia is No Ordinary Resort!

Rancho Valencia
5921 Valencia Circle (Box 9126)
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

Susan Edel
Susan Edel


Susan Edel is a travel writer who specializes in luxury travel and resorts. She is the founder/editor of http://www.NoOrdinaryResort.com, a website featuring some of the most luxurious resorts in the U.S. and beyond.

Susan enjoys inspiring people to experience the joy of luxury travel, exceptional resorts, and unique experiences through her writing and original photography. Life Is Too Short For Ordinary.

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