San Diego Chef Claudette Zepeda Signs On At Incoming Alila Marea Beach Resort In Encinitas

August 7, 2020

San Diego former Top Chef contestant Claudette Zepeda has been tasked with developing the culinary operations at Hyatt's incoming Alila Marea Beach Resort, a $110 million, 130-room luxury hotel three decades in the making that is set to open early next year in Encinitas.

Raised on both sides of the border in San Diego and Tijuana, Chef Claudette Zepeda started her career as a pastry chef with stints at Sea180 in Imperial Beach and Jsix in East Village. She went on to be hired by acclaimed chef Javier Plascencia as the opening chef de cuisine of the now-defunct Bracero Cocina de Raiz in Little Italy in 2015. In 2017, Claudette competed in the second season of Top Chef Mexico, followed directly by appearing as a contestant on Season 15 of Bravo’s Top Chef. In June 2018, Chef Claudette opened Rise & Shine Breakfast Group's El Jardin modern Mexican restaurant in Liberty Station but she was abruptly ousted when the restaurant rebranded to a more casual concept the following year. This past February, Zepeda was tasked with leading the culinary operations at the Dinner With A View roving, domed pop-up in Liberty Station.

Chef Claudette has signed on to be the Executive Chef of Alila Marea's VAGA Restaurant & Bar, the property's signature, 4,105 square-foot restaurant, as well as assist in developing the menus at the property's five food and beverage outlets. VAGA, which was named by Chef Claudette to reflect her childhood "vagabond" nickname, will have a frequently-changing, seasonal menu featuring globally-inspired dishes. Zepeda will also oversee The Pocket Pool & Bar poolside eatery and the Coffee Box cafe.  

Developed by JMI Realty and Fenway Capital Advisors, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will add to Hyatt Hotels' growing Alila brand portfolio, joining Ventana Big Sur as the brand’s second hotel in California and the United States, along with 14 other luxury properties worldwide. The Alila brand features luxury hotels and resorts in unique locations, distinguished by innovative eco-design, a strong commitment to sustainable tourism as well as rare and intimate destination experiences.

Sited along coastal bluffs and overlooking Grandview and South Ponto Beaches, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will be a 226,000-square-foot boutique resort with 130 guest rooms, including 16 suites. Plans for the ambitious hotel, originally set to be called Encinitas Beach Hotel, were originally submitted in 1989 to the city of Encinitas as a companion development for La Costa Resort & Spa. Developers broke ground on the resort in January 2019. Several months later, nearby bluffs collapsed, resulting in the deaths of 3 people.

Expected to open in early 2021, the resort will offer an ocean-view restaurant with rooftop patio, a pool with a pool bar and an infinity-edge hot tub, onsite Spa Alila, and over 11,000 square-feet of wedding and events venues all with expansive Pacific Ocean and lagoon views. Designed by San Diego-based Joseph Wong Design Associates with interior design by Mark Zeff Associates, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will blend into the bluffs with natural building materials and native plants, delivering on the brand’s reputation of innovative eco-design. With the hotel’s namesake, "Marea," meaning "tide" in Italian and Spanish, the resort will provide a distinctly Southern California feel.

Alila Marea Beach Resort is expected to open in early 2021 at 2100 N Coast Highway 101 on the  Encinitas and Cardiff border. For more information, visit and check out the artist renderings below.