Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is hands down one of the best hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure to stay at. Not only did this hotel open my eyes up to a whole new side of San Diego for me, but the customer service and amenities were some of the best I’d had the chance to experience on my travels. Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is one of those places that once you visit once, you’ll find ways to go back at some point on a future trip. Even as I set out to tell you about this hotel and its location, it makes me glow with happiness because it was a rare stay where they got everything right, which ultimately made it a fantastic stay!
I’ve been a very lucky girl to have traveled as much as I have over my 34 years, in fact, I’d actually already been to San Diego in the ’90s with the entire family. We did downtown San Diego briefly but then we stayed somewhere near a beach, and due to me being young I haven’t a clue where or what it was, I just knew I loved it. What I hadn’t realised was that I had been to an area called Mission Bay, a place my Mum even today says if she could live anywhere in California, it would be there! For my picky Mum (love you Mum), this was a bold statement, so when I knew we were heading back my expectations were high.
Why Mission Bay?
Unlike downtown San Diego, Mission Bay offers this cool, calm tranquil California vibe. As we seemed to discover in every place we set camp in California, literally not one place is the same, even in the same area! San Diego downtown was the polar opposite to Mission Bay and La Jolla, you could spend a good few weeks exploring San Diego let alone anywhere else in California. Mission Bay is the ideal spot for all your watersports, as it boasts 27 miles of gorgeous shoreline views where you can kayak, kitesurf, stand up paddleboard, jet ski, and wakeboard. You’re close to the 3 miles of oceanfront boardwalk with Mission Beach and Pacific Beach too. This place has everything for those adventure seekers whilst giving you the option to unwind with glorious views, you might say the perfect balance for Nick and me.
Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
During our trip to California we were staying at a variety of places from budget to luxury, but heading to Mission Bay I’d say I was most excited about. As soon as we drove up to the grand entrance to the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa, you’re immediately greeted by a botanical haven, full of colourful flowers, plenty of foliage and of course a waterfall and koi carp pond, I mean, what else would you expect to be greeting you in the lobby?!
The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa host 310 San Diego suites, studios, and hotel rooms with a variety of additional choices to your accommodation. You can have a bayfront view or a garden front view room, which you can select when you book.
Checking in was a breeze with plenty of spots to set up camp with the bags whilst everything got sorted. Hearing the delicate trickles of the waterfall made for a very tranquil start to the stay, I’d certainly say a little taste of what was to come. Beyond your greenery and open-spaced lobby, you had the most important thing on site. A coffee shop! Yes, every morning before you ventured off for the day you could grab your drip coffee from Lava Java! We had a coffee actually on the day we left, and as a big coffee bean myself, I’d highly recommend a visit.
Once checked into the Polynesian-themed resort, you walk through into what I can only describe as a tropical hideaway. It’s like you step into a tiki-inspired enclosed resort with ducks, koi fish, exotic birds, winding paths, and a lush pool. It feels like you left the lobby and stepped into a paradise resort, which essentially you do! It feels private, luxurious, exclusive and best of all, calm.
As we walked along the path guided by the tiki post of directions, we passed your initial greeters, the parrots, followed by the ducks who decided to race across the path and finally a few splashes from the large koi carp swimming in the wrap-around water feature. Some of the hotel rooms face in, but the ones that do on the ground floor or with big balconies are all kept private by a pretty botanical wall.
Staff who checked us in were super friendly, gave us all the information and more about the resort and surrounding area. We were taken to our room by another member of staff who got us all settled in. The staff at the Catamaran were happy to assist wherever possible, including the time when Nick and I managed to lock ourselves out one morning after breakfast! It was a nightmare because we went out the patio gate, and I had stupidly locked the door from the inside. Oops. We did manage to get back in thankfully! There were always staff nearby should you need them. If I had my mystery shopping hat on I’d have scored the customer service as excellent.
The Bay Front Suite
We took our bags to our room which was the Bay fronted Hibiscus Suite, situated on a grand corner plot, with its very own outdoor area. Not only were we astounded by the incredible use of space, but the view was directly facing onto the bay, which was one of the most idyllic views. We could essentially walk directly from our room onto the sand, to which we did many times during our stay!
We had a large double bed with its own flat-screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities, storage space and slippers and Catamaran branded dressing gowns. Which I made full use of! The main bathroom was huge with both an enormous tub (which I took full advantage of) power shower, and toilet. If that wasn’t enough the grand mirror over the sink that looked at the bath had a built-in TV screen, meaning you could soak in the bathtub and catch up on all your shows! Now that is one of those extra touches you don’t get everywhere!
There was another toilet, that was really big, so I guess if someone was using the bathroom you had another option. This toilet was connected to the ‘lounge’ area of the suite. You had a big dining table, which would be ideal for a family to use, I just used it to work at during the evening, but mainly sat outside in the daylight. There was a fold-out sofa bed should you need it, a desk and of course, another large flat-screen TV. This suite could have 4 people stay in it, so for a family, this would be perfect as you had enough space and sleeping areas.
The extended outdoor area was only available with some rooms. This was the Hibiscus Suite and it had the most beautiful outdoor area for unwinding in. Should you have wanted to you could have breakfast outside, relaxed in your own hammock, sat and read on the sun loungers, or got toasty on an evening looking out at the bay with your very own fire pit. All of the aforementioned additions within this little area really raised the bar on the accommodation options. You simply telephoned reception and a staff member would come and light your fire pit and the tiki torches!
We had a glass-fronted fence so you could still have your privacy but that didn’t stop you from taking in the beautiful view. I sat here for both sunrise and sunset and took the time to switch off and read whilst people ran, cycled, or took those crazy electric scooters out around the bay. We had a little door from the side of this area that took you straight out onto the bay, we did this twice (once we got locked out after forgetting the key!) and took a lovely morning stroll to have breakfast at the onsite restaurant, Oceana Bay.
What to do?
As you can see from photos and what I’ve already told you, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa has Mission Bay in its backyard, so you’re never far from watersport related activities. You have a lot of opportunities for activities and as we came to find, you don’t really even need to leave the resort at all – there is plenty to keep you occupied! We didn’t get a chance to take advantage of everything on offer, but I did get my om back with a bit of morning yoga on the beach which the hotel provides. Now that was a wonderful way to start the day.
There is also the beautiful pool with a whirlpool, video arcade, bird show, fitness center, Catamaran Spa (which unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit) and Bahia Belle Cruises. Those cruises host an exclusive family hour and cocktail hour, then after 9.30pm it basically becomes an adult-only nightclub, but a nightclub with the most scenic views! During summer months they have movies on the bay which is an outdoor cinema, surf lessons, happy hour, and of course, evening entertainment. I could go on… but you get the idea! Lots to do!
Nick recently wrote an article about the best places to eat in San Diego, with the Oceana restaurant being on that list. I’m no foodie, but he is, so if you want a good break down of both our dinner and breakfast experience, please visit our blog post. I’ve selected some of the photos I took from our meals, dinner was inside surrounded by the mesmerizing in-house jellyfish (yes I did say jellyfish), and breakfast was eaten looking out over the water.
Conclusion of our stay
This felt like a ‘proper’ holiday hotel, somewhere I could quite easily spend a good week enjoying. Some hotels I tend to find are good for a day or so then I want to move on, but this hotel wasn’t like that, I could have happily spent weeks here. Whether it was the decor, the service, the amenities or as simple as it’s relaxing atmosphere, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is a fantastic base if you’re visiting San Diego. You’re actually not too far away from San Diego Zoo, and you’re near to other areas like Pacific Beach and La Jolla, but due to the ambiance of this hotel, you feel like you’re in your own holiday bubble away from the chaos of the surrounding areas regardless of them being close by. It’s like when you step through the lobby, you’re transported to something completely different. It was a welcomed surprise for us both, and we hope to try out the Bahia Hotel (sister resort), next April when we visit again.
Thank you to the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa for hosting us.
*This visit was part of our collaboration with Visit San Diego