Come morning, I remember why I rarely drink a second martini as I nurse a whole pot of coffee in the open air until everyone shows up for the Del’s extravagant breakfast buffet: eggs benedict and honey glazed ham (freshly sliced from the bone), smoked salmon with capers and onion and tomatoes, and much else...
...compelling me to do the next stupid thing, with the same vacation rationale: Overeat.
So now I’m not just hung over but stuffed.
After a long beach walk, around noon, I fall into a hangover-and-food-coma snooze, after which I trek into town for recon and to purchase cigars.
The town of Coronado is well maintained, but devoid of soul. There is nothing about its bars and restaurants that will sway us from the Del, as much as I‘d like to be swayed.
Sometime mid-afternoon, while I read a book on the balcony, my wife and elder daughter put their foot down on our dowdy accommodations and tenaciously charge over to nearby Beach Villas to enquire about moving.
I, meantime, descend three flights of stairs (elevator out) to enquire at the Concierge desk about gaining access to the hotel’s Crown Room—one of its crowning attractions—to try to see three crown-shaped chandeliers gifted to the hotel by L. Frank Baum.
Clearly, I am one of the pesky cows trying to step out of the cattle train.
With faux smile, she suggests I go outside and peer through the window to maybe catch a glimpse of their famed chandeliers.
Back up three flights of stairs, I decide, apart from whatever my wife and daughter concoct, we will depart the Del and Coronado earlier than booked and contrast our beach vacation with a two-night city fix (the masochist I am).
After making such arrangements with U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, I phone the Del’s front desk to inform them I’ll be checking out two days early.
“I’ll connect you to a manager,” she says.
Connect me to the Wizard if you like, it won’t matter.
The line rings and rings and I disconnect and reconnect to the front desk, explain that I am, again, providing notice about an earlier-than-scheduled checkout and if the manager feels compelled to talk to me about it, he is welcome to phone me.
About ten minutes later, the phone rings.
“Why do you want to leave early?” asks the manager.
“One, our rooms are vastly over-priced. Two, while I find your ancient elevator a charm when it’s working, most of the time it’s not. We’re on the third floor and my grandsons are practically stuck to their rooms. Three, when I asked to see the chandeliers in the Crown Room, your concierge told me I could not, but to peek through the window instead. We’re not in France. A concierge’s job is not to say no, but to find a solution. Now back to the elevator. If it is not fixed and working within the next ten minutes, you will have to compensate us by adjusting the price of our rooms.”
“I’m sorry about the elevator, but…”
“And I accept your apology. But it’s easy to be sorry and it will take more than that to satisfy me. Think compensation.”
Not ten minutes later, a series of excited texts from my daughter: Carlos of the Beach Villas has worked his magic and, within the hour, will provide a two-bedroom, sea-view beach villa; a delightful, modern duplex with a living room and kitchenette, two decks—one with a hot tub Jacuzzi—overlooking a swimming pool and the beach and ocean beyond, king beds with fine bedding, and modern showers, all within a locked and gated community to ensure the cattle don’t get in—for about the same price as our two rotten rooms in the Del.
Even more staggering than the difference in digs is the attitude of staff working the Beach Villas side of the compound.
No longer aloof weariness. Instead, big welcoming smiles, sincere enthusiasm, and polite helpfulness.
You couldn’t get a reservation for a beach fire pit to make s’mores because they’re overbooked again? No problem—we’ll fit you in this evening!
Come 5:33, screw the Del’s bar.
How about a martini at a large table with built-in fire pit in the open-air overlooking the beach as the sun begins its final descent?
And how about instead of overpriced mediocre wine, fairly-priced fine wine?
As for food: Masterful. Lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, Brussels sprouts with bacon and pecans, and a killer sea bass.
The downside: Stuffed again.
And then it’s time for s’more:
After dark, you gather round a wood burning fire pit on the beach with a bag of marshmallows, a pack of Graham Crackers, and a half dozen Hershey chocolate bars and skewers.
And then a soak in the Jacuzzi beneath a Gibbous moon…
My first novel about a road trip has been acquired by Skyhorse Publishing in New York City.
It will be published in Fall 2016.