The slight smell of sunscreen wafts through the air, coming in and out of the breeze as it brings with it the smell of crispy hot dogs and warm chili. 

With 77 degrees and not a cloud in sight, it was a perfect day for the Hotel del Coronado’s very first carnival on Sunday.

And it just took 135 years.

It was a step back in time as the Del hosted a free family-friendly Coronado community event that included circus acts, face painting and games tucked away on the property’s backside.

Jugglers, men on unicycles and acrobats diffused from the lawn onto the pristine beaches where tents were set up along a deck filled with food and activities.

Acrobats perform at the carnival at the Hotel Del. Staff photo by Madeline Yang.

Final phase of renovations

The Del was honoring more than a century of hosting locals and tourists from all around the world, and being an iconic part of film history when it was the backdrop for the 1959 film “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe.

For being a building that was constructed at the end of the 1800s, the Del has stood the test of time, but it was decided that it did need a little sprucing up. 

In 2018, renovations started on the Del with a renovated lobby, bars and retail spaces with a major investment from Blackstone Real Estate. 

The future set of renovations marks the final stages of the seven-year-long process that aims to be completed by spring of 2025. The figure for the new stage is more than $160 million, which is on top of the $400 million renovation finished earlier this year.

The upgrades will encompass all Victorian guestrooms, suites and event spaces such as the iconic Crown Room, ballroom and Coronet.

Renovations on these event spaces will begin in a few weeks, according to Harold Rapoza, the managing director of the Del. 

We really wanted to bring it back to that vintage, Victorian era.”

Hotel Del Coronado Managing Director Harold Rapoza

‘A massive renovation’

“This will be a massive renovation, more than $160 million,” Rapoza said at the event. “It’s not a traditional guest room renovation. We really wanted to bring it back to that vintage, Victorian era.”

The Del tested out themes and styles for over a year before settling on the room design they decided to run with. It was important for them to keep the “magic” of the original sentiment of the hotel while being able to modernize the space for those that have the chance to stay at the beach resort, officials said. 

“We have worked diligently to preserve the Del as a National Historic Landmark while cementing the property’s status as an iconic and timeless destination for generations to come,” said Rob Harper from Blackstone Real Estate. 

And work hard they did. 

Involving the community

Managing Director Harold Rapoza shows the mock-ups of the renovations. Staff photo by Madeline Yang.

Rapoza said they approached the Coronado City Council many times and worked closely with former City Manager Blair King in order to involve as many possible in this project as there were many hesitations from the community about renovating, arguably, the most iconic part of the city.  

Coronado is the lifeblood of the Del.”

Hotel Del Coronado Managing Director Harold Rapoza

“Coronado is the lifeblood of the Del, so we wanted to include everyone in Coronado to announce this next milestone we have,” Rapoza said. 

The carnival did just that. 

With hundreds of people gathering around food and drinks and people on stilts, the community celebrated 135 years of the Del and organizers said hopefully a 135 years more. 

Below are images from Sunday’s carnival at the Del.

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Madeline Yang is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering the City of Coronado, the U.S Navy and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with her Bachelors in Journalism with an emphasis in Visual Storytelling. She loves writing, photography and videography and one day hopes to be a filmmaker. She can be reached by phone at 916-835-5843.