Sometimes we all need a little break, but we can’t all afford two-week sojourns to Punta Cana. That’s what weekend getaways are made for. For anyone in Southern California, Nevada, or Arizona, there’s a new option: the newly-branded Harrah’s Resort Southern California. After just completing a $160 million renovation, including a massive new tower with spacious new rooms, Harrah’s is now ready to receive travelers who want a little budget-conscious luxury (not an oxymoron, we promise).
My excuse for this particular weekend was to see the legendary Joan Rivers perform in the new 23,000-square foot entertainment and convention center that was recently added. Having just lost this comedy icon, I’m extremely happy I made the effort to attend that weekend.
The resort isn’t quite in San Diego, but close enough. The trek to get there might seem like a long journey from L.A. (two hours without traffic) or Vegas (five), but once you arrive, you won’t have to leave again until check-out.
I was among the first to experience the new tower and spacious rooms. One of Harrah's best new features are the affordable suites in the new Resort Tower; basically the cost of a standard room at a high-end San Diego hotel (the new tower also added over 400 regular rooms, along with the 48 suites). There are a total of three towers, and the older ones will give you even better savings, but the new suites are so modern and spacious that it’s worth the extra bucks.
Harrah’s SoCal is also a casino, so there's no shortage of slots, craps, and blackjack. Personally, I was more interested in the new additions to the resort, such as Corked, a wine and craft beer bar, and Spiked, a lounge with some speakeasy cocktail concoctions that were superb — I tried them all. For food, there are plenty of options including what has to be one of the best buffets I’ve been to. I couldn’t believe the diversity of food available, which includes 264 items (see video below). There’s also a Mexican food truck near the pool that stays open late — after 12 hours of drinking, it was just what the doctor ordered. Harrah’s also has a fine-dining restaurant, Fiore, for those wanting steaks or seafood. There's also an Asian restaurant, oyster bar, Starbucks, Pink's Hot Dogs, cafe, and an Earl of Sandwich.
But what about the pool, you ask? This is where I was any time the sun was out. The new Dive Day Club features the only swim-up bar in SoCal, in addition to a 400-ft. lazy river. Cabana service is available and highly recommended; I’m all about having a space to claim my own, especially when it comes with private cocktail servers. Check the website; they have some killer nighttime parties during pool season.
Thanks to Harrah's, I was able to see one of Joan's last performances. The spanking new resort's entertainment schedule is regularly packed with legends like Joan — new-wave legend Blondie is booked for October 3. Don't miss it; click here for more info.