By Leonard Finkel
Nestled in the San Pasqual Valley near San Diego, yet pleasantly off the beaten path, sits JC Resorts Rancho Bernardo Inn, a 287-room European-style property. Reminiscent of a country estate, the resort’s early California design features a network of facilities connected through a series of landscaped walkways and bowered patios. Lush gardens, Mexican sculptures, Mediterranean fountains and perfectly placed benches and alcoves complete the exterior. Inside, wood beam ceilings, oriental rugs, fireplaces, a mix of custom furniture and a variety of hand-collected antiquities from the Americas and Europe create a warm and inviting environment for guests.
Numerous pools, fountains and a citrus garden grace the property. The Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Course has been the host to both PGA and LPGA events. Rancho Bernardo Inn is a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts of the World and recipient of, among other awards, the Mobil Four Star, AAA Four Diamond and Golf Magazine’s Silver Medal golf resort.
Rooms feature custom furnishings, original artwork, lavish bathrooms, 42” flat-screen televisions, double vanity areas and a complete range of amenities. Every room features one king bed or two queen beds and a large balcony or patio with views of the lush golf course or tranquil gardens and fountains.
In 1962 William Francis Bell, who also designed Torrey Pines, created Rancho Bernardo Inn. JC Resorts acquired the resort property in 1975 and since that time has made substantial improvements and additions to the course over the years. Totaling over $4.5 million since 1999, JC Resorts has invested in the golfer experience with new green complexes, tee boxes, a state-of-the-art irrigation system and reconstruction of every bunker, to name a few. The recent addition of new Club Car golf carts with GPS technology reinforces the commitment of JC Resorts to ensure the course remains at the top of the San Diego golf market.
Old-growth trees bordering lush fairways and greens, sprinkled with strategically placed bunkers, paint a beautiful picture. Located amidst a classic resort setting, once home to the San Diego Open, this traditional-style golf course offers golfers a serene backdrop of eucalyptus-lined fairways, meandering streams and dramatic waterscapes. Meticulous playing conditions and the wonderful year-round climate make for a great day on the golf course. With four sets of tees, yardages range from 6,631 yards from the tips to 4,945 from the forward tees. The course rating is 72.3 with a slope of 133. Just below the patio of the Veranda Restaurant is the first tee.
On the 1st hole, position your approach from the left to avoid a deep bunker and tree trouble. The 2nd plays over 200 yards and the narrow green is difficult to hit from the tips. Balls hit left, roll off the slope and deep bunker guards the right. A good drive on the par-3 third will leave an eagle or birdie opportunity. Aim left to avoid trouble on the right. At the par-3 fourth, a significant carry over water is required from the back tees to a narrow, well-bunkered green.
Position off the tee is once again vital on the 6th. The proper angle to come in from is the left, avoiding tree trouble right. Laying up short will take the trees out of play, but leaves a longer approach. On the 7th, tall trees shield the shortcut on this dogleg left hole, and a huge bunker awaits wayward drives to the right. Opportunity for redemption comes on the 8th, 503 downhill yards. At 306 yards, the par-4 ninth, is not very long, but it is tricky. A medium or long iron is the play, lest you bring the bunkers left and water right into play. A hazard running the length of the right side and OB left add to the difficulty.
From the forward tees, the par-3 eleventh is a piece of cake, even if it is over water. Playing from the back is another story. The extra yardage and more difficult angle to the green make it a much tougher hole. The 13th is the only short par 3. The 14th and 15th are challenging holes; the former 438 yards, and the latter 377. Water runs the length of the right side of the 14th, with OB left. Land in one of two penal bunkers and you have no chance to reach the green in regulation. A flat landing area off the 15th tee rises steeply to the green. A stream on the right crosses over the fairway and flows left of the green. Several large bunkers frame the green as well as the left side of the fairway.
From a very elevated tee on the 16th, this 395-yard par 4 is almost drivable when the ground is firm. The 18th is the toughest par 5. The fairway slopes gently from left-to-right into a drainage ditch, which crosses the fairway as it doglegs right. A series of penal bunkers guard the right side of the fairway. On the second shot, a lake on the left borders the fairway as it climbs steeply to the green. Water is very much in play directly in front of the shallow, two-tiered green.
Adjacent to Rancho Bernardo Inn is the Oaks North Golf Course, another JC Resorts property. With three distinct nines, the course has a natural beauty complete with mature oak trees and water features. In addition, it is meticulously maintained presenting golfers with lush fairways and true greens. The friendly atmosphere and executive layout are ideal for beginners and families, but the course will also challenge experienced golfers while they hone their skills, utilizing every club in their bag.
AVANT is a culinary hotspot. A $2.5 million transformation pays homage to the culinary history, oenophilic roots and legendary ambience of El Bizcocho, the original space. The menu and the restaurant’s new social spaces are designed to offer multiple settings for guests’ enjoyment – including bar, patio, lounge and dining room seating. Sourcing ingredients from the Inn’s on-property garden and local purveyors, sumptuous entrees plus smaller plate options, provide a more advanced culinary experience.
Veranda Fireside Lounge & Restaurant is the al fresco dining option for a casual meal or cocktails where guests enjoy a panoramic view of the golf course and San Pasqual Mountains. A Mediterranean menu with a Southern California twist is perfect for an anytime bite. A newly designed patio offers a place to gather for sun or stars in plush lounge furniture near a cozy fireplace.
Additional dining options include a casual sports bar with five plasma TVs and shuffleboard, and Café Granada, a new eatery just off the lobby, where guests can get their morning Starbucks or a quick breakfast or lunch on the go. Café Granada offers house-made pastries baked fresh daily, crisp salads, grab-and-go sandwiches and a business center equipped with high-speed Internet.
The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn is a tranquil oasis offering an array of spa treatments such as deep-tissue massage, holistic massage, hot-stone massage and paraffin treatments, to name a few. It includes an outdoor spa garden and patio area with gorgeous treatment casitas. For additional information, golf packages or reservations, call 858.675.8500 or www.ranchobernardoinn.com.