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When Bobby and I decided to plant our roots from the East Coast to the West Coast, we landed for five nights at San Diego’s crown jewel, The Hotel Del Coronado. Located on 28 oceanfront acres, we were instantly captivated by its rich history and warm welcome. The Del means more to us than just a hotel, it was our new beginning, where we started living our dreams. Four years later, we find ourselves frequenting this iconic masterpiece as often as we can, and what better time to dive into its adventurous world, than that of the holiday season.
Rich In History
The minute you step onto the property, you can instantly feel its history. When this wooden Victorian beach resort opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years. The hotel has been featured in numerous movies and books. When I was younger, I must have watched Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe a dozen times with my grandmother. Walking through the halls and seeing the photographs of Marilyn and Tony Curtis instantly took me back.
But before we all fell in love with Marilyn, the hotel started with a dream. I learned on my property tour that in 1885 Babcock & Story, lifelong entrepreneurs, purchased the entire island of Coronado with a handful of investors for $110,000. A land auction was held within the year, attracting over 6,000 people and by the end of the day, $1,000,000 in lot sales were made. Babcock & Story took the profits and began to build the Hotel del Coronado with Illinois architect, James Reid. With its unrivaled setting and seaside charm, the hotel has served as the perfect getaway for so many families and couples since its doors opened in 1888.
The history is captivating, and architecture is pure elegance. You can feel the slant of the wood in certain walkways and for the curious, there are plenty of history books that can be found in several on-property gift shops. The detail is spectacular throughout the hotel, making you walk just a little slower to take it all in. From the oldest elevator to the trees that were planted in 1888, there is a sense of charm and grandeur at every blink of the eye. The hallways depict the decades at the Del, and I loved seeing photographs of the original bar – in those days, exclusive to men. They do a phenomenal job at capturing the deep heritage and colorful stories of days past – down to the old videos playing in the hotel rooms. While the kids entertained themselves in our guest room, Bobby and I loved going back in time watching those videos.
A Fairytale Christmas
For a storybook holiday experience, there is no better place than the Hotel Del. The ambiance at the oceanfront ice skating rink is like a scene out of a Disney movie. Picture this: You’re listening to your favorite holiday music while skating on the snowy white ice with the blue skies and crashing waves as your backdrop. Perfection! Bobby and I took turns skating with our older three. Whether skating before or after the sunset, the experience is impeccable.
The 26-foot glistening Christmas tree is the first thing to greet you when walk into the lobby. This years theme, “A Season To Sparkle,” could be felt both inside and out with so many lights leading the way. Right past the lobby in the center of the hotel was a winter wonderland that also had a bubble snow experience for the kids. The hotel had many festive offerings like jingle s’mores, Christmas ornaments designing and cookie decorating. I felt like every corner we turned, whether day or night, there was a jubilant experience waiting to be had with my children.
Brunch with Old Saint Nick
Walking into the Crown Room, I was immediately drawn to the opulent crown chandeliers hanging from the curved roofline. A perfect combination of elegance and charm. It’s no wonder that Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum is credited for designing the famous chandeliers, which were installed in 1911. The chandeliers are a glorious complement to the wood work, which once again, had me smitten with the design and architecture of the space. The curving detail of the sugar pine wood is simply spectacular.
In a state of such awe and wonder, we forgot (for a second) that we were there to enjoy a fabulous brunch, and believe me, the Schaffer Six couldn’t have been more thrilled for the experience that was to come. The food was displayed beautifully throughout the center of the room, with selections ranging from paella, to eggs Benedict, to a chilled seafood bar. It was a foodies mecca and my family was in heaven! My children particularly loved the customized donut bar where they were able to craft their dream donut. After going up for seconds and squeezing in the thirds, the children gave their long lists to Santa. Looking back, it was really nice that we were not rushed throughout our experience. The service was superior, allowing everyone to enjoy their meal, and our time with old Saint Nick.
Elf Tuck -Ins
At the end of the day, there’s nothing more magical than hearing a knock at the door, and in walks Santa’s little helpers, there to tuck your children in. They came in, greeted the kids, and proceeded to read our favorite Christmas classic, Twas The Night Before Christmas. The jolly elves brought stockings stuffed with toys and candy for the kids too! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their innocent conversations with the kids. We particularly appreciated how they report back to Santa when the children aren’t on the nice list. Never have I witnessed something so sweet for the kids during the holidays. This experience will be in our memory bank for years to come, I just wish I would have taken advantage of the tuck in too!
The Hotel Del Coronado expanded their luxurious accommodations with a secluded oceanfront enclave of residential cottages and villas in 2009. There are 78 guest rooms that make up 1-3 bedroom suites, each offering the luxuries of your home including fireplaces in each room, a gourmet kitchen, ocean view porches and steps to the surf and sand. I was thoroughly impressed with its east coast charm in architectural detail. The trim adorned the walls, and the hardwoods were certainly charming. I appreciated its classic appeal felt throughout.
We enjoyed the several pools and the sunsets off of our front porch. But one of our favorite aspects of staying at this gated gem was the access to Windsor Cottage. Once the Coronado home of socialite Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom Prince Edward gave up the English throne, the oceanfront Windsor Cottage is open exclusively to Beach Village guests and Club at The Del members.
A complimentary breakfast is served daily and we enjoyed eating a much cozier dinner there too. We ordered off of a menu from a restaurant at the main hotel and were able to enjoy our meal in a more private setting. With four kids and our youngest only being a one year old, we appreciated having the space to move around more freely. Windsor Cottage was one of our favorite places to also grab coffee and hot chocolates. As a family of six, we relished in the comfortable lounge seating and fire pits throughout the patio.
The Hotel Ghost
On our tour, Jackson and Dylan begged to see the infamous Ghost room. Our lovely tour guide told us this room was the most requested room year after year. Story has it that Kate Morgan checked into room 3327 in 1892 and never checked out. She waited for a gentleman to arrive and when he never showed up, she took her own life with a gunshot. From flickering lights to ghostly apparitions, it looks like the Del has its very own ghost. Of course I had no desire to go to her room, but with 100 “mommy pleases,” I unhappily obliged.
My kids decided to go back into time and pretend it was 1892, dressing the part, while looking for the friendly ghost.
Destined To Return
It’s no wonder that for generations, the prestigious Hotel del Coronado has served as the backdrop to many memorable experiences. The emphasis placed on luxury, and deep-rooted history is a dream with its sprawling pristine ocean front setting. Staying at the Del means you are staying in the heart of excitement. They thought of it all, including a birthday cake for Bobby and plush surprises for the kids. The details never go unnoticed, making your stay pampered and perfect. The Christmas Carolers and the thousands of sparkling lights both inside and out are certainly a reminder that it is the most wonderful time of the year. Thank you Hotel del Coronado for letting us experience a “Season to Sparkle” in your merry-making wonderland.
If you’d like to experience all that the Hotel Del has to offer, click here to book your stay!
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Thank You Veronika Howard for your creative art direction with styling the kids!
And special thanks to the following designers for making our kids look adorable:
Stella McCartney Kids
Modern Queen Kids
Little Creative Factory