Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

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Discover the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa with its stunning natural setting, state of the art sports facilities and pampering spa.

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Omni La Costa Resort, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2014, dates back to 1965.

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Carlsbad History: The Birth of La Costa.

This wonderful video by the Carlsbad City Government takes a look at the historical context of how La Costa came to be an integral part of the community.

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Known today for “The La Costa Lifestyle,” the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa has been a top destination for Hollywood’s elite since the mid-1960s. It all started when television producer Merv Adelson located a beautiful patch of undeveloped land near the Batiquitos Lagoon in 1963. Awe-struck by its inherent beauty, Adelson quickly set about constructing a magnificent resort upon the location. He had previous experience in developing real estate, having constructed countless golf courses, hotels, and office buildings throughout Las Vegas during the decade prior. To make his dream into a reality, Adelson partnered with Irwin Molasky and Allard Roen to finance the project. Together, the men began constructing a grand holiday destination that would become the envy of southern California. They spared no expense, installing some of the finest vacation facilities on-site. Among the most celebrated of those structure was a brilliant spa that cost the men $3 million to complete. The physical inventory was impressive and unrivaled with swimming pools, volleyball courts, saunas, and specialty mineral pools. Led by Dr. R. Phillip Smith, the spa became the first the country to earn an endorsement from the American Medical Association. Adelson and his cohorts also commissioned the creation of a brilliant 72-par golf course. Designed by renowned landscape architect Dick Wilson, it would build a reputation for its year-round playability.

When the La Costa Resort and Spa finally opened in 1965, it was truly a sight to behold with its California Mission Revival-style architecture. Its original purpose was to function as a residential resort where, “every member of the family could play and live all year round in great style.” Yet, its secluded nature wound up attracting dozens of celebrities who lived in Los Angeles to the north. Soon enough, world-famous entertainers like Charlton Heston, Bob Hope, and Johnny Carson would become regular guests at the La Costa Resort & Spa. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby of the renowned “Rat Pack” were among the resort’s most frequent celebrity visitors, who often played friendly matches on its tennis courts. Many of America’s most powerful political figures sojourned to the La Costa Resort & Spa, as well, including former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and U.S. President Richard Nixon. The massive 7,200-yard course also developed a sterling reputation of its own, attracting the likes of such celebrated golf professionals as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus. It soon hosted a variety of special golf tournaments, including the nationally televised Tournament of Champions.

Merv Adelson and his fellow business associates sold the La Costa Resort & Spa to a professional golf firm known as “Golf Shinko” in 1987. But that company would file for bankruptcy nearly 15 years later, forcing it to find another owner for the resort. They soon found a buyer in KSL Resorts, who went on to operate the facility from 2001 to 2007. It was during this time that the La Costa Resort & Spa received an extensive $140 million renovation. KSL Resorts redesigned the spa at a cost of $12 million, expanding it to include a 28,000 square-foot Spanish Colonial building and 15,000 square feet of fragrant gardens. La Costa’s golf courses were renovated, and a brand-new ballroom was constructed on the grounds, as well. Omni Hotels and Resorts eventually purchased the resort in 2013, renaming it as the “Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.” Under Omni’s leadership, the resort went on to receive numerous accolades and awards from such revered travel publications like Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and Golfweek. Omni La Costa Resort & Spa also joined Historic Hotels of America and its sibling program, Historic Hotels Worldwide, in 2013, as well. Today, the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa still maintains its status as one of California’s most prestigious holiday destinations.

  • About the Location +

    The history of Carlsbad, California, can stretch all the way back to a remote Spanish settlement founded during the 1700s, although Luiseño Indians lived in the area for many centuries prior. Spanish colonials had specifically established a cattle ranch along a section of a rural highway known at the time as the “Camino Royal.” The first Anglo Americans settled the region in the mid-19th century, who quickly adopted the ranching culture of their Mexican American neighbors. A sailor named John Frazier dug a well in the area around the same time and began offering its contents to passengers on the nearby Santa Fe Railway. Travelers subsequently took to calling the pitstop as “Frazier’s Station.” Other entrepreneurs followed suit and discovered a wealth of freshwater springs throughout the countryside. Research conducted at these bodies of water revealed that they possessed similar qualities to the springs of the Czech resort town of Karlsbad. As such, the hoteliers decided to rename Frazier’s Station as “Carlsbad,” in an attempt to encourage travel to their mineral wells. The site of John Frazier's original well can still be found at Alt Karlsbad, which is located on Carlsbad Boulevard.

    Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, efforts by the area’s hospitality specialists to generate tourism became far more sophisticated. The leader of that endeavor was a group of professionals that operated the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company: Gerhard Schutte, Samuel Church Smith, D.D. Wadsworth, and Henry Nelson. They vigorously led a national marketing campaign that saw the number of visitors to the region explode by the height of the Gilded Age. The arrival of more economic activity led to the development of more local industries, including large-scale commercial farms. Among the many different types of produce grown on those plantations were avocados, olives, and citrus fruits. Even though real estate prices collapsed at the end of the century, the local hospitality industry remained strong due to Carlsbad’s beautiful weather and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Carlsbad continued to grow as such, becoming large enough to become one of southern California’s leading cities. Carlsbad is now a major player in the modern tech industry and is still known today for its many wonderful vacation retreats.


  • About the Architecture +

    Omni La Costa Resort & Spa displays a unique type of architecture known as California Mission Revival. An offshoot of the larger Spanish Colonial Revival-style, California Mission Revival first emerged in the United States during Gilded Age. The movement specifically enjoyed its greatest popularity from 1890 to 1915, although it continued to be used by architects well into the late 20th century. The California Mission Revival style of architecture—and subsequent Spanish Colonial Revival style—have a historical and cultural predominance in the southwestern United States, as it is a common sight throughout that region of the country. Franciscan monasteries constructed throughout California during the 1700s served as the primary source of inspiration for California Mission Revival-style architecture. In a manner reminiscent to those monasteries, buildings developed with California Mission Revival architecture embraced design principles that focused on necessity and security. As such, California Mission Revival-themed blueprints featured structures centered around an enclosed courtyard with massive adobe walls. The walls themselves had broad, unadorned stucco surfaces that contained limited fenestration, red clay tiling, and low-pitched roofing. Other prominent structural components to California Mission Revival-style buildings included an enfilade of interior spaces, semi-independent bell-gables, and curved “Baroque” gables installed on the primary façade.


  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Frank Sinatra, singer and actor part of the famous Rat Pat known for selling 150 million records worldwide.

    Dean Martin, actor known for his roles in such films like Rio Bravo, The Wrecking Crew, and the original Ocean’s 11.

    Bob Hope, comedian and patron of the United Service Organization (USO).

    Charlton Heston, actor known for his roles in such movies like Ben-Hur, El Cid, and Planet of the Apes.

    Bing Crosby, world-famous singer and actor known for his roles in Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s.

    Lucille Ball, actress best known for her role as Lucie Ricardo in the hit television show, I Love Lucy.

    Johnny Carson, comedian best remembered for hosting The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

    Desi Arnaz, actor and musician known for his role as Ricky Ricardo on the hit television show, I Love Lucy.

    Sam Snead, winner of 7 major golf championships that include the PGA of America and Senior PGA Tour.

    Ray Floyd, winner of 4 major golf championships that include the PGA Championship and the Masters Tournament.

    Arnold Palmer, winner of 7 major golf championships that include the PGA Championship and the Masters Tournament.

    Jack Nicklaus, winner of 18 major golf championships—the most of any professional golfer.

    Earl Warren, 14th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1953 – 1969)

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, First Lady to former U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1961 – 1963)

    Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States (1969 – 1973)


  • Film, TV and Media Connections +

    While no major films were ever shot at the Omni La Costa, it has been the host of the La Costa Film Festival since 2013. The event is an annual four-day celebration, in which a wide variety of films are showcased for the first time. Films of all types are welcome at the La Costa Film Festival, whether they be full-feature-length or short. The climax of the film festival is a spectacular gala, where renowned Hollywood actors receive the coveted “Legacy Award” for their contribution to cinematography. Among the previous Legacy Award recipients are Andy Garcia (2013) and Ed Harris (2014).


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