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Monday, Jul 22, 2024
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San Diego on $7,000 a Night or $200 a Day

Thanks to successful marketing and promotion, along with a great climate, attractions and proximity to Mexico, San Diego has gone from a sleepy Navy town in the 1950s to one of the nation’s top tourism destinations today.

However, some would argue that it has yet to achieve the status of a world-class destination, and if they’re using hotel room rates as the measure, they’re right. This year, San Diego’s rates average $137 per day compared with New York at $254, London at $217 and Paris at $229, according to industry analysts.

But well-heeled travelers could easily spend as much or more here if they wish.

Consider: On a “for-everything-else-there’s-MasterCard” itinerary, a hypothetical couple, Bob and Carol, flying first class from Phoenix, where many of the local tourists hail from, to San Diego on US Airways for three nights starting Saturday, Aug. 25, would spend $2,284 for nonstop, round-trip tickets, according to rates posted on Kayak.com in late July. Kayak.com searches hundreds of travel sites to give visitors a wide range of flight times and prices, according to its site.


Traveling In The Lap Of Luxury

One of Bob and Carol’s main reasons for coming to town is to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Padres on the evening of Aug. 27 and they’ve opted for the two-night “Opulence Redefined” package at the U.S. Grant Hotel. For $15,000, plus $1,500 extra for a third night, they’ll stay in one of the Grant’s two 1,500-square-foot presidential suites with a view of downtown and San Diego Bay. That price includes gratuities, but not taxes.

The package includes dining “al fresco” on the suite’s balcony with a meal for two prepared to order by the hotel’s top chef. It also includes a private butler, a chauffeured Bentley at their disposal, sailing aboard a private yacht and being served a “gourmet” luncheon, a four-hour treatment by Spa Velia, either in their room or at the spa’s downtown location, and a couple of plush robes and two pairs of slippers to take with them when they leave.

Add in $173.10 for room-service breakfasts for two consisting of eggs Benedict at $18.95, coffee and orange juice for $4.95 each on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

First up on their places-to-go list is the horse races. Clubhouse admission at the Del Mar Race Track plus seating costs $20 per person. The track has no elite seating other than the Turf Club, but you have to be a member or a member’s guest to enter. Add in a couple of $12 cosmos for each, and their day at the races comes to $88, not including gambling losses. Wins, of course, could defray some of the cost of the trip.

Dining out at Bertrand at Mister A’s on Saturday night following an afternoon at the races would cost $117, including an appetizer of three seafood tartars at $16; two orders of grilled prime Angus beef tenderloin at $40.50 each; and two orders of tiramisu for dessert at $10 each. The bill does not include tax and gratuity or drinks.

Since the deep-pocketed couple are in the habit of sleeping in on vacations, they’ll dine out only one other time before leaving when they meet up with four other couples at Dussini Mediterranean Bistro near Petco Park before Monday night’s game.

Their meal, featuring appetizers of pan-fried crab cakes for $14 and assorted imported cheeses for $12, followed by roasted filet mignon au Poivre for her at $32 and Tuscan braised lamb shank for him at $23, comes to $81. They will also pay a corkage fee of $20 to bring in four bottles of wine to treat their friends. There is no fee for the first two bottles and $10 for each bottle thereafter. Sometimes, it’s hard to spend a lot of money in San Diego.

Two seats in Petco Park’s Toyota Terrace will run $60 each. Altogether, the cost of Bob and Carol’s mini-vacation, including the city’s 10.5 percent hotel room tax of $1,732.50, comes to $21,115, or about $7,000 per night, a far cry from the $160 that the average leisure visitor staying in a hotel spent per night in 2006, according to the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. In 2006, 32.2 million visitors came to the county and spent $7.7 billion while they were here, ConVis says.


The Other Side Of The Coin

Ted and Alice, another hypothetical couple coming to San Diego from Phoenix, are an entirely different story.

For starters, they’re driving and bringing groceries with them. Gas for their economy car would cost $160, considering they’d fill up four times during the 360-mile trip. They’ll tote a couple of bicycles, so they won’t have to drive much while here.

By loading a cooler with ice, soda, bottled water, sandwiches, cold cuts and wieners, the pair won’t have to stop for lunch en route, and their perishables won’t go bad. Their food bill for the trip, including canned goods, mac and cheese, a box of graham crackers and marshmallows: $150.

They will stay at the Hotel Occidental, a recent renovation of a historic building on Bankers Hill between Hillcrest and downtown, in a $79-a-night room that has a full-size bed, kitchenette, fridge and microwave, phone with voice mail, TV and DVD player, according to a reservations clerk. The restroom and shower are shared facilities outside the room. For three nights, their hotel bill will be $237 and the room tax is an additional $24.89.

On Saturday evening, their first night in town, Ted and Alice will dine on weenies roasted over a fire pit on Coronado Island. Dessert will be S’mores, the key ingredient of which is roasted marshmallows. They’ll watch the sun descend over the Pacific Ocean and bike around the island before going back to their hotel.

The next morning, they’ll pack their lunch and snacks in backpacks and ride their bikes to Balboa Park.

On Monday, they’ll bike to Mission Beach to swim and bodysurf before going to watch the Diamondbacks take on the Padres. Again, they’ll pack their lunch.

Cost of beach and park excursions: nada.

They’ll walk or bike to the game and watch from the Park at the Park, the grassy area behind the outfield fence. Cost for two tickets: $10.

Ted and Alice’s trip will set them back $581.89.

Granted, they had a Spartan vacation. But frolicking in the Pacific beats the summertime heat of the Arizona desert, where one can fry an egg on the sidewalk, any day. Actually, Ted and Alice do that to save on electricity.

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