Hotel del Coronado

A living legend for over 130 years, The Del celebrates its rich heritage as the proud host to celebrities, royalty, U.S. Presidents and beach-loving guests for generations. Built in 1888 by Elisha Babcock, Jr., and Hampton L. Story and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, Hotel del Coronado is an American treasure.

Hotel del Coronado is a historic beachfront hotel in the city of Coronado, just across the San Diego Bay from San Diego, CA. It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort.

Prior to construction starting in March 1887, the land was all but a sandpit populated with jackrabbits and coyotes. But Elisha Babcock’s vision for the hotel was grand from the start. “It would be built around a court…a garden of tropical trees, shrubs and flowers…From the south end, the foyer should open to Glorietta Bay with verandas for rest and promenade. On the ocean corner, there should be a pavilion tower, and northward along the ocean, a colonnade, terraced in grass to the beach. The dining wing should project at an angle from the southeast corner of the court and be almost detached, to give full value to the view of the ocean, bay and city.

When it first opened in 1888, it was the single largest resort in the world. A year before the hotel opened, a wedding began the remarkable history of the hotel’s romance.

Since the opening of the hotel, many guests have passed through. In 1920, Edward, Prince of Wales visited the hotel. Presidents and celebrities made their way out to the “in place”. A-list celebrities have graced The Del as early as the 1930’s. But during World War II, many West Coast resorts and hotels were taken over by the U.S. government for use as housing and hospitals. It housed many pilots, who were being trained at nearby North Island Naval Air Station.

In 1948, Barney Goodman purchased the hotel from the Spreckels. From the end of World War II until 1960, the hotel, like any other, began to age. Neglect was evident and in 1960, local millionaire John Alessio purchased the hotel and spent $2 million on refurbishment and redecorating.  Many transactions and owners later, the hotel is constantly growing and renovating to this day.

Between January 20 and April 20, 1892, a little girl named Noel wrote a series of remarkable letters to her cousins back East, describing all of the wonderful things she saw and did while spending the season at Hotel del Coronado. Each one contains a lively watercolor by the family’s “Nurse,” a governess who gave Noel and her brother daily instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. She wrote in a letter dated February 14, 1892: “This is the loveliest, biggest hotel you can imagine. It has ever and ever so many funny little windows and balconies like the big dovecote at Grandma’s. The hotel is white and has red roofs everywhere. The red and the white between the bluest sky and the bluest water is like a beautiful dream in a fairy story.”

As President Benjamin Harrison once told future President William Taft, “One who has ever breathed this atmosphere would want to live here always.”

With a full schedule of events, the hotel is still operating and thriving today.
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