The iconic 135-year-old property nears the end of its nearly eight-year project

SAN DIEGO – (May 29, 2024) – Like that neighbor of yours who is aging suspiciously well, the Hotel del Coronado’s been somewhat quietly getting a makeover. The 135-year-old resort has been under construction in various phases since 2018, with new properties being built on the resort’s grounds and builders painstakingly restoring some of the older sections of the original resort.

When Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story built the hotel in 1888, they dreamed of building a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western world,” a phrase they coined that became a slogan of sorts in the early days. Seeing as it’s now 2024, and we’re still very much talking about their project, it’s safe to say mission (mostly) accomplished.

When the renovation is complete in early 2025, it will have been a more than $550 million investment backed by Blackstone Real Estate. The full transformation will include opening a new location of the famous Nobu restaurant and a $160-million renovation of the resort’s oldest section, the Crown Room and Victorian Neighborhood (including the Coronet Room and Ocean Ballroom). The price tag, which started at $400 million in 2018, has now climbed into one of the most expensive hotel overhauls in San Diego history. But it seems to have all been worth it.

“From day one, it has been our goal to ensure that The Del provides guests and the community with a one-of-a-kind experience,” says Brian Kaufman, managing director at Blackstone. He adds that they’re “thrilled” to have “world-class” Nobu cap it off—an exciting landing for a long, painstaking renovation project.

It’s no small feat renovating one of the region’s most iconic, if not the most iconic, landmarks. The comprehensive reno had to be approved by the City of Coronado and the California Coastal Commission, and be completed in accordance with guidelines for its national landmark status.

Plus, San Diegans have held weddings, birthdays, graduation brunches, vacations, and life events here, with pictures to document. Make it too different, and you will alienate generations of locals. Keep it too similar, and what’s the point of undertaking such an expensive renovation, anyway?

Even a quick perusal of Tripadvisor shows that most agreed it was time for a refresh.

Wimberly Interiors led the design in partnership with the California architecture studio from design firm Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo. The focus was on ensuring that the public areas remained genuinely Victorian, with original finishes intact. Contemporary design features were added to bathrooms, furnishings, artwork, and updated technology to offer comfort and luxury upgrades to the previously dated property.

David Marshall of Heritage Architecture & Planning leads the current Victorian guestroom redesign effort. His work was instrumental in his firm winning a “Preservation Project of The Year” honor from the Save Our Heritage Organisation and a “Preservation Design Award” from the California Preservation Foundation following their extensive reconstruction of the hotel’s front porch and lobby areas.

Among its current highlights is the recently completed Shore House—a newer build fashioned in Victorian style with red shingles mimicking the original Del buildings— that sits just to the south of the main property on the ocean. It opened in 2022 with 75 residential-style rooms, many suites or duplex-style with kitchens, modern finishes, and outdoor fireplaces. Most rooms have at least partial ocean views, and though some can be reserved as hotel rooms, others are owned as residences.

When Shore House opened, the for-sale units sold out in about 100 days, and cost anywhere from $1.3 million to $5.2 million for approximately 800 to 1,900-square-foot units. It’s a massive addition that created 130 new jobs for the resort and more-or-less operates as its own hotel ensconced within the larger Del universe.

Due to the renovation, many other amenities have opened in the last couple of years. The historic Windsor Cottage was updated while preserving historic elements, like the building’s structure, dating back to its 1905 construction. Called the Ocean Club now, it opened last summer and is a yacht club without boats and outfitted with cocktails, food, vibes, and scenic views.

Other renovations include the fitness center, spa, pool, the shops, and The Vista Terrace, which debuted with the new Sun Deck, Babcock & Story Bar, and ENO Market and Pizzeria in place of the former pool. The main pool was redone entirely and is heated year-round. It’s flanked by shaded chaise lounges, new premium cabanas, and cabanaettes for rent.

That project, which revamped the rooms and suites in The Cabana and The Views neighborhoods, redesigned and renovated 97 and 217 rooms, respectively. The Laundry Pub has also recently opened and is geared toward locals, with many community-focused events and shows on weeknights during low season. It has a long tap list, bar games, and top-notch pub grub.

But the renovation is not quite finished. Up next is yet another room project: The Beach Village at The Del, an enclave of beachfront cottages and villas, which is set to unveil a complete refresh by the end of this year. Nobu will also open next year, comprising more than 3,700 square feet of indoor and al fresco dining.

The older parts of the original main building are also closed off and being worked on. The Victorian, the oldest section of the hotel, is undergoing a more than $160 million revitalization, which will keep its original build while making necessary updates.

These renovations, along with others at the National Historic Landmark property, must be completed according to a strict code to preserve its landmark status. The upgrades include all Victorian guestrooms and suites, and the resort hopes it will be finished by next spring. Think of it like a facelift.

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