Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Loew's Coronado Bay Resort, San Diego, CA

[the constellation room -- one of the fine meeting spaces at loews coronado bay]
I had a meeting here this past Saturday.  It was 10F when I left NY on Friday morning.  When I emerged from the SAN airport -- still on Friday morning -- the sun was so bright and stunning that I had to text BF about it.  I hadn’t seen sunlight like that in about 3 months.

THE BOTTOM LINE (at the top)
For those of you who just need the poop: this hotel has outstanding service, which is great for a business traveler like me.  The food is excellent.  They get big props for being dog friendly.  The rooms are fine.  This place seems to have a lot of families, so although the martinis are VG, I'd go elsewhere in San Diego for grown-up fun and games.

The soaking tub!  It was everything I could have wanted.  The room was otherwise perfectly fine, but unremarkable.

I got in at noon and didn't have to meet anyone until dinnertime.  I spent about two hours by the pool – in the sun and fresh air.  It was pretty quiet at this time of day (~1 – 3pm on a Friday).  They provide huge towels and cucumber water and you can get room service delivered as well.  By some freak celestial alignment, I had finished ALL of my work the day before, so I had nothing to do.

So I did nothing at the pool.

For 2 hours.   

Do you know how good that feels?  (No, really -- do you????)

Whenever I have a meeting at this kind of place, I always book a spa service.  I did the "Spa Tasting Menu" at the Sea Spa.  I chose the Traveler's Relief massage and the paraffin hand treatment.  Both were great.

My massage therapist was Elizabeth.  She was AMAZING -- and I am NOT just saying that.  I always want a deep massage – the more sadistic the better.  I often have trouble getting people to be as intense as I would like, but not Elizabeth.  She gets in there and gets the job done.  We worked on all of my traveling muscles and it felt wonderful.  If you ever find yourself at the Loews Coronado Bay, book a massage and ask for Elizabeth.

[oh yeah, that's me in the picture... lol!  i crack myself up!]

The food was *excellent* -- particularly the mahi mahi sliders, which were delivered to me poolside.  You can get food delivered to you wherever you are on the campus – they will just bring it to you.  These were so good, I almost didn't have time to take the picture before I inhaled them.  I really have to make these.  BTW, they have avacado aioli on them.  Maybe I will make some for my Super Bowl party?  Maybe I will just make them and eat them myself...

...but I digress.

The Berry Butler:  This resort made a little news last year when they retained the services of a Berry Butler.  I had wanted to find the Berry Butler himself, but had to settle for just the smoothies.  They served them during one of the meeting breaks.  They were good, but not awesome.  But I’m not particularly into smoothies, so I don't even know why I am writing this.

The restaurant does not know how to make iced coffee – at least not on the morning that I got one.  Coffee -- straight out of the urn -- onto some defenseless ice.  [I found out later that there is a coffee shop that serves SBUX coffee, but I didn’t try it.]

They do make a good martini.  Their buttermilk pancakes are great – fluffy and luxurious.

The service was quite fantastic.  Everyone was friendly, efficient and intelligent.  While I was there, they found my sweater that I had dropped someplace between the airport and my room.  They will deliver food or drink to you anywhere you want.  You can throw anything at the front desk and they will have it sent to your room. 

They have just a couple of shops, not awesome, but nice.  (If you want to book a hotel with shops, go to The Del.)
  •  In addition to the normal gift shop/sundry fare, the lobby gift shop has some very nice clothes of the ‘glam-yoga’ variety -- beautiful [cotton? modal?] open cardigans, with extra-long sleeves and tasteful ruffles.  They were all black or brown (as I recall).  Prices were *slightly* less expensive than a similar resort shop.
  • There is a shop on the other side of the lobby that just sells beach-themed T-shirts. [blech]
  • The third shop is part of the spa and they have very typical luxurious bath robes, slippers and more glam-yogawear.  They also have the requisite beauty products.  The prices were not out-of-hand.  I was glad to see that they sold travel size versions.  Some hotels don’t [wtf].  I bought this solid perfume.  It smells heavenly and doesn't have to go in the baggie (not yet).

Pacifica Waikiki Pikake - jasmine and sandalwood

This is a 4-star resort and spa in San Diego, CA.  It's expensive.

This resort is very much a family place.  There were lots of kids running around.  However, this hotel is DOG-FRIENDLY.   I personally got to smooch with an adorable plush bulldog, a cutie Papillion-ish mix and a toy poodle with beautiful long ears – all with families attached, but who cares, I still got to be foolish with dogs.

They also have birds.  There is a bird cage in the corridor just off the lobby with these cute little finch-type birds. They were grey with red hats, but they were camera shy.

I wouldn't call these earth-shattering, but nonetheless...
  • The front door is not automatic and is not revolving.  It’s pull-open, but the bellmen were not always there, like when we walked in with our luggage.
  • The anemic little hair dryer in the bathroom does not go to the higher speed – either disabled or broken; but I didn’t have the time to ask for another one because I had a plane to catch.  So I hated my hair the entire way home.
  • The intake vent in my room had a carpet of dust on it (it was in the ceiling at the entrance).  I doubt that it has ever been cleaned.
  • Waste receptacles in the spa bathroom stalls were gross.  They looked rusty and moldy.  They are step cans, which is inconvenient when you don't want to touch the lid -- what are you supposed to do, rotate on your throne to get your foot over there?
Side trip to Hotel del Coronado
We went here for drinks after the meeting on Saturday.  The lobby was appropriately gorgeous.  I *did* actually gasp when I walked into the lobby.  The bell captain was happy to explain a lot of history.  He was very patient with us.  (I think we were a little noisy and obnoxious.)

Here are some facts that I learned (but that everyone else in the world already knew):
  • “Some Like It Hot” was filmed at this hotel. 
  • This was the first hotel to get electricity.  Although the electrical system was designed by Thomas Edison, contrary to popular belief, he did not install it himself.  Back in the day, guests could have their choice of gas-lit or electricity in their rooms.  Some people didn’t know enough about electricity and were fearful of starting a fire, so they chose gas.
  • L. Frank Baum wrote "The Wizard of Oz" while living at the hotel, but he did not base the Emerald City on it.  Baum had already written about the fictitious setting before ever visiting the hotel.  Someone told me that a sidewalk there inspired the yellow-brick road, but that was not corroborated.
  • The Del is one of the largest all-wood structures in the United States.  [The bell captain knew all of the types of wood used in the lobby.  It was breathtaking, actually.]

We had drinks on the Sun Deck around 7 – 8:30pm on a Saturday night.  It was pretty barren (but of course it was 'winter').  There were lots of seating areas surrounding gas-lit fire pits.  Had it been light out, we could have seen the ocean.  Drinks were reasonable by NYC standards.  The bartender on duty did NOT know how to make a dirty martini.  I do not know where they got their olive brine from, but it tasted strange and there was waaaaay too much.  [I like to joke that I like olive brine with a shot of vodka -- but I think this was the very ratio that the bartender used.  Guess I can't make that joke anymore...]

I have to give a shoutout to Liz Fordi and everyone from Miller-Tanner.  It’s a bad sign when you and the meeting planner have seen each other so many times that you greet each other like old friends, but we use this group whenever we do a meeting.  They really take care of you, I mean really.  They find you anywhere in the hotel, shepherd you to the meeting room, change flights and bring your new boarding pass to you wherever you are [in the bar].  They will ship any binder or meeting detritus anywhere you want.  I love to see their names on the ‘save the date’ invites to any prison-camp meeting that I receive. 

p.s.  This was in the bible drawer.  Pretty cool.

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