As part of our regular vacation series this summer, Fabulous Arizona is providing options for ultra-lux travel that neither requires a passport or plane ticket. Among the poshest of places to consider: Coronado Island. Less than six hours from the Valley – and just across the bay from San Diego – Coronado Island is so close, yet feels a world away from the daily stresses of life.
A Bit of History
According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, Coronado’s roots trace back to 1886 when visionary investors dreamed of a sumptuous seaside sanctuary so fabulous that it would be the talk of the Western world. Cradled between the calm waters of San Diego Bay and the refreshing seascape of the Pacific Ocean, they accomplished their mission – and then some – with this little slice of paradise, which all these years later is still the perfect backdrop for rekindling the soul and pampering the body.
Want a little more backstory? Click here.
Coronado, which is Spanish for the “crowned one” and as a result often nicknamed The Crown City, is divided into five main regions – Bayside & Ferry Landing, Orange Avenue/Historic Downtown, Coronado Beaches, Glorietta Bay, and Silver Strand & the Cays – plus the main attraction above all else, Hotel Del Coronado. Each has its own personality and is easily accessible during even a short weekend visit.
Here is a look at highlights from each.
Hotel del Coronado
Let’s start with the main event, shall we?
If you’ve come to Coronado, you’ve likely done so to drink, dine, sightsee or stay at the iconic Hotel del Coronado.
Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, Hotel del Coronado is an American treasure with more than 130 years of stories to tell. The resort has become is a living legend and seaside tradition, visited by celebrities, dignitaries and Arizonans alike. It has famously been featured in over a dozen movies over the years alone, notably in Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe and My Blue Heaven with Steve Martin. At least 16 presidents have also reported being guests over the years, including Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Right now marks one of the most exciting times for the lauded resort as it is in the midst of a multi-year, $400-million master plan to preserve, revitalize and develop new aspects of the property while creating unprecedented guest experiences.
Among the highlights:
- An eye-poppingly grand new landscaped entry featuring a dreamy view of the iconic red turret. The brick-lined driveway will harken back to the Victorian era with a new front façade inspired by the
- The Ice House will be renovated for use as a history museum, a space for guests and visitors to learn more about The Del’s unique and fascinating history.
- The Del’s Vista Terrace event venue, expanded and reopened in 2019, offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the iconic red-roofed turret. This new outdoor space hosts up to 700 guests.
- A new resort-within-a-resort opening featuring residential-style villas oriented around an ocean-view pool with private cabanas, ocean-air bar and fire pits.
- Breathtaking enhancements to the existing 97 Cabana guestrooms, including a design upgrade and the addition of outdoor fire pits, chaises and cabanas. The existing 214 guestrooms and suites at The Views will also receive exterior and interior renovations to include enhanced balcony and terrace experiences. The new Villas will bring the total number of guestrooms on property to 901.
Every room, suite and villa on property is magical, especially with the recent enhancements. However, if seeking a bit more privacy and the height of luxury unrivaled almost anywhere else in the world, also consider the Beach Village on property for all or part of your stay.
Since 2007, The Del’s oceanfront enclave of 78 cottages and villas has welcomed guests to the ultimate in coastal luxury living and elite vacationing. Beach Village at The Del combines its own seaside charm, contemporary design and elevated service with the romantic allure of one of America’s most prized historic hotels. The Beach Village experience is highly personalized and unique to every guest, and includes all of the amenities of the legendary Hotel del Coronado plus special amenities and perks all its own.
Whether staying overnight or not, you will not want to miss the culinary adventure that awaits at The Del. Most of the resort’s culinary outlets are all recently revitalized or in the process of being updated. One of the most stunning updates in this realm so far is the opening of Serẽa last summer. It features a Mediterranean inspired menu that showcases the best sustainable seafood and heritage meats the region has to offer, prepared by San Diego native and executive chef JoJo Ruiz. ENO Market and Pizzeria is about to reopen, offering gourmet artisanal pizzas, and grab and go sandwiches, salads and other delectable bites. The property’s scenic Sun Deck is also getting an upgrade with a new 360-degree bar and full kitchen for an elevated poolside experience. The historic B&S Bar reopened earlier this summer meticulous work to restore the 50-foot mahogany bar, including its original cupola feature which was through to be lost for many years and recently uncovered in storage. Also to come is a refresh of Sheerwater restaurant and its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
Given the current state of the world, beyond the amenities and accommodations, it should also be noted that The Del is proudly part of the Hilton CleanStay program. Hilton CleanStay, created in collaboration with Lysol and Dettol maker RB and Mayo Clinic, includes new procedures to help Hilton guests enjoy an even cleaner and safer stay starting this summer. Just a sampling of the pages-long protections they are taking:
- Guests who desire a contactless arrival experience can check-in, choose their room, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check-out using their mobile devices through the free Hilton Honors mobile app.
- For guests who prefer a traditional check-in, physical distancing measures will be in place directing guests on how to move through the in-person check-in and check-out process in a safe way.
- The first point of contact with the guest room will be with the Hilton CleanStay room seal, placed on the door upon being thoroughly cleaned.
- The room will have extra disinfection of the most frequently touched guests room areas – light switches, door handles, TV remotes, thermostats and more. It will be de-cluttered, with items like pens and paper removed. Disinfecting wipes will be provided in every room for guest use.
- Guest rooms will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guests. Housekeeping service during a guest stay will be based upon guest preference, recognizing that some guests may not want staff entering their room.
- Additional amenities such as linens and toiletries will be available upon request, delivered in protective packaging and placed at the guest room door.
- In hotel restaurants, tables and chairs will be spaced to ensure proper physical distancing.
- Biodegradable, disposable dishes/utensils will be available upon request.
- When ordering room service where it is provided, guests will experience contactless delivery, with orders and single-use serviceware placed outside their guestroom door.
In addition, The Del is also part of the recently launched Hilton EventReady, which addresses the evolution of cleanliness protocols for the holistic meeting and events experience.
Bayside & Ferry Landing
With views for days, not to mention ample restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops, Bayside & Ferry Landing is the entry point for the island. The Coronado Ferry ushers over guests who do not wish to drive to and from the island every five minutes from this point, and beyond that it is the perfect place to rent bikes, sign up for a kayak tour or take a whale watching cruise.
The region’s quaint shopping village has about 10 must-visit shops, notably Art for Wildlife Galleries, Lisa’s Boutique and Miss Match.
Insider tip: if a disciple of all things San Diego, as most Arizonans are each summer, be sure to take a selfie at the landing. There is, perhaps, no better view of the San Diego skyline than from this vantage point.
The majority of the non-beach action on Coronado happens along Orange Avenue, which is the official Main Street for the region. Painstakingly maintained and beautifully manicured 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even if not drinking, dining or shopping, this is a magnificent place to see and stroll for one and all. There are over 50 stores to explore here, not to mention endless restaurants and bars (please note they are only providing outdoor seated dining right now).
Lamb’s Players Theatre, the Coronado Visitor Center, the Coronado Museum of History and Art and the gloriously fabulous art deco-inspired Village movie theater are also along Orange.
Might you be into soft, gold-flecked sand? How about sparkling water? Yeah, we thought you might. Both are copiously available at Coronado’s main beaches, as is surfing, kayaking, sailing, paddle-boarding, swimming, sunbathing, volley-balling, shell-collecting and more.
If you brought your pooch, head over to North Beach, which offers an off-leash area (aptly named Dog Beach) for four-legged friends, and even has a doggy shower to clean them up when done having fun. The main beach is (again, aptly) named Central Beach. Volleyball abounds there (if even not a player, both sexes can enjoy a little eye candy during game play). It’s also where you will find large public restrooms and a shower facility. There is also a beach called Silver Strand State Beach, which is hard to miss as it extends three miles along the peninsula and allows overnight camping. They also have restrooms and showers.
There is also a fourth beach area, which is called South Beach, that is just south of Hotel Del Coronado. However, it’s mostly off limits as it is primarily reserved for U.S. Navy (and Navy SEAL) Training.
Glorietta Bay starts where Orange Avenue ends. Oh, you know two great ways to know you’ve arrived? Look for yachts; or if of a certain age, wait until your head starts quoting Robin Leach as if you’ve entered an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
This stunning bay boasts Coronado Golf Course, Coronado Tennis Center, Coronado Yacht Club, Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill (yes, like the one in Phoenix, but with a better view), the public marina and boat ramp, Club Room & Boathouse — that are as nice as any country club — and Glorietta Bay Park.
Silver Strand & Coronado Cays
The Silver Strand is a six-mile isthmus beginning opposite the Hotel Del Coronado (where Orange Ave ends) and taking you past the award-winning Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Crown Cove Aquatics Center and Coronado Cays. The Cays are primarily residential but you can enjoy a memorable excursion with The Gondola Company or a scenic coffee or meal at The Calypso Cafe.
For more, visit Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego Tourism Authority.
**Note that as with Arizona, California is in various stages of re-opening. Bookmark these venues and consider not only for now, but for a trip in the future, especially when we successfully overcome this pandemic.