This is a collaborative post with Hilton Grand Vacations*
It was my first travel since the Covid-19 pandemic and I was excited to go to sunny San Diego, California. The team at Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) had invited me to spend a fun and relaxing weekend at Hilton Grand Vacations at MarBrisa in Carlsbad, California. I finally felt brave enough to mask up and take a flight out west. My sister N was my partner for a glorious four days.
Leaving on a jet plane
In my mind I was silently singing Leaving on a Jet Plane, “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go,” as I boarded the jet plane from Philadelphia to San Diego International Airport. Thankfully I have TSA PreCheck so I was able to avoid the lines. I highly recommend applying if you plan to be traveling. You don’t need to take off your shoes and you can bypass the crowds. I brought my vaccine card too — just in case I needed it to enter restaurants or other venues in California.
Welcome to Hilton Grand Vacations at MarBrisa
When I wrote about Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare resorts back in February, I mentioned that I was feeling more optimistic about travel again. After reading about the vacation ownership brand’s resorts and destinations, I was eager to experience one in real life. I felt confident we would have a comfortable and safe stay knowing that the Hilton portfolio of brands have implemented the “Hilton CleanStay” initiative with enhanced cleaning protocols
N and I were booked at MarBrisa for four days and three nights in a luxury one bedroom suite. We were ready to, as the Hilton Grand Vacations promo says, “recharge along the golden coast of Southern California.” Our accommodations included a spacious 1-bedroom suite with a private balcony, a master bedroom with a king-size bed, bathroom with twin sinks and an adjoining soaking tub, a generous living room with a queen-size sleeper sofa and a washer/dryer, in case we needed to do laundry. BTW, sadly I didn’t get a chance to soak in the fabulous soaking tub because there wasn’t enough time. Definitely next visit!
While we didn’t do any cooking, we appreciated having a fully equipped kitchen for our breakfast and beverages each morning. Plus one night we ordered takeout and were glad to have a separate dining area at dinnertime.
With multi-bedroom suites and studios, it’s easy to see why vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations is appealing to all types of travelers. A staff member we spoke to said that several of the 18 villa building suites were occupied with Owners for a family reunion. What a great venue for a celebration.
A sprawling resort with many amenities and a perfect location
Should we lounge in a hammock by the fire pits or a cabana by the pool? Should we get a workout in at the fitness center or pamper ourselves at the next-door spa? Or what about the immediate access to neighboring LEGOLAND® California Resort? Despite a lack of grandkids, N is a big fan of Lego kits like the Eiffel Tower and other adult sets so it sounded entertaining. With relaxing and action-packed family-friendly amenities at every turn we had to make choices.
MarBrisa is conveniently located nearby the freeway providing easy access south to downtown San Diego signature attractions like the San Diego Zoo and north to the quaint seaside village and beaches of Carlsbad. Traffic is a constant in California so visitors must plan accordingly.
Some mornings we walked around the 56-acre campus, adding to our steps as we admired the landscaping with its pretty flowers, trees and plants. For those who prefer to ride, complimentary resort shuttle service is available ongoing at various locations on the property. MarBrisa also offers guided hikes through the nearby city trails at 8:00 a.m. Ooh, ooh, ooh, I did want to venture on a hike only my body decided it preferred to sleep-in.
The Village of Carlsbad and its beaches
On Saturday we headed out to explore the Village of Carlsbad and its breathtaking beach bluff. We were lucky to find a parking spot on a side street. My son D had recommended having breakfast at Cafe Elysa, a cute local bistro that serves scrumptious pastries, quiches, omelets and a variety of coffees and lattes.
After breakfast, we strolled along the bluff taking in the expansive vista and Pacific Ocean. “It’s so beautiful,” said N, who had never been to San Diego before. The mountains stood tall in the background and the weather was an ideal 70 degree temp.
According to the City of Carlsbad, “the bluff is part of Tamarack State Beach and Frazee State Beach. The City of Carlsbad has partnered with State Parks to restore and maintain the bluffs including: adding more than 5,000 native, drought tolerant plants appropriate for California’s coastline and climate; installing a new irrigation system to allow the new plants to thrive; and providing ongoing landscape maintenance.”
There are what looked to be many more appetizing restaurants and shops in the Village of Carlsbad. “There’s never enough time when we’re on vacation,” I said to N. “We’ll definitely have to make a return visit to Carlsbad in the future.”
Sunday is a fun day for painting…
Joela, the Director of Fun at MarBrisa, phoned Saturday evening to remind us about Sunday’s “Mimosa and Paint” activity. “It’s in the Imagination Station up the hill,” said Joela. “We’ll be there,” I said with a smile. Not having painted in about five decades, I was actually curious to see how I would do.
Joela is in charge of helping guests have fun. Ooh, ooh, ooh, what an incredible job!
“We’re going to paint the Carlsbad sunset,” said Joela, as she arranged the table settings with various brushes, oil paints, and canvasses. She made all the novices feel at ease. We sipped some coffee and mimosas and then she instructed us how to paint.
First, we brushed the bottom of the canvas with blue and white paint for the ocean. Next, we brushed the top of the canvas with red and white for the sky. To finish, Joela directed us to use the tiny brush to paint a silhouette of a palm tree. N and I and the rest of the participants were deep in silence as we let our creativity flow.
“Painting is such that when you make a mistake it’s okay. Don’t overcorrect,” said Joela. She prompted us to not forget to paint San Clemente and Catalina islands in the distance. A black squiggle here and there and our masterpieces were complete.
Wow-o-wow our paintings were pretty impressive for first-time artists. “That was really fun,” I thanked Joela and said goodbye to my fellow painters.
“I’ve watched families grow up here,” Joela remarked upon our departure. “When they become Owners they buy a week every year or every other year. Families from all over the world come here.”
…and lounging at the pool
“Let’s get our bathing suits on and go to the pool,” said N as we walked back to our suite. Yep, it was time to enjoy an afternoon of relaxation under the San Diego sun.
We made our way down to the Carlsbad Pool, found two chaise lounges and towels, and did exactly as the resort suggested, “sun, sip, snack, swim, snooze, repeat.” We took a pass on the hot tub and N took a swim in the pool instead. The Cove Bar & Grill offers lunch and snacks for purchase if desired.
The end of a lovely weekend
On Monday it was time to pack our bags and get ready for the second half of our vacation. We would be vacationing in Solana Beach, another community along Southern California’s coast. We both agreed what a lovely and safe weekend we had experienced during our stay at Hilton Grand Vacations at MarBrisa.
Riding down in the elevator I glanced behind to read the poster: “Own precious moments with the people you love. For a Lifetime.” Hadn’t we just done that? Ooh, ooh, ooh, indeed we had with memories to savor forever.
P.S. Stay tuned for upcoming posts about the second half of my San Diego vacation including our culinary adventures and fab restaurant meals, our visit to the San Diego Zoo, the incredible tour of Balboa Park, our day in La Jolla and more. You’ll definitely want to plan a trip to San Diego, if you’re not booking a flight already! And for more information on Hilton Grand Vacation resorts check out their website.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Hilton Grand Vacations provided me with compensation for this post and a complimentary stay at Hilton Grand Vacations at MarBrisa in Carlsbad, California. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Note: All photos were taken by me except where credited.