The last resort

It's a pleasant view from one of the 100 rooms or suites at The Sycuan Golf and Tennis Resort...

It's a pleasant view from one of the 100 rooms or suites at The Sycuan Golf and Tennis Resort located about 30 minutes east of San Diego amid rolling hills and lush landscape. The property boasts three 18-hole courses, plus 11 tennis courts, fine dining and a mega casino just minutes away. (BARBARA TAYLOR, The London Free Press)

BARBARA TAYLOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Uninvited, under-dressed, but not unwelcome.

That's how I found myself enjoying a beautiful garden wedding at California's Sycuan Resort earlier this year.

A guest of the San Diego-area golf and tennis resort, I had been wandering the 425-acre property's lush landscape, when I spotted the pretty gazebo chapel under towering palms.

A short time later, wedding guests graciously welcomed me to the gathering. Even a professional photographer, often more stressed than the bride, could not have been more accommodating.

Indeed, I thought these southern Californians had set the hospitality bar high, but was soon to realize such friendliness is par for the course at Sycuan.

Located in East County, about 30 minutes from San Diego, the Sycuan Resort aims to satisfy passions for great golf, fine dining, relaxing spa treatments and casino cravings. And this tempting combo of amenities is administered by courteous professional staff.

Golf is the big draw. There are two 18-hole championship courses which boast hosting numerous PGA tourneys plus an 18-hole executive course.

A golf school exclusively for women is on site as well as a couples golf retreat.

Two private practice greens are a stone's throw from the accommodation as are two swimming pools.

Eleven lighted tennis courts round out the physical sports facilities.

Not a golfer since my first and last 18-hole charity event years ago, I was content to witness the prowess and enjoyment of others.

I did however, step up for a sensual spa treatment. The 90-minute Sycuan Signature Massage by therapist Aisha Carpenter included aromatherapy, coconut oils and a hot oil hair and scalp treatment.

Indulgences at the new Primrose Spa range from full body and warm mud wraps to popular couples massages starting at $85 for a one-hour massage.

Sycuan's 100 rooms range from singles to large suites, many overlooking the links and the mountains beyond.

Happy to report the Sycuan Tribal Development Corporation that owns and operates the resort, includes fine dining on its list of high quality services.

The Sycuan Grill, in particular, is gaining a reputation for exquisite cuisine under the creative guidance of food and beverage director Michael Tsue.

He presented our group of travel writers with a savoury six-course dinner with wine pairings. Perhaps the smoked chicken beignet with Mossback Pinot Noir was my favourite but it would be a culinary crime if patrons don't save room for the berry panna cotta with Sandeman Tawny 10-year Port.

Earlier, for breakfast a fresh field vegetables skillet fortified me for a brisk walk about the property. Across the road a winding coyote trail led to a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

The resort's Echo's Lounge is a fun spot to unwind after or between rounds. Guests can kick back and watch sports on big screen televisions.

No need to settle in for the night though. The Sycuan Resort provides free shuttle service to its casino, just minutes away.

The Sycuan Casino, at 300,000 sq ft, is described as California's largest entertainment destination featuring about 2,000 slot machines, a 1,200-seat bingo hall and dozens of poker and blackjack tables.

It's as loud and lively as the resort wedding was lovely.

Something for everyone: golfers, gamblers and wedding crashers alike.

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IF YOU GO

The Sycuan Golf and Tennis Resort is located about 30 minutes east of San Diego. Visit www.sycuanresort.com

East County is a hub of festivities year-round. More info at www.sandiego.org/eastcounty

Barbara Taylor is travel editor of The London Free Press.

E-mail barbara.taylor@sunmedia.ca or follow SUNtravelgal on Twitter.


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