The Omni La Costa Resort & Spa is designed for family fitness vacations, and is a fun place to introduce children to a healthy lifestyle. Luxuriously restored, the Mediterranean style resort opened in 1965 as the country’s first spa (they called it a “fat farm” then.) They’ve been perfecting the arts of wellness ever since.
Set among the greens of two championship golf courses in the coastal foothills of Carlsbad, California, Omni La Costa is 30 minutes north of San Diego and 60 minutes south of Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort. Carlsbad’s beach and affluent village make a good stopover on a California road trip, and the resort itself offers swimming, sports, yoga and healthy dining for all ages, as well as a supervised kids club.
Families Get in on the Game at Omni La Costa
The healthy attitude towards recreation at La Costa comes from decades of PGA Tour events, countless tennis tournaments and a staff of pros in each sport that includes many notables. Guest wellness is the focus of several on-site institutions: a traditional Indian yoga retreat, a weight-loss bootcamp, and a luxurious, award-winning spa. Acres of gardens, lawns and water features guarantee a restful stay.
Over the past decade, in response to the numbers of guests bringing along children and grandchildren, La Costa began adding one- and two-bedroom villas with kitchenettes and fireplaces, eventually expanding their family facilities. A pedestrian village grew up around the lobby area, with shops, a deli/coffee shop and a central fountain. Today, half of the guests filling the 611 rooms at Omni La Costa are families with children.
After a wonderful weekend visit when the resort was under different management, I was fortunate to return to the newly polished Omni in November 2014 for the annual TMS Family Travel conference. Given Omni’s investment in staff, refurbishments and amenities, I came away even more impressed with the La Costa vacation experience.
Great Family & Kid Programming at La Costa Resort
La Costa has long had round-the-clock activities for adults and many have been successfully translated for kids to enjoy. While we had a quick and friendly check-in, preschool kids who partook of the VIK Checkin got welcome bags and information about face painting, animal balloon making and the resort activities awaiting them. The resort calendar highlights as many as 150 family events like the weekly Radical Reptiles, an hour of hissing cockroaches, reptiles and other unusual creatures in a show n’ tell style display in the main plaza. There’s the Daily Crafts hour to make picture frames and jewelry, a Ceramics workshop, S’mores roasts, Family Scavenger Hunts and more.
Not only can parents come with children and enjoy together time and dozens of family activities; they can also leave children in good hands while they enjoy the spa, recreation, fitness classes, sports bar, or fine dining.
The supervised Kidtopia program accepts children 6 months through age 12 for crafts and games in its wonderful club space, as well as for outdoor play, and swimming. The program is open daily from 9am to 4pm for full ($80) or half-day ($50) activities, but tiny travelers aged 6-months to 3-years may only stay up to two hours each visit. The well trained counselors work with kids grouped by ages 3-5 and 6-12 to explore the resort and its Pacific coast environment with lots of themed activities. Kidtopia Night Camps, where ages 3-12 can enjoy a movie, games and a dinner together for a fee, take place Friday and Saturday from 6pm-10pm. Book ahead at 760/931-7543, especially weekends.
The Vibz lounge has the video games, pool tables, Xboxes and foosball to keep kids 10+ and their grownups entertained. Vibz is open daily 10am-10pm, free of charge, and runs on game tokens.
Outdoor Pool Fun Keeps Kids Busy Year Round
Outdoor activities center around the Splash Landing pool complex that has been key to attracting young parents. In addition to three water slides, the Splash Landing waterplay and soak zone has an adorable sand-bottom kiddie pool for toddlers. Check with the resort staff on setting up private swim lessons for the kids as well.
Twice per week during summer, both adults and kids can compete for the Slider’s Cup on the 100-foot waterslide and earn ice cream or smoothies. Saturday night it’s the site for Dive-In Movies. At the quieter Garden Pool by the traditional La Costa rooms, where lap swimmers will want to go, there are Dive-In Movies on Friday night. The resort also features The Edge adult pool for those who prefer to avoid the squeals of glee.
The Omni La Costa Family Fitness & Sports Programs
Several recreation and fitness options extend to kids. At the Sport Court, they can play a variety of pick up ball games. At the Athletic Club, children can join Kid Bootcamp and do exercises designed for young athletes.
La Costa is well known for its 17-court Tennis Center and championship tennis program, and group and private lessons are available for ages 4 and up.
Saturday and Sunday, the Chopra Center offers 30-minute family classes introducing the principles and practice of yoga.
The newly refreshed Champions Course and South Course have hosted PGA Tours for the past 25 years, so the Golf Squad welcomes players of all ages. A variety of Tour Academy learning programs are available for ages 7-17.
Together, families with teens and older kids can enroll in the Zumba, spin, extreme body sculpting and other fitness events, or chill together with the Morning Walk that departs from the main plaza at 8am daily.
Adult Play at Omni La Costa Resort
A La Costa weekend makes a delicious couples’ or girlfriends’ getaway: stylish shops surround the main plaza; there is an Ayurvedic Spa and a more traditional Spa at La Costa for adult pampering.
Indoor or outdoor bars and cafés offer super healthy or sinful dining, whatever your heart desires. The glass-walled Bistro 65 is a casual, popular-with-families restaurant where you can eat outside by a fireplace and watch the sunset over the golf course. The eclectic California menu has pulled pork sliders, a variety of steaks, fish and vegetable sides, as well as a vegan and gluten-free section to accommodate diners in the Chopra program, and those with food issues. By day, the Poolside Bar with its private cabanas overlooking The Edge serves only guests over 21 with a menu of tapas and organic wines. The lobby bar, Diversions, is the place to return after the kids are enrolled in movie nights.
Many of the staff at the Spa at La Costa — Spa magazine’s #1 Spa in the US and #4 on Travel + Leisure’s top North American Spas — have been there for ages, providing excellent service ranging from signature massages, to manicures and pedicures for kids, and bridal retreats with grooming for everyone in the party. It’s not cozy or intimate or a particularly quiet spa since more than 200 clients may pass through its 42 treatment rooms on a given day, but we found our afternoon there totally restful and rewarding.
Note that access to the water features, pool, and café in the spa garden is reserved for those who book a treatment, as is the Reflexology Path where you can walk barefoot on sea stones to provide stimulation to the feet.
At our brief stay with the innovative Chopra Center for Well Being we discovered it offers yoga, Ayurvedic treatments and the herbal wellness recipes of Dr. Deepak Chopra and his colleagues. It, too, is welcoming, with a full schedule of inexpensive fitness classes and free yoga sessions for the neighborhood on weekends.
The Premier Fitness Center at La Costa offers intensive makeover programs which range from one week to three months, though just one trial class on muscle activation therapy was enough to inspire us to get more fit. New moms can join the complimentary Stroller Strides workout classes for moms and babies who want to work out together.
Trip Planning Details for a La Costa Wellness Getaway
La Costa is the place to heal the stress of our frantically busy lives back home. Try to plan only one activity per day so you have time to enjoy eachother, the pools, the grounds and the fun Carlsbad family activities nearby. Carlsbad maintains a temperate climate about 70°F for most of the year so there’s rarely a low season. However, during the “May Gloom” and “June Doom” period of coastal fog, rates are at their lowest.
The Omni La Costa Spa & Resort is located at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad, CA 92009, about 90 minutes south of Los Angeles International Airport. The first visit, we stayed in a brand new, very large La Costa room with two queen beds, a sitting area with a pullout sofa and plenty of room for a rollaway. Our second trip was spent in a luxurious Golf Villa overlooking the greens, with a large living area with sofabed in addition to a very large bedroom with dresssing room and balcony. Additionally there are 28 Family Suites that are about double the size and sleep from four to six comfortably.
Those traveling with babies will appreciate the availability of rental strollers, baby-proofing supplies, Diaper Genie and baby amenities, full-size cribs, Pak’n Play with bedding (set up in your room or at the pool), high chairs, bed rails, healthy kids’ menus and private babysitting with advance request to the concierge. Rooms start at $$ per night with seasonal family packages offering spa and resort credits for use at the restaurants and other facilities.
Contact your travel agent or the reservations staff at La Costa.com to plan your vacation, and you and your family will be on your way to a lifetime of healthy habits.
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