Midsummer Hotspots for Fun

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

Now that we are moving into mid-month in the summer stretch, it is a fine time for celebrating outdoors. Last week, while Britain weighed out of the EU and then the MPs seceded too – by resigning their posts in large numbers – an outdoors tradition stayed calm and carried on without a hitch. Proving that in times of troubled waters, Royal Ascot and our habits help keep us on course.

Last week the ‘Top Hat & Thoroughbreds’ event saw the usual set of horse-loving Royals and my cousins – who were dining on poached salmon and drinking champagne on the scrappy lawn in the Royal Enclosure within striking distance of Her Majesty’s Special Guest Tent. (Being a members-only section of real estate, you have to cut the mustard to be afforded the chance to dine outdoors on the scrappy lawn within striking distance of Her Majesty’s Special Guests tent. This requires that you submit an application and be sponsored by a member first to be granted admission.) At Ascot, the dress code is excellent attire.While hats on parade are required. It’s very dignified, however. If you do attend you will see the most beautiful horses in the world strut their stuff around the racetrack and the Queen making her entrance with a carriage ride down the course. The only foible is the weather which can turn on you in a flash. Ruffling all that fussy plumage.

I remember fighting the wind with my over-sized hat when I attended Ascot. I never hated a hat so much as I did that hat after that day of struggling so hard to keep it on. Meanwhile the rest of my clothes were mounting a ‘war-drobe’ rebellion.When I wasn’t pulling my heels out of the ground, I was tackling with my jacket, trying to make it stretch. A feeling deep in my bones settled in on me. A feeling yearning for a blanket. I thought about southern California on the other side of the rainbow. “Where the Turf Meets the Sands,” 20 miles south of San Diego, I imagined Del Mar basking in the California sun as it prepares for its 79th season. The Del Mar Racetrack Opening Day will be held July 15, this year. It is a hat day to remember. One that is loaded with broad brims.  

People from all sides of the track come to have fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun here. Even those who are dressed to the nines find it relaxing being outdoors in the midsummer. Meanwhile the mood in the house is lively. The management likes to keep everybody hydrated and happy. Stiff margaritas are served with hundreds of beers and bottles of champagne. Fashionistas are encouraged to be hilarious in their headdress to win the prize of “Funniest Hat Contest.”

Carnivale headdress enters starting gate stall one. East Coast Etiquette enters stall two. California coastal enters stall three. Followed by fiesta colors. The crowd suddenly goes wild when the thoroughbreds burst onto the track. I can hear the pounding of hooves coming round the bend. Moving fast. Then it’s all over in a flash.

While the excitement of watching people and ponies is a rush, there is also the sighting of a celebrity or two. Last year, Caitlyn Jenner made a media splash. Maybe this year, one of royal Kardashians may show. Everybody is welcome.

After opening day ends inside the stadium, the town carries on – hosting some great parties. A must-do is the L’Auberge Del Mar’s Opening Day After Party. What started out as a grassroots celebration six years ago with 1,000 people in tow has now blossomed into quite the sophisticated and stylish bash. Bringing in a capacity crowd of 2,100 fashionable, fun-loving folks – for one night only – to celebrate in an atmosphere fueled by life.

It has been called ‘the best after-party of the year in San Diego County‘ and rightly so.

This year, the Destination Hotel property will be cranking up the energy from 5pm to midnight. Ladies, you can now check in your hats at the hat check. A blowout bar have been added to freshen up your coiffures too. After your day at the races, may I suggest you start your eve with a M’ulep. A mixed-breed cocktail – part Moscow Mule and part Mint Julep. This double your pleasure, thirst-quencher is created with tart lime, powerful ginger, refreshing mint and aged vodka and it is summer fun delicious.

The July 15 Shindig will feature DJ FishFonics and DJ Gabe Vega spinning records on the pool deck where go-go dancers – dressed like jockeys – dance to the rhythm and beat. A comfortable breeze and spectacular sunsets are the two essentials for California coastal charm and L’Auberge Del Mar has that year-round. As daylight ends, it turns into a sky scape color show.

California-inspired culinary stations will be serving a menu of foie gras with pickled strawberries, almond butter and strawberry jam, followed by chicken verde, watermelon salad and tacos al pastor, wagyu beef short ribs, wild mushroom fricassee and ratatouille with summer vegetables. Then there’s the themed sweets like – Del Mar lemon cupcakes and Bales of Hay rice crispy treats that are going to be paired with craft beer and featured liquors. For the ultimate party, private cabanas (must be reserved) on the Sunset and Pacific terraces are stationed right in the middle of the party action. There are more private spaces and more cabanas than before this year and with this reservation, the evening comes with a wait staff for food and bottle service at your fingertips.

It helps to have a beautiful space. The original resort, built in 1910, became a hot spot for local and Hollywood celebrities over the years and has remained a landmark in the Del Mar community. Ranked one of three top leading hotels in San Diego County, L’Auberge feels more like a private seaside estate, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, than a resort right in the heart of Del Mar Village. There are topiaries and forest green divans, donkey brown, velvet cushions and love seats accents. The property has 121 guest rooms and suites, a full service 5,000-square-foot spa, private path for easy beach access, tennis courts, a 24-hour fitness center and a peaceful pool area with leisure and whirl pools. Dining and drink options include the award-winning KITCHEN 1540, Coastline for waterfront al fresco dining, poolside Bleu Bar for libations and nibbles and The Living Room Bar, a hub for socializing and people watching. 

Advance tickets for L’Auberge After-Party are priced at $229 each, plus tax, through July 14.  Day of tickets are priced at $250 each plus tax on July 15. To receive more information and learn more about some of the activities planned for summer 2016, call 800-245-9757 or 858-259-1515.  www.LAubergeDelMar.com or www.DestinationHotels.com.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stay tuned.

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