Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hotel Del Over-crowded

This is the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. For most of its life it has been an amazing place and a fantastic example of Victorian beach architecture. The original structure and the majority of the many expansions were all built out of wood. To step into the lobby or grand ballrooms is to step back in time and yet it has been preserved so you can enjoy it today.

We have been spending a weekend here every year for the last five years. It has always been a beautiful and relaxing experience. Although it has always also been an expensive weekend, we always put up with the $4 bottles of water and the $35 breakfasts because the overall experience was worth it. But after five years, we are now ready to throw in the towel. To expensive, you can now add over crowded and, I think, over-extended.

Everthing you see in the shot above is part of the Hotel. In the last 2 years, they added a series of private vacation villas... the low buildings to the left of the main hotel. The major crime here is that while the pools, hot tubs and seating areas of the villas are all closed to Hotel guests, the restaurants and bars of the Hotel are open to guests of the vacation villas. So the Hotel has added what I guess must be 30 to 50 rooms/accomodations without expanding their dining and bar facilities. The result is a line 30 - 40 people long to get into breakfast, crowded bars, and long waits for almost every expensive amenity they offer. The amazing beauty of the surroundings is constantly interupted by the choking crowds. Some of the staff remains attentive and civil while others seem to be as frustrated with the crowds as the guests.

The owners seem to know what they're doing. The new vacation villas are tastefully designed in the spirit of the original hotel. They also seem to be keenly aware of how to charge large sums of money for everything to pay off their large investment. There is something very democratic about the original hotel. Its always been an exclusive hotel. But a stroll through the hotel, a drink at the bar, high tea was open to all. Sadly, their financial greed seems to have tarnished the Del's former sparkle.

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