Vacation. Staycation? –Think of Pala

| May 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

Don’t let “May gray” fool you. Summer is almost here. Schools will soon let out thousands of students who will crowd the beaches and other recreational areas, not to mention malls and stores. Tourists will soon descend in droves, crowding hotels, attractions and restaurants. And the minds of many locals turn to the question, “Vacation…staycation.”

Many residents don’t feel a need to leave San Diego for a vacation. After all, this is the place that other people dream about visiting. So many are more than content to relax at home, happy not to have to rush to the office or pick up the phone or respond to emails. That’s a staycation in one’s own back yard.

However, there’s an alternative – a staycation not at home but at a local resort. That may blend many of the best features of a trip without the expense or effort of flying, cabs, and uncertainty about the destinations.

One can come pretty close to such terrific hotel experience, though, by visiting one of the major casino resorts in San Diego County. Generally, those hotels offer good accommodations, pools and recreation areas, entertainment, activities including gambling, and a choice of restaurants. And, travel costs and travel time are minimized.

I had occasion to stay recently at Pala Casino Spa & Resort to attend an educational conferece. It would have been more fun to go there on a staycation. I hardly had time to play.

The resort is located in Pala, less than an hour’s drive from downtown San Diego. It is an easy drive north on Highway 15, exiting onto Highway 76. Then it is a few miles drive through verdant farm land and ranches before entering the reservation in which it is located.

The hotel is a 510 room structure whose accommodations are large and well appointed. Beds are soft and comfortable. A wide-screened TV dominates a desktop. Bathrooms have both tub and glass enclosed stall showers, together with complimentary toiletries. The spa offers a variety of treatments, probably to take out the kinks developed by working out in the fully equipped gym. The pool is in a picturesque setting, framed by the sweep of the building and mountains in the background. And, there are ten restaurants from which to choose. No one need be hungry at Pala.

Choices is the resort’s buffet. It serves an international complement of dishes, including Mexico and Italy, along with salads, omelet stations and carving stations. The dessert selections are amazing so be sure not to fill up earlier. The food was so good that I had to go back to sample as much as I could.

Lovers of Oriental food will delight in Noodles, which serves dishes from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan. Authentic recipes are used that are sure to please.

The Oak Room is a world class steakhouse. It feels formal, elegant and very special. Steaks are prime, lobster is amazing and rack of lamb is worth calling home about.

For a relaxed, casual meal that can be full of culinary excitement, though, my favorite was The Cave. It is so called because there is a “wine cellar”, a cave-like room beneath the restaurant on the main floor. As a “cellar”, it features a wine list of over 400 brands, together with entertainment and special food items. The restaurant on the main level is airy, open and offers fine Mediterranean cuisine. My “pappardelle with wild boar ragu” was a marvelous pairing of the silky wide noodle pasta with the flavorful, sumptuous meat.

There are many more restaurants and cafes from which to choose. That’s why it is best to spend some time at the property and explore. Of course, all this is secondary to entertainment and gambling. Pala brings in top flight popular name entertainment periodically to its showroom. And the casino is always open, with thousands of machines, dozens of tables, and a large poker room.

Win a lot or lose a lot — you might get comped. But Pala also has a “Pala Privileges” card that one can sign up for. This card offers incentives and discounts for play.

Pala Casino Resort & Spa is a AAA Four Diamond Award winner and offers much of what one would find a many upscale resorts (and cruises) around the world — all in our own back yard. It’s a perfect location for a staycation.

Pala Casino is an hour's drive from downtown San Diego.

Pala Casino is an hour’s drive from downtown San Diego.

Pala Casino Resort & Spa is located at 11154 Hwy 76 Pala CA 92059. Call 877-WIN-PALA (877-946-7252) for reservations and information.


Category: Business, Entertainment

About the Author ()