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Present Tents

What's a good spot for a special event, business meeting or dinner in Southern California? How about the parking lot at the Hotel del Coronado?

The national historic landmark on Coronado Island, just off San Diego, is in the midst of a major renovation, including its ballrooms and restaurant. To protect the hotel's meeting and foodservice business, Los Angeles-based Academy Tent and Canvas installed two tents last fall, one on the hotel's valet parking lot and the other atop one of the swimming pools. "The hotel is right on the coast, so we used structures that meet the high wind-load requirements," says Maury Rice, Academy's president.

To serve the hotel's ball and banquet facility needs, Academy installed a 120-by-100-foot multipurpose structure in the valet parking lot. The team faced a steep challenge during setup: The tent covers an area with a grade change of approximately 6 feet. "We built the tent on concrete pilaster footings on one side to even out the grade," says Rice.

Dubbed the Thomas Pavilion, the tent blends in with its green surroundings, thanks to 10-foot faux columns and planter boxes with vinca and grape ivy around the perimeter. "After the plants grew, it looks as if the tent is just blending in with the foliage," says Rice.

To spruce up the interior, Academy installed a full ceiling and wall liner as well as French windows for viewing Coronado Bay. "The windows are set up so you can close them off to keep the light out during audiovisual presentations," says Rice. French doors with a canopy mark the front entrance. Air conditioning, heating, lighting, doors, stairs and emergency exits complete the sophisticated design.

All this attention to detail is paying off. "We've had high-profile group meetings here with up to 1,000 guests, a sold-out Thanksgiving brunch and various theme parties, and it has all worked out very well," says Ray Stagg, director of facilities at the Hotel del Coronado.

Stagg is also pleased with the second tent installation, which serves as the Ocean Terrace restaurant. Although some guests greeted the idea of fine dining in a tent with a certain resistance, he says, "the majority of our guests' comments have been favorable, and we've hit all our financial projections for the restaurant."

The location helps to win over diners: The 60-by-80-foot structure and its outdoor patio offer sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean. But what diners don't know is that there was once water underneath them: The tent is built over a hotel pool. "We scaffolded the pool and built a wood floor under the tent," says Rice.

Cooking and dish-washing trailers connect to the restaurant tent via custom canopies, which are also used for minor food preparation.

Hotel del Coronado 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118 619/435-6611 Web site:

Academy Tent and Canvas 5035 Gifford Ave., Los Angeles CA 90058 800/228-3687, 323/277-8368 Web site:

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