La Jolla's Spa La V to open in December

Plans for a new $1 million day spa attached to the La Valencia Hotel were approved at the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) meeting, May 4.

Dubbed “Spa La V,” the facility will occupy the three-story house at 1125 Coast Blvd., which is owned by the Hotel and located next to the staircase that connects Prospect Street to Coast Boulevard. It will be open to the public.

If all proceeds on target, work will start next month for a grand opening in December. La Valencia Hotel managing director Mark Dibella told La Jolla Light the intention is to have a grand opening on Dec. 15 — the Hotel’s 91st anniversary.

Nearly all the remodeling work for Spa La V would be to the interior, including adding a new elevator and spa facilities. The exterior work would include adding a new deck, privacy walls and entry court, along with modifications to select openings. The color and style of the building will keep the current aesthetic pink “where possible.”

Project plans were previously heard and approved by La Jolla’s Planned District Ordinance committee.

The item was presented for full LJCPA review largely to answer questions about potential historicity. Dibella, along with designers and architects, attended the meeting to speak about their respective contributions.

“The Hotel itself is historic and the property (in question) sits adjacent the Hotel. The house was built at the turn-of-the-century and has been remodeled twice. It was acquired by the Hotel in the 1990s,” Dibella said. “They were once apartments, but the property hasn’t been used as apartments for quite some time.”

Addressing potential historicity, Kerry Algaze, director of planning and development for Pacifica Hotels (which owns La Valencia) added, “The City determined the property is not an individually designated resource … but in 2013, the City determined the property is potentially historic.”

The City reviewed the plans to see if they were consistent with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Treatment Historic Property. Algaze said the first version of the plan was not consistent with those standards, so the City recommended design changes to make it compliant. “We agreed to make the revisions the City requested, such as retaining certain windows and doors. With the changes, the project scope does not adversely affect the building’s historic posture,” she said.

La Jolla Historical Society executive director Heath Fox spoke in praise of the project, claiming there “couldn’t be a better outcome for this building.”

Fox said, “We’ve been monitoring this project and been in communication with the hotel management and the City’s Historical Resources Board staff. They have been working collaboratively to make sure the historic characteristics of the building remain. This is a classic adaptive reuse historic preservation project where the historic exterior of the building is retained and the interior is adaptively reused for a purpose that is relevant to today and tomorrow. We are fully supportive of it.”

Landscape architect David McCullough said some of the plants would be removed, but the mature trees will stay in place around the spa. There would also be a “privacy hedge,” which will be more natural and subtle than a wall.

“It’s a beautiful property, but a little bit overgrown,” McCullough said. “What we want to do is keep the plant material consistent with the Hotel so the experience when you walk from the Hotel to the spa is similar. It’s more cleaning up and adding than anything else.”

The hedge will be California Bay Leaf, and while it can grow up to 15 feet tall, it will be trimmed to 6-8 feet.

All said, LJCPA voted to ratify the findings of the PDO committee, 13-0-2

Spa La V amenities

Dibella later told La Jolla Light that with the LJCPA approval, he expects work to begin in mid to late June and take about five months. Once open, Spa La V will have six indoor treatment rooms and two on the outside deck to offer “experiential” services, such as massage with sea salts and aromatherapy.

“It’s rare to have a California Craftsman-style house with ocean-facing windows and we feel that setting is all part of the experience,” Dibella said, adding that custom services could be added to a massage such as hot rocks and body wraps. A 60-minute massage would start at $125.

There will also be a food and drink menu to accompany spa services and down the line, a larger wellness program that includes fitness training.

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