Crossing the massive Coronado Island Bay Bridge en route to the Hotel Del Coronado, I marveled at the shiny San Diego skyline over my right shoulder, anticipating a long awaited leisurely stay at the “Del”. As I approached the beautiful Victorian Hotel with its bright red turrets accentuating the pristine white architecture, I enjoyed a visual treat that no postcard could ever duplicate.

The lobby is a statement in itself. The entire lobby is entirely composed of carved mahogany. Our friendly and knowledgeable Bellman accompanied us to our room, in the older Victorian section of the Hotel. As soon as he opened the door, I was delighted by the magnificent ocean view. The Veranda, complete with white wicker furniture was a perfect place to settle in and enjoy the white-capped waves breaking on the shore.

The historical significance of the Hotel Del Coronado was apparent as I watched people walking on the beach and grassy park like area directly below my room. I had seen this same view in old photos of the hotel, with women dressed in long fancy dresses, men wearing vintage hats and little children running playfully by the shore. There are many interesting stories about the hotel and its occupants to enjoy. The Del has become a living legend known for the famous celebrities, dignitaries, and U.S. Presidents who have enjoyed the same ambience and sandy beaches that I walked upon during my stay.

There is also a renowned “ghost” at the Del. As the story goes, the rumored spirit has never left the hotel since her tragic death in the late 1800’s. The sad young woman whose lover forsakes her has allegedly been seen on the hotel premises on more than a few occasions. She is now the beloved ghost of the hotel and although I did not see her, it was fun to think that she might be around.

As for the accommodations, our ocean-view room was elegant and well decorated. Our Victorian room reminded me of some recent stays in London. The room was well appointed with ceilings at least 12-feet high. Although not overly spacious, it was very comfortable and recently renovated in June of 2005.

After spending the day discovering the hotel’s intriguing history and opportunities I was ready to relax in a plush and comfortable bed. The linens provided were definitely top quality. The down comforter and pillows were designed to allow a good night’s sleep and I can certainly vouch for that.

Dining at the Del is a delight as the hotel features several restaurants designed with expansive outdoor dining terraces offering excellent views of the blue Pacific Ocean, close enough to hear the waves softly meet the shore. Whether you prefer more formal dining or an energetic nightspot with the freshest Southland Coastal Cuisine, you won’t be disappointed

The Del also offers many boutique stores to enjoy after a day at the beach. Some of the stores cater to home decorating, while others provide an excellent source of clothing, jewelry and any other item you may need. An ice cream shop with attached French bakery was great and conveniently located for an evening snack.

I didn’t have the opportunity to visit the Spa at the Del, but they certainly have some very enticing offerings including the “Tropical Zen Trilogy Body Wrap” that ends with an 80 minute Body Massage; promising to balance the body’s yin and yang while invigorating the mind.

Although the Hotel del Coronado is situated along 28 oceanfront acres and offers several sports to enjoy on-site – if you feel like venturing out – the main street on the island is perfect for a leisurely stroll past quaint cafés with sidewalk dining. And just back over the bridge lies the city of San Diego on the mainland. Itself a very metropolitan city featuring art, culture and several major attractions including the famous San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and fun nightspots in the famous “Gas lamp District.”

Hotel del Coronado is truly a treasure in time and grandeur, which had the effect of instilling a sense of calmness and peace with me during my stay.

There is a wonderful story written by a little girl who visited the hotel almost 115 years ago named Noel, and I agree with her recollection published in the children’s book “The Loveliest Hotel You Can Imagine.” Noel wrote a captivating letter expressing her feelings about the Del, where she was enthralled by the fairytale architecture, saying, “The red and white between the bluest sky and the bluest water is like a beautiful dream in a fairy story.”

For Resort information & reservations: 800-HOTEL DEL, .