By Rob and Sherry McKenzie
The succulent aroma of sizzling lamb sirloin drifted through the beach air as the Jacobs family hosted a preview party Aug. 23 in La Jolla for the soon to reopen Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, located in Rancho Santa Fe. The new owners and their staff provided guests with a glimpse of things to come when the resort doors open again on Oct. 19 after a $30 million renovation.
Executive Chef Eric Bauer, a 13-year culinary veteran, including eight at the Four Seasons, embraces the garden to table spirit, emphasizing seasonal and local ingredients. The new flagship restaurant, Veladora, will prominently feature Mediterranean flavor profiles in brasserie-style comfort. Also on the grounds will be The Pony Room, a casual cantina-style eatery and bar where guests can enjoy lunch after a morning at the spa or on the tennis courts.
Chef Bauer was personally at the helm as the kitchen prepared hors d’oeuvres such as Maine lobster and Dungeness crab cocktails with avocado mousse and buttermilk crisps, mushroom crostini with goat cheese and onion marmalade, braised lamb with pickled cucumber and tzatziki, and wood-roasted cauliflower with pine nuts, olive pesto and mustard oil. The appetizer trays were empty minutes after emerging from the kitchen.
The resort will have a charcuterie kitchen where meats will be hand cured in the old world method of using salt, sugar, spices and herbs to enhance and preserve sausages, salamis, pates and other meats. There will also be a 55-day dry aged New York steak on the menu.
“We are excited to bring something new and fresh, a casual home away from home dining experience to Rancho Santa Fe. Ours is not only a special occasion restaurant, you can eat here several nights a week and never be bored,” Bauer said.
Traditionalists can take comfort in knowing the resort will continue to serve its signature blood orange organic iced tea on check in.
Spa Director Stephanie Baxter highlighted changes to the spa, which has been freshened to modern standards featuring an expanded weight and cardio room with new equipment, spinning and Pilates studios, and a new yoga pavilion. Therapies include skin and body work, water wellness programs, and fitness and personal training. In a shout out to the resort’s tennis roots, the Couples Clay Bake has been renamed the Golden Set and gives couples the chance to slather up in cleansing terra cotta clay, bake in the sun, and rinse off in their own private outdoor shower. Baxter emphasized that the health and welfare treatments are carefully integrated to create a haven of renewal.
Attending the Aug. 23 event were the new ownership team consisting of Jeff and Hal Jacobs, longtime San Diegans and former high-tech executives; Doug Carlson, entrepreneur and co- founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fiji Water; and San Diego real estate developer and entrepreneur Jeffrey Essakow. Hal Jacobs said, “We want to honor the tradition of family owned businesses in the Ranch, as the Collins family did. This will be a business we can run from the heart.”
For more information about Rancho Valencia, visit
or call (800) 548-3664.