Alila Marea Beach Resort Review
The Alila Marea Beach Resort opened in March 2021 and is the first newly built property for Alila Hotels in the United States. Alila has two other California properties, Ventana Big Sur and Alila Napa Valley, but they were originally build under a different umbrella and rebranded as Alila properties.
If you aren’t familiar with the Alila name, you aren’t alone. The brand was acquired by Hyatt in 2018 and has predominantly been an Asia based luxury hotel chain. They have 16 beautiful properties across Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Oman, China and the United States.
As a brand that focuses on environmentally responsible and sustainable tourism, Alila hotels adopt EarthCheck Operating Standards, integrating the natural, physical and cultural elements of their environments. The Alila Marea Beach Resort is no different, bringing the brand’s innovative Eco-design and intimate local experiences to the coastal bluffs of Southern California.
I stayed at the property just 2 weeks after it opened. It was considered a “soft opening” so many aspects of the hotel were either not open or not fully operational.
Alila Marea Beach Resort Location
The Alila Marea hotel is perched on a coastal bluff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, South Ponto Beach and the neighboring coastal wetland of Batiquitos Lagoon. It’s right off of Highway 101, in between the surf town of Encintas and Carlsbad, CA. There are great views of the ocean and coastline from almost every area of the resort.
Alila Marea Lobby
Upon arrival we were met in the circular drive, outside the front entrance, where the valet assisted us with our bags and parked our car.
The lobby was a bit underwhelming and almost felt more like a basement than the lobby of a brand new luxury resort. The design was minimal with concrete floors and a minimal amount of natural light. There were two associates to help check us in, both of which were very friendly.
Alila Marea Rooms
The Alila Marea Beach Resort has 130 guestrooms, including 16 suites on property. The hotel was built along the bluff, so nearly every room either has a direct ocean view or a coastal view. The design and materials used in the rooms definitely had a sustainable, eco-friendly feel to them, including concrete floors, which made the rooms feel a bit cold.
We actually had 3 rooms for this trip, all of which were upgraded with my Hyatt Globalist status. My kids and their friends were upgraded to ocean view, two queen rooms and my wife and I were given a coastline fire pit room, which was located on the first floor.
The fire pit rooms have a large patio/balcony overlooking the coastline with a comfortable couch that wraps around the fire. These rooms are all on the first floor.
Restaurants and Bars
The Alila Marea has three dining options:
- Vaga Restaurant & Bar, which is the main restaurant and roof top bar,
- The Pocket, which is the poolside bar and lounge, and
- Coffee Box, which is a coffee shop located at the entrance of the hotel.
At the time of our stay, The Pocket and Coffee Box were not yet open, but Vaga was serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We ate breakfast and lunch plus had cocktails one evening at Vaga. The food and service were both very good, and the views were exceptional!
Activities and Amenities
Many of the planned activities for the hotel were not yet open during our stay. However, once the hotel is fully operational, there are going some very unique activities and experiences ranging from sunrise yoga, to surf lessons, and even open air bi-plane adventures.
The pool area including a small pool, hot tub and very large fire pit area, all overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The fitness room is located on the first floor and has a variety of different cardio and weight equipment. The Spa Alila is in the lobby and has five treatment rooms, separate men’s and women’s saunas, and a soothing relaxation space.
Points and Elite Status
The Alila Marea Beach Resort is a Category 6 property is the Hyatt program so it cost you 25,000 World of Hyatt points per room, per night. The standard room you receive with your points is the King Bed Coastline View with Patio.
We had 3 rooms for a 2 night stay booked with a combination of Hyatt points and a category 1-7 free night certificate for two of the rooms and paid cash for the 3rd room.
The price of rooms at this hotel can range from $700 – $1,000, so using your points or a free night certificate is a great option if you have them.
As a Hyatt Globalist, we were give upgrades to all three rooms – the two double rooms were upgraded to ocean view rooms and the king room was upgraded to a fire pit room. In addition, all three rooms were given free breakfast for two. Hyatt’s terms don’t require the hotel to honor upgrade and breakfast benefit for all rooms, so I think the hotel went above and beyond with their service in this area.
How to stay here with points
There are a couple of ways you can stay at this hotel using points.
The first is via staying at Hyatt properties and earning enough points through paid stays. If you’re going to try to earn free nights this way, make sure to check out the latest Hyatt promotion or our World of Hyatt page – here you will find a variety of ways to earn Hyatt points and the latest promotions that are currently being offered to accelerate your earning power. This method will take some time, but if you’re a frequent business traveler, it absolutely can be done.
The second and fastest way to earn enough points for a free night at this hotel is to apply for a credit card with a solid bonus offer such as the World of Hyatt Visa Card to earn World of Hyatt points or the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, which offers 1:1 transfers of Ultimate Rewards Points to World of Hyatt Points.
Overall Rating: Would I Recommend this hotel or stay here again?
This is a tough one. I’m definitely glad we stayed here, as I have been anticipating this hotel opening for months, but I don’t think I would come back. The service was great and the hotel was very unique with beautiful views, but it didn’t fit my travel style and I didn’t love the location.
During our stay the room rates were $1,000 per night. If I am going to pay that much for a room (which I did), I expect more luxury, including a beautiful lobby, rooms with high style and a more grand pool and beach area.
That doesn’t mean the Alila Marea isn’t a great choice for others though. For example, if you’re a fan of staying at Aman Hotels and Resorts, then this sustainable, Eco-friendly, vibe will be right up your ally and you’ll love it. It just isn’t for me.