Fortuitous Interview Leads to Future at Hotel Del
Her job interview started at 9am, and by 10am Irma De Anda was given a uniform and a job at the Hotel Del. That pivotal day in May 1978 would change the course of her life. A single mom at the time, living in Tijuana, trying to make ends meet, she got the pronto job she needed. She spoke good English, having spent summers with her grandmother in Point Loma. Her first job at the Hotel Del was as a maid, now called a room attendant. After a month on the job, she was able to move to Imperial Beach, where she still had to take two buses to get to work.
A friend told her about the amazing garage sale finds in Coronado, and she was able to furnish her apartment and buy a bicycle, which she rode to work, making her commute shorter. Dressed in her uniform, pedaling down the strand at full speed, her friends and coworkers called her the flying nun.
Within a year, she was promoted to Housekeeping Coordinator. She stayed in that department for nine years, until one day her supervisor told her about an opening for a Quality Assurance Supervisor in the Engineering Department. “It was a perfect fit because of my knowledge from training, seminars, familiarity with the property, and the desire to do new things and ask questions,” says Irma. As the only woman supervisor in an all-male department, she had to learn to hold her own. “It was challenging in the beginning, but it was a blessing because I learned to be assertive,” she comments. After three years, she was running her own crew with a stable of painters, plumbers, and other tradesmen. “It was a rewarding job and I stayed in that department for 17 years,” she says. She was also treasurer of the San Diego Hotel Engineering Association for five years.
Her next department stop was in the Laundry where she worked for 14 years as the manager. When it closed in March of this year, she thought her career at the Del might be over, but she discovered she was wanted back in Housekeeping. She doesn’t have plans to retire just yet. She fondly remembers Carlos Gonzalez, the window washer who worked at The Del for 52 years, still cleaning windows at 80 because it was his life.
She has seen many management changes through years, from before Larry Lawrence to KSL to now Hilton. There have been similarities, but some differences in core values. But she has enjoyed every moment of her time, and every morning as her car approaches The Del, she is still in awe of this amazing property that has become her second home and where she is welcomed by the employees, who are like family. Optimistically, she says, “I’ve seen lots of changes through the years and I’m excited for the new upgrades that are starting to happen now.”
Laughing, she recalls the era, where to earn extra money, she dressed up on weekends in Victorian attire to help in the Old Hall of History, which was located where the Spa is now. Once, some guests mistook her for a haunted spirit as they came around the corner. “I love the history of the Flag Tower with the smell of the ancient wood and carvings from the 1900s,” she says.
Irma came here without a plan, only knowing she needed to support her daughter and she wanted them to be happy, and they have been, with her daughter growing up to be a nurse with a 16-year-old son. She found her future at The Del.
Getting the Word Out About The Del
How do you find the perfect job? Well, if you are Keriann Martin, you pick out the most beautiful place you know – The Hotel del Coronado, and apply for a college internship. After finishing her degree at San Diego State University in 2007, she was one of the first five employees hired when Beach Village opened. Her job was as the host/concierge, which was a challenge trying to figure out all the protocols of a new project. But then she landed a permanent position in the Marketing department, where she is most passionate.
During her more than 10-year career at The Del, she has held a number of positions in the Public Relations and Marketing Departments, which were sometimes created along the way. She has focused on the marketing arena and thoroughly enjoyed being part of the growth of digital marketing over the years, where the industry is always changing. She also created The Del’s social media presence from scratch, including starting its Facebook page, which has grown to 135,000 followers. They now have the help of an agency managing it 24/7.
She cites creating the website as one of her favorite projects, which has now been updated at least four times during her time at The Del. The latest version just launched last week. Check it out at hoteldel.com. She has enjoyed her journey at The Del, which has seen the birth of her two-year-old daughter Allie and the anticipated arrival of her second daughter in December.
“I enjoy working on new projects and looking for ways to make the marketing better. Our team is an amazing group of talented women,” she comments; and continues, “We work with all of the departments at the hotel and that makes for a very dynamic place to work.”
Some of her favorite places at The Del include the top of the turret, walking along the beach and savoring the smell of the ocean, having lunch on the Sundeck, and the hidden spiral staircase off the Victorian Building near the Garden patio.
These are just two of the many long-term employees honored at a recent celebration at the Hotel del Coronado, where more than 300 employees, with five years or more of service, were recognized for their dedication.