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The Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island, CA, opened its doors in February, 1888. It is known as the second largest wooden structure in the United States and it was at that time the largest resort hotel in the world. The Victorian resort has been listed as one of the Grand Old Hotels in our country. It showcases a beautiful beachfront with a storybook history. It came of age during the “Gilded Era” when America’s rich traveled from resort to resort with servants in tow. Guests used to stay for months; women would sit at the balcony level watching the comings and goings of guests to comment on how well husbands were doing financially based on their wives’ clothing.
Guest rooms numbered 3327 and 3519 are quickly booked around Halloween when ghost fans hope to experience flickering lights, swaying curtains, cool blowing air and mysterious voices.
The spirit of Kate Morgan is said to have roamed around the Del for more than 100 years where the TV has switched on and off, pipes rattled, and Kate’s face has even appeared to some on the black TV screen. Some of the staff has reported seeing a beautiful brunette wearing black 1800s garb in the corridor or standing by a window as if waiting for someone. Kate and her card shark estranged husband were traveling West on a train when Tom got off in Los Angeles and promised to meet Kate at the Hotel Del. Kate checked in as Lottie Bernard and Tom never arrived.
The last time Kate was seen alive was in the evening when she was looking out at the ocean from a veranda. She was found the next day on steps leading outside with a bullet in her head. Through the years ghostbusters and parapsychologists have stayed in the room with infrared cameras to track the ghost of Kate.
An employee working in the 1888 Shop in the hotel says that Marilyn Monroe's presence is also felt as well, usually in hallways. The movie, Some Like It Hot was partially filmed at the Hotel Del. Rumor has it that Marilyn and Kate have fought for space in the shop, causing merchandise relating to both to be placed far apart so that the merchandise didn’t mysteriously fall from the shelves.
Whether or not ghost stories intrigue you or simply surrounding yourself with Victorian splendor is your pleasure, there is more to The Del that will delight you.
Bike and boat rentals, a fitness center, boogie boards, volleyballs, wetsuits and surfboards are available. If you are looking for some pampering, those can be found at the full-service spa and services at Salon at The Del as well as the vanishing edge pool.
On a recent visit, we were invited to try Eno Pizzeria & Wine Bar, the wood-fired artisan pizzeria and wine bar located both outdoors or just inside the building. We loved sitting outdoors because we could see the pizzas being baked in the outdoor oven while watching the Pacific sunset. As we sat down to the high-topped tables, trays of antipasti appeared in front of us to savor with a variety of boutique California wines.
Executive Chef John Shelton and his team have come up with some of the best pizza in Southern California. In addition to trying the traditional Margherita pizza and Funghi (mushroom) Pizza, we tried what can only be a California original called the In-N-Out Pizza, comprised of all those delicious ingredients found in an In-N-Out burger. To accompany slices of pizza, we were brought plates of their Eno Salad—fresh mixed greens, roasted pear, crumbled bleu cheese, and served with an oregano vinaigrette dressing.
Every good meal needs a dessert to complete it, and we were invited to try The Del’s famous S’mores on the Beach. In true Del fashion, these were not simply a couple of marshmallows between graham crackers. Containers of raspberry, vanilla, chocolate and mint marshmallows lined a table to be placed on ginger snaps, mint chocolate cookies, or graham crackers. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, strawberries, carmelized bananas, raspberries, toasted nuts and toasted coconut made our mouths water as we tried to decide what to try first. Of course, work is involved to make the perfectly browned marshmallow, and we had to compare all of ours to see who had the magic touch.
While eating my S’more, I wandered down the beach from the fire pit to enjoy the last glimpses of the sun as it set over the Pacific and couldn’t help but see the sand carving honoring Kate Morgan. Both her legend and The Lady by the Sea, The Del, will continue to delight and woo us.