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“Incredible spa...but hotel has questionable service, nice grounds”

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Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
Ranked #16 of 279 Hotels in San Diego
A TripAdvisor Member
“Incredible spa...but hotel has questionable service, nice grounds”
Reviewed September 14, 2005

We stayed at the Catamaran for 1 week before Labor Day weekend. We checked in on a Saturday. There were 6 in our party. Dad, Mom, 18, 16, 8 & 4 yr old kids. We drove from Anaheim and showed up in our rental minivan. I kid you not, the bell staff told my husband to "move forward" and never once offered to help us with our bags. I figured by the time I was done checking us in, we would have had everything loaded up on a nice rolling cart and off to our bay front suite. NO, I came back to the van and everyone & the bags were still inside. Finally we ended up self-parking and lugging ALL of our bags ourselves to our rooms. For the price we were paying, I definately expected better or even SOME service. Our room was clean, and decent. Not plush, but it was clean. Nice view of the bay and great location for resort. All of the beds however were extremely uncomfortable. Only our 8 year old got a good nights sleep over the entire 6 nights. That was frustrating. Sunday am we went out to the beach at the bay. It was very clean, and great to get the chairs with umbrellas. They are complimentary for the first 2 but really expensive for any additional chairs if you want them. Also they have a good selection of rentals and we enjoyed renting and using them. They bay is cold, though and not really for swimming. To swim, you should plan to use the pool. Which is terrific. It was big enough with lots of families. We were able to get lounge chairs and even the cabanas with ease. They have the arcade in the same area, so when the kids felt like doing something else they could play there without you having to leave the sun/shade. Pool bar was very convenient for simple lunches. Burgers & dogs as well as pop & mixed drinks. We spent a great deal of time here since it was enjoyable.

Back to the bad...the Restaurant. On Saturday at check in, the restaurant wasn't open until 6pm I think. You can however order from the main bar. Our server was too busy doing something else, or completely incompetent...not sure which. Everything we ordered was wrong and we ordered basic stuff. We just ate what he brought since we were starving. Next morning after hanging out at beach we tried (unsuccessfully) to get into restaurant for breakfast. Sunday is brunch day. Aside from being rude, the hostess told us we needed reservations....although there was only 1 couple sitting inside and ALL the tables were open. It wasn't just us she treated this way...she treated the lady in front of me the same way. When the lady said "but we are guests of the hotel" she just shrugged her shoulders and explained that when she figured out all of her reservation issues she would see if there was anything she could do. By the way no one came in while we were trying to figure out why if they had an empty restaurant they couldn't seat us. Anyway we left the hotel and found good value at the EGGERY which is right across the street and had great breakfasts, smoothies, etc. We ate there every morning and would encourage you to do the same! We only ate at the restaurant one other time for lunch. The food wasn't very good and the same crappy service. Do yourself a favor and only eat at the pool bar (friendly & tasty) or offsite! We also ate at World Famous, The Green Flash and Gringo's. They were all decent, but spendy.

One last note on the restaurant staff...it seems that they were all so busy setting up for group type events that they didn't have time to take care of the regular guests. This I believe is a management issue. They should have a different staff for banquets, etc. And separate staff for main restaurant/guests. Their staff members are jacks of all trades, which is nice for them, but not always best for the guest experience! Also if reservations are required for brunch they should tell you that at check in or at least be prepared to give you a list of places to eat within walking distance if they can't accomodate you onsite.

The bay side was great for relaxing and playing in the sand in a clean environment. Pacific beach was filthy. We walked over a few times, but none of us wanted to stay. It smelled and was dirty. I do not consider our family to be too selective, but it was just gross & nasty. Puke all over the place and garbage strewn every where. I just think a beach should be sand, sun and water not all the other crap. Also, SeaWorld is just a short drive away. We never got to the zoo or wild animal park.

The shining star of the hotel is the spa & fitness area. I used the spa twice and the fitness center 3 times. INCREDIBLE. I was really happy with everything there. The only small complaint I have about the whole spa is that the relaxation room is used as the main passageway for staff, so the doors are always opening and closing while they pass from one side of the spa to the other with their extra towels, or whatever. That was an error in design for the building designer, I think. Since having someone passing through all the time isn't very relaxing. The concept is great, though!!! The spa was serene and beautiful. The staff was friendly and made me feel very comfortable. The services I did...hot tub and steam room with eucaliptis (I think) was nice, spa pedicure and couples massage were beyond terrific. They have an area to try out different spa products that was fun. If you have an opportunity to use the spa do it!!!!! It feels very indulgent and was worth every penny. I wish I could have spent my whole vacation there!

Overall the Catamaran is good for a weekend visit with your kids or if you want to do the spa, but don't eat there unless it's at the pool and if you are staying longer than 2 nights, stay in La Jolla or downtown.

  • Stayed August 2005
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Helpful?
6 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed September 12, 2005

I must say we had a wonderful time, My husband and I were really impressed, the grounds were beautiful and the service was awesome from the bell person to the front desk, everyone was great! Great for families we had our daughter and her friend whom both are 16 years old and our two year old son. They had a great time walking right across to the beach, swimming and the free arcades are a plus. We all had a great time, we wish we would have stayed one more day.

I asked for a upgrade because the room we were given had a parking lot view. So beware of that room. But as soon as i asked to move the front desk was more then willing to accomodate us and we moved to a partial bay view room on the 4th floor....very nice!

Next time we go we may want to try a room right on the bay.

Stayed August 2004
Helpful?
Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed September 2, 2005

I was a little nervous about staying at the Catamaran after reading the mixed reviews on Tripadvisor. Suffice to say, I was pleasantly surprised! Both my boyfriend and I loved the Catarmaran. The service was excellent and so was our suite. Upon check-in we found out that we had been upgraded to large suite with a view of the bay and the ocean. All of the staff were very friendly and helpful, the breakfast at the hotel restaurant was good and we enjoyed the pool and beach. We would definitely stay here again!

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank jakkie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed August 28, 2005

We booked this hotel on the advice of a friend. He recommended it as a boutique-ey hotel with a lot of character and atmosphere and a great location. Sounded good. I checked their website and it looked fairly nice, and I figured for a little more money than a typical family style hotel (Saturday nights - $359) we would give it a try. I did see some less than complimentary comments on TripAdvisor, but I chalked them up to fussy, nit-picky people who are impossible to please. Boy, was I wrong. When we drove up to the place, both my wife and daughter said, "This isn't it, is it?" Even at first glance, it was apparent that it was old, and a little beat-up. First impressions aside, we checked in and hoped for the best. We were put in the tower on the 10th floor which was fine with us. The first thing that caught my attention was the tacky decor. The Polynesian theme is fine - we have stayed in some Polynesian themed hotels before that were beautiful. The Maui Prince (In Maui, HI) comes to mind. But this was the 1970's all over again. The dark woodgrain doors and the faux bamboo reminded me of a bad rumpus room. The elevator to the 10th floor was creaky and groany and my wife made the comment that it was scarier than the Tower of Terror ride we were just on at Disneyland. We got to our room and the first thing that struck us was the musty, mildewy smell throughout. The kitchen was scary. The appliances were circa 1979 and falling apart, and the cupboards and sink and fixtures were right out of the Bates Motel. I went to check out the balcony, and after using all my strength to force the door open, it fell of the rails. I fortunately caught it before it fell 10 floors and killed somebody. My daughter immediately commented that the bedspread she was sitting on felt greasy. Then there was the bathroom. What caught my wife's eye immediately was the black hair stuck on the wall. What caught my eye were the shower curtain brackets that were completely rusted out and the black mildew between the tiles around the tub. Those brackets would cost them $1.49 to replace, and a bottle of bathroom tile cleaner about the same. That is what brings me to my point about this place. They seem to fancy themselves as a high-end resort hotel. We got a huge laugh out of the room service menu. They were charging Four Seasons prices - I don't remember them all, but I do remember $10.00 for a pot of coffee, and $75.00 for a bottle of liquor. In the Four Seasons I would pay that kind of money, but not in this place. My suggestion would be that if they want to be a 4 star resort, they completeley renovate, which I suspect would cost millions of dollars, or they instead prescribe to "truth in advertising", and market it like it really is - a great place for surfers or college kids to come on Spring Break, where they can come and crash after partying all night and hang their towels on the balcony (if they can get the door open) and grind sand into the old carpet. But for us, a family that will spend a few extra dollars for modern, clean accomodations - it was a huge disappointment, and we left the next day. By the way, I have seen the oohs and aahs on this site about the beautiful grounds here. We spent 10 days in southern California - there are LOTS of palm trees in this entire area, folks! If you want to see impressive landscaping and immaculately kept grounds, go to the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas.

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed August 19, 2005

My family and I stayed here(wife and 9 yr old girl) Aug 15-18 and had a great time. The grounds were gorgeous and it made you feel like you were in a tropical location. They had lots of family activities including a movie night on the bay and hands on science projects for the kids at the pool. The location is the best in the area. The hotel is right on the bay with its calm waters and beach for relaxing or enjoying the the watersports right on the property. In addition if you like the open ocean for surfing or boogie bording just walk across the street from the main entrance and your there. Upon our arrival they said our room was'nt ready and they had upgraded us to a suite. We stayed in the tower and had a bedroom with a king sized bed and a living room with a king size sofa bed and a full kitchen. The room was large and clean although it did seem slightly dated. But as nice as the surroundings are ,you would hardly want to stay in your room. I would highly reccomend this hotel to any one who wanted a super family beach vacation.

  • Stayed August 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed August 15, 2005

MY husband, two sons (age 13 & 14) and I stayed at the Catamaran in July and we loved it. We got a complimentary upgrade on arrival (without asking!) to a junior suite. So instead of the room with two beds that I expected, we got a room with two beds, a sleeper sofa and a full kitchen. Perfect for traveling with two teenage boys! Our room was in the tower (5th floor). The view was great -our room was on the parking garage side, but we were able to look past the garage and focus on the hills and ocean. The room was a bit outdated but was clean and comfortable, so who cares about the decor. The sofabed was even pretty comfortable. The grounds were beautiful - we saw a great heron, black swans and lots of ducks. The water sports were great. The boys loved the pool at night and my husband and I loved walking around the bay at night. We didn't try the beach side in the afternoons, but we enjoyed it one morning without any crowd problems. The town was great, it was a very casual, relaxed beach town. The crowd was a mix of twenty year olds and families. We walked to dinner and breakfast. You can walk to everything - grocery store, drug store, 7-11, tons of restaurants. Try Taylor's restaurant - the food was delicious, the service incredible and the price very reasonable (about $80 for dinner for 4 including appetizers). I had no problem with my sons walking to town by themselves, it seemed quite safe to me. Overall we loved the location, the town and the resort. As for the people who complained that the rooms need updating - as far as I could see none of the hotels in the area have brand new decor. The grounds of the Catamarran, plus the location on the bay are what make this a great resort. Mission Bay/Pacific Beach is all about having fun in a friendly, relaxed beach atmosphere. If you're looking for luxury then stay in San Diego and leave the beach to the shorts and sandals crowd.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank VacationCrazed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed August 7, 2005

My husband and our 2 sons ages 9 and 5 stayed at the Catamaran hotel July 24th-July 30th. This is our 4th visit I would not stay anyware else. When we booked this hotel thur them because we were returing guest we received an extra 10% off our hotel room. We book a tower room with a kitchen since we were in town for a week. We got in town at 11:00 and tried to check in early but the lobby was very busy. We decided to go down to the beach for a walk and lunch. We returned to the hotel about 2 and were checked in and escorted to our room.

I thought it was strange that the kitchen did no have a microwave so I called down to housekeeping and they brough up a microwave, and pillows I requested within 5 minutes.

My chidren enjoyed the pool and the gameroom. When my sons found out all the games were free they did not want to go swimming again.

On Tuesday night they had a movie on the beach with popcorn and pop(free) and we watched "Finding Nemo" The people at the hotel were great and brought out towels for us to sit on.

We love the grounds and love this hotel but it does need updating. My husband will not stay anyware else in San Diego. If you want to be close to the beach this hotel is perfect

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Miss121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Property: Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
Address: 3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109-6959
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > San Diego
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Spa Hotel in San Diego
#5 On the Beach Hotel in San Diego
#7 Luxury Hotel in San Diego
#55 Family Hotel in San Diego
#70 Romantic Hotel in San Diego
#94 Business Hotel in San Diego
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 315
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
One of the few resorts on Mission Bay to not charge a resort fee! The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is a paradisiacal destination located on the shores of Mission Bay and mere steps from San Diego’s famous Pacific Beach. With features including lush tropical gardens and private beach, this Polynesian-themed hotel offers an ideal blend of fun and tranquility all year-round. Established in 1958, the Catamaran is a paradise featuring more than 1,000 varieties of exotic plants and animals from around the world. Palm trees, bamboo, waterfalls and koi ponds appeal to the senses, while playful parrots delight and intrigue guests. The Catamaran’s architecture, reminiscent of the traditional Colonial Hawaiian style, boasts accents including totem poles handcrafted in Bali, art pieces such as tapa cloth from Vanuatu and a beautiful front desk constructed of Black Koa wood imported directly from Tahiti. At the Catamaran, guests are checked into one of 310 guest rooms, studios or suites, each with a private balcony or patio that opens to stunning views of Mission Bay, the Pacific Beach neighborhood and coastline, or the hotel’s lush tropical gardens. All guests are provided a full range of amenities including complimentary Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service. On-site dining options include Oceana Coastal Kitchen, rated by Zagat as one of San Diego’s most anticipated restaurants of 2015 and featuring chef-driven surf and turf dishes. Next door to this signature restaurant is Moray’s, where guests can sip on a signature Moray’s Mai Tai, savor a local craft beer and enjoy daily happy hour specials. Both venues feature a blend of indoor and patio spaces, the latter lined with tiki torches, fire pit tables and lush palms. Guests may also choose to grab a bite poolside at the Catamaran’s full bar and grill which serves up barbecue favorites during the spring and summer months. Another standout summer special is the Catamaran’s signature luaus, featuring live performers that guide guests through the cultures of the South Pacific as they enjoy a Hawaiian buffet. Those who prefer to spend their time on the water can opt for a cruise on the Bahia Belle, a replica of an 1860s-era sternwheeler that tours around Mission Bay. Step back in time and enjoy a colorful sunset from the top deck, or kick up your heels as the vessel becomes a vibrant nightlife destination with live entertainment and a full-service bar. The Catamaran Spa—the only beachfront spa in San Diego—offers a South Pacific-inspired menu of treatments including massages, facials, body wraps, hydrotherapy treatments and more—carried out with all-natural marine and botanical elements. Additional wellness amenities include an outdoor pool and hot tub, beach cabanas, an open air fitness center, seasonal outdoor yoga classes and more. Further vacation activities include rental paddleboards, sailboats, kayaks, surfboards, bicycles and Segways. The Catamaran is also located within the beach towns Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, where guests can stroll the boardwalk or the iconic Crystal Pier, play at the beach or experience a variety of cafes and boutiques. The resort is also within 10 miles of major San Diego attractions such as SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Downtown’s Gaslamp District and the San Diego International Airport. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Catamaran Resort & Spa San Diego
Catamaran Hotel Mission Bay
Catamaran Resort San Diego
Catamaran San Diego

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