Alila Marea Encinitas Ocean View Suite Review
I booked three nights in March, 2022 at the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas, which is a Hyatt property, using points. The room was 25,000 Hyatt points per night and I used a Tier Suite Upgrade to reserve a suite at the time of book. The standard rooms were approximately $800/night and suites were double that.
I was visiting with my sisters and mom. We had a total of three rooms booked, all on points. While I had an Ocean View Suite, my Globalist sister was upgraded to an ADA Fire Pit Room on Floor 1. My other sister and mom (with no status) were assigned one of the Garden View Rooms but paid an additional $50/night to upgrade to a Coastline View Room on Floor 3.
The property opened in March, 2021 and I stayed one year after opening. It is one of three Alila properties in the US; all in California. There are a total of 130 rooms; only 7 of which are suites (5 standard suites plus two specialty suites). All of the rooms have a view of the ocean except the six “Garden View” rooms which face a wall/fence. I believe the Garden View rooms end in 36, 38, & 40. It looks like when booking with points you can select a better room for the same number of points; so be aware of the room you are booking.
The Alila Marea Beach Resort is located 35 minutes north of the San Diego airport and just south of Carlsbad at Ponto Beach State Park. It is less than 2 miles west of the Park Hyatt Aviara.
The property is located on Highway 101; a busy four lane highway along the California coast. This isn’t a typical resort property with a lot of land; it is squeezed into a narrow piece of property between the highway and a bluff above the ocean. The views are great but you do get see the highway and hear the noise of it; which some may be disappointed by considering this is marketed as a spa resort.
Besides the beach at the state park, there isn’t much to walk to. There is a 7-Eleven convenience store a 5 minute walk down the highway if you need something and don’t have a car. If you have a car, there are plenty of restaurants north or south on Highway 101.
I arrived at the property around 11:00pm. The only option for parking is valet which is free for Globalists when using points. Likewise, there is a $49/night resort fee that is waived for Globalists.
After the valet took my car I headed to the check in desk. No staff were present but after a minute or two someone came out to help me. I was assigned room 270, an ADA One Bedroom Ocean View Suite. The key card for the room is made out of a wood or bamboo product.
The hotel is four levels: the lobby level with coffee shop and spa. Floor 1 with guest rooms, pool, and ballroom. Floor 2 with guest rooms and Vaga (restaurant and bar). Floor 3 with guest rooms.
The main elevator is located behind the spa. There is a second elevator at the other end of the property near the pool.
Once off the elevator, the guest rooms are through another set of doors with no markings which can be quite confusing. I assume it could be for security if needed to prevent people from the restaurant wandering down the guest room floors. The doors were never locked however.
One Bedroom Ocean View Suite
I was assigned room 270, an ADA accessible suite overlooking the pool. The building is shaped like a very long “Y” and my room was at the end where the building branches. For that reason, it is a unique space with not a huge balcony but spacious room (829 sq. ft.). If I had the choice, I would recommend the One Bedroom Coastline Suite; while a bit smaller, I think it has a better layout and still a great view without looking right out at the pool.
As you enter the suite, there is a small entry area with storage and a door to the bathroom.
The living room has a sleeper sofa, two chairs and a wall mounted TV. A sliding glass door leads out to the balcony.
Against the wall towards the entry is a built in area with the coffee maker, kettle, and a mini fridge. It was stocked with two complimentary hard seltzers (not refilled during the stay).
The balcony is accessible from the living room or bedroom. It features two chairs plus a table with two more chairs. The rooms on the first floor have fire pits and more outdoor seating. I believe all rooms in the hotel have either a balcony or patio.
Here is the view of Room 270 (center) from the pool area.
The bedroom can be closed off from the living room with a pocket door. The king bed faces the sliding glass door. A TV is mounted on the wall above a dresser. A built in closet is to the side of the bed.
The walls are bare; it would be nice to have a large art piece hanging above or beside the bed.
Two sets of curtains (black out and sheer) were over each set of windows. They were controlled by buttons on the wall, which was not the case in my sister’s non-ADA room.
The bathroom is huge with just a ton of unused space. It can be entered from either the bedroom or the entry. Entering from the entry, the free standing tub is to your right, then the double vanity. A large shower area with shower curtain allows for wheelchairs to roll in. A toilet has plenty of space on the other side of the shower.
There is a standard shower head in addition to a handheld shower wand. Dried eucalyptus is placed over the shower head. A small bench is built in to the wall. I found the water pressure to be low. The water pressure on the tub was very strong; not sure why the difference.
The bath products are individual sealed metal tubes, almost like toothpaste. You have to poke through the seal with the point in the cap — think of opening a tube of super glue. The products are Votary brand and seemed to fit the high end spa vibe.
Pool & Gym
The pool is located at the back of the hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The pool itself is salt water and rather small. Directly in front of the pool is a hot tub with an open edge for less obstructed views of the ocean. A row of four cabanas are along the edge and can be rented. Lounge chairs are free to use but are limited in number.
The pool isn’t set up to be kid friendly; it is small and really meant to take a dip to cool off; not for swimming laps or splashing around. Unfortunately there were a large number of kids of all ages during my stay including a group of about ten kids that were splashing around, jumping in, running back and forth between the hot tub and pool. It really detracted from the “spa” feel that is advertised. My understanding is that the property was originally built to be adults only, but the hotel opened in the middle of Covid so they opened it to all ages. Families, for whatever reason, seem to have flocked to the property. It is not a kid friendly property and I think the hotel needs to be more proactive in moving towards adult only like the other Alila properties.
A fire pit and lounge area are along the side opposite the cabanas.
There is a restaurant/bar just off the pool (almost directly under my suite) called The Pocket that serves beverages and lunch. Servers also can take guests orders at their lounge chairs by the pool.
The gym is located on the first floor near the pool and is open 24 hours a day.
There is a spa on the lobby level though I didn’t visit it during my stay. E-bikes can be borrowed at no cost.
The Alila Marea is perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean. To access the beach, you have two options. You can either take a staircase down from near the pool area:
Or a ramp walkway along the property to near the front of the hotel, then down a path to the beach public parking lot.
The public beach is a mix of sand and smooth stones. Surfers frequent it and there are lifeguard stands and restrooms.
The main restaurant on property is Vaga from local chef Claudette Zepeda. I at there every day for breakfast and once each for lunch and dinner. I found all the food to be very good; especially the breakfast each day.
In addition to a balcony with outside seating, there is also a bar in the back that has an outdoor section with plenty of views.
Open all day, Vaga is where Globalists receive their breakfast. The typical Global breakfast includes one non-alcoholic beverage, a main and a side.
Here are some of the breakfast orders from my visit: French Toast, Quiche, Yogurt Bowl, Vaga Breakfast, Breakfast Rice Pot, and side of fruit.
The mixed juices were tasty and included. If you want something not too adventurous, the Moonlight Sunset is recommended.
The fresh pastries are made in house.
For lunch one day we tried the bar at Vaga. I ordered the BBQ Chicken, which was a bit dry, but the broccolini salad that it was served with was excellent. My sisters and mom enjoyed the seafood salad.
We also tried Vaga for dinner. The fresh bread was amazing as were the desserts. We did shared plates and all were good. My biggest issue was that after I signed for the bill and charged it to my room; somehow four additional beverages were added to our bill that we didn’t order and we didn’t drink. Even more concerning, the tip was changed. I will give them the benefit of the doubt as we were splitting the bill across rooms. Fortunately I checked my hotel bill upon check out and saw about $70 I was over charged for dinner. I had them pull up the bill and saw the errors.
There is also a coffee shop open in the morning until early afternoon just off the front by the valet.
The Pocket is the bar off of the pool. There are a few seats inside but most people would be dining poolside.
I ordered fish tacos at the pool and they were excellent.
In addition to the issue with our dinner bill, I found the service to less than what you would expect from a hotel that starts at $800/night.
When I checked in, I was asked when I would like housekeeping — morning or afternoon. I said morning but when I returned to my room after being at the pool at 1pm, housekeeping hadn’t yet arrived. I called down and they did send someone up an hour later. The only new toiletries brought during my stay was a bar of soap, though when I called down to ask for some additional shampoo they brought it right up. After the first night bath towels and wash clothes were replaced, but I never got new hand towels.
Also when I checked in, I had someone bring my bags up to my room. I arrived at 11pm, and when my luggage wasn’t at my room at 11:30pm I called down and said they would bring it right up.
The blackout curtain in my living room didn’t close. I asked someone to take care of it on my first night and it was never fixed during my three night stay. The bathroom sinks’ stoppers didn’t work so you couldn’t fill the sink with water.
On a positive note, each night I did have turn down service and they replaced my waters. All of the servers at the restaurant, bar, and pool were knowledgeable and friendly. A few times part of the order was forgotten but was quick to remedy when we reminded them.
The Alila Marea is a good place to visit using points. I think it is worth the splurge of 25,000 points per night. However, the cash rates are way too high. The rooms are nice, though a bit minimalist. The food options are top notch. There are some service issues to be worked out. I would like to see the property be adults only. I don’t quite understand the Alila brand; I was thinking it would be more of a spa, exclusive property (which I think most of the others, at least outside of the USA, are). To me it felt similar to Andaz properties. Not bad, but not that different to other new build boutique minded hotels. It will be interesting what the future holds for Alila brand and the Marea Encinita property in particular.