At press time, there are over 35 counties in the state of California on Governor Newsom’s COVID-19 watch list. The phrase “watch list” doesn’t necessarily conjure visions of an idyllic vacation destination. Instead, it brings to mind images of a black and white FBI most wanted poster, plastered on community message boards and local law enforcement Twitter feeds. There is a raging debate about reopening schools in the fall, whether masks and social distancing will be enough to protect the kiddos walking out of their private quarantines and into a shared space with 30 other children. We’re headed for a fall full of masks and hand sanitizer, instead of pumpkin patches and spiced lattes in our carpool cupholders.
And yet the gorgeous summer weather is here. The beaches beckon. I know, because I’m feeling it personally. As happy as our home is, it’s always nice to have a change of scenery, perhaps even more so today than ever. A familiar refrain of family and friends these last few months is to keep in perspective the silver lining in this unprecedented time of staying close to home. However redundant it might sound, having more time as a family means we can spend more time as a family. And San Diego’s perfect climate, inviting beaches, abundant outdoor activities, and unbelievable accommodations make for an easily accessible, atmospheric time away - even if only for a few days.
When researching options, we were hoping it wasn’t too tall an order to arrange an accommodation that was on the water, amenity-rich with family-friendly recreational opportunities (boat, jet ski or kayak rental - and a preferable heated - swimming pool were on our wish list). Hitting the mark on all counts, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa stood out as our family’s first choice for a proverbial “end of summer/ease into fall” family-friendly staycation.
Dedicated to providing the most tropical and luxurious resort stay that safety and proper sanitation practices can deliver right now, the Polynesian-themed resort is a tropical hideaway that offers up an ambiance and experience that feels as though you’re on a Hawaiian island vacation sans the five-hour flight.
Cool ocean breezes, warm, friendly hospitality, sunny days, starlit nights, verdant greenery, tiki torches, waterfalls and ponds full of colorful koi, majestic palms swaying in the afternoon breeze and beautiful exotic birds that strike up conversation with passerby - these are among the things guests can expect here. That’s before mentioning the sparkling Pacific and long stretches of white sand beaches literally steps away. The Catamaran’s tropical vibe artfully blends the Aloha spirit where each of the property’s 310 luxurious suites, studios and hotel rooms feature a private balcony or patio with breathtaking views of Mission Bay, the Pacific Beach neighborhood and coastline, or the property’s lush tropical gardens.
The resort’s signature restaurant, Oceana Coastal Kitchen features chef-driven, California cuisine and a modern, ocean-inspired design and ambiance defined by sweeping panoramic waterfront views (its adjacent Moray’s lounge is characterized by flickering flames from tiki torches and lava rock fire pits). Ranging from casual and family-friendly to upscale, the space includes several distinct ocean-inspired dining areas (the quartz-topped cold bar is embedded with mother of pearl and sea glass; the focal point of the main dining room is an impressive 800-gallon aquarium. In today’s cautionary environment, Oceana is serving Executive Chef Steven Riemer’s playful interpretation of classic dishes outdoors with patio dine-in service (seating is limited, so reservations are recommended).
Our family is represented on all culinary fronts. I am a seafood aficionado. My husband, Tim, is a meat-and-potatoes man. Our 12-year-old daughter has a pretty adventurous palate, but her 13-year-old brother always opts for traditional kid-friendly fare. There was something for everyone on Oceana Coastal Kitchen’s menu - abundant seafood selections, beef and chicken entrees and a variety of delicious flatbreads, including a sweet fennel sausage and classic pepperoni.
For my part, I went with seafood from start to finish - the hamachi crudo with white miso, micro cilantro and jalapeño from the cold bar was a wonderfully flavorful appetizer, followed by seared scallops paired with toasted couscous, preserved lemon and mint. Tim’s grilled-to-perfection Harris Ranch ribeye arrived with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and broccolini, preserved lemon and chili with bordelaise sauce.
We spent the entire day outdoors - starting with a spin around the bay aboard a 19’ Rinker rented through Action Sport Rentals (www.actionsportrentals.com), San Diego’s premier land and water sports rental company with multiple locations, including at the pier at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa. The powerboat we chose is a fast, fun craft that’s also a super comfortable ride for up to seven passengers - while boaters stay within the bay, our experience alternated between a leisurely cruise in the channels an an exhilarating ride at speeds topping 40 mph.
Sunbathing and paddleboarding, relaxing by the pool, or simply cruising down the boardwalk definitely make my top-ten-distractions-from-home-schooling list. Choose a garden suite or tower escape at Catamaran Resort Hotel, grab a coffee or cocktail, and treat the entire family to some of the finest cuisine in America’s Finest City. We can all agree that times are challenging, and certainly, they may not clear up shortly as we’d all prefer. But who’s to say we can’t add a little joy to our definition of “new normal”?
Catamaran Resort Hotel
3999 Mission Boulevard