It’s not often that I make my way all the way up north to Carlsbad, but oh man was this trip worth it. I spent an afternoon getting pampered at Driftwood Spa at the Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, which recently opened to the public. Now you don’t have to be a hotel guest to experience the luxe services offered at this elegant boutique spa. Driftwood has a costal vibe with three treatment rooms and a nail salon, offering massages, body treatments, skin care, nail care and wellness services. I opted for the French green clay and seaweed detox wrap that begins with an exfoliation with a dry brush, before they apply a peppermint-scented clay all over. While you’re wrapped up in a warm cocoon letting the clay do its magic, they massage your face and scalp, which I would totally love to endure every day for the rest of my life. Once the clay is wiped away, they apply a silky shea butter to leave your skin feeling soft and moisturized. I felt like a million bucks sitting in the relaxation lounge post-treatment, sipping hot tea in my fluffy robe. The spa also has a steam room if you’re in the mood for pore cleansing.
Feeling hungry after my treatment, I walked across the lobby to the hotel’s farm-to-table restaurant called Seasons that’s also newly open to the public. Hotels don’t typically have a great reputation for dining, but Seasons is one of the exceptions to that rule.
Since seafood was a big focus of the menu, I tried the raw oysters with hibiscus mignonette, horseradish and lemon; the spicy shrimp with coconut milk, garlic and fresno chili; and the slow-cooked octopus with romesco, lemon gelee, olives and fingerling potatoes. The oysters were fresh and delivered a powerful punch when topped with the accoutrements, spicy shrimp were served in a flavorful broth with bread for dipping, and octopus was cooked to a perfect texture. The giant meatball is another standout – made with wild boar and served with spicy bacon-onion jam in a hot skillet.
For entrees, the Kobe ribeye was surprisingly lean (much like a filet cut) and flavorful. It’s served with roasted mushrooms, salsify root and horseradish. It’s a decadent piece of meat that you can easily tell is high quality. The cedar plank salmon is another good choice, served with golden lentils, Brussels sprouts and ginger vinaigrette. As a side dish, try the brassicas vegetables with cauliflower, romanesco broccoli, Brussels sprout leaves, and a savory brown butter broth that you’ll want to use a spoon to finish off.
Save room for dessert so you can try the tapioca terrarium with coconut sorbet and pineapple foam. It’s so pretty that you won’t want to eat it. For the chocolate lovers, the chocolate flight with macarons, white chocolate ice cream and cremeux pudding are delicious without being overly rich or sweet. The wine and cocktail lists are top notch here, so don’t skip the vino or after-dinner drinks.