Brendan Carlin wants to do more than provide out-of-town hotel guests an award-winning experience at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
The new General Manager of the hotel at 5300 Grand Del Mar Court – one of only 14 five-star properties in the United States as noted by Forbes Travel Guide – is also hoping to draw more San Diego County residents to the site in the coming months and years.
“You can expect to see more opportunities for locals to enjoy the property and more meaningful programming that leans into our California vibe,” said Carlin, a 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry who was tabbed in May as the hotel’s GM.
“We recently launched our Summer Cantina concept in partnership with San Diego staples LOLA 55 and Gelato Paradiso. We also relaunched our equestrian program back in March which allows riders of any experience level to enjoy the breathtaking Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve which is right in our backyard. I look forward to sharing more about our physical transformation down the road.”
Fairmont Grand Del Mar opened in 2007 and features four outdoor pools, tennis courts, six restaurants – including Addison, a Michelin-two-star restaurant – and an 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio. The hotel is situated on 400 acres of pristine coastal canyon.
As GM, Carlin will oversee the property’s transformational renovation and evolution that is taking place this year. He said his background in luxury hospitality will “hopefully lend itself to bring Grand Del Mar into a new era, with a refreshed design and memorable guest experience via on-property programming and active participation within the San Diego community.”
Carlin called Fairmont Grand Del Mar “one of the finest resorts in the United States,” and said he is looking forward to joining a service-driven team during “an exciting new chapter.”
New Golf Component
Carlin said the golf course component is something that will be a new addition to his hospitality resume. The Grand Del Mar has an exceptional reputation in the golf community, “and it’s a new aspect of working in a hotel that I look forward to learning more about,” he said.
Tough times brought to the tourism and hospitality sector by COVID-19 and other issues have been well documented, and Carlin weighed in on how the challenges have affected San Diego, and what things look like moving forward for Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
“According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, visitor levels are not expected to return to pre-pandemic numbers until 2023 or 2024,” he said. “On top of that, inflation continues to hinder travelers from taking longer flights and more people are opting for staycations or closer trips. As the city continues to recover, we aim to offer guests and locals alike the best hospitality and dining that Southern California has to offer.
“We are positioning ourselves to become the social epicenter of the city, aiding in its recovery by creating one-of-a-kind experiences.”
Carlin said he is well aware of the importance of the hotel industry to San Diego County.
“Not only does (the hotel industry) create jobs, but it allows visitors to experience a city that has a lot to offer – beaches, city life, fine dining and canyon living,” he said. “In fact, the sectors that fall beneath tourism – food service, accommodations, and arts, entertainment and recreation – represent nearly 13% of all jobs locally.”
Carlin comes to the Grand Del Mar with an extensive luxury hotel background.
He previously served as the general manager for Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito. He also had stints as GM at The Mosaic Hotel in Beverly Hills and Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo., and was managing director and chief experience officer at The Joule in Dallas.
Carlin has a passion for the outdoors as well as a “family first” mentality. He is a father of three daughters, and he and his husband, Matt, recently relocated to San Diego from Marin County with their children and two dogs. Carlin is also a first level sommelier.
Carlin, who attended Virginia Tech and studied communications, liberal arts and science and political science, grew up moving all over the world when he was a child because his father was a Navy intelligence officer. He said those life experiences primed him for a career in hospitality.
“When it was time to head to college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, and that’s what you study when that’s the career path you’re on,” he said. “However, my former wife and I moved to Maui after she graduated with a degree in hospitality management, and I strolled into the Westin Maui and asked what jobs they had available. I had previous experience in waiting tables, but they said it was a highly desirable job, so instead they put me in recreation.
“Basically, I would go to the pool deck, talk to the guests, and make them happy. I then made my way up to become the overnight manager but missed my first night because my daughter was born. That’s the gist of how I fell into hospitality, and it really took off from there. Since then, I knew I wanted to be the GM of a great hotel.”