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 by Scott A. Sumner

    The west coast of North America is always a nice place to visit and during the last week of April I had the opportunity to travel to the San Diego, California area and specially the famed La Costa  resort. Your trip to La Costa is really quite easy with a short  flight to Toronto from my home city of Thunder Bay, Ontario to Toronto and  then a direct Air Canada flight to San Diego. You will arrive a t 1pm at the San Diego airport and after a 30 minute car ride enter the  beautiful 450 acre La Costa grounds. As the LAX airport at Los Angeles  got bigger and reached their capacity the San Diego airport benefits  with more direct flights.  They also have the John Wayne Airport just North of here some 45 miles at Carlsbad.

     Paul Joseph McCormick is the Vice President and General Manager  of La Costa located in Carlsbad, California.  He grew up in the Niagara  Falls, New York side and came often to Trout Lake, Ontario near  Barrie Bay in Canada where his family still owns a cottage. Paul went  to college in Las Vegas, spent 6 years working in Hawaii, opened the  Luxor in Las Vegas and worked at the Grand Traverse Resort, Michigan  and PGA West Barton Creek before coming to La Costa.


    The La Costa property was originally built in 1965 and at that  time it was the place to go with a destination spa, one of the first in the US and a beautiful golf course. “ In those
days the men's side of the spa was about 2 1/2 times the size of the ladies spa. Then the old cronies would go in and get massages. Today it has all changed. The ladies spa is about 2 1/2 times the size of  the men's.” said McCormick.

   Through the years La Costa has had a high profile holding 37 PGA  events and also having an array of the Hollywood set visit.  Even recently  they have had many celebrities like actors, TV personalities and  sports figures so La Costa has a rich history. In the old days the  Rat Pack would do a warm up here with their lounge show and after that take a break and go to Las Vegas.

    Once you are at La Costa you are with in a close distance to many other areas including 1 1/2 hours up the road to Los Angeles. La  Costa was built in 1965, had its hay day and  then a Japanese  company bought it.  They experienced some trouble and KSL bought it in 2001 and started a full renovation process. KSL owns Club Corp which has 160 golf clubs including the Club Link properties in  Canada, Western Athletic Clubs, the Squaw Valley ski area, Orion  Cruise Lines in addition to the KSL resorts which has 6 properties.  Their head offices are in Denver.


   In 2006 KSL sold the property to Goldman Sachs and retained  the management contract . They owned it for 4 years  until 2010 and then KSL brought the property back from Goldman Sachs  because they were having a rough go, as it was a tough time to be in  the hotel business.

  " After buying the property back we started a $50 million renovation  which included the Champions Golf Course, all of our food and  beverage outlets, the meeting space, guest rooms and our retail outlets as well as the overall aesthetics of the resort,” said  McCormick. “  It is a stunning place. Our plans are to move forward  with some improvements to the second course including fairways, tees,  greens, irrigation and then the aesthetics.  On the Champions course  75% of the work we completed you can’t even see, as it was all  underground. We wanted proper drainage.”

   La Costa is located on 450 acres on prime real estate in Southern  California with a tremendous location an hour from Orange County, 1  1/2 hour from LA and 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. They are  in a sweet spot with a good density of population.  La Costa has  610 rooms at the resort ranging from villa products with 3 bedrooms  to your standard hotel rooms, some on the course and other near  private pools. The property is spread out more campus style so there 
is lots of walking to enjoy the gardens and foliage. La Costa hasreceived many accolades including the number 1-wellness spa in the nation.


   “ We leveled the first spa and rebuilt this brand new spa in  2003/4. It has it’s own courtyard and cafe, separate pool, roman  waterfall showers and 42 treatment rooms. We were the originals in 
Southern California. We look at ourselves as a wellness destination  where 12 months of the year you can be outside. Our philosophy is  fresh air equals fresh thinking.  Our guests spend 80% of their time  out side. The San Diego weather is probably our most wonderful  benefit here at La Costa,” smiles Paul McCormick. “  We also have  Deepak Chopra’s world wide headquarters right here on the grounds of  La Costa. La Costa has something for everybody. As a family we have 
waterslides and pools, great camp programs and a kid center where you  can drop your kid's off and mom and dad can go to the spa or go  golfing and have a wonderful vacation.  The kids do as well. We have  guys groups which come and play some golf, watch some sports, have a  cocktail and can relax with our wonderful adult .The ladies have the spa which is great.”

    At La Cost a package is the best option for guests which can include a spa, golf and room package which can run for a couple from  $600 to $800 night. La Costa offers so much to do with 42 different classes every week in fitness as part of your  experience. The resort is also located 1 1/2 miles from the ocean.   Another very unique aspect of La Costa is the close proximity they  have to golf companies Calloway, Taylor Made, Titleist and Cobra  Puma. In fact Cobra Puma have their testing centre located right at La  Costa.  Since March they also have the PGA Tour Academy, the west coast facility, right here at La Costa. You can visit Calloway for instance and do a tour, which is pretty spectacular. You can even  get fitted for clubs there. The manufacturers chose to be here  because of the consistent weather where they can test their product  in a wonderful environment.


     The Champions course at La Costa has been totally renovated. “  We took about 30 acres of turf grass and replaced it with native  grasses moving in a green direction saving on water costs.” said  Damian Pascuzzo who along with partner former PGA Tour and Champions  Tour player Steve Pate and architect Jeff Brauer returned the course  to world class standard for which it had become famous. Jeff Brauer  helped with 30% on the work.  “ The flood water now stays in the rough  away from the fairways.”


   “  Steve Pate and I started working together in 2003 and joined formally in 2006. We made 23 visits to the course during  construction. It was a fast track renovation. They wanted better  playing conditions to overcome the reputation of being wet and soggy.  The bones were bad and needed a new irrigation system. Our soils were  high in salts and the sand capping we did helped flushing that out.  The soils were a challenge to work with. Sand capping the fairways  allowed the water to stay long enough to feed the grasses but then  drain away.”


   La Costa is one of the most beautiful properties I have visited in  my frequent  travels around the world. The grounds are just beautifully maintained and the over1000 staff members at La Costa make your time there very enjoyable.  The recent renovations make your living accommodations first class and  your dining, golf and spa experiences excellent. You should make your  next vacation La Costa.

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