Hilton San Diego Resort
For the most part, the Hilton was amazing! I worked with Katie to begin with. She was super on top of things, got back to me in a timely manner which was super important since I was living in Phoenix. She went on maternity leave 3 months before our wedding and Lara took over. Lara was not as easy to work with. I had to constantly email and call to get a response from her! In several cases I was told one thing, and then a few months later told something different, nothing dramatic, just annoying. I know she was busy, they have about 3 weddings a weekend there, but totally being ignored is not okay! However, the day of went perfectly!!!! Lara was amazing running around making sure everything went smoothly! We were running late (what bride isn’t), the hotel does not have valet parking, but they left my parents park their car in a 20 minute loading area for the entire night! Apparently there were random guest that snuck in and she ushered them out without many people noticing. The head banquet guy took care of my husband and me the entire night! He knew exactly what drink we wanted and had it waiting. Following the ceremony, during cocktail hour, Lara brought our wedding party drinks down to the beach where we were taking pictures. We definitely felt like we were special! Finally, the food was AMAZING!!! All of my guests loved the food and commented on it! The Hilton made a special meal for us. We got married on the beach and wanted a luau themed reception. They added roasted pig to the menu for us! We were also having a smaller wedding, so they worked with us on price. I do highly recommend the Hilton for your wedding, even having to deal with the lack of communication leading up to the event.
We recently had our wedding at the Hilton and had an amazing day. First, the positives… The venue is beautiful! We had our ceremony in the garden by the bay in the pergola and needed to add very few floral arrangements because it was already covered in bougainvillea and other colorful flowers. The cocktail hour was in Fresco’s Bar, which is between the awesome pool and the bay, so very few decorations were needed there either because it is amazing on its own. The food is delicious! When we went for our tasting, we though the food was good; however, on our wedding day, it was even better. Even our guests raved about the quality of the food, which is quite a rarity at a wedding. Even our vendors told us how much they liked the food. We also got a lot for our money and were able to negotiate about price. The catering manager at the Hilton recommended our florist and we were very pleased with her work as well. Our bridal suite was a room with a bay view and a fire pit, so we were able to have parties around our fire with many of our guests who were visiting from out of town. We also had a great view of the Sea World fireworks every night we were there, including the wedding night. We have no regrets about choosing the Hilton and our pictures from the wedding are just breath-taking, in large part because the venue is so beautiful.
Now, the negatives… There were several significant difficulties along the way in our planning that we also feel are important to mention. First, we were working with one catering manager for over a year and found out from a different catering manager three weeks before our wedding that the one with whom we had been working would be going on maternity leave and she would be taking over. We had no idea and were pretty upset that the catering manager with whom we had been working for so long didn’t just tell us herself. We also found that catering manager to be increasingly unresponsive to our requests for information or answers to questions as our wedding approached. When we first signed our contract, she was actually very responsive; however, once we were about 3 months out from the actual day, she would take weeks to respond to our emails and would often only respond to some parts, which would require us to ask her the same questions again and wait more weeks for a response. That was super frustrating. We had no problem with her getting pregnant and needing to go on maternity leave, but that was clearly not a last minute surprise. Had she given us more notice, we wouldn’t have had to wait until the last minute to bring the new person up to speed on all the details we had been working on for the past year, and she could’ve been more responsive to us all along. The new person did as good a job as she could’ve done given the circumstances, but the whole thing should’ve been handled better. We also had been given what we thought was an accurate diagram of the reception room and had worked very hard to determine the table arrangements and positions of the dance floor, stage for the band, cake table, etc. On our wedding day, we realized that the room layout from which we had been working drastically overestimated how much would fit in the room and we had to work on revising the room plan hours before the wedding started. We had been to the venue several times over the course of the year and were irritated that this issue was not resolved during any of the many visits we made. We also were frustrated with the way the hotel treated our guests by the room sales department. Most of our guests were flying into San Diego from the East Coast and we had a large block of rooms. However, many of our guests reported difficulties when they attempted to book rooms as part of the block. For example, our guests complained that they were told that the block was sold out when it wasn’t or that they were being quoted higher prices for rooms than were clearly listed in our room block contract. Once guests arrived for their stay, it was more of a mess, with several of our guests reporting that they were given less desirable rooms than the rooms they had actually booked when they made their reservation. The hotel also tried to charge them the rates for the nicer rooms they booked even though they weren’t giving them those nicer rooms. It seems as though other non-wedding hotel guests were given their rooms because they were paying the full price and our guests were paying our room block rate. Probably the worst part was that we had attended a meeting a few weeks before the wedding, during which we established with the catering manager where I would be staying prior to the night of the wedding to ensure proper placement for getting ready and transferring items between guest rooms. When I went to check in, I was given a room that was in a completely different area than the one we had all agreed on. They tried to put me in several different rooms, none of which were what we agreed on, and after several hours I finally had to settle on a room that was as close to what I booked as possible, and even then I had to tell them that I expected to be charged for the room they gave me, not the one I actually booked. Also, despite having discussed with the catering manager several times that we wanted our guests to be charged the parking fee rates (which were ridiculously high) that were listed when we signed our original contract and not the newly raised rates (from $25 per night to $32 per night), we had to repeatedly remind all of the staff that this was the agreement and they were not to overcharge our guests. We had made guest bags to be delivered to our guests’ rooms prior to their arrival to welcome them to town. We were charged per bag, which was ridiculous, and even after carefully sorting and labeling the bags, they were delivered incorrectly or not at all and we were still charged for them. Overall, it frequently felt like we were making an effort to communicate in an organized and detailed way, but it had no impact and we kept having to remind everyone what they had agreed to with us. Finally, we had 3 delicious hors d’oeuvres at our cocktail hour (which we completely missed due to pictures), and we were recently told by several of our guests that they never saw them. In fact, I have yet to talk to any of our guests who tasted the hors d’oeuvres, which clearly suggests that the staff was not making the rounds the way they should’ve.
All that said, we are still glad we chose the Hilton. If you have your wedding there, you won’t regret it. Just be very clear up front about what you’re getting and demand that you and your guests are actually getting the rooms you booked.
Everyone was so friendly to myself and my guest, the staff really took care of us and made us feel very welcome to stay at the Hilton. The staff at my reception was very helpful and alway there to help!
3/5 for value simply because it was a pricey place, but Katie definitely worked well with us to get our menu to someplace we could afford. Still, a 22% service charge on top of what we're already paying when you have 174 guests is stillll painfully pricey.
4/5 for responsiveness because it was sometimes hard to contact people, but our main contact was on maternity leave for a bit, so we understood.
Otherwise, loved the grounds and the venue. Katie was awesome in working with us, giving us a personal taste test and working with us on "special" orders (changing the menu packages a bit). She also gave us the idea of a signature cocktail which ended up being champagne and some kind of blue alcohol to go with our "SD Chargers" theme which ended up being a hit! They let us use the room the day before to start getting things set up which was a HUGE help, and Katie kept things rolling for us when myself or our bridal party in our haste, forgot things that we needed for the reception.
The staff was awesome--helped us set up our personal decor (even though they didn't have to) and when we had our open bar, really accommodated our guests even when they asked for shots for 25.
Gorgeous location, incredible staff, and the food was phenominal!! Everyone complimented me on my choice of venue!