Every family vacation should have at least one perfect moment. Here's one of mine.
I was relaxing in a beach chair next to my husband, our toes buried in the sand. Our children were building sand castles and collecting sea shells nearby under a rising full moon. We had a beautiful view of San Diego's Mission Bay. This is exactly what we were hoping for when we chose the Catamaran Resort for our San Diego vacation.
Here is what you can expect from a stay at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa.
A room with a view
We stayed in a Bay View Studio room in the Tower. Our room had two double beds, a pull-out sofa bed, a kitchenette and a balcony facing Mission Bay. My favorite part of the room was the large sliding glass door and balcony, which spanned the entire length of the room. The weather was perfect during our October stay and we let the ocean breezes cool the room through the screen door around the clock.
I was happy to find not only a refrigerator and microwave in our room, but a stove, oven, sink, basic cooking equipment and dishes as well. The refrigerator and stove were not full-size, and they were not new, but they were spotlessly clean. We prepared simple breakfasts and stored picnic supplies and leftovers in our kitchenette. I was pleasantly surprised when our housekeeper even washed the dishes we left in the sink.
One of the few disappointments at the Catamaran Resort were the double beds. Our beds were comfortable, but I think that queen-size beds are a better size for families. The pull-out sofa bed allowed my family of four to spread out a little more, and I was glad to find that we still had plenty of space to walk around our Studio room.
Tip: The Bay Front Suites have the best location on the property. The suites on the ground floor have direct access to Mission Bay. If you stay in the tower, request the 5th floor or higher for the best views of Mission Bay.
Related: Tips for Visiting SeaWorld San Diego
At the resort
The Catamaran Resort and Spa has been a family-owned resort since 1958. The resort is showing its age in places, but overall, The Catamaran's recipe for success is still working well. The resort is filled with mature palm trees, lush gardens, koi ponds and authentic Hawaiian art. There is even a waterfall in the lobby. It's a fun place for families with young children to explore.
My kids' favorite parts of The Catamaran Resort were the swimming pool and hot tub. The pool was chilly after the sun went down and most families found their way to the over-sized hot tub by early evening.
The beach on Mission Bay at the Catamaran Resort is a public beach, but we didn't have any trouble finding an open beach chair during our stay. The use of beach chairs and umbrellas is free. Kayaks, wave runners and paddleboards and other water toys are available for rent. Land lovers can rent bicycles or segways and see the bay from the paved bayside path.
There were several on-site activities that we did not have the opportunity to enjoy on this trip. These included the exotic bird exhibit, the seasonal children's programs, the complimentary Bahia Belle bay cruises, the spa and the acclaimed Atoll restaurant. We could have spent at least one full day at the resort enjoying everything it has to offer.
Related: Tips for Visiting the San Diego Zoo
The Catamaran Resort is located on Mission Bay, and is just a block from the Pacific Ocean. The surrounding neighborhood is filled with good local restaurants and shops within walking distance. We walked next door to a well-reviewed taco shop one night and watched the sun set over the Pacific from a seafood restaurant across the street on another night.
We drove to the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND California Resort and the San Diego International Airport during our stay at the Catamaran Resort. The zoo, the airport and downtown San Diego are all about 20 minutes away. LEGOLAND is about 30 minutes away. SeaWorld is visible on the other side of Mission Bay and is 5-10 minutes away.
Tip: Resist the temptation to spend your whole vacation visiting zoos and theme parks. Save time to relax on the beach, and perhaps rent a kayak or wave runner.
We enjoyed our stay at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa and we do recommend it to other families. We liked our spacious room, the resort's family-friendly amenities, the Mission Beach neighborhood and the proximity to other San Diego attractions. For the price, we feel that the Catamaran Resort is a good value and we would happily stay here again.
Disclosure: The Catamaran Resort hosted our family at a reduced rate for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
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