Sunday, December 23, 2012

Walking in "The Del"

Occupying center stage of San Diego's Hotel del Coronado ("The Del") is this beautifully decorated tree.

The centerpiece of this year’s holiday theme, "A Time to Celebrate," the tree was decorated with items that were used to decorated all areas of the hotel--festive timepieces, gold and silver accents, and vintage Santas.

Across the lobby from the Registration Desk were two fixtures of the Hotel Del--Otis #61, one of the first fully functioning electric elevators manufactured in America, and elevator operator Andrew Lounsbury, who has been manning his post for over 30 years.

He is well-known for remembering every guest's name, every home state. And for nearly every person he shuttles through these seaside turrets, he will sing a song, or quote a line from a movie, or recite a quip from the annals of history.

In 1960, a leading Hollywood scenic designer, Al Goodman was hired by then owner John Alessio to refurbish The Del's lobby. As the centerpiece of the lobby, Goodman designed a new, wonderfully ornate, Victorian-style grill that still adorns Otis #61 today.

Just outside the entrance to the Sheerwater Dining Room and its bar is this decorated tree.

An interesting story about The Del's history is: "Electric lighting in a hotel was also a world first. The electric wires were installed inside the gas lines, so if the 'new-fangled' electricity didn't work, they could always pipe gas in to illuminate the rooms. Thomas Edison inspected the final electrical installation, and returned in 1904 to oversee the nation's first illuminated outdoor Christmas tree, which was placed on the hotel's lawn" (

A later visit to the Manchester Grand Hyatt on the other side of the bay brought us to the Gingerbread Village and Gingerbread Hotel on display in the lobby.

The gingerbread houses are created by students at Perkins Elementary School, Monarch School and Kimbrough Elementary School. The gingerbread hotel (1/100th replica of the Manchester Grand Hyatt) is created by the hotel's Executive Chef Brent Martin and culinary team. The gingerbread house earning the most votes would have a donation made in their name to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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