*The Hotel Del Coronado was a gracious sponsor of this experience, and our family is so grateful for this incredible experience.

It’s hard to believe we have a 16 year-old, especially one so full of sugar and spice. Sophia just turned this milestone year. In brainstorming fun Sweet 16 birthday party ideas, we decided to throw her a  “Suite 16” Birthday Party at an epic local icon, the Hotel Del Coronado. Get it? Suite 16? Yeah we thought it was pretty clever too (the hotel dubbed it that, so I cannot take credit).

We wanted a special way to mark Sophia’s big day, and something grander than a regular sleepover. As we tossed around ideas with Sophia that she thought would create special memories of this milestone birthday, we hit on the combination of slumber party and staycation with a little luxury thrown in. The Hotel Del Coronado was the perfect choice.

Birthday cupcakes for Sophia's Suite 16

Complete with birthday crowns, the girls feasted on cupcakes and sparkling cider

We piled four of her friends into the car with the rest of our family and set off for a luxury weekend of fun and games. Crossing the Coronado Bridge high over San Diego Bay, we descended into heaven. Since opening its doors 130 years ago, this legendary hotel is famous for hosting US Presidents from Grant all the way through to Bush. It’s been the backdrop for numerous TV shows and movies, including Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot, so we felt in good company for the weekend.

How Presidential

Just to see the look on her face when we pulled up into the valet driveway and disembarked into the grand entrance – well it was priceless. Sophia and her friends were so impressed to have Spencer, our guest services attendant, escort us to our rooms. We had arranged for the girls to have their own room, with us parents adjoining them next door so we could keep an eye on things.

View from Presidential Suite at Hotel Del Coronado

The Birthday Girl and her friends spy out the window of our Presidential Suite

Unbeknownst to us, Spencer had upgraded us to the Presidential Suite no less! We ambled up the old-fashioned caged elevator (complete with attendant) to the top floor and were shown to the most enormous suite of rooms I’ve seen outside of Las Vegas. And so classically elegant too. Just to think, Presidents Taft, Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and more had all slept in this room. Um yeah, the girls were pretty impressed – and so were we! Let the snap chatting begin.

6 “Suite 16” Party Ideas

If you know a girl about to turn 16 and you are searching for Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas, this Suite 16 Party idea may be just the ticket. Here are some ideas that might make for a good weekend experience:

1 – Decorating the Room – We brought balloons, streamers and tape so the girls could all help make the rooms even more festive. As they were occupied blowing up balloons and hanging streamers, we had sparkling cider and champagne flutes delivered so they could all toast the party beginnings.

Streamers and balloons decorate the hotel room

We brought streamers and balloons to decorate the room for Sophia’s Suite 16 Party

2 – Dressy Dinner – Although we just had delicious woodfired pizza for dinner at the Hotel Del’s outdoor pizza and wine cafe ENO, the girls got all dolled up in their dresses and heels to bring it up a notch. They had more fun trading clothes, putting on makeup, curling their hair and generally primping before we ever left the suite! The hotel even supplied a bejeweled crown for Sophia, which she proudly balanced on her head for the rest of the evening. The stroll through the lobby and down to the restaurant was priceless. Such big little girls.

3 – Beach Marshmallow Roast – The Hotel Del has a magical tradition where guests can reserve a firepit and chairs on the beach in front of the hotel. After dinner and a change into comfy clothes, we hit the sand for some gourmet marshmallow roasting complete with flavor and topping options. Sitting fireside, we played an alphabet game our daughter Ava learned at camp: starting with the letter “A”, say your name, your spouse’s name, your son’s name, your daughter’s name, what kind of pet you have, and the city where you live. Example: My name is Andy and my spouse’s name is Alex, our kids’ names are Abby and Armando, we have a pet armadillo and we live in Austin. Then the next person has letter “B” and so on. We felt sorry for the poor girl that got the letter “X”.

Marshmallow roast at the Hotel Del Coronado

We gathered on the beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado for a birthday round of s’mores

4 – Fun and Games – Back in the suite, the girls planned a board game supplied by the Hotel. They gorged on festive birthday cupcakes, and snapped selfies and model shots of each other into the wee hours. Us old folks retired early, assured we could hear them if they tried to sneak out (they didn’t).

Lifeguard station at the Hotel Del Coronado

Early morning waves near the Hotel Del Coronado

5 – Brunch or Room Service – Depending on the mood, breakfast can either be snacks in the room or brunch out and about. Since we wanted to keep the girls close and not have to pile back into the car, we opted for brunch at the Hotel Del’s Sheerwater Restaurant, positioned with an ocean view. Sunday morning buffet brunch was in full swing by the time we rousted these lazyheads, and everyone had a variety of choices to make them happy. Since 16 year old girls can sometime be crabby in the morning (ya think?) we made sure they had full tummies and happy conversation.

6 – Pool Time – Cabanas by the pool were the perfect way to lounge on this sunny Sunday, and luckily the water was heated to a comfortable temperature. The girls popped on their bathrobes from the suite, and we shuffled down to the pool in hotel slippers and swimsuits. After jumping in and out of the pool and Jacuzzi about 800 times – why do they always do that?!?!? – we got them to settle down and relax inside the cabana with snacks and cold drinks.

Pool Casita at Hotel Del Coronado

The Silver Strand pool casita at the Hotel Del Coronado brought the swimming up a notch

24 Hours to Remember Forever

Honestly this shaped up to be one of the best birthday parties ever, and Sophia has a ton of great memories and photos to show for it. The kids were suitably blown away by the grandeur of the Hotel Del Coronado. We looked like heroes for arranging a fantastic sleep over. Plus we made big brownie points for the next time we have to lower the hammer about grades or chores or the lesson-of-the-moment.

And the very best thing? No fuss, no muss, no clean up. No cake smeared into the couch, no soda spilled on grandma’s handmade quilt, no ten zillion dishes and glasses to wash, no three tons of trash to cram into the garbage can. Brainstorming Sweet 16 Birthday Party Ideas and landing on a Suite 16 Party was a lifesaver!

Yeah, we can see Ava’s 16th birthday looming and we have an inkling of how to celebrate. At least we have a couple of years to save up!

Lounging by the pool at the Hotel Del Coronado

The Southern California sun warmed us poolside at the Hotel Del Coronado

About the Hotel Del Coronado

The historic Hotel Del Coronado was built in 1888 and was the first of many things in the US, including the first hotel to be built containing electric lights.  It has been a vacation destination for many Hollywood celebrities, dignitaries and visitors from around the world. The hotel also retains one of the only private beaches in California where food and drinks can be served on the sand. The Hotel Del Coronado is part of the Curio Collection of Hotels by Hilton.