This is part of a continuing series of my impressions and experiences staying at various hotels and resorts while traveling worldwide. This stay was during my recent trip to San Diego in July 2015. This review is for Loews Coronado Bay Resort.
Property: Loews Coronado Bay Resort
Location: San Diego, California
Address: 4000 Loews Coronado Bay Road, Coronado, California 92118
Phone: (888) 822-9097
Room Type/Class: Resort View (Room 1116)
Date: July 8 – July 12, 2015
TripAdvisor Page/Reviews: LINK
Booking Source: Booking.com, partially changed to Direct Through Loews after check-in
Overall Rating: 2/5 [Note: Score is totally subjective based on price, location, and comparison to “like” properties within same area and price range]
Unfortunately, on average once a year I have one really disappointing stay (with a lot of travel), and I think that the Loews Coronado Bay Resort is the one for 2015.
Most unfortunate, because it didn’t have to be that way…
The location on Coronado is beautiful. And while dated in some ways, the property is really nice, with a lot of fantastic amenities.
It all got off to a terrible and frustrating start with check-in.
Backing up a little, I do publish extensive reviews on my own site and Trip Advisor, and wrote to the resort advising them of this days in advance. This stay was in conjunction of my media coverage of Comic-Con International in San Diego (I have been registered press for many years). This is the first year that not only did I not get my first hotel selection via TravelPlanners, I did not get any of my choices (I’ve been attending Comic-Con since I was a teenager in the late 80s).
Facing no good options, I thought I would give a resort on Coronado a try (which was a positive development in the eyes of my non-geek fiancee!). There is a ferry from Coronado Island to the San Diego Convention Center.
I ended up reserving a room for Wednesday through Sunday via Booking.com. I did discuss on the phone with the on site PR manager of Loews Coronado my intention to review the property as well as publish an accompanying article regarding staying on Coronado whilst attending Comic Con.
A few days prior to check-in, I also received an e-mail from Loews inviting me to request an “eStandby Upgrade” for a “Partial Bay View King” for $30 more per night, a “Coronado Bay View Double” for $39 more per night, and a “Coronado Bay View King Suite” for $103 more per night. I choose all three options, and received a confirmation number back for the upgrade request.
I arrived Wednesday afternoon and checked into the hotel. I inquired about the “eStandby Upgrade” request, and I was told none were available – that the hotel was completely sold out. I found this surprising, in that if some of the rooms were sold out via Comic Con, the majority of attendees do not check in on Wednesday, but afterwards (Thursday-Saturday).
In any event, I was given a room key and proceeded to the room. Upon entering the room, I heard loud screaming and yelling… it ended up that the second floor room’s balcony was just slightly above and looking over the “West Kids Pool”.
Being a person without children, and on vacation at a luxury resort at about $400 per night for the better part of a week, I found this to be unacceptable.
I returned to the front desk and explained this, and I was told that they did not have any more rooms. I explained that I was also reviewing the property and spoke with the PR manager the day before, and the front desk person disappeared for about 15 minutes.
As I waited, I logged into their WiFi, and upon login was directed to their official website, and was greeted with a message that they had rooms available (when I was told that they were sold out). I checked the rate, and it was $239/night… I’d reserved my room four months ago at $349/night. So I was paying over $100 more per night than someone who would walk in and book a room on the spot.
The front desk finally came back with a woman identifying herself as the manager. I inquired about the availability of rooms, and being told that they were sold out, and their seemed to be confusion about that. I asked if I could get that rate, and they said no, because I booked through a third party.
I was eventually given keys to an alternate room… going out to the balcony, I found that the each building is directly over the parking garage, and you can actually see the cars through the floor of the balcony. This one was over the valet area with lots of activity and traffic (cars pulling in and out, right under the balcony), with the accompanying noise and smell. Almost like a cruel joke, a car alarm went off. Additionally, this room was right next to both the main corridor, the elevator, and housekeeping.
I returned to the front desk, explaining that now that I’ve had a tour of their worst, noisiest rooms, could I please have a room not plagued with the same problems.
My biggest issue with the stay overall was the bad attitude of the front desk and manager. They were not nice or even pleasant (and my approach is to be kind and friendly, as the adverse is not good for anyone). They were unapologetic and kind of snippy with me. Upon mention of the car alarm, the manager quipped that she could have security investigate.
At that point, an hour into trying to just get an acceptable room, I would have walked away from the hotel and not stayed there at all if it was an option. I’m just not a fan of paying good money for bad service and bad attitudes.
I eventually got another room which was acceptable. I did get in touch with Booking.com to see what could be done, if anything, about being charged $110 more per night than what was available (over four nights, a total of $440 more as a result of booking four months in advance). The Booking.com agent said that they would reduce the total stay by the $440 is the resort manager would allow it. Booking.com put me on hold and spoke with the same manager I was dealing with at the front desk. When she came back on the phone, the Booking.com agent said that the manager would not allow the adjustment. I ended up working out with Booking.com to charge me the full rate for just the first night (since I was past the cancellation deadline) and rebook direct with the hotel at the $239/night rate. This whole process took about 45 minutes or so, and was not as easy as one might imagine (and required another visit to the front desk that afternoon, as well as the following morning).
All in all, it took somewhere between two to two and a half hours to check in, find an acceptable room, and have the charges adjusted to match the currently active rate (even though they were “sold out”).
My fiancee spent a lot of time at the resort while I was covering Comic Con the following days, so she had more opportunity to explore the amenities. There is a nice pool and spa area, and day spa the level below. They will also shuttle you to the beach and provide towels and such, which is great. They also offer a lot of great activities with water spots and the like, which is awesome.
Their is a 24 hour small market within the hotel, which is a nice bonus (though everything is priced high, as you might expect).
The staff at the market, activities booth, and spa were very nice, friendly, and professional (in stark contrast to the initial front desk experience). Some of the housekeeping/groundskeeping staff appeared to have bad/combative attitudes – in the parking garage below (with bad navigation as it is), standing in the lanes and blocking one lane of traffic for no reason just standing around talking – in the main hallways crashing cleaning carts into your door and blocking your door completely when cleaning other rooms, etc. I just got the sense that many people working there don’t want to be there and want to make it miserable for everyone.
During our stay, they were doing heavy construction for about 6-8 hours on one of the days in the neighboring room – hammering, scraping, vacuuming with a loud shopvac… makes me wonder if this was planned when they gave me the room (since they seemed intent on giving us the worst rooms on the property). See videos below:
Link To Video #1: Loews Coronado Bay Resort Construction Video A
Link To Video #2: Loews Coronado Bay Resort Construction Video B
My sister – staying at a different property – came to our hotel at one point as we didn’t have enough room in our car to take some relatives to dinner (needed her extra seat). She was charged $9 for “parking” to come in, park, pick one of us up, and drive out.
The other odd thing is that guests have to park in the tight spaces underground, while the spacious, above ground parking is reserved for the staff and employees, and serve as kind of a blight on the views out the back of the resort, as you can’t not see all the cars parked along the border of the property.
There was free WiFi available, but it was so slow, it was near useless, so I opted for paying the additional fee in order to have useable WiFi.
Anyway, it is a resort with potential but plagued with mostly personnel issues – people who don’t seem to be familiar with basic customer service skills, or maybe just don’t care. It was more of a DMV-like experience than a hotel stay in some of our experiences (but again, the staff at the market, spa, and activities area were all super nice and helpful).
The front desk agent on check-out was actually very nice and friendly, and when she heard we did not have a nice stay (and watched the videos I uploaded above) at least was nice enough to remove the resort fee (I think around $24/night). I wish she was available on check-in and maybe things would have turned out much better.
I would definitely not stay there again unless there was a significant change in management. Regarding Comic Con, I would stay at the Marriott on Coronado instead, to avoid the drive and parking fees as the Marriott is walking distance to Ferry Landing (as well as having their own on-site/limited ferry service to and from the Marriott Marquis adjacent to the Convention Center).
Below are some photos taken during my stay: