Coronado Island: Three Beach Group Retreats in San Diego Bay

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Coronado Island

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Settled sweetly in San Diego Bay, Coronado is a beachy community surrounded by a modern metropolis. The attributes for meetings and incentives are clear.

“We were doing conventions before 1900,” says Christine Donovan, director of heritage programs at the 368-room Hotel Del Coronado. Known universally as “The Del,” the resort debuted in 1888 and to this day defines the peninsula. As the Del’s official historian, Donovan has a new book debuting next year with a chapter on conferences, dating back to the Men’s Mutual Benefit Association group in 1896.

“Everyone who comes to San Diego wants to stay at the Del,” Donovan says. “It’s like when people go to New York, they want to see the Empire State Building.”

For groups, Exec Chef John Shelton brings his display kitchen out onto the front lawn, including a gargantuan smoker and giant “ice luge” to serve a wide variety of seafood. “The good thing about this restaurant is we can use whatever’s landing at the docks,” he says.

Many creative group experiences are readily available, from private high-end dining to yoga on the beach. Next door, the luxury cottages and villas at Beach Village offer 78 secluded beachfront suites for C-level executives and similar groups requiring privacy. Total meeting space is 65,000 sf.

CORONADO ISLAND MARRIOTT RESORT

Year-round, the 273-room Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa has a private dock for group transfers into San Diego proper. Water taxis depart every half hour to the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center.

Ray Elicone, senior event manager, escorts me to check-in to demonstrate the laid-back ambience around the Marriott. Even though the resort is sold out it doesn’t seem like anyone else is here. A gentle, hushed atmosphere pervades.

The property offers a total of 23 meeting rooms and 25,000 sf of meeting space. On the second floor the meeting spaces are proprietary and inclusive. Other hotel guests don’t need to access the area for anything.

“In another hotel you might have people coming from the swimming pool through the areas where delegates are breaking out for coffee,” says Elicone, “People in their bathing suits are walking through your reception area. That doesn’t happen here.”

LOEWS CORONADO BAY RESORT

Where Coronado thins out into the narrow “Silver Strand,” the 439-room Loews Coronado Bay Resort operates a private 80-slip marina. Onsite companies provide surfing and stand-up paddleboard lessons here, where everything is geared to integrate the water and natural ecosystem.

“Each Loews likes to weave the local destination into its operation,” says GM Brian Johnson. “That was behind the relaunch of this hotel. You get an indoor, outdoor feel; you feel like you’re in San Diego. And we own the marina.”

The landscape around San Diego emerges in everything Chef Mark Leighton Ching concocts for groups. Meals are paired with beer from Coronado Brewing Company; ingredients arrive from the 3,800-sf organic herb garden; and during meetings, the “brain food” takes center stage.

“The menu highlights antioxidants, berries, warm nuts and things that would meter the amount of sugar that goes into a person’s system, rather than have them wired in the morning and then crash later,” Ching tells me.

One can walk through Coronado Village, but bicycling works better. Darlynne and Marc Menkin operate numerous “Discover Coronado Biking Adventures” around Coronado, who say that groups constitute most of their business. Total indoor/outdoor meeting space at Loews is 65,000 sf.

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