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La Jolla’s new Cormorant Hotel offers an inside look as it eyes Sept. 20 opening

The exterior of the Cormorant Hotel at 1110 Prospect St. is pictured this month.
The exterior of the Cormorant Hotel at 1110 Prospect St. is pictured this month.
(Elisabeth Frausto )

Management of the new Cormorant Hotel in La Jolla has set a goal of opening Monday, Sept. 20, and General Manager David Vecchione took the La Jolla Light on a walk-through of the space, which has been under construction for almost three years.

Replacing the La Jolla Inn at 1110 Prospect St., the 26-room boutique hotel will be more modern than its predecessor, with an art deco-inspired aesthetic, larger rooms and suites, a larger lobby and a rooftop dining area called Birdseye. The rooftop area, which will be open to the public, will offer small bites, craft cocktails and views of the ocean. The hotel also will have an adjoining market to sell wine, beer, snacks and beach supplies.

The Birdseye rooftop bar and restaurant at the Cormorant Hotel
The Birdseye rooftop bar and restaurant at the Cormorant Hotel will provide small bites, craft cocktails and views of the ocean.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Vecchione said construction is in the home stretch, though he joked that “it doesn’t look like it.”

Because the rooms are smaller than standard hotel rooms — and to create the aesthetic that management was looking for — all the fixtures are custom-made, he said.

The Cormorant Hotel's rooms, with custom-made features, are being put together as the opening approaches.
The Cormorant Hotel’s rooms, with custom-made features, are being put together as the opening approaches.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“The aesthetic is old meets new,” Vecchione said. “La Jolla is very old; there are buildings by the beach from the late 1800s. The La Valencia Hotel and the Grande Colonial Hotel were built in the 1920s. We want to keep the aesthetics that people look for and want, but we want to elevate and make it modern. ... It’s still luxury, but without the antiquated sense of it. We keep the style but lose the antiquity.”

Since the former hotel was built in the 1940s and not constructed to keep out the noise of Prospect Street, Vecchione said additional measures were taken to reduce sound impacts in and around the new hotel, such as installing double-paned windows, insulating the floors and using heavy doors.

The narrow, but sound-mitigating, hallway of the Cormorant Hotel.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“Before, this was just a brick building. … The No. 1 complaint at the La Jolla Inn was that everything was noisy, that everything creaked and everything was old,” Vecchione said. “There is nothing in this hotel from the old hotel. The bones were almost stripped completely. The plumbing and electrical is all brand-new. So all the new fixtures are to reduce noise.”

But getting hold of those supplies was one of the COVID-19-related challenges that caused a delay in construction. The hotel was originally scheduled to open in spring last year.

“COVID put the biggest damper on everything,” Vecchione said. “There were no contractors, nobody wanted to work, there were no parts, and then as COVID went along, those things started to change. But when we started calling people back to say we’re ready to resume, they were busy because everyone was calling them back. So there were roadblocks on the way to progress. Now things are starting to move and we have a good team finishing things up.”

Art deco-inspired light fixtures line the Cormorant Hotel stairs.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

He said the Cormorant — named for the birds that nest at nearby La Jolla Cove — will be within the price point for the area. A standard room in the offseason will cost approximately $189 to $219 per night, he said. In the summer, “we might be a little more than our competitors because of what we offer,” he said.

Among those offerings is a balcony attached to every room to provide a view of The Cove. But that has come up against some issues as well.

Architect Paul Benton, who has been involved with the project for three years, said some of the balconies were built 30 feet above grade. That requires a permit, and “I haven’t seen it,” Benton said.

Because he was not involved with the early design decisions and permitting, “the balcony issue was a surprise to me,” said Benton, who added that he has been contacted by the city of San Diego about the height. Benton said he and the city are communicating about how to proceed and that he doesn’t yet know whether the balcony issue will affect the opening. ◆