Grand Del Mar Golf course

SAN DIEGO, CA — With opulent, Mediterranean-style architecture and design, The Grand Del Mar evokes a majestic motif – with a truly elegant yet decidedly relaxed ambiance inspired by the pioneering architecture of the 1920s visionary, Addison Mizner. Featuring an exotic mix of Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan and Venetian design elements, the resort, which recently opened, pays homage to the distinctive style of Mizner, an architectural icon whose time-honored design approach once defined the well-heeled Florida resort communities of Boca Raton and Palm Beach. Chief design architect Robert Altevers, principal of San Diego-based Altevers Associates, has masterfully combined the romance, whimsy and opulence of Mizner’s pioneering designs with Southern California’s easy, sun-splashed attitude, exuding a relaxed, timeless elegance.

Grand Del Mar Golf course
Grand Del Mar Golf course

“The Grand Del Mar sets a new standard for San Diego luxury resorts,” Altevers says. “It is very stylized and makes a major architectural statement – locally and regionally.” A Fresh Approach — “When we set out to create this project, we wanted a fresh, exciting and above all, romantic theme – something completely unexpected for the area,” Altevers explains. “We exhaustively researched resort architecture throughout history, and ultimately, came across the style of Addison Mizner, studying just how he arrived at his style – retracing his steps to borrow bits and pieces of Spanish and Moorish influences.” Mizner’s sophisticated yet fanciful approach is apparent throughout this lavishly appointed resort – replete with rich, colorful hues; graceful arched doorways; classic rotundas; vibrant tile; rustic woodbeamed ceilings; twisted columns and other ornate stone details and striking wrought iron accents. Mizner viewed architecture as a seamless blend of buildings, décor and landscaping, an approach that prevails at The Grand Del Mar.

“This is the common thread of our and Mizner’s work – architecture that is respectful of the land, designed to harmonize with the natural environment and appropriate to the climate,” says Altevers. Bringing the Outside In — In this spirit, Mizner designed on a very human scale, with rooms that were meant for moving gracefully from one space to another – and from inside to out. With this emphasis in mind, the resort’s elaborate interiors and dramatic architecture are complemented by lush landscaping – a verdant mix of tropical and indigenous plantings, punctuated by decorative fountains, gracious patios and courtyards, flowered terraces and meandering walkways – masterminded by KTU+A, a San Diego-based landscape planning and architecture firm.

According to John Taylor, a senior associate with the San Diego-based firm, the resort’s exterior spaces were designed to promote a “strong indoor-outdoor relationship. We’ve worked very closely with Altevers Associates to establish this visual connection.” Critical to the landscape design was the resort’s pristine golf course setting. “Our team also focused on blending the course with the landscape plan, by using generous amounts of grass throughout the grounds,” he continues. To that end, color-splashed grounds and gardens are encircled by grassy grounds. Creating a grand entry experience, the dramatic driveway into the resort is framed by majestic Canary Island date palms.

Grand Del Mar
Grand Del Mar

Other mature trees situated throughout the property include Italian cypress trees and various citrus plants; all evoking a decidedly Mediterranean feel. Another hallmark of the outdoor plan: more than a dozen water features, including a breathtaking 75-foot long, 22-nozzle fountain – flanked by towering Italian cypress trees and lined with gold, royal blue and white marble tiles – extending from the lobby towards the golf course. Fine Finishes — Elaborate fine touches such as this striking fountain abound throughout the resort. In fact, Altevers says the key to capturing the essence of Mizner’s designs is in the details. “Mizner’s style was actually quite simple – even austere – yet punctuated by intricate architectural details and unique decorations as focal points,” he says.

“What really set him apart was his use of these distinctive fine architectural accents and finishes, such as ironwork, stained glass, carved stone and glazed tile.” To that end, the architectural design process mandated painstaking attention to detail. “We did extensive research and didn’t spare any expense, using the best materials and craftsmen we could find,” remarks Altevers.

It’s these fine touches, exquisite details and intricate finishes that truly distinguish this property, among them:

  • Cast stone. The use of hand-forged cast stone was a trendsetting technique used by Mizner to replicate Medieval and Renaissance style doorways and columns. Altevers worked closely with Stone Legends, a company specializing in this process, to recreate this look. All the focal points of the buildings, such as corners, entryways and loggias, are accentuated by carved stone – such as rounded balustrades, twisted columns, intricate trim and detailed archways.
  • Plaster finishes. The custom hand trawled exterior plaster has a timeworn mottled appearance and a light rose color unique to The Grand Del Mar. The end result is very Mediterranean and truly striking in terms of richness and articulation of the buildings.
  • Vibrant roof tile. The resort’s Mediterranean-style roof is clad in a traditional Roman pan tile made by Redlands Clay Tile, a local company. This type of tile is prevalent all over the Mediterranean and is crafted the way they were thousands of years ago.
  • Patinaed copper accents. Copper accents lend a period touch. The chimney caps, all exterior light fixtures, the rain gutters and the collector boxes are all made from copper.
  • Layered light. The exterior lighting is extraordinary, with gas lamps at all the accent areas on the buildings, layered lighting to accent architectural features, and dappled lighting through foliage to infuse added romance. Most of the exterior fixtures in the hotel are gas, which imbues a soft, dreamy – almost nostalgic – ambiance.
  • Custom woodwork. Mont Bleau & Associates, a company specializing in fine architectural woodwork, did all the complex millwork, such as crown and base mouldings, wood ceiling beams and fine custom cabinetry.
  • Masterful Ironwork. Decorative grills, doors with steel and iron inserts, exterior and interior gates, stairway railings, balustrades all lend character and further the old-world feel. All the wood and iron work was hand patinaed, and made to appear as if it is at least 100 years old.
  • Glazed tile. Punctuating the resort’s exterior are hand-painted tiles in patterns originally developed by the venerable Malibu Tile Company. These vibrant splashes of color accentuate various exteriors – wall fountains, pool area, wainscoting, the beach bar and the upper tier of the expansive lawn – throughout the resort. All the tiles were customized to blend with the resort’s rich color palette, with vibrant accents of gold, deep rose, terracotta, blues and greens. According to Altevers, it is extremely unusual to have such a degree of craftsmanship and extensive amount of hand-applied custom finishes – plaster, stone and millwork – so prevalent on such a large scale. The end result? The resort evokes the ambiance of a large, masterfully designed custom home.

Altevers’ biggest challenge was to imbue this residential feel at The Grand Del Mar, which as a hotel is by nature repetitive with a multitude of public spaces. A warm, home-like ambiance was also of utmost importance to Mizner, who criticized modern architects for “producing a characterless copybook” effect. “I think we were able to achieve this richness of detail and articulation at The Grand Del Mar, especially in the guest room wings, which don’t look like cookie cutter modules,” Altevers says. “Rather, the guests feel like they are in a home, and this is because of our attention to each and every finish and every minute detail.” An Architectural Pioneer — Amazingly, Addison Mizner, the impetus for The Grand Del Mar’s dramatic and distinctive style, did not have formal architectural training.

Yet his fanciful Mediterraneanstyle architecture launched a “Florida Renaissance,” ultimately inspiring architects throughout North America. Mizner was born in California, but when he was a young boy, his family moved to Guatemala, where his lifelong passion for Spanish Colonial architecture began. He embarked on his professional architectural career in San Francisco and later worked in New York. With a focus on capturing the essence and enduring beauty of Mediterranean architecture and decorative arts, Mizner drew his design inspiration from elaborate Spanish Colonial palaces, and had numerous scrapbooks and an extensive library devoted to Spanish architecture.

When he was 46, Mizner moved to Palm Beach for his health, and his Spanish Revival architecture – in particular his work on the iconic Everglades Club – won the enduring attention of many wealthy clients. To this day, Palm Beach is renowned for Mizner’s beautiful mansions designed for America’s aristocratic elite. When he moved to Florida, he also set his sights on Boca Raton, a tiny, unincorporated town Mizner aspired to transform into a luxurious resort community. In 1925, he started Mizner Development Corporation and purchased more than 1,500 acres, including two miles of beach. However, within two years, he was bankrupt. In 1933, he died at 61 of a heart attack.

Fortunately other developers followed Mizner’s example, and eventually Boca Raton became all that he envisioned. About Altevers Associates — Founded in 1974, Altevers Associates is a team of professional architects and designers with a record of achievement in the architectural and interior design of resorts, golf and country club facilities, and mixed-use commercial complexes. The company’s design expertise has been acknowledged both nationally and internationally, with project commissions throughout the United States, Canada, Asia and Mexico. About The Grand Del Mar — Located in Coastal North San Diego County, The Grand Del Mar opened October 6, 2007. The luxury resort features 249 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites; San Diego’s only Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course; two outdoor, lighted tennis courts; a 21,000-square-foot Renaissance-inspired spa; four swimming pools; regional dining, including Addison, the signature fine dining restaurant; an enclave of residential Villas; and more than 30,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space. (For more info, call 877-814-8472 or check out www.TheGrandDelMar. com.)

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