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San Diego beachfront icon offers new family fun

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Hotel del Coronado, San Diego's legendary beachfront resort, has been offering fun in the sun for more than 120 years. At the turn of the century, Victorians flocked from the East Coast for months at a time (with kids and servants in tow) to escape the rough winter weather. Today, the 28-acre resort remains one of Southern California's only true oceanfront hotels, sitting right on the sand. Though times have changed, and most people don't vacation for three months straight, the need for families to get away and reconnect with one another is as strong as ever. This summer, The Del adds to its repertoire of family offerings with two all-new activities centers and programming for children and teenagers.

Conveniently located right off The Del's main pool deck in the resort's "hub of fun," Kidtopia is the new place to be for kids ages 4-12. Several interconnecting rooms are painted with underwater murals, plus stripes and polka dots from just about every bright color on the spectrum, setting the stage for fun activities. Kidtopia is stocked with toys, games, art supplies, giant overstuffed animals, crazy funhouse mirrors plus computers, movie-time media and a Dance Dance Revolution game. The playroom's center stage is home to talent shows, dance-offs and karaoke.

As if hanging out in this child's paradise isn't enough, Kidtopia offers special organized camps and crafts daily. Three-hour camps include scavenger hunts, sandcastle contests, beach Olympics, bonfires and much more. Each camp has a different beach theme, such as "Sail the Sea," where kids make eye patches and pirate hats and then search for lost treasure using a map and clues, or "Luau Night," where little Kanes and Wahines make paper leis, watch volcanoes erupt and paint seashells. Camp includes lunch or dinner. Kidtopia Crafts are shorter, one-hour programs focusing on a specific craft such as Beach Bag decorating, Sunny Sand Art or Memory Boxes -- perfect for keeping your Coronado treasures safe and sound.

On the opposite side of the pool deck (not too close to the "little kids") sits Vibz, the new year-round hangout for teens ages 13 to 17. This cool, contemporary lounge is open daily from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and features music, billiards, foosball, shuffleboard, darts, movie-time media and, of course, computers for "MySpace-ing" and "Facebook-ing" with friends back home. Most importantly perhaps, Vibz offers the opportunity for teens to meet other teens. And it's just steps from the pool Splash Bar offering hamburgers, sandwiches, smoothies and more.

Although the new programs are intended for hotel guests, The Del makes it possible for San Diegans and day trippers to take advantage of the new Kidtopia with the "Parents Surrender Package" -- the perfect way for the whole family to enjoy a "daycation." Moms and dads can drop off their kids at a three-hour camp and then enjoy some much-deserved pampering at the Spa at The Del or Yamaguchi Salon. Choose either a manicure/pedicure or cut and color at the salon, or a 50-minute treatment at the Spa (which comes with free time for relaxing in the Jacuzzis, steam rooms or on the fabulous private oceanfront terrace). Package also includes a $25 dining credit to use at any of the hotel's restaurants or bars (most of which overlook the Pacific) and complimentary four-hour parking. The Parents Surrender Package is offered 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily and costs $175 (does not include tax and gratuity).

For those planning a few days of vacation close to home, The Del offers surfing lessons plus bike, surrey, cabana, surfboard, boogie board and volleyball rentals. The nearby boathouse offers tours and instruction for kayaking, jet skiing, sailing, wakeboarding and paddleboating. During the summer months, there's an extended schedule of activities for families including Bingo tournaments on the pool deck, Family S'mores Night on the beach and Flick 'n' Float movie night, where guests can watch a film from an inner tube. If you're more into sinking into a lounge chair on an award-winning beach, The Del's got your covered there as well. And, with great stay packages, discounts and special offers, there's never been a better (or more affordable) time to visit.

For more information about Kidtopia, Vibz, the Parents Surrender Package and/or current rates and special offers, call 800 HOTEL DEL or visit hoteldel.com.

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