By Greg Aragon
Coronado Island is a seaside paradise in the San Diego Bay that is full of history, relaxing atmosphere and great weather. The small, resort town is also home to a charming boutique hotel called El Cordova, which I recently discovered on a memorable weekend getaway.
The adventure began when a friend and I drove through Downtown San Diego, crossed the beautiful, 2-mile-long Coronado Bridge and entered the tiny island. Here we made our way a few blocks toward the beach and found the El Cordova, resembling a small Spanish village on a corner, across from the famous Hotel Del Coronado. We then checked into a luxurious one-bedroom suite, overlooking the hotel pool and restaurant.
Featuring a spacious bedroom with queen bed, and a living room with sleeper sofa, full kitchen, small dining area and large closet, the 500-plus-sq-ft room had everything we needed for a weekend of exploration and fun.
Outside the room, the hotel boasts gift shops, an art gallery, spa and salon, bike and beach rentals, a clothing store, and a gourmet Mexican restaurant. The resort also offers guests a tranquil buffet breakfast each morning, in the courtyard, beside the pool and a large trickling fountain. And just beyond the hotel’s main entrance are Coronado Beach and an historic old-town, with myriad shopping, entertainment and dining options.
One of the highlights of our Coronado Island visit was a stroll through town to the Coronado Ferry Landing (www.coronadoferrylandingshops.com), where we took a nostalgic, 15-minute boat ride across the bay and then walked around San Diego’s legendary Gaslamp Quarter. Covering about 16 square-blocks of Victorian-era buildings and modern skyscrapers, the Gaslamp boasts more than 100 of the city’s finest restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and retails shops, as well as offices and residential/work lofts.
Back in Coronado, we strolled down Orange Ave., the town’s main drag, and discovered Coronado Brewery, where we experienced a crisp, clean and refreshing Coronado Golden pilsner, a light-bodied, delicately hopped session beer, brewed using pilsner malts and Czech Saaz hops.
After the brew, we walked back to El Cordova Hotel and enjoyed an authentic Mexican meal at Miguel’s Cocina (www.miguels-cocina.com). Located in the hotel’s courtyard, Miguel’s is known for fresh seafood and potent margaritas. My meal began with a classic Mexican ceviche with shrimp, scallops and white fish, in citrus juice with diced tomato, onion and cilantro. After mucho ceviche, I devoured a plate of succulent shrimp enchiladas with sautéed shrimp, salsa fresca and an unforgettable white jalapeño sauce with avocado slices.
With our bellies full we toured the historic hotel property. Originally built in 1902 as a retirement mansion house for wealthy industrialist Elisha Babcock, the El Cordova was converted in 1930 into a Spanish Village hotel and has been updated and expanded several times since then to provide additional rooms and amenities. Today, the hotel-resort is an alluring Spanish hideaway with winding, brick walkways, shady courtyards, lush vegetation and gorgeous, mission-styled architecture.
Besides it’s picturesque design, the hotel is also about beach location. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the South and West, San Diego Bay to the North and Glorietta Bay to the East. The majestic Coronado Bridge connects the hotel and Coronado Village to downtown San Diego while the peninsula known as the Silver Strand provides access to a stretch of more beautiful beaches and the gateway to Mexico by land.