Director of Public Relations
Tel 619 522 8041
HOW THE DEL AVOIDED U.S. MILITARY TAKEOVER DURING WORLD WAR II
Coronado, CA - During World War II, many of America’s resorts – in fact most of America’s resorts – were taken over by the United States government. They were used for military housing, hospitals, internment centers for foreign diplomats and even for secret reasons not disclosed.
Though The Del did house military men – mostly pilots who were being trained at North Island – this was on a contractual basis only. According to Christine Donovan, director of heritage programs, “The Del never lost its civilian status, in spite of the fact that Coronado was so hard-pressed for military housing, residents were renting out bedrooms, garages and anything else they could get their hands on.”
Yet, despite these dire circumstances – not to mention the hotel’s proximity to North Island and the Naval Amphibious Base – the Del was never appropriated. Donovan eventually became so fascinated with this “history mystery” that her research efforts led her to the National Archives, Western Division, housed in Laguna Niguel, California.
It was there that Donovan came across a six-page, typed, telephone transcript, dated July 31, 1943. The conversation, initiated by The Del’s then-general manager Stephen Royce, was with an unnamed Navy chief of staff, identified only as “Captain R.”
According to the transcript, Royce had gotten wind of a possible Navy takeover, which Capt. R. admitted was being investigated at the direction of the federal housing office. Up until that point, The Del had been under a contract with the Navy for 106 rooms, which were rented out at a special military rate. But, by the time this conversation took place, the Navy had allowed the hotel’s contract to lapse.
According to the transcript, Royce basically took the bull by the horns and said to Capt. R., “If you want more rooms … all you have to do is tell us, and we will get them … contract or no contract.” Royce also pointed out that the civilian portion of the hotel was frequently used by family members of the military men who lived there. These “fathers and mothers and wives of the officers” were given priority because – as Royce so sadly observed – “we think that maybe it will be the last time they [will] see their sons and husbands.”
In the end, Royce and Capt. R. agreed that The Del should remain a civilian resort, that it would house military men on an as-needed basis, and that it would provide priority accommodations for their loved ones. The two men also decided that the officers should start doubling up because as Capt. R. pointed out, “if we took [The Del] over … that is what we would do right off the bat.”
Royce ended with the following prophetically poignant words, “If the Navy takes [the hotel] over, it becomes just another B.O.Q., [but] this way it is recreation … with friends … [and] other people coming and going … it is relaxation as well as a place to live.”
For the legion of men housed at The Del during World War II, the hotel proved to be just that: a relaxing respite from the rigors of war. Adds Donovan, “Because so many of the men who lived here never returned from the war, their days at The Del may have been some of their last happy days ever. We only hope that our World War II research will keep the memory of those men in our hearts for generations to come.”
Founded in 1992, KSL Resorts manages six time-honored resorts with outstanding recreational amenities, including spa, golf, tennis and ski. Each is refined yet unpretentious, rich in legacy, and genuine in service. The KSL Resorts are:
Hotel del Coronado (San Diego, CA)
La Costa Resort and Spa (Carlsbad, CA)
Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa (Rancho Mirage, CA)
Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa (Vail, CO)
Barton Creek Resort & Spa (Austin, TX)
The Homestead (Hot Springs, VA)
For more information, call 1-866-KSL-7727 or visit KSLResorts.com.