Hotel Review: Staying at the Park Hyatt Aviara With A Pet

Mar 4, 2013

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This past weekend, Miles and I had our first hotel stay together at the Park Hyatt Aviara just north of San Diego. The resort is set about a mile inland from the ocean on a hilltop with great views of the coast.

Here’s my video walk through with Miles:

The hotel, which used to be a Four Seasons, has 285 guest rooms and 44 suites.  There is an outdoor family swimming pool and a private adults-only tranquility pool with two whirlpools; a 15,000-square-foot spa with an indoor solarium, whirlpools, saunas and steam rooms; a full-service fitness center and six lighted tennis courts and an Arnold Palmer-designed course at the Aviara Gold Club, where hotel guests receive preferential tee times. The hotel’s dining options include an upscale Italian restaurant called Vivace, the more casual California Bistro, the good old-fashioned Argyle Steakhouse, and the Ocean Pool Bar & Grill for snacks and meals during the day.

Because of the brevity of my stay, I didn’t actually get to experience many of these amenities (I went out to dinner with TPG Managing Editor Eric and his family in the nice beach town of Del Mar down the coast instead of eating at the hotel). Best of all, thought, the resort is super pet-friendly, so Miles was more than welcome!

My Room Becomes A Suite

I originally booked a standard Park King room for $275 a night, and because I had Miles with me, there was an additional $75 one-time pet cleaning fee that I arranged over the phone. Although it was still not too expensive for the one night I was there, because it’s a one-time fee, even if you stayed several nights, you’d still only be charged $75, which could be quite a bargain on a longer stay – though note that owners do have to pay for any damages their pet inflicts.

Sitting area part of my suite.
The sitting area of my suite featuring a sofa bed.

However, this was February 28, so I used one of my expiring Hyatt Diamond suite upgrades and was upgraded to a two-bedroom suite. This was actually just two rooms joined together – a Park King standard with a full master bath connected to a Palm Court King suite, which had its own living room with sofa bed, flat-screen TV and work desk and its own balcony, plus an adjoining king bedroom – rather than one of the Park Deluxe or Luxury Suites. I think they were just trying to make do with their room inventory.

Looking into the bedroom.
Looking into the bedroom from the living room area.

This a Category 5 property, so I could have redeemed 18,000 points for a free night but I decided to pay the $275 nightly rate since typically I can get more than 1.5 cent value for my Hyatt points and I wanted to use my suite upgrade, which you cannot do on point stays.

King bed.
The king bed in the Park King Court room part of my suite.

As a Hyatt Diamond, the resort also extended the following benefits to me:

-Complimentary full American breakfast buffet in the California Bistro (not valid for Sunday brunch)
-A food and beverage amenity or 1,000 Gold Passport points (I took the points)
-Best room within my room category
-Complimentary newspaper
-Turndown service
-Complimentary internet access
-Complimentary late 4:00 pm check-out (which they only offered me 3pm due to capacity, but I was okay with that)
-Complimentary Spa facility access

Additionally, this property is part of American Express’ Fine Hotels and Resorts program which is open to Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders. If you book through FHR you also get an upgrade, 12pm check-in, 4pm checkout, breakfast for two daily and a $100 resort credit. My $275 was the best rate I could find, so I didn’t bother booking through FHR, though I would always price check before booking to see if paying a little extra for FHR is worth it for the amenities- especially if you aren’t a Hyatt Diamond member.

Marble bathroom with double vanity.
The all-marble bathroom in the Park King room with double vanity.

The Park King room itself was decent-sized at 540 square feet and had its own balcony, work desk, flatscreen television and a rather spacious bathroom, but since Miles and I like our space, we decided to occupy the Park King Court room instead since it had that huge living room area with a sofabed, armchairs and coffee table, a powder room, another desk and balcony and a second bedroom with its own full bath adjoining it.

In-room Illy coffeemaker and minibar.

The one annoying thing was that I had requested late check out, but housekeeping came by every hour to see if I was ready to leave. It’s a good thing the maids loved dogs because Miles was all over them with a wagging tail and kisses, and it was easier to explain why I was taking my time.

View from my balcony.
Nice view from my balcony.

All in all, though I appreciated the space and found the bathrooms stocked with Le Labo products to be quite nice, I think it’s time this hotel had a refresh since I don’t think it got much more than a paint job when Park Hyatt took over the hotel portion from Four Seasons a couple years ago. The furniture looked old and worn – and there wasn’t really that much of it in the bedrooms of my suites. The minibar was sparse, the work desk was pretty measly, and the soft furnishings like the sofa upholstery and the sheets need to be retired.

That said, once the hotel does undergo a redecoration, I’ll definitely be back here.

The Pet Policy

Because of its pet-friendly policies, the hotel actually gives pet owners a sheet with instructions for their stay, including asking that pets remain on-leash outside their rooms, the fact that there are off-limit areas like the restaurants and lobby lounge, and a request that owner pick up after their pets, as well as calling housekeeping ahead of time to arrange for cleaning times each day. The hotel also has pet sitters that owners can hire when they need to go out on their own. The hotel’s concierge also has maps available for dog walks around the neighboring Batiquitos Lagoon preserve.

Miles hangs out on the couch in the room and catches up on email.
Miles hangs out on the couch in the room and catches up on email.

Despite the friendly but stringent policies laid out, I have to say, everyone at the hotel was extremely friendly with me and Miles. When we pulled up, I had him in his traveling bag, but the doorman asked immediately if he’d like to come out and walk around the lobby, and as I said, the maids just loved him.

I also appreciated the numerous balconies in my suite since it was great to have a place for Miles to relieve himself (on pads) and hang out in the sun and get some fresh air while we were in the room.

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at the Park Hyatt and the suite was more than spacious and the staff was suberb. I will say that when I was leaving and I had a taxi waiting to take me to the St. Regis Monarch Beach (stay tuned for day two of SoCal hotel hopping!) none of the front doormen helped me load my big suitcase and other bags (traveling with a puppy burdens you down!), which I found peculiar. I normally like to carry my own bags, but I was actually a little bit frazzled with Miles and luggage from my two-week trip out west and I actually could have used the help. Oh well, I’m sure it was a fluke, but I never like leaving on a bad note!

I’ll be back again soon to really test out the resort and spa. Overall, my first pet hotel stay was great and I’m starting to realize that traveling with a dog isn’t really that different than traveling without – though it is getting expensive!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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