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L’Auberge back in business

With Phase One complete on a $25 million major remodeling project, the L’Auberge Del Mar held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception on June 6. Dignitaries, local city officials and guests attended the red-carpet event.

As befitting some community controversies which marked the project, including disagreements over the building of a new upscale day spa that will replace three retail buildings just outside the hotel on 15th Street, the symbol of peace, white doves, were released by students of Del Mar Hills Academy as the ribbon was cut and doors were opened.

“I know there was a lot of talk in the community,” said Mike Slosser, the hotel’s general manager, “and there were some rough and tumble moments. This is a very important day for us, not only for our investors but for the community of Del Mar.”

Closed for almost seven months and under a tight construction timeline in order to open in time for the U.S. Open golf tournament at nearby Torrey Pines, the hotel’s initial phase opening, on time and on budget, was praised by Del Mar’s Mayor Dave Druker.

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“This is a very special day,” he said. “This hotel is an important part of Del Mar and a huge part of our city’s financial fabric.”

Designed to resemble a luxury beach estate, guests entering the hotel’s lobby will find a new, more open look with ocean views and a tropical plantation-like feel. Just outside the lobby is a new Waterfall Terrace with 14-foot illuminated waterfall, an outdoor bar with sleek fire pit and pool with cabana tents.

Newport Beach-based designer Barclay Butera oversaw the majority of the hotel’s indoor remodel, including 120 guest rooms redesigned to the tune of $200,000 per key. As creative director of the $25 million renovation, Butera supervised numerous aspects of the remodel including front desk, the lobby seating arrangement, hardwood floors, water features, cabana details, a mossy green and chocolate paint palette and fabric textures that include velvet, mohair, woven silk and wool. Amenities in guest rooms include iPod docking stations, and 42-inch flat screen televisions. Many guest rooms feature fireplaces and 14 garden level rooms include cabana-inspired patios. Additionally, all bathrooms have been completely renovated and feature walk-in showers and marble-topped vanities with custom amenities.

Ground floor rooms surrounding the pool area will each have a cabana to extend the room outdoors.

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Originally named The Stratford Inn when built in 1910, in 1926 it became the Hotel Del Mar. Torn down in 1969, the hotel was rebuilt on its historic site, and opened its doors as L’Auberge in 1989. The hotel pays homage to its celebrated past with a montage of black-and-white photos of classic Hollywood visitors who frequented the hotel and nearby Del Mar Racetrack. Being an admirer of that early Hollywood era, Butera has owned several celebrity homes himself, including those of Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis and Desi Arnaz, Jr. This renovation will mark Butera’s first major hospitality project.

Other aspects of the L’Auberge’s remodel will continue to be phased-in throughout the coming months. A new and as yet to be named restaurant overseen by James Beard Chef Paul McCabe, will open in early October and the new 4,500 square foot freestanding day spa is slated for a mid-December opening.

But in the meantime, L’Auberge officials will celebrate their current accomplishment.

“The results have surpassed our greatest expectations,” said Slosser, “and introduced an enviable level of quality and experience that is unlike anything else in San Diego.”