It is no secret how much I LOVE Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Did you know it’s exterior is themed and modeled after the Hotel Del Coronado in California? Castle Dreams Travel Planner, Debbie, brought us along during her stay there earlier this month…Today is our move day! We asked the Marriott Marquis for a late checkout and they graciously extended it to 1pm. I always ask. Most properties will give you at least an hour, but you have to ask.
We are not breakfast people, so we slept a bit later in the morning, while our friends headed over to Coronado Island. Once up we decided to take a quick walk around the Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park, and get in a little shopping.
If you get a high room, especially without a balcony, city view, many are able to see Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres stay. We have gone to a game, in the past, but decided not to go on Friday night.
The Gaslamp Quarter is a large area. Here you will find many hotels such as the Hard Rock Hotel, Omni Hotel, Marriott, Hilton, etc. Many major brands have a property in this area. It is extremely popular when the Padres are in town. We have stayed at both the Hilton and Marriott properties. All very nice. But, be aware, there is always a hefty fee for parking, even when you stay at the property.
The area is well known for its nightlife. And, one time, when there with my then 17 year old, we got to see just how lively, firsthand. Lots of people. Lots of night clubs, bars and cocktail lounges. And, traditionally the crowds on the younger side. The area also has several unique restaurants. The Spreckels and Balboa theaters are also located in this area.
There is public transportation, in the form of a tram, that runs around the Gaslamp Area and San Diego. Quite unique but not quick. We found Uber and Lyft to be quicker options, but they were more expensive.
As we ventured back to the Marriott Marquis, we also went down the pier. Just past Seaport Village you will find the USS Midway (well worth seeing if you have not), the Navy Pier, Ferry Service to Coronado Island, and the Visitor Center. For those who enjoy the walk, it is very doable from the Marriott Marquis.
We picked up a quick lunch at Panda Express located at Horton Plaza, a shopping area within walking distance to the Marriott. At one time it used to be a bustling shopping area, but today, there are a few boutique type stores and Macy’s. Nordstrom moved out earlier this year, from what locals told me.
Back out the hotel, we packed up, called our Lyft and headed over to Coronado Island.
Hotel Del Coronado – Coronado Island
When you see photos of Coronado Island, you will typically see a photo of the Del, as locals call it. The San Diego Coronado Bridge is also a very popular photo that is used in much promotional literature. And, it is quite the bridge. Our Lyft driver on the way back was sharing with us a story of traveling on the bridge when there were high winds. Thankfully, there were no high winds when we traveled it.
The island is relatively small and we did walk from the Del to the Ferry landing. It is an easy walk. Traffic is another story. If you are driving or have a rental, there is lots of traffic and numerous stop lights. Throw in there the large amount of pedestrian traffic and SLOW is the best way to describe travel on the island, for the most part. Often, walking is quicker.
On a side note, Hilton had just taken over the property within the week. And, things were still in a state of transition.
As we drove up, I had to remind myself, this was Labor Day weekend. Making it worse, it was Saturday mid-day of the weekend. It was packed as we pulled up. However, we were quickly greeted by Bell Service. They got our bags, gave us a tag and directed us to the front desk. That was quick and easy. We decided not to keep our bags with us since check in was at 4pm. But we had packed a day bag so we could swim, etc. if we wanted to do so prior to the room being ready.
We approached the check-in desk and it was a little confusing. There wasn’t really a “line” and it was hard to know who was waiting to check-in and who was just “hanging out.” We only waited a few minutes, and one of the front desk staff motioned us towards here. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that our room was ready. We got the keys and headed to our room.
At the Del there are basically three sections. You have the towers. These are newer rooms and more traditionally the type of room you would find at any Hilton. There are also Beach Villa Cottages and Villas. These are oceanfront and offer highly personalized service. The accommodations range from one to three bedrooms and include fireplaces, marble bathrooms and private patios or balconies. The suites also include gourmet kitchen and living rooms. A stay here also includes daily breakfast at the beachfront Windsor Cottage, gated access to the Beach Village grounds, exclusive pools and hot tubs plus highly personalized concierge service.
We did see a lot of pets around the hotel. The Del is a pet friendly hotel and welcomes pets. They even offer amenities for pets. While I didn’t experience this myself, the website indicates they offer gourmet room service menu for furry friends; treats upon arrival, pet-walking, pet-sitting dog grooming and vet services; dog beach less than one mile from the resort, specialized bedding, crates., collars and leashes; and “Yappy Hour” every Sunday from 4-5pm.
We had reserved a room with a king size bed in the Victorian section of the hotel with a garden view. After checking in we went directly to our room. As we did that, I kept peeking as housekeeping was cleaning rooms. What I found is that almost every room is different. This section of the hotel is older. It was first started in 1885 with the owners having a vision to “establish the grandest hotel on the Pacific Coast.” So over the years, this hotel has evolved. They have kept the character of the hotel, so guests need to be comfortable with floors that might not be perfectly even and strangely shaped rooms.
Our room was large. And, it was very comfortable. The bathroom, however, was very small with one sink and little counter space. But, we made adjustments and it was great. Our balcony was HUGE. In fact, you could have put a bed out there. The view was wonderful. It overlooked the inside garden area of the hotel. Very nice. Very peaceful.
Housekeeping was very good and left us two bottles of water each day. They left extra towels, etc. as we asked. And, turndown service was unique. Each night they would leave a shell with a saying. Very special.
Once up to our room, we called Bell Service and they delivered our bags within 10 minutes. We then changed and went out to explore the hotel. We met friends at the bar and had a drink with them. The service in the bar was slow. It was PACKED – Labor Day weekend – and there were no seats open. We were fortunate as our friends had been there for a bit and we cold sit down. We were eventually served and enjoyed the conversation and the drinks.
We continued our journey by going down to the beach to say hello to others. The beach is well taken care of and you could tell where the beach for the Del started and where it ended. More on the beach for Day 3.
Dinner was then just around the corner. Our friends frequent the island often and had a favorite sushi spot, just across the street from the Del. Yummy’s Sushi and Seafood. It was excellent. For those who do not eat sushi, they have other options. I found them all wonderful.
This is a small, local restaurant. We had 24 people in our party and had called ahead. They were very accommodating. My husband loves Sushi and he said it is some of the best he has had. And, our friend, who frequents there often, had several favorites, some which were no longer on the menu but that they graciously made for him. Excellent food. Excellent service. Highly recommend this restaurant.
Back at the hotel, I had to visit the hotels’ bakery, located right beside the bar. Yummy banana bread and cookies. Yes, I tried both. After all, I needed to make sure it was worth mentioning, right? And, I could eat it at the bar area, while the rest of our group enjoyed the beer, mixed drinks and for me, Diet Coke.