What do you get when a rabbi and an architect are marooned on a desert isle? Paradise, of course. Or at least that’s the case of Paradise Point, San Diego’s very own 44-acre tropical island resort nestled in the heart of Mission Bay.
50 years after rabbi-turned-Hollywood producer Jack Skirball built this iconic Southern California resort, 2012 marks Paradise Point’s golden anniversary and a half-century of rich heritage and hospitality. Over those 50 years, thousands of travelers have enjoyed tropical vacations without ever having to cross an ocean, all because of the curiosity of one Portuguese explorer, our far-sighted San Diego city fathers, and Skirball, an imaginative and Oscar-winning film producer.
Long before Paradise Point was known as San Diego’s island resort, the 4,600-acre watery wonderland that it sits within was discovered by Portuguese shipbuilder and navigator Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo in 1542. Disenchanted with the bay because it was not sufficiently deep to accommodate his ships, Cabrillo named the area Bahia Falza, or “False Bay”.
Hundreds of years later in 1902, George Hall, then San Diego’s horticulture commissioner, suggested that the swamp Bahia Falza be developed into an aquatic park. After more than 50 years, a master plan for the Mission Bay Aquatic Park was approved by the city council in 1958, and dredging soon followed. The $60 million project created 30 miles of shoreline beaches, grassy knolls, areas for
sailing, swimming, picnicking, powerboats, fishing, water skiing, SeaWorld and Paradise Point.
Enter movie producer Jack Skirball who, weary of building sets only to watch them being torn down at the completion of a film, was introduced to the grounds in 1962 and immediately saw its potential. He envisioned a permanent “fantasy-island setting” that would feature family vacationers as the revolving cast. Skirball enlisted renowned architect Eldridge Spencer to help bring his ideas to life and the two worked in concert to create an extraordinarily stunning and unique vacation island escape, insulated from the city, but not isolated.
Artifacts from Skirball’s film-making days were incorporated around the property, such as the porpoise fountain from the classic film Cleopatra, as well as decorative masonry that adorn the entries to the original cottages, and original mission bells from along El Camino Real - the first roadway in the state, built by the Spanish during the early mission days. In 1914, 50 of these bells were delivered to the San Diego area to line this celebrated roadway and now the largest U.S. collection of these historic icons is scattered amongst Paradise Point’s expansive grounds.