CORONADO, Calif. — It's day one of the reopening of the historic Hotel Del Coronado although it's not at full capacity, and there is still is major construction going on that started over a year ago.
"We are the main, you know, the largest business here, we do draw a lot of foot traffic, a lot of day visitors to Coronado,” said Harold Rapoza, Jr., Hotel Del General Manager.
Back in business, the Hotel Del reopened after closing for the first time in its 132 year history due to the coronavirus pandemic. The opening is slow, and in phases with just a fraction of the hotel's 757 rooms available, which range from costing $350 to $800 a night.
"Demand has been great, we opened our reservation system two weeks ago, we're almost sold out with the 268 rooms we have,” said Rapoza, who’s been with the hotel for three years.
The hotel has more signage posted around the large property that tells guests to wash hands and masks are required. There are circles in green, blue and beige posted as markers on the ground that are six feet apart to alert guests to socially distance. There is a newly created reception desk area with glass barriers and sanitizer, as the old check-in space is under construction.
“We have a new cleaning system, a seal on the guest room door, so we go in after check out, we disinfect, we sanitize all of the high-touch areas like the remote control, light bulbs and switches,” Rapoza said.
Then at the Beach and Taco Shack, guests can cool off outside along with a food truck called “On The Rocks,” as restaurants and much of the historic hotel with its classic turret are under a $400-million renovation.
“I love, love, love, love it, everybody's social distancing, me and my girlfriend are here having fun, I got my dog out,” said hotel guest Pat Sandoval, who lives in San Diego.
But there are growing concerns about hotels and businesses reopening too soon during a pandemic as coronavirus case numbers rise in the county and country.
“I'm concerned that things are opening up a bit too soon and people may be spreading the virus without knowing,” said San Diegan Alejandra Galaz.
Jennifer Smith, who went to Coronado beach with her two children said there needs to be more communication and consistency from government officials about the best ways to safely reopen.
“It feels a little bit like things are opening without a larger plan,” Smith said.
Then some said they didn’t think hotels opened soon enough.
“I feel like it's probably too late because it's cost a lot of businesses, the small businesses, I own two small businesses and it's cost a lot of people,” said Troy Judd, who recently took a 5,400-mile trip to seven different states with differing safety protocols.
With all the new health regulations and mask requirements at the Hotel Del, some fears are calmed.
“It makes me feel better than they're taking initiative, that they're addressing the problem, but how consistent are they?” Galaz said.
Rapoza says all guests are required to wear a mask while at Hotel Del, except while on the beach if they are physically distancing, seated at a restaurant table or at the pool.
Hotel Del reservations for its opening weekend and Fourth of July weekend are sold out. Amenities, including the spa, fitness center and pool are to reopen next month and more restaurants will come online in August.