An intentional experience
For Ben Thiele, Managing Director of Alila Marea Beach Resort In Encinitas, the resort is not just a luxury property that offers spacious suites with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and Batiquitos Lagoon, a stand-alone architectural design that evokes the hotel’s waterfront surroundings , and an exceptional restaurant and bar created by James Beard semi-finalist Claudette Zepeda.
It’s all of those things – but it’s also more than an asset to the community and culture of Encinitas.
“It’s a thoughtful and intentional experience, it pays homage to all that Encinitas has to offer by showcasing the community and the people for who they are and what they do…it embraces this very unique culture … we’re not too formal, we’re not pretentious, it’s anything but that,” Thiele said.
Thiele was hired to become general manager of the resort in 2020, after a career spanning nearly 20 years in the hospitality industry. He says he took the job out of a deep desire to serve and give back to the Encinitas community, which he said he fell in love with when he moved to the city 12 years ago.
“Ever since I was a child, I felt like my purpose was to be of service to others. I felt truly fulfilled and enjoyed my interactions when I could change the course of someone’s day in a meaningful way. positive, and the hospitality industry has been my vehicle for that,” he said.
Thiele said as general manager of Alila Marea, he tries to imbue the resort with a sense of relaxed beach culture that makes Encinitas unique.
“Encinitas has this laid-back surf culture, as well as a huge number of entrepreneurs and legacy businesses from that area…we wanted to make sure that those kinds of feelings of barefoot luxury in the community carried over into the community as well. our services.”
Thiele says he used to walk past the once empty land where the station now stands and imagine the possibilities for development at this scenic spot.
“I used to walk past and think something beautiful one day was going to be there, and then 10 years later I had the opportunity to bring this place to life.”
The resort, which opened in March 2021, bills itself as an “adult-centric sanctuary that embodies the soul of California beach culture” — and the resort’s pristine location lives up to the description.
Guests are steps from the soft, sunny sands of South Ponto Beach below the cliffs and have access to the beautiful hiking trail that runs directly through the Batiquitos Lagoon, a large coastal wetland adjacent to the resort. And for those looking to hit the waves, the hotel is located right above one of Encinitas’ best surf spots.
The resort’s exterior was intended to reflect its beach surroundings to its core, Thiele said.
“The design team really wanted to do their best to create an understated exterior, so although this is a very large property stretching from the coastal road to the coastline along the cliff, they really wanted to blend the design with the natural colors of the area and surroundings,” Thiele said. “That’s why you get a lot of the sand colors, the neutral grays that you see with some of these cobblestones and driftwood, that which results in a design that naturally complements the space it lives in, but still has a beautiful, clean exterior.”
Likewise, the interior of the resort is intended to reflect the characteristics of the beachfront environment of the coastal property, such as the patterns of the tides, the beautiful rocks that gather along the beach and the woods of the trees. that grow naturally around Encinitas.
“Guests experience these beautiful polished concrete floors, as well as these slanted walls that curve through the lobby that lend themselves to the way the tide comes in and out of the various rocks and these beautiful tide lines,” Thiele said. . “The rooms have an understated design and feature beautiful black tiles for the showers inspired by the deep tones of the cobblestones. Even the desk itself is crafted from 100 year old reclaimed wood that has been completely hand carved by David Allen Studios in Solana Beach, it’s a beautiful two piece desk that is simply stunning and beautiful.
But beyond its outward characteristics, Thiele said what he’s most proud of is how the station has established itself as both a contributing member of the Encinitas community.
The hotel staff is made up almost entirely of local residents, with more than 90% of employees living in Encinitas, Thiele said, reflecting the owner’s desire to have Alila Marea run by people who understand the surrounding community.
Additionally, the establishment also proactively encourages customers to buy local, partnering with local establishments such as Lofty Coffee, an upscale coffee shop near Highway 101, Electra Bicycle Company which designed a fleet of Electra Go! Bikes for hotel guests to use, the popular sportswear and activewear company Vuori, as well as the Fulcrum Surf School, which offers surf lessons in Encinitas for beginners of all skill levels.
“What we’re trying to achieve with these partnerships is to be hyperlocal…a lot of these people who come here have never been to Encinitas before, and so we choose partnerships right from our own backyard and offer services and programs inside our retail space so they can get a taste of the location, even if they are only visiting for a day or two they have ways to interact and engage with local partners right here on our property,” said Thiele.
Read more profiles: Faces of North County 2022.