Tag: Hotel History

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Yoo Hoo, Sultan! Did You Know How Fabulous The Plaza Once Was?

September 8, 2014 at 6:16 PM | by | ()

We've been longtime lovers of The Plaza Hotel in New York, even after the hotel was renovated and turned into a branded Fairmont Hotel with residences. But we had no idea The Plaza had such a racy side.

A reader, Tommy, wrote into us with this fabulous memory of The Plaza and one that's particularly poignant considering that the homophobic Sultan of Brunei is interested in buying the hotel:

When Donald Trump owned The Plaza Hotel from 1988 to 1995, the Polynesian restaurant in their basement briefly ran a weekly Sunday night GAY PARTY called "GAUGUIN"! I know, because I used to attend it.

I unfortunately cannot remember the exact year it operated this party but I do remember the exotic Polynesian decor & the fruit-infused tropical drinks served. This short-lived party ended after some fights broke out at closing time & the restaurant's liquor license was threatened with being revoked.

That's a fascinating description (oh, how we wish we could have been there if not for our geometry homework!) but it's not quite accurate.

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Courtyard By Marriott is Partying All Day Long For Its 30th Birthday Today

October 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM | by | ()

On October 15, 1983, Bill Marriott opened the very first Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Atlanta. When he posed for this picture, did he know that Courtyard would eventually grow to be the 12th largest hotel brand in the world and perhaps more importantly, the #2 most profitable brand for Marriott? (#1 is the Marriott flagship brand.)

Whatever Mr. Marriott's hotel spidey sense was feeling that day, Courtyard has accomplished a lot in 30 years and today, they are taking the day to celebrate.

At Courtyards around the world (and there are 1,000 in 38 countries), they are holding a global anniversary party with events in Hong Kong, Doha, Berlin, Mexico City and Atlanta, home of the first Courtyard. Additionally, in North America, the first 30 guests who check-in to a Courtyard will receive these commemorative Courtyard t-shirts. The party even continues over to social media. If you're birthday is today, you will also get a surprise Courtyard gift. Or you can just watch as 30,000 associates celebrate internally at Marriott with cakes, balloons and other festivities. Follow hashtag #Courtyard30 to party on with them.

In the meantime, here are some fun "Dirty Thirty" Courtyard By Marriott facts to read as well as a professional shots of their "Gen Next" rooms:

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And Now, A Story About Chateau Marmont That Doesn't Involve Celebrities

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 8221 W Sunset Blvd [map], Hollywood, CA, United States, 90046
September 3, 2013 at 5:25 PM | by | ()

The Chateau Marmont is nearly synonymous with celeb-sightings but today, we're not gonna talk about Lindsay, or Gaga, or Depp or Belushi or even the man pulling the strings behind the curtain, Andre Balazs.

No, today is all about admiring the hotel's historic look.

Here are few snapshots taken the other week when we popped in for a delicious breakfast. While there were overeager fans waiting outside, the courtyard was peaceful and serene and blissfully, paparazzi and celeb-stalker free. (Note to dieters with special requests, aka, most of LA: they do carry almond milk and cold-pressed juices.)

The hotel, which was built as an apartment building in the late 1920s, was designed to look like an "infamous" royal residence in France's Loire Valley. Yet according to Balazs (ok, we have to mention him once!), who spoke about the hotel for the Sunset Strip documentary, the stock market crash scared away any potential tenants. Ultimately, the owners ended up furnishing the place with antiques from estate sales in the Hollywood Hills and turning it into hotel. And the rest is history.

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Halekulani's Extensive 'Renewal' is Now Complete

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 2199 Kalia Road [map], Honolulu, Hawaii , United States, 96815-1988
August 7, 2012 at 4:45 PM | by | ()

Even the poshest of properties need to refresh every so often which is why it didn't surprise us that one of the most genteel dames of Hawaiian hospitality in Waikiki, The Halekulani, has had a facelift.

For the past year, the hotel has carefully been refreshing all of its guestrooms and suites as well as refining the guest experiences, services and amenities. They've also added a new swanky French bar, L’Aperitif at La Mer, and a newly-styled Afternoon Tea experience.

Although most of the existing Halekulani building dates back to 1984, it has always been a place of relaxation and a fond aloha most welcoming to travelers. Allow us to divulge a little of its history:

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Be Happy This Isn't Your Hotel's Pool

July 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM | by | ()

Most travelers who've been to Gatlinburg, TN would agree that it's not exactly a hot spot for luxury hotels...or for much at all now that the 1960s and '70s have passed. And isn't that a good thing? Judging from the sort of average roadside motels that used to host Smoky Mountain tourists in the area's heyday, it sure is.

We recently came across an old postcard from the era, of the Watson's Motel. Watson's was (or maybe still is) a one-story motel with 54 rooms, 21 with kitchenettes and fireplaces, and "some with Color TV."

Curious to see inside a room? Here ya go:

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The Year Was 1957 and the Place Was Alaska's McKinley Park Hotel

July 3, 2012 at 4:32 PM | by | ()

Happy Independence Day! This year, we're celebrating with a patriotic look back at one of the United States' most historic hotels: the McKinley Park Hotel in Mt. McKinley National Park, Alaska. Really, what's more "nuclear family" traditional Americana than a National Park?

We recently came across a vintage pamphlet from a stay at the hotel in the summer of 1957. The yellowed pages tout the 86-room property as "a friendly hotel in Alaska's scenic land of the midnight sun" and a perfect location for spotting the multitude of wildlife of the park, whose land measures an impressive 1,939,493 acres.

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Where Does Madonna Sleep When She's in Lisbon? Only The Pestana Palace Will Do

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 54 Rue Jau, Lisbon, Portugal, 1300-314
June 25, 2012 at 3:52 PM | by | ()

We've long obsessed over the hotel choices of Madonna who only stays in the finest hotels around the world. So it's no surprise to us that her lodging of choice in Lisbon is The Pestana Palace.

While Madonna's entourage shacks up in the modern room of the hotel, she herself likes four magnificent, chandelier-dripping, silk-lined suites in the older section. In a sitting room larger than most apartments and with a view to the river Tagus, the Material Girl might work through some dance steps on the inlaid wood floors but her preferred sleeping suite is the Dom Manuel with the huge bed fitted with Armani sheets. We're not sure what other requests she has but we're sure she still has plenty.

Now, here's a little history lesson on the hotel that you might enjoy:

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Photos: An Amsterdam Airport Hotel in the 1960s

June 18, 2012 at 4:37 PM | by | ()

Something weird is going on with airport hotels. It's a full-circle effect really, in that the original airport hotels opened on auto routes to airpots in the dawn of the jet age, when people considered air travel a rare luxury and made the flight experience an event all its own. The 80s and 90s saw the reputation and quality of airport and roadside hotels drop, but now there's been a definite upturn with the re-introduction of style. Just look at the proliferation of Alofts, Elements and Yotels.

Just a second let's turn the clock back. Let's reflect on those original, full-service hotels that marked the beginning of a landmark trip in someone's life, in the 1960s. Welcome to Euro Motel, located on one of the main motorways leading into/away from Amsterdam-Schiphol International.

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Hot Stuff Then and Now: A Look Back at Public Chicago

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 1301 N. State Parkway [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60610
June 14, 2012 at 2:09 PM | by | ()

You've seen this photo of Public's re-imagined Pump Room, you know, the one that makes you want to go there NOW.

Ever wonder what Public Chicago used to look like in its former Ambassador East glory? We often do. Originally opened in October of 1926, the hotel has a long history of being the place to be well before it became Public. First a luxury haven for the upper echelon, the Ambassador later drew celebs in droves following the opening of the Pump Room in 1938. That interest definitely petered off in the years before Public opened (September 2011), but the point is that this hotel was once as hot as it is today.

Here's The Pump Room under the former Ambassador East umbrella. Yowza.

During a recent visit to Public, we dug around for more clues about the hotel’s past life and scored, getting our hands on a bunch of old images of the former Ambassador East. We couldn’t resist sharing so take a look and a gander down hotel memory lane. Of course, you won't miss Public's totally crushing design and might even start wondering what it means to be hot both then and now.

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Doors With REAL Keys and Other Treasures at Hotel Burnham Chicago

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 1 W. Washington St. [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60602
June 1, 2012 at 3:04 PM | by | ()

No Photoshop job here – the historic doors at Hotel Burnham really do require old school keys.

When was the last time you used a real key to open a hotel door? It felt like ages but oh-so-right when we got to literally turn a key just recently at Hotel Burnham in Chicago.

A 122-room boutique hotel housed in a National Historic Landmark, Hotel Burnham has this charming way of catching you off guard. Enter from the throws of Chicago’s busy Loop district and – surprise! – an early 20th-Century-meets-Gothic atmosphere subdues and steeps you in stories, architectural elegance and incredible food.

We talk a lot about Chicago’s booming hotel scene, but the Burnham is a great reminder that historic hotels have the power to transport you in ways that nothing new can ever touch.

Here are some of the treasures that keep us coming back to Kimpton’s beautiful Burnham Hotel:

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Before The Standard and The Americano, There Was The Americana

May 16, 2012 at 3:45 PM | by | ()

Thanks to relatively low room rates for a high style hotel in Manhattan, the Hotel Americano is quickly making a name for itself. In fact, we have several friends who just go there for coffee or drinks. Now, were this fifty years ago, we'd all be talking instead about the Hotel Americana, the hot new hotel on the scene in 1962.

The Americana, at 7th Avenue and 52nd Street, towered 51 stories above Midtown and had 2,000 guestrooms, plus five restaurants and numerous ballrooms. Real-life Mad Men—the ad men of Madison Avenue—would absolutely have known it and gone for meetings and/or trysts there.

The cool part of all this is that the Americana still stands...though it's now the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers and the 1960s interiors have long been ripped out in favor of what we'd like to call "modern business conservative."

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Before the Empire State Building, There Was a Hotel at 5th Avenue and 34th Street

February 7, 2012 at 11:25 AM | by | ()

Here's a fun fact for today: Did you know that the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was in the spot where the Empire State Building now stands? It's true! The first version of the ritzy hotel was a combination of the Waldorf and the Astoria Hotels at 5th Avenue and 33rd/34th Streets, which stood and welcomed the most well-heeled guests from 1893 to 1929, when it was knocked down to begin the skyscraper ESB we now know and love.

You won't hear much about that first building of some 1,300 rooms (with bidets) unless you pick a nice documentary from your Netflix queue; we recommend "Modern Marvels: The Empire State Building."

Of course, history is history and we all know that the Waldorf-Astoria found a new home further uptown, in its art deco digs at Park Avenue and 50th Street. Craving a little more NYC hotel history? Check out our category for it.

[Photo: NYC-architecture]