Monday, February 17, 2014

The Hotel Del Coronado: Richard Zampella

© Richard Zampella, The Hotel Del Coronado
Situated on Coronado Island on the bay at San Diego, California stands one of the last surviving examples of an American architectural genre known as the Victorian Resort Beach Resort. When opened in 1888, the Hotel Del Coronado was the biggest hotel resort in the world hosting presidents and attracting  celebrities from around the world.

By the 1920's the hotel had hosted Presidents Harrison, McKinley, Taft, and Wilson. Due to the hotel's close proximity to Los Angeles,  Hollywood's stars and starlets discovered that 'the Del' was a fashionable place to see and be seen. Many celebrities made their way south to party during the era of Prohibition and used the Hotel Del as their personal playground. Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Mae West were a few of the many actors who stayed at the hotel during weekend getaways of the period.

The hotel’s heyday continued into the 1920s, and the clientele began to shift. There had been a war, and federal income tax had been instituted.

During the Depression, the hotel suffered some, but not as much as many other turn-of-the-century resorts, which could not survive such hard times. Fortunately, the strong military economy in San Diego helped keep The Del afloat. In fact, the hotel continued to draw guests all through the Thirties, despite the Depression.

In 1958, director Billy Wilder chose The Del for the filming of Some Like It Hot, starring another timeless American legend, Marilyn Monroe. The hotel is probably best know for this association with Monroe.

In 1963, the hotel faced demolition with a development plan intended to demolish the hotel. Instead, the developer changed his mind and invested $150 million to refurbish and expand much of the hotel.

Today, The Hotel Del Coronado with its iconic red turrets and pale pink skin, radiates with a confidence of gracious Victorian splendor that is without equal.

Richard Zampella is a travel writer that regularly visits resorts in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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