Hotel del Coronado Unveils New Holiday Tradition of DELights: Making Seasides Bright

Del-IceSkating CA
The Southern California resort celebrates the season with a new tradition and the return of the beachfront ice rink.

Known for celebrating the holidays in grand tradition, Hotel del Coronado has gained a reputation for its festive holiday grandeur since 1888. It was here in 1904 that America witnessed the first electrically-lit outdoor Christmas tree, setting the stage for a century of holiday enchantment.

This season, the resort added its newest holiday tradition: DELights: Making Seasides Bright. Guests and locals can stroll through the Shops at The Del and end in a Winter Wonderland at the center of the hotel in the open-air Garden Patio. The Del placed a 30-foot, multi-faceted white metal Christmas tree in the place where the gazebo is traditionally located. In this first year of the new tradition, DELights admission is complimentary to all visitors.

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Besides the tree, what does DELights include? The transformation from the Tom Kehoe Designs of Chicago includes illuminated snowflakes, twinkle lights, 10-foot polar bear sculptures, cookie decorating, and European Christmas market-style holiday shopping. A five-minute light show features beams of light projecting towards the sky and around the patio, traditional and modern Christmas tunes, and a video of scenes of California projected onto the white tree.

The DELights experience offers fun for the whole family, and the team at the Del has further plans to improve the experience for their visitors. Children are invited to decorate cookies ($8 per person) and share them on social media with the tag #CoronadoDELights for a chance to win free ice skating passes. There are also plans to add arts and crafts and maybe even family photos in front of the polar bears.

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Guests sample roasted chestnuts with the DELights tree in the background.

While the DELights experience is unique, some visitors might find the combination of darkness, bright lights, loud music, and video projections to be overwhelming rather than reminiscent of Christmas. I visited this past week with my family, and I enjoyed the experience, but felt ready to leave the Garden Patio after a few minutes. Mostly this was because it was very dark, even with bright lights spinning and circling during the light show, which repeats every 30 minutes. My family and I decorated cookies, but we had a hard time seeing what we were creating in the dark. We also visited both booths in the garden to shop for Del souvenirs and sample some roasted chestnuts, but neither experience felt very restful with the loud music drowning out our conversation.

The Del at Christmas is full of old-fashioned charm, so if holiday-seekers are looking for that, there are many places to find it: on the skating rink, by the fire pits, around the giant Christmas tree. With DELights, The Del is offering something totally new and technologically impressive, alongside its quaint and traditional standbys. Still, I think most visitors would enjoy a little more light and quieter music during the 25 minutes between light shows.

Locals have expressed some concern over the removal of the gazebo in the center of the Garden Patio. Will the gazebo return after the holidays? According to Sara Baumann, Public Relations Manager at the Hotel del Coronado, the plans for the gazebo are undetermined at this point. Currently the team at the Del hopes to make the Garden Patio into an even better event space in the spring.

The entire DELights display is open to the public, free of admission, says Sara Baumann. DELights will be on display from November 26 to January 1, daily from 4pm to 9:30pm (weather permitting; opens at 7:30pm on December 12; closed New Year’s Eve). Guestroom packages with front row balconies are available throughout the season. Visit the DELights page for more information.

Other Holiday Activities at the Hotel Del Coronado

The Del announced a full line-up of holiday activities including Skating by the Sea, the renowned ice-skating rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean which offers a one-of-a-kind, Southern California holiday experience. Full activities include:

Skating by the Sea
Daily; November 26-January 3
Skating by the Sea returns to Hotel del Coronado for the 11th season. This spectacular rink is located on the Windsor Lawn and features stunning views of Coronado beach. Skating sessions will be offered daily from Thanksgiving through January 3, 2016, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of San Diego. Admission is $25 per person (passes available) and includes free skate rentals. Activities throughout the season include a spectacular Chanukah on Ice and themed skates. Visit http://hoteldel.com/events/skating-sea/ for more information.

Hotel del Coronado ice skating rink
Hotel del Coronado ice skating rink

Victorian Tea
Daily; December 11-12, 19-24
For the tea lovers, or those who just want to relax and enjoy the background sounds of a delightful harpist, The Del will serve Victorian Tea from 11am to 3pm on various days throughout the holidays. This charming tradition features dozens of traditional tea varieties served with finger sandwiches, classic tea cookies, and tarts.

Elf Tuck-Ins
Daily; December 12-25
Children are delighted when Elves stop by for a visit at bedtime! Each child receives a stocking with toys and candy, and Del Elves read them a bedtime holiday story. This is available as an add-on to guestroom reservations.

Holiday Chocolate Workshop
Monday, December 7
The class by Pastry Chef Daphne will guide guests through the intricacies of creating decadent confections with her years of experience and passion for the art of chocolate. From smooth ganaches and exotic truffles to dipped chocolates, attendees will end the class with a thorough understanding of how to work with all types of chocolates, the health benefits of dark chocolate, and have a gorgeous array of confections to take home. $50 includes recipes, tastings, and a keepsake Del apron.

Christmas Eve and Day Dining
Thursday, December 24 and Friday, December 25
Celebrate Christmas Eve with a lavish Victorian buffet dinner paired with live musical entertainment in the magnificent Crown Room. On Christmas Day, the oceanfront Ballroom and the historic Crown Room will feature traditional holiday buffet dinners, while both 1500 OCEAN and Sheerwater Restaurants will offer special holiday menus for families.

John Bahu Holiday Lights & Full Moon
The Del decorated for the holidays.

New Years Eve
Thursday, December 31
The Del is a wonderful place to ring in the New Year, with multiple offerings for the most celebrated night of the season. The oceanfront ballroom at Hotel del Coronado will be transformed into ‘Havana Nights.’ A welcome reception, five-course dinner, grand open bar, and orchestra will round out the black tie event priced at $350/person, while the Crown Room turns ‘Club Crown’ with a disco-chic bash from 9pm to 1am for $100/person. Guests will enjoy DJ entertainment and dancing, a dessert reception, a midnight champagne toast, and cash bar. Discounted admission is available in ‘Club Crown’ for guests dining in 1500 OCEAN, the Ballroom, and Sheerwater that evening. B&S Bar will offer live entertainment, party favors, and festive cocktails.

Holiday Recreation

Throughout holiday season at The Del, guests and visitors of all ages may enjoy a variety of activities including holiday night bike tours through festive Coronado Island, cookie decorating, crafts for kids, and Kidtopia Camp with holiday scavenger hunts. Little ones will love the “Elf Tuck-Ins” where they are visited by real elves at bedtime. In the days leading up to Christmas, snuggle in Santa hats by a beach bonfire, and roast “Jingle S’mores,” which include cinnamon graham crackers, Ghirardelli mint chocolate, and marshmallows. The Del’s renowned Beach Spin will host an ‘ugly sweater spin’ benefiting Toys for Tots.

Spa La La La La

Spa at The Del offers the perfect way to unwind during the holiday rush. With fabulous ocean-inspired treatments, steam rooms, jacuzzis, and a spectacular outdoor terrace and vanishing edge pool overlooking the Pacific, there’s truly something for everyone, including special seasonal treatments.

For more information, please call reservations at 619-435-6611 or visit The Del’s website at hoteldel.com/holidays.

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Becca is a Coronado local, military spouse, mother of three, and an ICU nurse on hiatus. In Coronado, you will find her at the playground with her kids, jogging to the beach, or searching the Coronado library for another good read.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com.