I spent last week visiting two extraordinary properties in San Diego:

The Grand Del Mar and Rancho Valencia. They are both five-star resorts, but each does luxury in its own way. The seven-year-old Mediterranean-inspired Grand Del Mar has 249 guest rooms, with rich furnishings like brocade upholstery, cut crystal lamps and burled wood dressers with burnished gold accents. The more than 20,000 square feet of flexible meeting space includes a 10,000 square-foot ballroom, a outdoor event lawn that’s nearly as large, a 3,300 square-foot chapel and private dining in the resort’s wine cellar. Rancho Valencia, which recently reopened in time to celebrate its 25th anniversary after a $30 million property-wide renovation has 49 hacienda-style private casitas with fireplaces and sprawling patios. Their meeting space includes light-drenched event rooms--with details like open-beamed ceilings and turquoise fireplaces--that open onto terraces and patios; private wine room; a 8,400 square-foot croquet lawn and a garden with gently rolling lawn that can accommodate up to 500 guests.

You’ll be reading about both The Grand Del Mar and Rancho Valencia in future issue of the magazine, but I do want to share a glimpse into a few of the experiences I enjoyed.

 * The eight-course tasting menu at Addison, prepared by Grand Chef William Bradley, featured gorgeously plated dishes like a coddled farm egg served with stinging nettles and morel mushrooms; roasted duck in a coffee-miso glaze, paired with a spectacular Margaux du Chateau Bordeaux, and a trio of briny kumamoto oysters with preserved lemon, fresh horseradish and watercress.

* Among the amenities at Rancho Valencia are a pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice delivered to your room each morning and complementary use of one of three Porsches. We drove our Carrera to dinner at the nearby Searsucker restaurant, where we dined on perfectly prepared diver scallops, short ribs, more oysters and a very satisfying cocktail made with buttered-popcorn tequila.

So, what mind-blowing properties have you visited lately? I’d love to hear from you!

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