Coronado, CA: The Hotel del Coronado

When it first opened in 1888, The Hotel del Coronado aka. ‘The Del’ was considered the premier vacation destination on the California coast. Visiting as a child, my mother would point to the Navy jets flying overhead, regaling me with stories about the base right next door that my grandfather once commanded. I took in the historic mystique, in awe of a place that really did feel fabled.

Back in the late 1800’s, guests would arrive to The Del by rail, checking into the plush resort on the sea for the crisp salty air that was said to restore the spirit. Now a landmark, its history is impressive. Remember Some Like It Hot?

Yes, Marilyn Monroe stayed here.

It even has its very own ghost.

In 1892, Kate Morgan checked in and never checked out. Possibly jilted by her husband or a lover, she was said to be ‘upset.’ After spending five lonely days waiting for a man who never arrived, she was found, dead on the beach of a gunshot wound. They said she committed suicide, but her death was never solved.

According to Christine Donovan, The Del’s historian and author of the book, Beautiful Stranger: The Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, Kate is a relatively harmless ghost, but more dramatic tales also abound. Like the time a young couple – away for a romantic Valentine weekend – experienced a string of supernatural occurrences, culminating in their covers being ripped off in the middle of the night by a ghostly apparition. Pillows have been stacked strangely, lights have been turned on and off, and Kate has been seen walking down the hallways, through the garden and along the beach.

Ghostly sightings aside, the Del was recently named the ‘best family beach destination in the U.S.’ by The Travel Channel as it offers a little bit for everyone, particularly now, with the year-old development of the new high-end Hotel del Beach Village next door.

The brand-new contemporary villas can fit couples or families that feel like indulging in a bit more privacy (and a bit more luxury) than the main building. With private decks with outdoor fire-pits and plunge pools overlooking the sea, to butler service and full-kitchens, it’s the chance to splurge without having to board a plane to the tropics. Echoing The Del’s famous turrets and red-shingled roof, the Beach Village has already captured the attention of several Hollywood A-listers like Kevin Bacon & Kyra Sedgwick, Josh Hartnett, and Reggie Bush.

Last year, the Del also unveiled a new spa where guests can organize special “after hours” celebrations like bridal showers, anniversaries, or birthdays. Canoodle, munch on canapés, take a sauna, and sip champagne on chaise lounges while some chocolate lava cake and an after dinner foot-massage.

Or head to ENO, a chocolate, cheese, and wine tasting room, where for $13, you can get yourself the ‘SEXY LADIES’ wine flight which includes five different tastings like a 2005 Nora Albariño from Rias Baixas Spain and a 2006 J Vineyards Pinot Gris from the Russian River Valley. I also opted for the ‘EUROPEAN UNION’ cheese tasting with my all-time favorites: Manchego, Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda, and Pecorino Cortones. Before you leave for home, try the famous Hotel Del brunch, an all-you-can eat buffet extravaganza with the most dazzling range of foods I’ve seen in years. You might not want to eat the night before. Or the next day.

Just don’t forget to knock on someone’s door in the middle of the night, run quietly down the hall, and hide. Someone’s got to keep the ghost lore alive, right?

Prices for the Beach Village Villas range from $850-$5,000/night.
Prices for a Spa Terrace 2-hour Reception range from $1,800 to $2,700.

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