Happy 130th Birthday!

February 19, 2018

Happy 130th Birthday to the Hotel del Coronado!   On this day in Coronado history – February 19, 1888 – the Hotel del Coronado formally opened for business.

On January 18, 1887, Mrs. E.S. Babcock Jr., wife of the President of the Coronado Beach Company, cast the first shovel of dirt to start digging the foundation. However, construction did not begin until after the official March 1887 groundbreaking ceremony.  Eleven months after groundbreaking, the resort served its first meal on February 19, 1888, which became its “official” opening day.

1905-Seashells around the del_edit (640x416)Some interesting facts about Coronado’s Crown Jewel:

When the hotel first opened:

  • It operated on the American Plan, and three meals a day were included in the price of the room (a practice dating back to the days of the American tavern). At that time, Del room rates ranged from $2 to more than $3 per night, depending on season, length of stay, view, private bath, etc.
  • There was a separate dining room for children and their nannies. There was also a separate dining room for unescorted women, who may have felt uncomfortable dining in mixed company (it was considered improper for a woman to walk across a hotel dining room without an escort).
  • The hotel maintained exclusive liquor rights in Coronado.
  • Individual drinks could be delivered to guestrooms. Among those, gin fizzies, gin flips, and gin Rickies cost $.25 each; a pitcher of lemonade was $.75.
  • The hotel leased land on the Strand for a hog farm; the hogs were fed the hotel’s edible garbage.
  • During the Victorian era, a hotel was known by its chef, and the Hotel del Coronado was no exception. Chef Compagnon, who was born in Switzerland in 1840, received his training in Paris and was highly touted by The Del even before it opened its doors. Chef Compagnon was paid $200 per month (which included a furnished house near hotel grounds), making him the highest paid employee – by far – in the entire hotel. The next-highest paid employee was the assistant manager, who received only $125 a month; the “second cook” was paid $108.25 per month (both of these gentlemen probably lived in the hotel itself). As a point of reference, in 1888, common laborers were paid $2 per day, and a standard workday might be ten hours or more.

Happy Birthday to Coronado’s pride and joy!


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