On the Hotel Del Coronado’s website it states, “The Del stands as the definitive example of what a luxury resort should be.”
We never expected to Good, Bad, Sunny them – but when momtourage writer Whitney Stropp took her brood for what they expected to be a fabulous family getaway and came home disappointed, we knew that Luxury Travel Mom readers would want to know.
Location location location. This hotel is ocean front property. You have access to a wide stretch of beach that even when crowded seems vast. Grab a cocktail in a to go cup at The SunDeck bar and hit the sand. Build sandcastles, dig holes, jump in the waves or people watch. The pièce de résistance: The nightly sunsets. They will make any couple feel like honeymooners.
In Room Service. Breakfast in bed is always a luxury. The food was delicious, came in less than 40 minutes and was handled by friendly and attentive staff. Our friends had the same experience with dinner but it was enhanced by an ocean view.
The S’mores. This is a package the Del offers it’s guests. A private beach bonfire, all the s’mores you can roast in an hour, and quality family time. This was my favorite part of our trip. A classic roast for up to 5 people runs you $135. Hint: We made the 8:15pm reservation and weren’t kicked out at the hour mark. (Editor’s note-dude, are they seriously charging $135 TO ROAST MARSHMALLOWS??)
The History: The Del is over 125 years old and rich in history. It’s fun to walk the decks, ride in the brass grated elevator and imagine life in the 1880’s. There are stories of love affairs, presidents, celebrities, and ghosts. The red shingled roof and white Victorian balconies and decks are pretty impressive. Photo ops abound if you can keep the crowds from photobombing. We went over Easter weekend, and I will say the crowds can make you feel a bit like you’re walking on Main Street at Disneyland.
The room: We went with a one bedroom Victorian suite. Typically there are 5 of us traveling together, but one kid was shipped off to Italy with his grandparents, poor boy, so with only 4 in the group, and by the look of the room online, I thought that would be plenty of space. I was wrong. It was dark and cramped. The “bedroom” was literally just that. A bed. The sofa pullout was called a queen, but was a double. The bathroom was small and inconveniently located. They claim to have done quite a bit of renovations, but not every room got the facelift. This is disappointing when you are paying over $1000 a night.
The service: When I called down to discuss possible alternatives with the manager, his best suggestion was to add on another adjoining suite for double the price. Meanwhile, two floors down, our friends were walking into their Jr. Suite only to be greeted by 2 pitbull dogs peering over the divider into their balcony. With a 6 year old in the mix, my friends decided to move rooms. Again the manager was called. They were told their only option was to upgrade. After some back and forth, he agreed to upgrade the family if they pay for half. Not the kind of luxury service that sets examples. The silver lining for them was that the upgraded room was gorgeous and still cheaper than my Victorian Suite. To me, luxury means never having to pay more for less. Editor’s Note: Um, WHY ARE THERE PITBULLS IN THE ROOMS??
The pool: The pool itself was fine. We set up in one of the cabanas, ordered some Bloody Mary’s and were ready to let the disappointments from the day before, wash away. Then we asked for a menu. Let me sum it up in one word: prepackaged. Nothing says luxury like food that could have come from a vending machine, am I right? What were you thinking, Del? California is like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. We like to customize our orders!“I’d like the chef’s salad please with the oil and vinegar on the side and the apple pie a la mode. I’d like the pie heated and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it.”
And to top it off, there was nothing kid friendly about this pre-made menu. No fries, no burgers, no chicken nuggets or pasta. No fruit! If your kid doesn’t enjoy a nice turkey sandwich with herb aioli on rosemary bread or a muffuletta, you are out of luck. We rented a cabana and had planned on relaxing there all day. Instead, we were on the hunt for kid friendly food, and once found, had to schlep it back down to the pool. Multiple times. It’s hard to keep your Bloody Mary buzz going when you are sweating your ass off looking for fries.
The view is priceless. The hotel incorporates its greatest asset into as many areas as possible. There are multiple places to enjoy the view, whether it be on the Sun Deck, at the Sheerwater Restaurant or the Sunset Bar.
There’s a great grassy lawn overlooking the beach where kids can run around and play. They have a hotel scavenger hunt. Every child is supposed to get a scavenger bag upon arrival. My kids weren’t given jack, but our friends did and said it was fun.
In my opinion, you can enjoy the best of the hotel without actually staying there. Come here for the day and experience the history. Have lunch at Sheerwater Restaurant (where they have a kid’s menu), walk the beach, enjoy cocktails while the sun sets, and actually stay elsewhere. I will take it upon myself to research the perfect place. I’m a giver like that. Fairmont Grand Del Mar, I’m looking at you, babe.
Overall, my experience here was less than luxurious. Service was spotty, food prices were high and accommodations were inconsistent. You can’t boast your luxury prowess and then not deliver consistently. So I guess the sunny is that depending on the day, the season, and/or the room number, you may have an enjoyable time….but you will never get fries at the pool.
Whitney and her family were not hosted. When we reached out to PR to ask for a site tour and some information on the hotel prior to her trip we were met with crickets.