SoCal, Where The Del Guarantees Happy Tweens And Teens - My Family Travels

Here's a long-time classic Southern California resort that's reinvented itself as San Diego's coolest spa and sports getaway, with class and style.

Looking for a way to amuse the kids while indulging in a pampering spa treatment? Here’s a twist – why not let them indulge along with you? While we’ve seen a rise in spa programs designed for children and teens in the last year or two – offered at properties in a range of budgets – most confine themselves to manicures, pedicures, hair braiding and more gender-neutral face painting and temporary tattoos.

Hotel Del Coronado (800 HOTEL DEL) in San Diego takes the concept one step further offering the Teen Spa Sampler and other parent and child packages.  Both allow for a relaxing and enjoyable spa experience available for both young girls and boys and those tough-to-please teens above 13-years.

In the interests of science, during a recent stay with my two tweens – Chloe and Shane – we sampled the teen geared spa packages and participated in as many activities both on and near the property that we could cram into one weekend. That the 100-plus-year-old Hotel Del Coronado – known by its fiercely loyal fans as “The Del” – would design programs for tweens and teens should come as no surprise.

Keeping Tweens & Teens Happy

Although the property is known for drawing generations of repeat visitors, it is not one to rest on its laurels.

Teen and kids recreation programs are plentiful, ranging from surfing school and kayak clinics to black-light volleyball, bike tours and movie night. Teen fitness programs include Intro to Weight Training and Intro to Yoga (available on the beach) and there is even a teen lounge brimming with kid-friendly trappings.

But with all this, do kids really need – or care about – spa treatments? The answer, at least in our case, was – that depends. While previewing our itinerary, complete with surfing lessons and a trip to the San Diego Zoo, Chloe was more excited about the spa treatment than any other component of the trip. Shane, on the other hand, shuddered as he read the description of his mud wrap and only agreed to try it on the proviso that he could cry “Uncle” at any time during the treatment.

Pampered Teens are Happy Teens

Upon arrival and at the appointed hour, Chloe and I embarked on our Mother & Daughter spa experience – which comprised a 50-minute Swedish massage, a 30-minute manicure and 25-minute body scrub with enthusiasm. She loved the massage and nail treatments in particular, emerging with messy hair, day-glo nails and that dazed look that signify a successful spa experience. Best of all, the masseuse recognized the ritual quality of a girl’s first spa day and treated her accordingly.

Another exciting options for families is the Father & Sonpackage.  Starting outside of the spa, dad and son begin with a 90-minute surfing lesson in which wet suits and boards are included.  Then after a hitting the waves, the pair can come inside to unwind with a relaxing 50-minute Swedish massage.

Shane surprised himself by enjoying his Teen Sampler treatment – consisting of a 25-minute full body scrub, a 25-minute Swedish massage and a teen facial– although he reported to us later that his masseur abandoned an attempt to massage his feet “because it tickled, and I couldn’t stop laughing.” That the masseur was flexible enough to change his routine for his young client is a strong point in my book, since most spa experts agree that children tolerate tactile sensations – not to mention simply staying still – at different levels. Also including a manicure (although Shane passed on that one), the Sampler is offered to all teens aged 13 and older. 

I also liked that teen spa treatments are administered by same gender therapists (parents must be on the premises.) A third option that we didn’t try – the Teen Facial – offers a customized treatment which cleanses, detoxifies, hydrates and exfoliates teen skin. A facial massage and specially formulated mask helps teens reduce breakouts; guaranteed to leave skin with a healthy and natural glow. The 50-minute facial costs $125.

The treatments are not inexpensive at $250 each for the Mother & Daughter, $215 each for the Father & Son and $300 for the Teen Sampler package, but as a special treat, each made a lasting impression.

Active Teens are Happy Teens

Another big hit at the property was the Coast Club Teen Lounge, outfitted with computers, video games, foosball, pool and a television with comfy chairs and a couch. An attendant is on hand – although the activities are not supervised per se – and our two children loved visiting the lounge in between activities, especially at night.

During the day, however, the big draw is the beach, where our two suited up with some new friends for a try at surfing. The hotel offers Surf Camp Tuesday through Saturday morning; participants aged 9-16 pay $125 each for the first day (children who wish to have more than one day of lessons receive a discounted price), including board and gear, for the four-hour session. Kids don wet suits and are taken through land lessons standing on their boards on the sand before their instructor takes them out into the ocean. Our group enjoyed a four-to-one ratio with the teacher, and every student was able to stand and surf by the end of the lesson.

Another big hit was the two-hour Coronado on Wheels bike tour, available on Saturdays through PeDels Bike and Surrey Rentals at the entrance to the property. For a small fee parents, teens and younger children can hop on one of several types of touring bicycles, including tandem bikes, surreys and toddler trailers, for an exploration of the area. Except for one small hill, the terrain is flat and the scenery is spectacular, as the guides point out sites of architectural and historical interest. While perfect for teens, parents should be aware that the tour does wind through traffic, and children should be old enough to know how to cross safely and stay with the group.

You can also enjoy self-guided bike tours – rentals include helmets and locks. Since our tweens are kayak enthusiasts, we took advantage of a 90-minute kayak tour at the Boathouse across from the hotel and available twice daily. For a small fee per person, we made our way from the dock to the famous San Diego-Coronado bridge and back, enjoying the scenery of the city skyline along the way.

Had we more time, we would also have taken a tennis clinic.  Also, at night, the hotel also offers lots of fun activties.  For example, on Tuesday there is the Dive-In Movie at the pool where teens can lounge on inner tubes and watch the show or on Thursday and Sunday, families can gather around the bonfires on the beach for Family S’mores Night.

Well-fed Teens are Happy Teens

Despite all this activity, our kids took time to notice the very things about The Del that inspire such loyalty in its adult guests: the elegant Victorian architecture, the manicured grounds and the variety of dining venues.

We ate at the Sheerwater Restaurant, for example, where we enjoyed ocean views and pleasantly creepy stories about Kate Morgan, the famous ghost said to have haunted The Del since 1892.

We also got to know the Shops at the Del, where Shane and Chloe indulged themselves with ice cream from MooTime Creamery while I dove into lattes at Babcock & Story Bakery. There is also a Sun Deck where guests can dine on simple grilled fare, such as hot dogs and hamburgers, eaten al fresco on bistro tables with umbrellas.

As to off-property excursions, we opted for the always-wonderful San Diego Zoo, where a day flew by and we maxed out our digital camera in no time, and a dinner spiced with rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia at Croce’s restaurant in Old Town San Diego. Others in our group took in a day in Mexico or a ball game at the new Petco Park baseball stadium nearby.

It is a testament to the hotel’s enduring charm, however, that, when given the choice, the tweens opted to spend their days at The Del – where this grand dame property succeeded in making them feel welcome.

For more information, visit The Del online, or call 800/HOTEL DEL.

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