By Michelle Mowad
Rancho Valencia is turning 20.
After a recent change in leadership including a new manager, director of sales and head chef, the luxury boutique hotel with 49 suites will host several anniversary events to celebrate the past, present and future of the 43-acre resort.
"It is a time to reflect on our past. A time to bring lessons learned into the future and couple them with new experiences," said David Friederich, Rancho Valencia's managing director. He also oversees the company's La Valencia operations in La Jolla.
"It is less about a date and more about celebration and what we plan to accomplish," Friederich said.
The celebration starts this month with a new menu created by executive chef C. Barclay Dodge, who joined Rancho Valencia in May. The menu includes fresh vegetables and herbs from the gardens on site, free-range meats and local seafood.
Chef Dodge also created a $19.89 lunch special to celebrate the year Rancho Valencia opened. The lunch special pairing consists of either an appetizer or soup and an entree.
Rancho Valencia will also host a croquet and champagne reception from 5 to 7 tonight and the Rancho Tennis Tournament for players of all levels from 9 a.m. to noon June 6 followed by a courtside barbecue and chef's dinner. The al fresco dinner features four courses paired with California wines for $120 per person.
Rancho Valencia has started a three-year project to upgrade and improve the facilities and its amenities. A lounge and bar are in the plans. It is working with a Santa Monica-based architect on the interior design of the new space. Construction is anticipated to commence this fall.
Owned by local resident Harry Collins and designed by architect James Morton, interior designer Hank Milam and landscape architects Abby Drewliner and Bill Burton, the resort has won several awards over the last 20 years, including the best tennis resort by Tennis Magazine and the top 50 readers' choice resort by Conde Nast Traveler last year.
It also has an award-winning spa with nine treatment suites and 18 tennis courts.
Friederich said there is no intent to change the look and feel of Rancho Valencia, just an effort to continuously improve the experience for visitors.
The boutique hotel has 180 full- and part-time employees.
Timbers Resorts recently announced a partnership with Auberge Resorts, the company that manages Rancho Valencia, to run the Villas at Rancho Valencia, the residential component of the resort.
Rancho Valencia's sister hotel, La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, is undergoing a $4 million renovation, including construction of a new kitchen and outdoor dining area, which is expected to be completed in July.