For decades, this tranquil golf resort 30 minutes from San Diego International Airport has been popular for executive retreats and small association meetings. Now the 287-room RBI, as it is known, is extending its reach in the meetings market with a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, which it hopes to open in 2007.

Developed by the Colachis family (JC Resorts) in the 1970s, RBI has a low-key, distinctive charm. With its rustic Spanish-Colonial décor, its ornate fountains and gardens, and fireplaces and whirlpools scattered throughout the rambling low-level complex of buildings, RBI is a haven in the hills, the kind of place where you can always find a nook to sit and unwind.

The resort's 15 conference rooms accommodate 15 to 400 people in a variety of interesting function rooms, plus there are several wonderful outdoor venues for functions. There is also a small full-service spa, which will be expanded with the ballroom addition, as well as a modest-size outdoor pool. But the real recreation attraction is the golf. The 18-hole championship course on site rolls right up to some of the guest rooms — and eight other courses are 30 minutes or less away. I took a women's golf clinic, one of several new golf clinics offered by the resort, and the experience was quite a lot of fun for this nongolfer.

Then there is El Bizcocho, RBI's AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. Romantic décor — banquette seating with pillows, beautiful wrought-iron antique chandelier, a piano player at the baby grand — is complemented by some of the most exquisitely imagined and prepared cuisine I have ever enjoyed. The menu seems to be an eclectic mix of Californian/French nouveau cuisine, and each dish is paired with a recommended wine from the restaurant's 1,100-label wine list. I was amazed to discover the genius behind the cuisine is just 27 years old. Hats off to chef de cuisine Gavin Kaysen. His food was a real discovery, and so was RBI.