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A cliff-top resort overlooking the ocean
An aerial view of the Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas.
(Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas)

If you’ve got the money, honey, these 7 new SoCal beachfront hotels have the rooms

For everyone who believes life is better at the beach, we’ve collected a tantalizing group of coastal treasures to explore this fall. The best beaches are even better when the crowds are gone and it’s easier to score a good deal.

Seven oceanfront hotels, from San Diego County to Santa Barbara County, have opened their doors or undergone major transformations in the last few months, offering splashy places to play.

Four are new builds — surprising, as they were constructed during the pandemic when supplies and labor were limited.

Most of the action has been in San Diego County, which has three new beachfront hotels and two major hotel renovations, all with endless blue horizons included in their daily rates.

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Showing Places
Lobby of the Hotel del Coronado
(Jim Edwards)

Hotel del Coronado

Coronado Hotel
Locals call it the Del: The San Diego hotel has been part of their lives since 1888 and has been serving guests since then, except for three months last year during pandemic-related closures.

Like many hotels, the Del used the COVID-19 shutdown to good advantage, making progress on a three-year, $400-million face-lift.

“We’ve missed making memories with you,” the hotel tweeted guests, adding that it had upgraded the pool and added beachfront rooms with fire pits during the closure.

Some of the new Cabana rooms overlook the pool, others are a few steps from the sand and have large terraces, walk-in showers and concrete fire pits.

The hotel has redesigned the main entry, upgraded its dining rooms, added more guest rooms, and extensively renovated its front porch and lobby.

If you’re a fan of the 1959 Marilyn Monroe film “Some Like It Hot,” you might remember the porch scene filmed here. The wide veranda seen in the movie disappeared in 1961, but now, it’s now back. Designers have restored it and the lobby, removing layers of nonhistoric additions.

But the most dramatic change is to the hotel’s entry, complete with a porte-cochere and central fountain, which now offers arriving guests a grand view of the iconic building and its red-roofed turret.

More changes are on the way, with renovations expected to be completed next summer. Included in the master plan is a new residential-style resort called Shore House, which will bring to 902 the number of rooms at the hotel.
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Gardens and lawn at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
(Jim Edwards)

Park Hyatt Aviara

Carlsbad Hotel
Golf, anyone? Step right into the Topgolf Swing Suite at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa, where you can experience a new way to play.

Topgolf, a simulator that features a massive screen, is one of the renovations at the Carlsbad hotel, which recently completed a $50-million face-lift. Park Aviara was already well known for its Arnold Palmer-designed 18-hole golf course, which is home to the LPGA Kia Classic.

But now you don’t have to walk outside to get into golf mode. Just enter the Topgolf Suite off the lobby for an immersive experience.

On the way there, take a good look at the brilliantly illuminated lobby, which has been reconfigured to create a Mediterranean-style outdoor living room that brings the ocean view indoors. And don’t miss the ceiling, where an unusual reflective art piece moves slightly in the breeze.

Although Park Aviara isn’t a beachfront resort, it’s included because of its great hilltop views of the Pacific and because its renovation was all-encompassing. Everything seems fresh and new at this massive hotel, which has 363 rooms and spans 200 acres.

Changes include two transformed pool areas, updated guest rooms and the reconfiguration of the main building that allows guests to exit the lobby onto a veranda and take a grand staircase to the formal gardens. It’s a lovely place to walk or take photos.
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Hotel room with a bed, small table and chairs and balcony
(Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas)

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Encinitas Hotel
There are bragging rights associated with staying at a new hotel, especially when it’s as striking as Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas.

Built on sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific, the resort offers offers awesome panoramic views. It opened in March 10 miles south of Oceanside.

Parents will be happy to know that the resort is family-friendly and just a few miles from the popular Legoland theme park.

The Alila group has luxury hotels in Indonesia and India, plus another standout California coastal resort, Ventana Big Sur. Alila Napa Valley opened in March, as did Alila Marea.

The Marea (“tide” in Spanish) has 130 rooms, an oceanfront pool, a spa, a gym and meeting facilities.

Although the hotel isn’t in a popular area, that’s not necessarily bad. Crowds are limited, and there aren’t as many people sharing the beach.

The hotel is dramatic-looking — the two-story cliff-top building seems suspended over the sea — and features warm woods, stone and driftwood.
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The Rooftop Bar at the Mission Pacific Hotel
(Jim Edwards)

Mission Pacific

Oceanside Hotel
The Mission Pacific, an appealing pier-front hotel which opened in May, is one of two of San Diego County’s largest hotel developments in 50 years.

The $200-million Hyatt development — that includes both the Mission Pacific and the Seabird Resort next door — comes at an ideal time. Oceanside, which shares its northern border with Camp Pendleton, once was considered one of California’s scruffier beach communities. But like a Marine recruit, it has cleaned up, shaped up and dressed up. There’s no better time to take advantage of its wide sandy beach, historic wooden pier and New England-style harbor.

The Mission Pacific is a winner. Fans of sleek, contemporary architecture will like it, with its a lively pool, interesting restaurants and well-equipped gyms. Leave open the doors to your balcony (most rooms have them), and you’ll spend the night listening to the sound of the waves.

Among the perks:
- Mission Pacific has Oceanside’s only rooftop bar. It also has the historic Graves House, a bright blue Victorian sometimes called the “Top Gun” house because it was featured in the 1986 Tom Cruise film. It will eventually become a dessert café.
- The hotel is accessible by Amtrak — the station is one block away — which makes it easy to reach from downtown L.A. or Orange County.
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Seating area at the Seabird
(Jim Edwards)

Seabird Resort

Oceanside Hotel
The Seabird accounts for part of the San Diego County’s largest hotel development in 50 years.

It oozes the charm of an upscale Maine fishing village. I expected to see schooners on the horizon and Gilded Age mansions along the shoreline.

The hotel has a lively pool, interesting restaurants and well-equipped gyms. Leave open the doors to your balcony (most rooms have them), and you’ll spend the night listening to the sound of the waves.

Among the perks:
- The hotel is accessible by Amtrak — the station is one block away — which makes it easy to reach from downtown L.A. or Orange County.
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Mural of Abbot Kinney behind the reception desk
(Mark Durling)

Venice V

Venice Hotel
Our fourth new beachfront hotel, the Venice V, is funky and fun. The small lifestyle boutique hotel, in a beautifully renovated 1915 building in the heart of Venice, sits on the boardwalk, offering ocean views and a continuously evolving panorama of skaters, bodybuilders and beach bums.

The has a colorful history, having hosted Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Clara Bow and other luminaries as long-term tenants during the ‘20s, Venice’s golden era. In the ‘60s, it became a hangout for Doors lead singer Jim Morrison.

The $10-million renovation took four years and created 34 rooms. Each is one of a kind, paying homage to the waves of skaters and surfers, artists and other bohemians that have shaped the community.

Among the Venice-oriented artwork in the hotel is a striking 12- by 12-foot lobby mural of Venice developer Abbot Kinney, constructed out of skateboard wheels.

Looking for an unusual room? Try one of seven stand-alone penthouse bungalows, each with a private entrance accessed by an outdoor corridor.
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The pool at the Mar Monte Hotel
(Mar Monte Hotel)

Mar Monte Hotel

Santa Barbara Hotel
The Mar Monte might not be on the sand, but it’s about as close to the beach as you can get if you’re planning a stay in Santa Barbara.

Like many hotels here, the Mar Monte is separated from the beach by Cabrillo Boulevard. But the views of the Channel Islands are wonderful, and it’s just a short walk across the street to reach East Beach.

The hotel, built in 1931 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, has never looked better now that its $23-million renovation is complete. Architects left intact the overall structure of the stucco buildings but added bright white walls in public areas, exposed wooden beams, Spanish tile, terra cotta floors and chandeliers.

The Mar Monte’s 200 rooms have been updated and renewed, and new restaurants have been added. Costa Kitchen & Bar, a dinner house, serves Cal-Mediterranean cuisine, with its eastern Mediterranean and Southern California influences.

Sister restaurant Café Lido offers light plates by the pool or in the café during the day.
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