Review: Seabird Resort Grand Estate Suite, Oceanside California

I had planned a mid-May stay at Alila Marea in Encinitas but wound up with a free stay at the Seabird Resort in nearby Oceanside, California instead. Seabird opened a year ago as part of Hyatt’s Destination Hotels brand.

During my stay base rooms were selling for over $400 per night. Since I had been walked two weeks in advance from the Alila, which sold out their entire property for a corporate event, I was given the most comparable room on property to the confirmed suite I’d originally booked.

I was using points at Alila and a confirmed suite upgrades. My points were returned, and I received a reservation for the Grand Estate Suite at the Seabird Resort. I had argued that standard suites at Seabird, which were available for confirmed upgrades, weren’t comparable to suites at Alila. The mere ‘Estate Suites’ weren’t available at Seabird for my dates but the top suite at the hotel was.

Entrance To The Seabird Resort

Seabird Resort is a beach property though it’s technically not right on the beach. Beaches in California are public, and the hotel is directly across the street (and offers beach service). The pool is excellent, though can get crowded at peak times. The property is family-friendly, and you’ll see families and kids. If you’re looking to avoid young children, there’s a sister property across the street called Mission Pacific that’s more oriented towards adults. Guests can use the facilities at either property.

The lobby of the hotel is gorgeous, and everything still feels new. The design if very ‘beach house’ like you might often find in Florida.

On arrival I left my car with the valet. I was able to retain my Hyatt Globalist benefit of free valet parking from my points stay when being moved from Alila. Valet parking was prompt at all hours of the day – even at 4:30 a.m. Pacific (I was on another timezone and went out to Starbucks). You can request your car via text and you get an estimated wait time. Then you receive confirmation when you’re car is available.

From there I walked up to the front desk.

seabird resort front desk

Checking In At The Seabird Resort

I was helped right away and checked into my room. I was given a card outlining Globalist benefits. Breakfast would be $40 per person per day at the hotel’s Piper restaurant and the card made clear the credit could not be used at Mission Pacific’s High/Low next door. I’d be leaving super early on my last day so didn’t question their claim about ‘2 p.m. late checkout’ based on availability, since the published benefit is 4 p.m. As a resort they can say it’s not available, anyway.

After check-in I took the elevator up to the 6th floor, and the Grand Estate suite – room 660 – is the furthest walk possible in the hotel leading to a non-descript door.

Seabird Resort Grand Estate Suite

Inside the room you went from wow to wow to wow. This is a two bedroom suite with two full bathrooms, a separate bar area, and effectively three balconies including two that overlook the pool and one huge one with multiple living areas looking out directly over the ocean.

Right inside the room on the left was a coffee and minibar station. I was impressed that they offered Illy coffee, and that the machine was completely clean. Overall I was impressed by the room’s cleanliness and how new it still felt. I wondered whether they didn’t use it very much (so there was no wear) but usually underused rooms don’t stay so clean.

Also right inside the room is a bar area that can be accessed from outside the suite via a separate door that’s immediately to the right of the main door entrance.

Grand Estate Suite Living Area

There was a large room that was comprised of different areas, including a dining room, work desk, and living room. The couch in the living room was L-shaped and huge. On the desk were two metal water bottles that can be refilled at a water station on each floor (located along with ice). The bottles are for guests to take with them.

seabird resort grand estate suite living room and dining room

seabird resort grand estate suite living room

Grand Estate Suite Outdoor Living Spaces

The outdoor living space of the Seabird Resort Grand Estate Suite was the absolute star of the show. It consisted of a wraparound balcony and a separate balcony off of the second bedroom. The small area of the wraparound balcony had a round dining table with chairs overlooking the pool.

The larger outdoor space just had to be seen to be believed. It featured multiple seating zones, a large umbrella for shade, a fireplace and even binoculars. And of course it directly faced the ocean with no obstructions, as well as a long view down the coastline.

seabird resort grand estate suite outdoor living space

Grand Estate Suite Main Bedroom

The main bedroom was down a long hallway and had windows on two sides. Along the hallway was a (surprisingly) small closet and the entrance to the main bath. The bedroom itself was small, but you’ll be spending most of your time in the indoor and outdoor living areas of the suite.

Here’s the hallway you take from the main living area to the main bedroom.

And the bedroom itself:

seabird resort grand estate suite bedroom

The views from the main bedroom are excellent, though there’s no balcony here the way there is in the second bedroom.

Grand Estate Suite Main Bath

The main bath is large but has a soaking tub that’s placed oddly. They want to offer views from the bathroom, so it has a second door that opens and allows you to look out. But right in the doorway is the tub, blocking your path. So while it seems like you should be able to walk into the bathroom directly from the bedroom, you cannot because the tub is in the way.

You’ll actually want to keep this door to the bathroom that’s in front of the tub closed at night, because the bathroom’s night lights are quite bright. If you go to the bathroom during the night you will otherwise light up the entire bedroom.

The main bath has dual sinks and a large walk-in shower, with (sadly) wall-mounted toiletries.

Grand Estate Suite Second Bedroom

Over two the second bedroom you’ll find two queen beds and a closet. This room has a balcony overlooking the pool.

seabird resort grand estate suite second bedroom

Grand Estate Suite Guest Bath

Just outside the second bedroom is the guest bathroom, meant to be used by whomever is staying there or for guests in the room’s living space. It, too, has a full shower.

Seabird Resort Housekeeping

I was told at check-in that housekeeping services rooms only once every four days, but that you could call for trash pickup and towels. In fact housekeeping came by every day, and we had no problem calling for housekeeping and having them turn up promptly when we wanted to have them come at a different time. A beach resort needs housekeeping every day, not just for towels but also sand. So it seems like they may be transitioning back to this.

Piper Restaurant At The Seabird Resort

Piper restaurant was excellent for breakfast, offering surprisingly good food. One of the biggest disappointments in being walked from Alila was how much I enjoyed Vaga restaurant there. But Piper did not disappoint.

During the week they offer ordering off of the menu and on the weekend they have both their menu and a buffet. The Globalist breakfast benefit is $40 per person per day, and that should cover either ordering from the menu or the buffet.

Piper has both indoor and outdoor seating, but most of the views are of the street, whereas High/Low at neighboring Mission Pacific offers ocean views.

seabird resort piper restaurant

Here’s the menu:

These are a few photos from the buffet, though there’s hot food on offer as well.

I was perfectly happy ordering from the menu, though, and in fact I preferred it.

One thing I learned though after leaving the property is that alcoholic beverages are excluded from the breakfast credit. This wasn’t mentioned at check-in or on the hotel’s card outlining the benefit, they just told me I had $40 per person to spend. Our first day I rounded up quite a lot for the tip and the full $40 per person ($120 for three) was removed. However a bloody mary was left on the bill. When I asked my Hyatt concierge about it, the hotel told her about the alcohol policy. It would have been nice if they’d told… me.

Seabird Resort Pool

The hotel pool was quiet during the week, though very family-friendly. It will have young children playing. On the weekend it’s very busy. In fact there were clearly several locals there, not staying at the hotel, and not just coming over from Mission Pacific.

I picked this up from conversation, from watching people being let into the pool area by staff (rather than using key cards), and also seeing people leave the hotel directly from the pool. Service at the pool was good, at least during the week when it wasn’t as busy.

seabird resort pool

The pool restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, though I didn’t eat any meals there.

seabird resort pool restaurant indoor space

Top Gun House At Mission Pacific

Right in front of Mission Pacific is the Top Gun House.

It was built in 1887 and was originally a vacation home owned by a doctor who summered there. Paramount rented it in 1985 for filming of Top Gun. And it’s where Kelly McGillis, playing instructor Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Blackwood, lived.

The house was moved down the street and preserved as part of the resort project. And it’s now the “High Pie” pie shop.

top gun house oceanside

top gun house at mission pacific

The Fire Alarm Goes Off

On the last night of my stay the Seabird Resort fire alarm went off around 8:30 p.m. My daughter was asleep and we were preparing for an early night since we’d be leaving the hotel around 5:30 a.m.

We quickly exited the room and down the stairs six floors. Guests gathered outside but there wasn’t a single hotel employee managing the process or communicating with guests.

When the fire alarm had been off for a bit we finally walked around to the front of the hotel and inside to ask whether it was all clear to return. Staff were just at the desk going about their business and reacted perplexed, like of course it is, why are you asking?

Someone from the hotel should have taken charge and managed communication. We were never told anything about what happened and no apology was offered.

Seabird Resort Versus Mission Pacific

If you’re deciding between Seabird and Mission Pacific, my take is that Seabird feels more like a resort but is also going to have more families with young children. There are more suite types at Mission Pacific. And the Mission Pacific pool is smaller, but rooftop. So they are different experiences though you can use both properties as a guest of either one. That hotel is called Mission Pacific because it’s on the corner of… Mission and Pacific.

The Oceanside area, at least right where these hotels are located, has been redeveloped. It’s still a surfer town, and surfing here is much better than in Encinitas. The property is located in a more upscale area than I’d expected, though that shifts a few blocks inland.

I Was Fortunate To Have Been Walked By Alila Marea

I had reserved a points stay with confirmed suite upgrade at Alila Marea, but that hotel shut down for a private event and moved me to the Seabird Resort. It turns out that this was a lucky break because the suite I had at the Seabird was truly magnificent. Service and food on property were excellent, too. And I might never have stayed here otherwise!

Despite a few minor quibbles with the property I felt like I had a special stay. Unfortunately the Grand Ocean Suite – a confirmable upgrade here – isn’t ever going to be the same as the Grand Estate Suite but I’d definitely return.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Fire alarms are pretty common unfortunately. Most are the result of a malfunctioning system. I have never stayed at a place where the fire department or the hotel employees provide decent communication during or after a fire alarm. Most of the firefighters put an expression on their faces as if coming to the property is a complete nuisance.

  2. Wow! awesome room. This place probably would never have been on my radar. Thanks for the post. I think I’ll ask for the Gary Leff room…

  3. How is the breakfast benefit compliant? Hyatt says breakfast, not a monetary credit toward a restaurant charge. I also don’t understand how a hotel that presumably knew who you were since you were walked didn’t place an in-room amenity in the suite — after all, it was a very expensive room. If a globalist can’t get an amenity in a suite they probably aren’t going to get one in a standard room. At the minimum, there should have been a letter signed by the GM. If I was the GM of the property that walked you I would have also sent over a gift basket.

  4. Gary, did you get your points and/or suite awards back since they walked you? Curious how this works in a situation like this. I’ve only been walked when paying cash, and in those instances, they have not billed me for my stay AND paid to put me up at another hotel.

  5. Following up on my breakfast comment, basically an omelet with coffee, juice and tip is $35. I assume coffee and juice refills are free. Not sure what tax comes out to in California but the credit is only $40. That’s not really compliant.

  6. Both hotels are a solid use of points and I actually prefer them over the Alila. Outside the Park Hyatt, this is the best option in San Diego county using Hyatt points.

  7. @FNT Delta Diamond – yes refills are included and I didn’t use the full $40pp so I also don’t know if it’s a hard $40 [many hotels will actually program for a bit more than they tell you)

  8. @Gary Leff: Whether a hotels “program[s] for a bit more than they tell you” or not, it’s not compliant. They are supposed to provide you with a breakfast of your choice, regardless of the menu cost. There also shouldn’t be tax on a FREE breakfast.

  9. Years ago we stayed at the Springhill Suites on the block behind the Seabird. The Springhill Suites had just opened the week before we arrived, and had unobstructed views of the beach and pier. The block where the Seabird is now was vacant at the time. The Top Gun house was there on the vacant block all by its lonesome self, and was a boarded-up wreck. But it was fun to see it and know of its place in history. It’s nice to see it fixed up and being used.

  10. I’m not a fan of the reusable water bottles you take with you. That’s just even more waste than providing plastic water bottles. ‍♂️

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