Two years ago, a new farm-to-table restaurant and an intimate spa opened in Carlsbad, but only a select few knew about them and were allowed to visit. Seasons Restaurant and Driftwood Spa were reserved for the exclusive use of time-share owners and guests of the Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara. But last month, both quietly opened to the public. Jessica Roach, director of villa sales and marketing at the Four Seasons Residence Club, said the decision to invite the public in on Jan. 1 came as the result of social media. Restaurant and spa employees were posting pictures online for villa owners and residents in the Aviara community and surrounding cities saw them and began clamoring to get in. After a vote of owners, the idea to go public was approved, with a few exceptions: the pool area, gym and daily exercises classes are still reserved for owners and overnight rental guests. The Four Seasons Residence Club opened in 1997 as part of the 200-acre Four Seasons Resort. In 2010, the hotel and surrounding properties changed management companies and became the Park Hyatt Aviara, but the 246-villa time-share property stayed in the Four Seasons family. In May 2015, the Residence Club completed a $6 million renovation that upgraded its petite spa and replaced a poolside bar with the Seasons Restaurant. The glass-roofed restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, has a private dining room that seats up to 32 for special events, and has two special dining options for hardcore foodies. Seasons Restaurant & Driftwood Spa Where: Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, 7210 Blue Heron Place, Carlsbad Hours: Spa is open Monday-Saturday. Seasons is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner Contact: Seasons Restaurant, (760) 814-8677, seasonsaviara.com. Driftwood Spa: (760) 814-8668, fourseasons.com/northsandiego Run by chef de cuisine Conor Ball, Seasons Restaurant is one of the only San Diego County restaurants offering both a Chef's Table and Kitchen Counter Experience. For $65 each, up to 12 guests can dine at a communal table, sharing four courses that change seasonally but can include "polenta by the yard," poured on butcher paper and shared, and house-made ice cream. More serious diners can experience the Kitchen Counter, a $95 five-course meal where they sit next to the open kitchen sampling new dishes that Ball and his team are developing and perfecting. Ball, who grew up in the Seattle area and came to Seasons in 2015 from the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, said interactive dining is increasingly popular. "These meals are about closing the gap between the front of the house and the back of the house," Ball said. "And it makes them feel like they're in their own home and they like getting to know the chefs. It's real people creating real food from scratch." The restaurant's menu changes quarterly, but includes a wide range of seafoods, red and white meats and vegetable dishes, as well as gourmet items like roasted bone marrow and foie gras. Ball's signature dish is buttermilk-fried quail with black pepper waffles and fig glaze, which was inspired by his father and uncle's grouse-hunting trips and limited cooking skills. Driftwood Spa is small. Its salon has just two manicure stations and two spa pedicure seats and there are three treatment rooms offering massages, wraps, scrubs, facials and waxes. The spa offers full-day specials and can be rented out for parties. Roach calls the Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara a "hidden gem" because it's tucked away near the Batiquitos Lagoon and is often confused with the Park Hyatt. But she said that hasn't hurt business at Seasons and Driftwood since Jan. 1. "We're getting a very good response from the public. People seem to really like it," she said.
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