by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Soul of Photography

The City That Built Us

family_vafiadis2For the Watkins and Vafiadis family, Del Mar is more than just a hometown. Jim Watkins brought his family to Del Mar in 1969 with four children, $1,000 in his pocket, and no job – but Del Mar was where he wanted to be. “He saw the potential in simply enhancing Del Mar’s beauty and unique character. In 1970, he bought and refurbished the iconic Stratford Square building, and my late mother, Carol, opened the Sugar Plum Bakery (now Americana Café),” related Jim’s daughter, KC Vafiadis. “Dad also built the Cantebury Corner and the Del Mar Inn to kick off the revitalization.”

However, Jim’s true dream was to replace the historic Del Mar Hotel at the heart of the village. In the late ‘80s, Jim received public approval to build L’Auberge Del Mar. Soon after its opening, the hotel was recognized as one of the world’s best resorts by Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and most recently was ranked as the number one hotel in Southern California for the Readers’ Choice Awards of Condé Nast Traveler. L’Auberge Del Mar also holds a special place in the hearts of the Vafiadis family for another reason. “When I married the love of my life, Chris, our reception was under a tent on the tennis courts at L’Auberge,” recalled KC. She and Chris have two sons, CJ (24) and Troy (14). As a self-proclaimed “sports family,” it’s all sports all the time at the Vafiadis house. “Whether it’s golf, tennis, or basketball, we are either watching or playing. And of course, we have to get in our beach time too,” laughed KC.

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KC and father Jim Watkins at the 1989 grand opening of L’Auberge.

According to KC, the family has always been actively involved in the community and local charitable organizations, and in 1989, her father Jim was honored as Del Mar’s Man of the Year, Carol was recognized as Del Mar’s Woman of the Year, and KC was named Miss Del Mar. Throughout the years, KC and her family have continued Jim’s legacy by remaining active in all things connected to the community of Del Mar. “I am president of Winners Circle Resorts International, Inc., the property management corporation for all of my dad’s developments. In addition to my paying job, I volunteer as the vice president of economic development for the Del Mar Village Association (DMVA), and am secretary of the City of Del Mar’s business support advisory committee,” revealed KC. “My mission is to make Del Mar a vibrant village and to see what can be done to help local businesses succeed.”


Grandparents: Jim Watkins and the late Carol Watkins
Parents: KC and Christopher Vafiadis
Children: CJ (24) and Troy (14)
Community: Del Mar (work/hometown); Carmel Valley (currently living)
Fun Fact: I graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 1983, CJ graduated from TPHS in 2011, and Troy will graduate from TPHS in 2021
Favorite Spot in Del Mar: L’Auberge Del Mar

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