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Locals smile for a photoduring Alila Marea's summer kick off open house on July 13 in Encinitas. Photo by Michael Andrew
Locals smile for a photoduring Alila Marea's summer kick off open house on July 13 in Encinitas. Photo by Michael Andrew
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Soul on Fire: Alila Marea Beach Resort a rare jewel of sustainability in Encinitas

There is a rare jewel at the entrance to Encinitas. You may have missed it because it blends seamlessly with the natural bluff. That was by design, as you will discover as you read on.

The Alila Marea Beach Resort popped up during the lockdown period but has been quietly and positively impacting the neighborhood for the last two years.

This sensitive coastal bluff has had a hotel planned for over twenty-seven years. Anyone who has lived in the area has an affinity for that bluff. As locals, we are blessed to have such a thoughtful and innovative expression of eco-design with a huge sustainable focus as the end product. It could have been a lot different.

I was amazed at the deep rumination that went into every inch of the building. San Diego builders and the local investor team involved in developing the property carefully conceptualized esoteric elements of its impact on the community and the very earth it sits on. And it paid off.

A drone shot of Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas. Photo by Michael Andrew
A drone shot of Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas. Photo by Michael Andrew

While I was worried the interview wouldn’t give me enough for my column, I quickly found that the resort has been setting the sustainability standard and is on track for the Earth Check Silver Level Status by the end of this year. This group of hoteliers is committed to environmental protection, continual improvement, legal compliance, local employment, and preference for local products and services.

They aren’t just talking about responsible practices, they are demonstrating them in every nuance, and the savvy traveler that demands this kind of curation is filling the hotel to capacity in droves.

When I visited the resort, I had no idea that it held the definitive example of integrating sustainability into such a landmark endeavor that positively impacted the local economy. It is the perfect example. As locals, we can be proud of what this new neighbor has accomplished and all they offer to the hotel guest and the public.

From the seamless interface of the building into the sensitive landscape, the reverence for the property started with replacing over 50,000 cubic yards of sand excavated back into the sea to replenish this dwindling resource at Ponto Beach rather than haul it away. They also used indigenous flora, seasonal irrigation, and natural filtration before entering public drainage systems.

Alila Marea Beach Resort. Courtesy photo/Alila Marea Beach Resort
Alila Marea Beach Resort. Courtesy photo/Alila Marea

The rolling tide-like wall that uses low-maintenance sustainable textural concrete for temperature control is visible from the roundabout driveway, somewhat duplicating a sand cave. The focal point here is an African tulip tree serving as a spiritual bookend. There is another one at the south end of Encinitas at the Self Realization Gardens.

Torrey Pines are at the lobby entrance, nodding to the endangered species worthy of preservation and protection because of their rarity due to climate change along the coast. Being good stewards of the environment and the need to protect it is paramount to all involved in this project.

Homage for the land and sea is seen throughout the property with design elements reminiscent of the tides, replicating nature and the environment in which it stands.

Alila Marea Beach Resort. Photo by Michael Andrew
The entrance of Alila Marea Beach Resort. Photo by Michael Andrew

Polished stamped concrete resembles the ocean floor. Sand patterns in the ballroom carpet install, kelp forests in the stairwell centerpiece, sea urchins, and jellyfish in the motion-sensor LED light fixtures — everywhere you gaze reflects the coastal environment and lifestyle enjoyed daily in this iconic seaside town.

The ballroom opens to the hallway to the expansive balcony to create one contiguous space from the spill-out through La Cantina doors bringing the ocean breezes and coastal and lagoon views into the entire experience. (Alila is sanscrit for “surprise,” and Marea is Spanish for “tide”). Guests are given an authentic local coastal experience here. And then some.

Local reclaimed artist David Alan sculptured 100-year-old wood for the front desk and understated placement throughout the property with intriguing hand-built pieces resembling rock formations. Aaron Chang, a globally and locally famous Surfer magazine Ocean Photographer is the resident artist, and his unique coastal shots are proudly displayed throughout the hotel and restaurant and set the mood and Southern California beach vibe.

Visitors enjoyed a July 13 open house at Alila Marea Beach Resort. Photo by Michael Andrew
Visitors enjoyed a July 13 open house at Alila Marea Beach Resort. Photo by Michael Andrew

The Coffee Box located at the street level entrance is actually a Lofty Coffee shop with a bigger vision of community support that has partnered with the local business community and features a gift store in addition to locally sourced coffee and treats.

The gift store proudly offers Mizu products, with all proceeds going to The Rob Machado Foundation, which supplies mugs and insulated bottles made from reusable stainless steel, Sun Bum reef-safe sunscreen products, Aloha Collection beach bags, and Nomadix towels each made from recycled plastics, Vuori clothing line, 4Oceans, Almond and Firewire Eco Surfboards, Reef and Rainbow sandals and more. It’s a one-stop shop for all things local.

Catch the Gem shuttle cart and cruise downtown Encinitas shops, or hop on an Electra e-bike while your car charges in the underground parking lot. A Tesla Model Y is also available for guest transport.

All the guest suites face the Pacific and Batiquitos Lagoon and open with a wooden key, and the minibar offerings boast local sourcing, including Solenta Tequila created by another homeboy who grew up entrenched in San Diego’s coastal culture; surfer and Emmy-winning filmmaker Taylor Steele.

Proud Source alkaline water also partners with the resort to provide aluminum water bottles that can be refilled at one of six refill stations positioned throughout the resort. Cozy organic bed sheets and eucalyptus in the showers along with the crashing waves makes for a relaxed stay.

No single-use plastic is on site, and the products and materials used encourage a paperless experience, using QR codes to read menus and materials. Solar panels heat all the water and pools, and Power over Ethernet is softening the carbon footprint further throughout the resort.

The front entrance of Alila Marea Beach Resort. Photo by Michael Andrew
The front entrance of Alila Marea Beach Resort at dusk. Photo by Michael Andrew

Spa Alila offers a pure and natural approach to wellness therapy using crystals, organic oils, and a palatable connection to the earth. Offering oceanfront yoga and sound baths daily while overlooking the ocean, along with a Sunday devotional mindfulness class on the viewpoint bluff provided to the guests free of charge and the public for a small fee.

A causal poolside cafe called The Pocket offers food and drinks, live music in the evenings and a surf-inspired menu with ocean views.

And can we talk about the fine dining restaurant, Vaga? The award-winning chef Claudette Zepeda’s modern creations, prepared with the finest local and sustainably sourced ingredients from nearby farms and waters, are also open to the public.

Winner of Mexico and stateside Iron Chef, Zepeda specializes in a celestial equinox experience and changes the menu with the seasons, not to be missed. Even the stoneware and plates are made locally at The Wheel. Hurry in, as there are rumors a Michelin star is in this innovative chef’s future, and a spectacular sunset is in yours.

Many locals attended the first annual Summer kickoff open house at the resort that showcased the property to the neighborhood and lucky hotel guests last Thursday. The entire resort was open to the public with sips and bites, live music, and unsurpassed hospitality.

Director of Sales and Marketing, Bob Harter, says this is set to become an annual event. “We hope the community is receptive to our sustainability goals and our desire to partner with area entrepreneurs to support the local economy.

People are still learning and discovering what Alila Marea is all about, and we welcome the public to experience and explore the facility and our offerings whether for a staycation or to conduct business.

Everything we do tells the story of how important it is to adjust behavior to preserve nature. We are local and embrace our land and our neighbors as we do our visitors. We love to share all we have to offer here; much more is to come. Stay tuned.”

Oh, we will. Welcome to the neighborhood, Alila Marea.


stevem July 26, 2023 at 5:24 pm

Place sucks

Lorri July 26, 2023 at 12:44 pm

This is a nice piece of advertising for the Hotel. How about actually posting real news?

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