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Coastal Oasis

When KSL Resorts decided the time had come to refresh its La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA, it did not have to go far for a design concept.

“The inspiration for La Costa’s $50 million renovation, including the spa, was the natural outdoor setting of the property’s lush landscape,” said Paul McCormick, VP and general manager of the property. “Our goal was to incorporate the bright colors of the outdoors, with blue, green and terra cotta that light up the room and convey a coastal California feel.”

Since opening in 1965, the 28,000-sq.-ft. Spa at La Costa has attracted a broad swath of guests, from celebrities to brides-to-be to stressed-out CEOs, all looking for a unique wellness experience. “One of the main characteristics and what we love about it is that it’s a social spa. Its interactive, lively vibe creates a social experience that many of our guests don’t find elsewhere,” McCormick said. KSL wanted to emphasize La Costa’s dedication to health and wellness, while at the same time remaining distinctly Southern California in its design. 

“La Costa Resort and Spa was an iconic idea to which people gravitated for a very long time,” said Deborah Forrest, principal and co-founder of design firm ForrestPerkins, which handled the project. “We were trying to marry the iconic image and the idea of this beautiful place with the actual experience. We wanted to provide an upscale, comfortable, exceptionally well-designed space that was architecturally integrated with the beautiful landscaping, bringing the spirit of the lush outdoors with its incredible flora and water features into the design.”

“When we redesigned the spa, which took about six months, we were striving to create an experience that would resonate with guests,” added Stephen Perkins, principal of ForrestPerkins, who noted the renovation included not only the spa and a new adult pool, but the guestrooms, conference center and corridors as well.

The firm used location-related colors in the spa to add to the sense of place. “We used the beautiful oranges, terra cottas, pinks, greens and blues of the hibiscus, bird of paradise, palms, water features and the plantings for which the resort is known. The new color palettes create a lighter, fresher and more inviting feeling that appeals to a broader clientele,” said Forrest.

The spa features 42 treatment rooms, a full-service Yamaguchi Salon, a spa boutique, a café and movement/fitness training studios. Also part of the new spa design is a reflexology path made from local and coastal stones from Pacific Coast beaches and an herb garden in the 15,000-sq.-ft. outdoor spa courtyard. The path, which winds through the courtyard, is designed to provide stimulation to the feet as pressure points that correspond to organs within the body make contact with the stones. 

Additional design changes created more social spaces, such as the co-ed spa lounge, which serves as a relaxing communal area. “The goal is always to provide a more well-rounded spa experience for our guests,” said McCormick, noting all of the spa’s treatments—as with much of the décor—are designed to reflect themes of natureMany of the ingredients used, such as rosemary, are plucked from the newly designed herb garden. 

McCormick said The Spa at La Costa remains “a centerpiece to our business,” adding the revamped spa continues to attract “a high percentage of local business and remains a favorite among business and leisure travelers. Guests are thrilled with the entire property’s redesign and especially with the spa. They appreciate that we have created a more interactive and unique experience, and the guests are really immersing themselves in it,” he said.