Coastal Escape at SoCal’s Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach

With high profile neighbors like Los Angeles to the south and Santa Barbara to the north, the seaside city of Oxnard tends to linger in the lesser known shadows of the stunning California coastline. A long history of agriculture combined with wide, soft sand beaches, and the most direct access to Channel Islands National Park, has long made it a popular spot to call home, but hotel options have traditionally been limited. Boasting a tough-to-beat beachfront location, newcomer Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach, makes it easier than ever for visitors to take advantage of the under-the-radar region.

Sunset view from Zachari Dunes, Oxnard, California

Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach opened in fall of 2022. Part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, the property was formerly an Embassy Suites. Southern California’s only all-suite oceanfront resort, the property features 250 spacious suites, most of which face the Pacific Ocean.

Guest rooms are scattered throughout property, housed in eight, three story buildings. I stayed in an Ocean View King Bed Suite on the second floor. The views of the beach and dunes, and the never-ending sound of the surf are the star of the show here. Any downtime I had in my room was spent on the balcony taking it all in.

bedroom at Zachari Dunes in Oxnard, California

If you’ve ever stayed in an Embassy Suites, you’ll likely feel a sense of familiarity in the accommodations. Configurations can vary from one king to two queens, but otherwise are identical in size and design.

In addition to a bedroom with en-suite bathroom, there’s a separate living space with full size sofa bed, second full bathroom, dining table for four, and a wet bar with refrigerator, microwave, and basic coffee maker. Tea drinkers should take note there is no electric tea kettle or tea making supplies in the rooms.

Suite at Zachari Dunes in Oxnard

The suites are ideal for traveling families or anyone who appreciates the luxury of more space. And if you’re trying to stick to a budget, the refrigerator and microwave are handy.

For outdoor enthusiasts eager to explore Channel Islands National Park, the gateway to the park, Channel Islands Harbor, is about a 15-minute walk from the property.

Located steps from the surf, beach lovers will likely spend their days with their feet in the sand, but Zachari Dunes features a number of amenities that make it an easy argument to check-in and simply stay put. Along with a heated pool, hot tub and fire pit, (S’mores kits are available for purchase.) there’s tennis and basketball courts, and a 24-hour fitness center complete with Peloton bikes. 

Pool at Zachari Dunes, Oxnard, California

Tiny Float spa offers massages for guests seeking a bit more pampering, while Dive Game Lounge entertains kids and kids-at-heart, with a pinball machine, basketball arcade game, dart board, and multiple televisions.

Signature restaurant Ox and Ocean is worthy of setting aside time for a meal during your stay. With a focus on locally-grown produce and fresh seafood, dinner options range from crab croquettes and oxtail bao buns, to a grilled pork chop and classic cheese burger.

The breakfast menu at Ox and Ocean doesn’t disappoint either. Along with the expected bacon and eggs, you’ll find dishes like avocado toast, chilaquiles, and lemon marscapone pancakes. Sharing dishes is highly encouraged by the restaurant chef and staff.

Ox & Beach restaurant at Zachari Dunes, Oxnard, Ca

Though most guests likely never connect the dots, there are nods to the hotel’s backyard hidden throughout the resort. Zachari Dunes is named in honor of sugar mogul, Henry Oxnard. In the early 1900s, Oxnard had big plans to grow and process sugar beets in the region, and intended to name the area, Zachari, the Greek word for sugar. His picture hangs in the lobby not far from a store that bears his name, Henry’s Sundries & Gear Rental shop. Then there’s Sugar Beats restaurant which serves delicious, casual food and drink from a gleaming Airstream trailer parked on property grounds.

Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) is a 46 mile drive from the property. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is 74 miles away but offers a more robust (and sometimes more economical) flight schedule. Rail service is also a possibility worth considering, as Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner stops at the Oxnard Transit Center.

Rates for an Ocean View King Bed Suite start at $329 a night. Be sure to budget for the daily $30 resort fee. It covers Wi-Fi, two-hours daily rental of beach and sports equipment, and assorted daily activities ranging from lawn games and stargazing, to beachside yoga. Self-parking is an additional $36 per day. Make your reservations directly through the Hilton website, or see if you can find a better rate Expedia.

Zachari Dunes is pet-friendly. Dogs must weigh 50 pounds or less, and there is a non-refundable $175 pet fee.

Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by Zachari Dunes, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.

 

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