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Summer Loving in La Jolla, Calif.

The Grande Colonial recently completed a $4 million renovation. – Photo by Greg Aragon / Beacon Media News

By Greg Aragon

Paradise comes in many forms. Recently it came by way of a charming suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a secluded beach and a delicious, 40-day aged cut of prime steak. In other words, I spent a night at the historic Grande Colonial in La Jolla and dined at the property’s renowned Nine-Ten Restaurant & Bar.

A friend and I recently escaped to the 100-year-old Grande Colonial for a memorable seaside getaway. Our adventure began when we checked into a beautiful suite overlooking the ocean. The suite dripped with classic design and elegance. It was like spending the night in an old, stately mansion back in the 1930s or ‘40s, but with all of the modern luxuries of a AAA Four Diamond Award recipient.

This past April, the hotel completed a $4 million renovation of its 97 guest rooms and suites. Artfully recapturing the hotel’s storied past with a focus on modern sensibilities, the design infuses a classic European ambiance and a refined, contemporary sophistication. 

Our room was located in the hotel’s Colonial Suites building, surrounded by lush gardens and an inviting, round-shaped pool. Upon entering the suite, we encountered an entertaining room with comfortable lounge chairs and an office area with desk and free high-speed Internet, a Keurig coffee maker, and a large HD TV.

There was also a sleeping area with two queen beds, with goose down comforters; a dressing room with double sinks and a walk-in closet; and a bright bathroom with classic, black and white checkered tiling. The room was highlighted by huge old-fashioned windows that opened wide to let in cool sea breezes and offer magnificent views of La Jolla’s beach and rocky coves.

Once acquainted with the suite, we explored the boutique hotel. Opened in 1913 as La Jolla’s first hotel, the Grande Colonial started as an apartment/hotel. It soon added a pharmacy run by the father of actor Gregory Peck, who grew up in La Jolla. In coming years, the hotel would host notables such as Charlton Heston, Groucho Marx, Jane Wyatt and David Niven.

Throughout its 100 years, the five-story hotel has seen numerous upgrades and owners, but has always kept its signature Colonial revival-style architecture and prominent corner location, one block above the ocean.

Besides the rooms, the hotel is known for its signature dining spot, the Nine-Ten Restaurant & Bar, located next to the lobby.

The restaurant is an exciting, upscale dining spot with a modern vibe, and colors infused with emerald green and light wood, and a stone tiled floor. The design focal point is a vibrant and locally inspired ocean and fauna wall panorama created by renowned artist Dana Montlack.

While the décor is refreshing and enticing, the real star of the restaurant is the food. Led by award-winning Chef Jason Knibb, the place specializes in a farm-to-table philosophy and features a harvest from local artisan farmers where produce is selected daily for the restaurant’s seasonal menus.

Our meal at Nine-Ten began with grilled octopus, with haricot verts and Spanish chorizo relish, whipped hummus, sherry vinaigrette, and spiced potato chips. For the main course I enjoyed an incredible 40-day aged prime rib-eye steak with mashed potatoes, onion rings and Japanese peppers—all on unique plate made from a sliced tree ring. My friend devoured the Maine sea scallops with thyme roasted baby carrots, baby leeks, English peas, pickled kumquats, pea tendrils, nasturtium oil, and carrot juice froth.

After dinner, we had a drink in the restaurant bar and then relaxed in the Jacuzzi before retiring for the evening. In the morning we walked to the La Jolla Underwater Park, a 6,000-acre tideland area of rocky reefs, kelp beds, sand flats, and submarine canyons. The park is naturally a popular destination for colorful fish, snorkelers, scuba divers and kayakers.

Near the Underwater Park is the Children’s Pool, where scores of adorable harbor seals can be found lounging on the sand inside a beautiful cove. This place was recently named by TripAdvisor as one of the “Top 10 Wonderfully Unique Beaches” in the world.

The Grande Colonial Hotel is located at 910 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037. The hotel also offers 5,000 square-feet of indoor and outdoor event space, in-room spa treatments, concierge-arranged ocean activities; airport shuttles and more. For more information and reservations, call (858) 454-2181 or visit thegrandecolonial.com.