Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 214: Hotel History: Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 214: Hotel History: Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

June 5, 2019 12:42pmShare This Link on FacebookShare This on TwitterShare This on Google+Share

Hotel History: Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, Egypt (1841)

Shepheard’s Hotel history goes back 178 years when it was originally built by Englishman Samuel Shepheard in Cairo. It was originally named the “Hotel des Anglais” (English Hotel). Shepheard co-owned the hotel with a Mr. Hill who was Mohammed Ali Pasha’s head coachman. In 1845, Hill relinquished his interest in the hotel which Shepheard sold in 1861. Shepheard’s Hotel was known for its opulence, its famous guests and as a governmental base for the military. Its stained glass windows, Persian carpets, lavish gardens, terraces and great granite pillars were renowned throughout the Mideast and Europe. Its American bar was frequented not only by Americans but also by French and British officers. There were nightly dances with men in uniform and women in evening gowns. Richard Burton, a close friend of Shepheard, left a detailed description of his generous character and successful career, describing him as “a remarkable man in many points, and in all things the model “John Bull”. The Shepheards bar was known as the “long bar” because it was always jammed.

From 1937, Joe Scialom presided over the Long Bar at Shepheard’s. He worked in white jacket and black bowtie, spoke eight languages, and acted as banker, adviser, umpire and father confessor to his customers. During his tenure, the Long Bar was known as St. Joe’s Parish. He invented the Suffering Bastard, a potent mix that continues to be included in all good cocktail manuals. He served throughout World War II and the stories he could tell would really have made his book worth reading. Joe was tending the bar on a Saturday in 1952 when the hotel burned down. He left Egypt in 1956 and continued working as a barman in the United States. His final job was at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center in New York before he finally retired in Florida.

In the late 19th century, Cairo became a hub for international commerce, European tourists and travellers. The Shepheards Hotel provided a lofty view of Ibraham Pasha Street below. It was the center of many social and political events including the Grand Opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 when many international celebrities were invited to attend the ceremony.

Of all the world’s great hotels, only the Raffles in Singapore, the Peninsula in Hong Kong and the Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg could compare in glamour with Shepheards of this period.

The hotel had many notable guests including Aga Khan, the Maharajah of Jodhpur, Winston Churchill, explorer Henry Morton Stanley, Field Marshall Herbert Kichener, T.E. Laurence, Theodore Roosevelt, the Prince of Wales and many more. It was portrayed in the 1934 British film The Camels are Coming. The hotel is the setting for a number of scenes in the 1996 film The English Patient as well as The Grand Hotel des Bains in Venice Lido, Italy. The hotel was used as a base of operations in The Race Colonization series by Harry Turtledove, as a location in Agatha Christie’s Crooked House, and is mentioned in Anthony Trollope’s short-story, An Unprotected Female at the Pyramids (1861). It was also featured regularly in Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody novels.

On January 26, 1952 the hotel was totally destroyed during the Cairo Fire and the anti-British riots that led to the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

The current Shepheards Hotel was erected in 1957 by Egyptian Hotels Ltd. about half a mile from the site of the original hotel. It is owned by the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels and operated by the Rocco Forte Company.

Disclosure: When Loews Hotels acquired New York’s Drake Hotel in 1965, I was hired as the General Manager. At that time, the most famous and successful discotheque in Manhattan was Shepheard’s at the Drake which was open seven days a week for cocktails, dinner and supper with continuous dancing from 7:30 PM to 3AM. Luncheon was served Monday through Friday and special brunch on Sunday from noon to 4PM. At lunch in Shepheards there were fashion shows and, for some years, at noon time, a talk radio program on WNBC featuring the Metropolitan Opera’s Mimi Benzell as hostess with famous guests. I often filled in for guests who failed to show up.

We printed and distributed a card entitled, “How to Do the Newest Discotheque Dances at Shepheard’s in New York’s Drake Hotel” with step-by-step instructions to dance the Jerk, Watusi, Frug and the Monkey. Killer Joe Piro’s party was regular feature at Shepheard’s. The discotheque was so successful that patrons lined up on 56thStreet and around the corner on Park Avenue to wait (even on the winter’s coldest nights) to be admitted where they paid a hefty cover charge to dance to disco music.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” Has Just Been Published

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
     

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelstan turkelhotel historynobody asked me

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely-published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 213: Hotel History: Sheraton’s Classic Advertising Campaigns

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 213: Hotel History: Sheraton’s Classic Advertising Campaigns

May 14, 2019 2:36pmShare This Link on FacebookShare This on TwitterShare This on Google+Share

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: “Keyed-Up Executives Unwind at Sheraton” 

In 1965, the Sheraton Corporation of America, under the leadership of President Ernest Henderson, created a brilliant advertising campaign: “Keyed-up Executives Unwind at Sheraton”. It was broadly promoted all over the U.S. in print media, TV advertising and locally by individual Sheraton Hotels. Among my collection of Sheraton artifacts is a translucent plexiglass paperweight which has a small figure of a businessman with a wind-up key in his back which says “Keyed-Up Executives Unwind at Sheraton”.

His picture was everywhere: on television, on posters, in airports and railroad stations, on leaflets, matchbooks, cocktail stirrers, in newspaper ads. He was an inspired creation of Madison Avenue–  a fictional character with whom millions could subconsciously identify. Young and clean-cut, he carried an attached case, glanced at his watch and looked like a businessman scurrying to his next appointment. He had, however, an enormous protuberance on his back. For sticking out from between his shoulder blades was a great, butterfly-shaped key of the type used to wind up mechanical toys. The text that accompanied his picture urged keyed-up executives to “unwind” and slow down at Sheraton hotels. This wound-up man-on-the-go was, and apparently still is, a potent symbol of millions who feel just as driven and harried as if they, too, had a huge key in their back.

A typical Sheraton printed ad of that time read:

“Next time you’re on the road, all keyed-up from “turnpike tension”, ease up to a Sheraton Motor Inn. Then unwind. Enjoy a great meal, a quiet air-conditioned room, TV, swimming pool. Plus many other Sheraton extra values such as Free Parking (anyplace, anytime) and Family Plan (children share your room free). Call us for Insured Reservations at Guaranteed Rates.
Keyed-Up Executives unwind at Sheraton.”

The campaign was eye-catching, clever, humorous and effective. It continued as Sheraton’s brand identification until 1968 when the International Telegraph & Telephone acquired the Sheraton Corporation of America. Soon thereafter, I was hired by IT&T and became the worldwide Product Line Manager for Hotel & Motel Operations to help oversee the management and expansion of Sheraton.

Hotel History: The Magic of 800-325-3535

In 1968, after IT&T acquired the Sheraton Corporation of America, Sheraton needed a new advertising program after the highly-successful “Keyed-up Executives Unwind at Sheraton” campaign. In the spring of 1969, IT&T President Harold Geneen was touring the Sheraton Boston Hotel when the Sheraton Director of Marketing William Morton began to describe the Sheraton new Reservation system. Geneen thought that IT&T could be the first to create a national single 800 number watts line to replace the 200 phone numbers that Sheraton listed nationwide. With the help of IT&T’s expert telephone technicians, the new system was created and implemented. Perhaps the greatest problem facing Sheraton was picking one unforgettable number. With the advice of telephone company psychologists, Morton settled on the number 800-325-3535. Why? Because it was easy to dial. When area codes were introduced to speed the calling of long-distance numbers, telephones had rotary dials. The nearest digit to the dialing stopper, and thus the digit that could be dialed the quickest was 1. Next came 2 and then 3. The psychologist selected 2, 3 and 5 because they were quick to dial and in a sequence that was easy to remember.

By the winter of 1970, the new 800 number was on-line and the new advertising campaign broke with saturation TV, full-page magazine ads and steady repetition of “eight, oh, oh, three-two-five, three-five, three-five.” The number was set to a catchy tune created by BBD&O which was recorded by the Boston Pops. A singing dog performed it on Johnny Carson’s TV show, it was cocktail-lounge background music in a TV drama and it was played at skating rinks. The reservations flowed into the Sheraton Reservation Centers in ever-increasing numbers, breaking records every month.

At one of ITT’s General Managers Meetings in New York where 80 executives gathered monthly to report on the performance of ITTs many companies, I reported about the extraordinary success of the ever-increasing number of reservations pouring into the Sheraton central Reservation offices. ITT President Harold Geneen responded, “I don’t think that anyone will remember that number. I can’t ever remember it. “I replied, Mr. Geneen, How many secretaries do you have?” “Nine.” “When was the last time you made a hotel reservation for yourself?” “I can’t recall”.  I replied “No wonder you can’t remember 800-325-3535. You never use it yourself. Thank goodness, the rest of the business world needs to call it themselves and therefore remembers 800-325-3535.” The GMM attendees cracked up and gave me an ovation.

If you wonder how such an exchange could take place without losing my job, don’t forget that I was the Product Line Manager for Hotel Operations, an invention of Geneen. The concept was brilliant in several ways. Since PLM’s had no P&L responsibility, we could not issue orders to the line. Nevertheless, we were empowered to go anywhere, look at everything, speak to anyone and provide answers and opportunities. We relayed our recommendations to the President’s office where Harold Geneen would review them. One thing you learned fast was that he hated “Yes-Men”. He thrived on cheerful conflict.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” Has Just Been Published

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Schultze & Weaver, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, McKim, Mead & White, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Carrere & Hastings, Mulliken & Moeller, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
     

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelstan turkelhotel historynobody asked mebrand news

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely-published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 204: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1911) Part 2

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 212: Hotel History: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, CA

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 212: Hotel History: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California (1888)

April 23, 2019 2:48pmShare This Link on FacebookShare This on TwitterShare This on Google+Share

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California * 

The renowned Hotel del Coronado is a grand example of elegant Victorian architecture providing one of the most beautiful and popular beach resorts in the United States.

The Del was conceived by two mid-western businessmen, Elisha Babcock, Jr. and Hampton L. Story who bought the entire undeveloped 4,100 acres on the peninsula of Coronado for $110,000. Babcock was a retired railroad executive from Evansville, Indiana and Story the owner of the Story & Clark Piano Company in Chicago.

Babcock and Story hired the architectural firm of Reid & Reid consisting of James W. Reid (1851-1943), Merrit J. Reid (1855-1932) and Watson E. Reid (1858-1944) who were based in Evansville, Indiana. Upon arriving in Coronado, James Reid said, “The next day, such a one as may be found only in Coronado in December, we all visited the beach. No finer location could have been found anywhere.”

Construction commenced in March 1887 with many unskilled Chinese workers who had to be trained on the job by master carpenters, plumbers and other craftsmen from San Francisco and Oakland. Babcock ultimately found enough workers to man the construction site twenty-four hours a day.

The shortage of lumber was solved with contracts for exclusive rights to all the raw lumber production of the Dolbeer & Carson Lumber Company of Eureka, California. Reid built planing mills, kilns, a metal shop and iron works on the site. To speed construction, Reid also installed water tanks, gravity flow sprinklers, two giant cisterns to store rainwater and the first oil furnace in a new hotel. The Mather Electric Company installed electric lighting, a world first. Bricks were fired in a kiln built nearby specifically for the project and rock from quarries in Temecula Canyon was provided by the San Diego Granite Company. Meanwhile, toilet seats were ordered from England, china from France, glassware from Belgium, 21,000 yards of carpet from Lowell, Massachusetts and wooden chairs from a furniture manufacturer in Boston. The hotel’s first general manager, John B. Seghere, had to double as an interior decorator.

Unfortunately, when the spectacular new Hotel del Coronado opened in February 1888, the southern California land boom collapsed. Babcock and Story secured additional funding from John D. Spreckels, Captain Charles T. Hinde, H.W. Mallett and Giles Kellogg. By 1890, Spreckels ultimately bought out both Babcock and Story. The Spreckels family retained ownership of “the Del” until 1948.

The original five-story structure remains intact and in full use along with two newer sections closer to the beach. The Crown Room is still regarded as one of the world’s monumental architectural structures with its high sugar pine ceiling held together only with wooden pegs. There are no nails or interior supports and for many years was considered the largest column-free room in the United States.

After brief periods of ownership by Robert A. Nordblom, Kansas City hotelier Barney Goodman and San Diego businessman John S. Alessio, Chicago-born M. Larry Lawrence became the owner in 1963. For the next twenty years, $40 million was spent repairing and replacing plumbing, electrical, heating, ventilation and cooking gas lines. Because the Del is the world’s largest wooden structure, Lawrence installed one of the most expensive Grinnell sprinkler systems to provide the utmost in fire safety. He also constructed the Grande Hall Convention Center to make the Del one of Southern California’s largest and most successful meeting and convention venues. The hotel is almost completely self-contained with the following back-of-the-house amenities: butcher shop, pastry bakery, upholstery and furniture shops; electrical, plumbing, machine shops; an in-house laundry and dry cleaning facility.

Lawrence was highly respected for his self-made financial success, but no accomplishment was more dear to him than his restoration of one of the world’s most beautiful historic landmarks, the grand dame of American seaside resorts – the Hotel del Coronado.

It is said that more celebrities of the arts, entertainment, sports and political worlds have visited the Hotel del Coronado than any other hotel resort in North America. Notable guests have included Thomas Edison, Charlie Chaplin, King Kalakaua of Hawaii, Vincent Price, Babe Ruth, James Stewart, Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn. More recently, guests have included Kevin Costner, Whoopi Goldberg, Gene Hackman, George Harrison, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Barbra Streisand and Oprah Winfrey.

The following presidents have stayed at the hotel: Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

While the Del has been the location for many movies, perhaps the most famous was Some Like It Hot (1959), starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

The Hotel del Coronado was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

In March 2016, Blackstone sold Strategic Hotels & Resorts to Anbang Insurance Group, a Beijing-based Chinese insurance company, in a $6.5 billion deal involving 16 luxury American hotel properties including the Hotel del Coronado. Fifteen of the sixteen were immediately transferred to Anbang. However, the sale of the Hotel del Coronado was held up because of concerns expressed by the federal inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews acquisitions of U.S. businesses by foreign investors for possible national security risks. The agency was concerned about the hotel’s proximity to major Navy bases in San Diego. In October 2016 it was reported that the deal had fallen through and the hotel would remain in Blackstone’s ownership.

In August 2017, Hilton Hotels and Resorts took over the management of Hotel del Coronado as part of their Curio Collection.

*excerpted from my book “Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” AuthorHouse 2017

“Great American Hotel Architects”

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Schultze & Weaver, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, McKim, Mead & White, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Carrere & Hastings, Mulliken & Moeller, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelstan turkelhotel historynobody asked mehotel del coronado

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely-published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Related News

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 211: Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association*

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 204: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1911) Part 2

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris Lapidus

Nobody Asked Me But… No. 211: Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association*

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 211: Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association*

April 2, 2019 1:47pmShare This Link on FacebookShare This on TwitterShare This on Google+Share

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) is a trade association that represents hotel owners. As of 2018, AAHOA has approximately 18,000 members who incredibly own about half the 50,000 hotels in the United States. If you bear in mind that Indian Americans constitute less than one percent of Americas population, the conquest of this business niche is extraordinary. Furthermore, about 70% of all Indian hotel owners are named Patel, a surname that shows that they are members of a Gujarati Hindu subcaste.

How did this economic miracle come to pass? The first Indian motel owner in the United States is said to have been an illegal immigrant  named Kanjibhai Desai who managed to buy the Goldfield Hotel in downtown San Francisco in the early 1940s.

Some twenty-six years later in 1949, another Asian American of Indian descent came to the United States from his home near the city of Surat during the first wave of legal immigration from India.  Bhulabhai V. Patel picked apricots and grapes in Northern California and worked at various jobs until he saved enough to purchase the 108- room William Penn Hotel in San Francisco in 1960. By 1996, Bhulabhai owned nine properties in Northern California with his son, Raman and grandson Pramod. At the time, he was amazed by the rapid growth of the Indian American lodging community. “It started with one hotel”, he said, “Now we’ve got thousands”.

“Patel” means farmer or landowner in Gujarat where the Patels are the original and largest clan. In order to facilitate tax collections, the British delineated, reassigned and renamed some of them “Amin” (the farm managers) and others “Desai” (those who kept the books). It is said that the Patels have a commerce gene in their blood and the anecdotal evidence seems to bear this out.

In the mid-1970s, Patels from India, Africa and Asia began to emigrate to the United States where any immigrant willing to invest $40,000 in a business could apply for permanent residence, the first step to citizenship. There were limited opportunities for such an investment. Restaurants required the Hindu Gujaratis to handle meat, an uncomfortable activity. Furthermore, a restaurant required one-on-one interaction with guests, confusing for newly-arrived immigrants. But distressed roadside motels could be acquired outright for $40,000. In addition, the motel industry was slumping badly because of the oil embargo and the resultant nationwide shortage of gasoline. 

One Patel pioneer reported that a motel “… is easy to run. You don’t need fluent English, just the will to work long hours. And, it’s a business that comes with a house- you don’t have to buy a separate house….” 

The new owners brought their business expertise and their families to operate these motels. They instituted modern accounting techniques to monitor the all-important cash flow. Four times cash flow became the mantra of the Patels. If the distressed motel produced $10,000 per year in revenues and could be acquired for $40,000, it was profitable for a hard-working family. 

They renovated and upgraded the rundown motels to improve cash flow, sold the properties and traded up to better motels. This was not without difficulties. Conventional insurance companies wouldn’t provide coverage because they believed these immigrant owners would burn down their motels. In those days, banks were unlikely to provide mortgages either. The Patels had to finance each other and self insure their properties.

In a July 4, 1999 New York Times article, reporter Tunku Varadarajan wrote, “The first owners, in a manner consistent with many an emergent immigrant group, scrimped, went without, darned old socks and never took a holiday. They did this not merely to save money but also because thrift is part of a larger moral framework, one that regards all nonessential expenditure as wasteful and unattractive. It’s an attitude buttressed by a puritanical aversion to frills and frivolities, one that has its roots as much in the kind of Hinduism that the Patels practice as in their historical tradition as commercial perfectionists.”

They bought, renovated, operated and resold motels mostly along the interstate highways.  Soon, the name “Patel” became synonymous with the hotel business. Patels own motels in cities all over the U.S., including Canton (Texas, Mississippi, Michigan and Ohio), Burlington (Vermont, Iowa and North Carolina), Athens (Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama), Plainview (New York and Ohio) and Longview (Texas and Washington). 

Author Joel Millman writes in The Other Americans (Viking Books):

“Patels took a sleepy, mature industry and turned it upside down- offering consumers more choices while making the properties themselves more profitable. Motels that attracted billions in immigrant savings turned into real estate equity worth many billions more. That equity, managed by a new generation, is being leveraged into new businesses. Some are related to lodging (manufacturing motel supplies); some related to real estate (reclaiming derelict housing); some simply cash seeking an opportunity. The Patel-motel model is an example, like New York’s West Indian jitneys, of the way immigrant initiative expands the pie. And there is another lesson: as the economy shifts from manufacturing to services, the Patel-motel phenomenon demonstrates how franchising can turn an outsider into a mainstream player. The Gujarati model for motels might be copied by Latinos in landscaping, West Indians in homecare or Asians in clerical services. By operating a turnkey franchise as a family business, immigrants will help an endless stream of service providers grow.”

As investment and ownership expanded, the Patels were accused of a wide variety of crimes: arson, laundering stolen travel checks, circumventing immigration laws. In an unpleasant burst of xenophobia,Frequent Flyer magazine (Summer 1981) declared, “Foreign investment has come to the motel industry…..causing grave problems for American buyers and brokers. Those Americans in turn are grumbling about unfair, perhaps illegal business practices:  there is even talk of conspiracy.” The magazine complained that the Patels had artificially boosted motel prices to induce a buying frenzy.  The article concluded with an unmistakable racist remark, “Comments are passed about motels smelling like curry and dark hints about immigrants who hire Caucasians to work the front desk.” The article concluded, “The facts are that immigrants are playing hardball in the motel industry and maybe not strictly by the rule book.” The worst visible manifestation of such racism was a rash of “American Owned” banners displayed in certain hotels across the country. This hateful display was repeated in post- Sept 11 America. 

In my article, “How American-Owned Can You Get”, (Lodging Hospitality, August 2002), I wrote,

“In post-Sept. 11 America, signs of patriotism are everywhere: flags, slogans, God Bless America and United We Stand posters. Unfortunately, this outpouring sometimes oversteps the boundaries of democracy and decent behavior. After all, true patriotism encompasses the best features of our founding documents, and the very best of America is reflected in its diversity. Conversely, the worst if reflected when any one group attempts to define “American” in their own image. Unfortunately, a few hotel owners have attempted to describe their own peculiar version of “American.” When at the end of 2002 the Hotel

Pennsylvania in New York City installed an entrance banner saying “an American-owned hotel,” the owners attempted to deflect criticism by explaining, “The issue of American-owned is basically not disparaging toward other hotels. We want to provide our guests with an American experience. We want people to know they are going to get an American experience. We are not really interested in what the other hotels are or what they are not.”

This explanation is as wrongheaded as it gets. What is an “American experience” in a country that prides itself on its cultural diversity? Is it only white bread, hot dogs and cola? Or does it encompass all the arts, music, dance, food, culture and activities that various nationalities and citizens bring to the American experience?

How much more American can you get?”

Today AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world. Its U.S. citizen members own one of every two hotels in the U.S.  With billions of dollars in property assets and hundreds of thousands of employees, AAHOA-owned hotels are core contributors in virtually every community in the United States.

*excerpted from my book “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry” 
 AuthorHouse 2009

The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel (1893) is Encouraging Return of Stolen Items

Participants who return such items will be eligible to win a seven-night stay in one of the hotel’s lavish presidential suites, worth over $15,000. The Roosevelt plans to display the items in its lobby, as a record of the hotel’s history. The campaign called the “Historic Giveback Contest” has been launched to celebrate the hotel’s 125th birthday. Former guests have until July 1, 2019 to return items by dropping them off at the concierge desk or sending them in the mail, said General Manager Tod Chambers.

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
     

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelstan turkelhotel historynobody asked meaahoaasian american hotel owners association

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Related News

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)

AAHOA Names Rachel Humphrey Interim President & CEO

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)

AHLA Appoints Chip Rogers as President & CEO

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 204: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1911) Part 2

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Key Takeaways: AHLA & AAHOA’s – Legislative Action Summit 2018

America’s Hoteliers Meet to Discuss Strength of Industry, Issues Affecting It and Impact on U.S. Communities

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)

March 12, 2019 2:43pmShare This Link on FacebookShare This on TwitterShare This on Google+Share

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

John Q. Hammons: Master Hotel Developer and Builder

One of the great hotelier/developers of our time. John Q. Hammons developed 200 hotel properties in 40 states. But mere statistics hide the essence of Mr. Hammons special development techniques. He disdained the standard feasibility studies when assessing potential sites for hotel development and instead relied on his own experience, knowledge and intuition.

Here are some reflections by John Q. Hammons on being an exceptional hotel developer:

  • Be in Tune With Change:  Have a Plan of Action. People do not stop to think what change means. That’s the thing about success. You have to watch change in people, change in habits, change in style, change in desire, change in everything. It’s happening every day, and nobody thinks about it. I do.
     
  • Live by the Bedrock Rule.  They’re not making any more land, so if you hang onto it long enough, you’re bound to make a profit, either by selling it or by developing it.
     
  • Commit to Quality and Location.  During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when the banks closed, I told our regional managers, we are going to stay in the quality business. I said I’ve made up my mind that the day is coming that there will be so many budgets built that you won’t believe it. The price of entry is low, and you don’t have to be very smart to do 50 or 100 rooms.  We’re not going to travel there. We’re going to get with the colleges, universities and state capitals. We’re going to get into solid markets, and we’re going to build quality hotels.
     
  • Keep Your Word.  My reputation allows me to make deals no one else could make, certainly not on a handshake. I always live up to what I say I’ll do… and more. If you don’t do what you say, word of that will travel the country.  I’ve never had that kind of reputation, and I never will.
     
  • Give Back.  If you’re able to succeed monetarily in life, you should share, and that’s what I’ve done.
     
  • Forge Ahead in Good Times or Bad.  No matter what the economy does, no matter the circumstances, forge ahead. I’ve weathered a lot of storms, but I stay positive. Experience has taught me that I will prevail, no matter what fate throws at me.
     

Hammons began his development career by building housing for World War II veterans in Springfield, Missouri. When the city planning commission refused to approve a high-end shopping center, Hammons traveled to California where he saw Del Webb’s Highway Houses: a pioneering motor hotel concept that followed Route 66. When Hammons returned home, he contacted an unknwon Memphis, Tenn. builder named Kemmons Wilson who was undertaking a similar concept named Holiday Inns.  Hammons formed a partnership with a plumbing contractor Roy E. Winegardner and in 1958 became one of Holiday Inn’s first franchisees. During their partnership, Winegardner & Hammons developed 67 Holiday Inns, about 10% of the total system. This development coincided with the creation of the Interstate Highway System when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: a 13-year plan that would cost $25 billion, funded 90 percent by the federal government.

Hammons described in his own words, two defining moments of his life:

Defining Moment No. 1: “In 1969, my entrepreneurial spirit eventually led me to start my own company, John Q. Hammons Hotels. Even though Holiday Inn helped me become a great success, I switched gears after seeing economy hotels popping up next to each other. We had to specialize, so we focused on the upscale market, primarily building Embassy Suites and Marriott hotels with convention centers. We decided to build quality hotels that exceeded customer’s expectations. None of our hotels are alike and we use atriums, water features and local art to create individuality. We also strive to surpass the brand standards in each hotel, such as widening the hallways to seven feet and implementing pod check-in systems. If you build it right, locate it correctly and give the customers what they want, they will buy. The best way to sell is to let the other person buy.”

Defining Moment No. 2:  “After 9/11 hotel development came to an abrupt halt. Companies were too fearful to move forward. While everyone was stagnant, we forged ahead. The advantage of continuing to build hotels was the availability of materials and labor. We knew the economy would rebound and people would begin traveling more. Our hotels needed to be ready to welcome them. We have built and opened 16 hotels since 9/11, and that decision was well worth it.  Recently the cost of cement and steel ignited, increasing 25%. By developing hotels during an uncertain time, our company has saved US$80 million. No matter what the economy does, no matter the circumstances, forge ahead.

I have made it my life-long business to find markets and develop quality hotels. Since 1958, we have built 200 hotels from the ground up. Along the way, we have never forgotten to give back to the cities that help us succeed. We also have learned that you have to be fearless to succeed.” 

Hammons’ number one piece of advice was “you never build without the market….  Everyone says ‘location, location, location’. But it’s not true. It’s market, market, market. What I do is go throughout (the country) and look for those nooks and crannies where industry has grabbed a spot and gone to work.”  Hammons never built in primary locations. He selected secondary and tertiary markets where large corporations had regional offices or factories as well as university towns and state capitals. When Hammons and his senior vice president Scott Tarwater boarded Hammons’ private jet, they were looking for the confluence of interstate highways, transportation centers, railroads, universities and state capitals. They did not need to be right in the middle of the existing action; in fact, they preferred to be in a stable and underutilized location. Listen to the Hammons strategy:  “After going through (numerous) recessions, I decided I’m going to universities and state capitals, and if I could find both, (for instance) Madison, Wisconsin or Lincoln, Nebraska, you’ve got a homerun. Because when recessions come on, people still go to school and government employees still get paid. After 9/11 all the big players who have big hotels at big airports and city centers took a huge blow. They were helpless. (Whereas) we were out here in universities and capital cities and strong farming/agriculture communities.”

Hammons did not believe in formal, third-party feasibility studies. When he started his development work, Hammons would go into towns to do his own type of feasibility study. That meant talking to bellman, taxi drivers, all local business people.  He relied on his own judgment and the opinions of his top executives. Mayor Susan Narvais of San Marcos, Texas said “Most cities will say, “Bring me your feasibility study.’ But Mr. Hammons is a walking feasibility study. You trust his judgments just by looking at his life story and the accolades he receives.” Hammons provided the following analogy: “Mackinac Island has The Grand. Colorado Springs has the Broadmoor.  I knew that Branson lake country would become something.”

Was Hammons right?  Just consider the following:

  • Located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains on the shores of Lake Taneycomo, Branson is a popular tourist destination, famous for its many live music theaters, clubs and other entertainment venues, as well as its historic downtown and surrounding natural beauty.
     
  • 7 million people drive into Branson each year to attend the 50 theatres and live shows in town
     
  • Forget Las Vegas and New York’s theater district. Acre for acre, Branson is the live-entertainment center of the nation.
     
  • Branson is a $1.7 billion tourist mecca, the number one motor coach destination in the U.S.
     

The best hotel in Branson is Hammon’s Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center, a 4-star, 301 room hotel with a 46 foot, $85,000 tree in its atrium. Its function space includes a 32,000 square foot Great Hall, sixteen meeting rooms,  three corporate boardrooms and a 51-seat theater.  The Chateau has a full-service marina with everything from jet skis to ski boats, scuba diving, fishing and other water sports. A luxurious 14,000 square foot Spa Chateau contains 10 treatment rooms featuring hydraulic-operated massage tables. 

Hammons inevitably built a better and bigger hotel than the community expected and than the franchise company required. He said, “I’ve always survived because I believe in quality. At that manager’s conference where I told our people I intended to stay in the upscale, quality business, I told them I was going to put meeting space in our hotels. And that the meeting space will be big, like 10, 15 or even 40,000 square feet, because that’s our insurance policy. I knew that the trends for big conventions like in Chicago, New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Seattle, etc., were going to be a thing of the past because you can’t afford to get there. I knew. I could see that coming. That’s why I wanted to go into a region where I could be in the dominant position. ….Keep your properties up and go upscale. Put that convention center there and you can still be in business having your meetings and things like that,” Hammons said.

Disclosure

In preparation for the writing of my book, “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry” (AuthorHouse 2009), I visited Springfield, Missouri and Branson, Missouri from July 11-13, 2006 to interview John Q. Hammons; Scott Tarwater, Senior Vice President; Steve Minton, Senior Vice President; Cheryl McGee, Corporate Director of Marketing; John Fulton, Vice President/Design and Stephen Marshall, Vice President & General Manager, Chateau on the Lake Resort, Branson, Missouri.

“Green Book” Wins Academy Award for Best Picture

My hotel history No. 192, “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, was published on February 28, 2018. It told the story of a series of AAA-like guides for black travelers published from 1936 through 1966. It listed hotels, motels, service stations, boarding houses, restaurants, beauty and barber shops which were relatively friendly to African Americans. The movie “Green Book” tells the story of Don Shirley, a Jamaican-American classically trained pianist and his white chauffer, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga who embark on a 1962 concert tour through the segregated Deep South. The movie is excellent and entirely worth seeing.

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
     

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelstan turkelhotel historynobody asked mejohn q. hammons

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Related News

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 204: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1911) Part 2

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris Lapidus

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 200: Hotel History: Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 199: Hotel History: Fanciful Prediction, Definition of “Turnpike”, The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality, Hokusai, the Great Japanese Printmaker

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)

February 19, 2019 3:44pmShare This Link on FacebookShare This on TwitterShare This on Google+Share

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Americana of New York

The Americana of New York opened on September 25, 1962 as a 2,000-room convention hotel. It was constructed by brothers Laurence Tisch and Preston Tisch, co-owners of the Loews Corporation and was the first over 1,000-room hotel to be built in New York since the Waldorf Astoria in 1931. With 51 floors, it was acclaimed for many years in its advertising and by the media as the tallest hotel in the world, based on the number and height of its inhabited floors. The Americana was built, along with the New York Hilton facing Sixth Avenue on the next block, to serve the huge number of tourists that the 1964 New York World’s Fair would bring, as well as the business and convention market. The hotel was also known in later years as the Americana Hotel, Americana New York and Loews Americana of New York.

On May 14, 1968, John Lennon and Paul McCartney held a press conference at the Americana to announce the formation of Apple Corps, their music label. The Americana also hosted the New York portion of the 1967 and 1968 Emmy Awards. The hotel’s supper club, The Royal Box featured performances by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, Peggy Lee, Liberace, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis, Jr., Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra and many more musical legends.

The hotel was built to the designs of architect Morris Lapidus with a two-story podium originally containing the lobby, five restaurants, ten ballrooms, a large convention hall, and “an acre of kitchens”, with the hotel rooms in narrow slabs above. To achieve this, Lapidus employed three structural systems: floors 1 through 5 are steel-concrete composite columns, floors 5 through 29 are concrete shear walls, and 29 to 51 reinforced concrete columns. At the time of its completion, the building was the tallest concrete-framed structure in the city.

On July 21, 1972, American Airlines leased the Americana of New York from Loews, as well as the City Squire Motor Inn across the street, and the Americana Hotels in Bal Harbour, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a period of thirty years. American merged the hotels with their existing Sky Chefs Hotels chain, and marketed all the properties under the Americana Hotels brand. The hotel served as Democratic headquarters for the 1976 Democratic National Convention and 1980 Democratic National Convention. The hotel also hosted the 1974 NFL Draft.

The Americana of New York and the City Squire Motor Inn were sold to a partnership of Sheraton Hotels and the Equitable Life Assurance Society on January 24, 1979. The Americana was renamed the Sheraton Centre Hotel & Towers. Sheraton bought out Equitable’s share in the hotel in 1990, freeing them to undertake a nearly $200 million renovation in 1991, when the hotel was renamed the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers. Following the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001, Lehman Brothers Investment Banking division temporarily converted the first-floor lounges, restaurants, and 665 guestrooms of the hotel into office space. Starwood Hotels (which had bought Sheraton in 1998) sold the hotel, along with 37 other properties, to Host Marriott for $4 Billion on November 14, 2005. The hotel continued to be managed by Sheraton, however, and was again renovated from 2011-2012, at a cost of $180 million, with the name shortened to Sheraton New York Hotel in 2012 and then changed to Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in 2013.

The main block of accommodation is a tall thin bent slab form, angled towards the 52nd Street corner, emphasized by the horizontal striped façade of strip windows and yellow glazed brick spandrels. On the north side facing Sixth Avenue, a lower 25-story wing is placed at right angles to the bent slab, and so at a slight angle to the street, and includes the entrance and lobby in a two-story podium.

The dominant feature at ground level is the two story circular rotunda projecting from under the end of the bent wing on the 52nd street corner. An image of the original hotel in the 1960s can be found in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York. The sidewalk on all sides originally had striped paving at the slight angle of the entry and bent wing, effectively turning the Seventh Avenue sidewalk into a forecourt for the hotel.

The facades of the accommodation blocks are generally intact, but the podium levels were reclad in the 1991 renovation, replacing the varied, light 1960s details with Postmodern squared granite.

Disclosure:
I once worked as Resident Manager of the Americana of New York. I lived on the 45th floor and was available at any hour of the night for any and all out-of-the-ordinary events. Inevitably, there were incidents that arose out of mechanical failures, unexpected guest behavior and/or employee shortcomings. I loved the excitement of the job and reported to General Manager Tom Troy, a veteran of the Statler Hotel Corporation.

My New Hotel Book Is Nearing Completion

It is entitled “Great American Hotel Architects” and tells the fascinating stories of Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schutze & Weaver, Mary Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth and Trowbridge & Livingston.

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can also be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
     

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelstan turkelhotel historynobody asked methe americana of new yorkthe americana,sheraton new york times square hotel

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Related News

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 204: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1911) Part 2

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris Lapidus

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 200: Hotel History: Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier

Sheraton Appoints Sean Verney as General Manager of Sheraton New York Times Square

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 199: Hotel History: Fanciful Prediction, Definition of “Turnpike”, The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality, Hokusai, the Great Japanese Printmaker

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan

January 29, 2019 3:13pmShare This Link on FacebookShare This on TwitterShare This on Google+Share

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Grand Hotel

The “Grand” as it is called on the island, is a historic coastal resort with a spectacular 660-foot long, three-story high porch. Below this covered veranda is a manicured lawn sloping down to a formal flower garden where 10,000 geraniums bloom in season among other flower beds with wild blossoms. The hotel is located on Mackinac Island which is in the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  It has thrived because of an important decision made in the 1920s. All private cars and trucks were outlawed on the island which gives visitors a chance to live in a village without automobiles.  In their place, islanders depend on bicycles and horse- drawn carriages and wagons. Originally called Plank’s Grand Hotel after its builder John Oliver Plank, one of America’s top hotel builders and operators in the late 1880s and early 1900s.

In 1886, the Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company formed the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. The group purchased the land on which the hotel was built and construction began, based upon the design by Detroit architects Mason and Rice. When it opened the following year, the hotel was advertised to Chicago, Erie, Montreal and Detroit residents as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrived by lake steamer and by rail from across the continent. The hotel opened on July 10, 1887 and took a mere 93 days to complete.

The Grand has managed to maintain its 19th century charm and to survive into the age of budget hotels, interstate highways and recreational vehicles. It offers a rare level of luxury with a sense of style that has mostly gone out of style. The meals are American plan featuring five- course breakfasts and formal dinners with jackets and ties on gentlemen and ladies “in their finest”. No tipping is permitted at the Grand with an 18% gratuity charge added to every bill.

Five U.S. Presidents have visited: Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The hotel also hosted the first public demonstration of Thomas Edison’s phonograph on the porch and regular demonstrations of other new inventions were often conducted during Edison’s frequent stays. Mark Twain also made this a regular location on his speaking tours in the midwest.

Additionally, six suites are named for and designed by seven former First Ladies of the United States, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Suite (with carpet that includes the gold presidential eagle on a navy blue background and walls painted gold), Lady Bird Johnson Suite (yellow damask-covered walls with blue and gold wildflowers), Betty Ford Suite (green with cream and a dash of red), Rosalynn Carter Suite (with a sample of china designed for the Carter White House and wall coverings in Georgia peach), Nancy Reagan Suite (with signature red walls and Mrs. Reagan’s personal touches), Barbara Bush Suite (designed with pale blue and pearl and with both Maine and Texas influences) and the Laura Bush Suite.

In 1957, the Grand Hotel was designated a State Historical Building. In 1972, the hotel was named to the National Register of Historic Places, and on June 29, 1989, the hotel was made a National Historic Landmark.

The Conde Nast Traveler “Gold Lists” the hotel as one of the “Best Places to Stay in the Whole World” and Travel + Leisure magazine lists it as among the “Top 100 Hotels in the World.”  The Wine Spectator noted the Grand Hotel with an “Award of Excellence” and it made Gourmet magazine’s “Top 25 Hotels in the World” list. The American Automobile Association (AAA) rates the facilities as a Four-Diamond resort. In 2009 the Grand Hotel was named one of the top 10 U.S. Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In 2012, the Grand Hotel celebrated its 125th anniversary with a series of memorable events:  Saturday night dinner with former Michigan governors in attendance, presentation by Grand Hotel interior designer Carlton Varney, Friday night fireworks, live performance by John Pizzarelli and much more. A special edition 125thanniversary coffee table book was published.

2018 marks the Grand Hotel’s 131st Birthday and over 85 years of Musser Family’s ownership.

My New Hotel Book Is Nearing Completion

It is entitled “Great American Hotel Architects” and tells the fascinating stories of Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schutze & Weaver, Mary Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan and Emery Roth.

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can also be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
     

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelhotel historynobody asked megrand hotel

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Related News

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 204: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1911) Part 2

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris Lapidus

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 200: Hotel History: Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 199: Hotel History: Fanciful Prediction, Definition of “Turnpike”, The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality, Hokusai, the Great Japanese Printmaker

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 198: Hotel History: Jefferson Hotel, U.S. Grant Hotel, The Montauk Manor and The Jung Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)


The Hotel Bossert

The Hotel Bossert

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hotel Bossert and St. George Hotel

The Hotel Bossert was built in 1909 by Louis Bossert, a Brooklyn lumber magnate, as a residential hotel in Brooklyn Heights. The historic 14-story, 224-room hotel, once referred to as the “Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn,” was owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1984.

The Brooklyn Dodgers celebrated their first and last World Series championship when they beat the New York Yankees in 1955. In the lobby of the Hotel Bossert, delirious Dodger fans celebrated by singing “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” for Walter Alston, the Dodger’s manager. Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Gil Hodges were present to celebrate.

The Bossert was once known for its famous Marine Roof, a two-level rooftop restaurant and nightclub with a nautical motif designed by Joseph Urban which had magnificent views of Manhattan.  In the summer of 1933, Freddy Martin and his orchestra were playing for dancing at the Marine Roof.  They were so well received that the following summer, Freddy Martin and orchestra were playing at the St. Regis Roof at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.

At the end of 2009, the famous New York classical music station WQXR became a non-commercial, listener-supported station on 105.9 FM. Believe it or not, the station was first conceived by advertising executive Elliot Sanger and radio technician John Hogan over dinner at the Bossert in 1935. When the Brooklyn Dodgers ‘Boys of Summer’ relocated to Los Angeles, the Bossert was one of the several hotels that the Jehovah’s Witnesses acquired and renovated in Brooklyn Heights during the 70s and 80s. By 1984, when the Witnesses purchased it, the building had been reduced to a sad condition by age and neglect. The Witnesses performed an excellent restoration, reproducing the mahogany windows and replacing 2,500 square feet of Bottachino Classico marble with stone from the original Italian quarry. The restoration earned a “Preservation Award” from the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 1991 and a Special Award for Architectural Excellence from the Brooklyn Heights Association in 1993. When the Watchtower Society put the Bossert on the market, it was acquired by the real estate developers Joseph Chetrit and David Bistricer for an estimated $81 million in 2012. Three years later, they selected the Argentinian company Fën Hoteles to operate the landmark Hotel Bossert under the name Esplendor Brooklyn.

The Hotel St. George and its adjacent buildings were built between 1885 and 1929.  By then the St. George was the nation’s largest hotel with 2,623 rooms. The original ten-story hotel was developed by Captain William Tumbridge who served in the Union Navy in the Civil War. It was designed by architect Augustus Hatfield and later expanded by Tumbridge with adjacent buildings designed by architect Montrose Morris.

The St. George complex occupies a full city block and its 30-story main building, St. George Tower, is now a residential cooperative building. It once attracted politicians, movie stars, celebrities, athletes and every presidential candidate. Remember that Brooklyn by itself would be the fourth largest city in the United States.

As reported by Christopher Gray, the well-informed New York Times Streetscapes columnist on December 29, 2002: “Like other hotels before the advent of the better-class apartment building, the St. George offered shelter to both transients and permanent residents. The 1905 census records the family of prominent chinaware merchant Theodore Ovington, including his daughter Mary White Ovington, 40, a Radcliffe graduate. In 1909, she was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); her 1911 book Half a Man cast light on the troubles faced by African Americans.”

In 1914, Mary Ovington wrote How the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Began and in 1927, Portraits in Color about James Weldon Johnson, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, George Washington Carver, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and 14 other distinguished African Americans.

By 1922, the large real estate development firm of Bing & Bing acquired the hotel, and in 1928 had architect Emery Roth design a 30-story 1,000-room addition.

During the hotel’s heyday from the 1930s to the 1950s, Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson spent the night. Other celebrities included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, abolitionist Henry Beecher and Truman Capote. The world-renowned Colorama Ballroom, illuminated with 1,000 multicolor bulbs, attracted young people from Manhattan to dance to popular orchestras. The complex included stores of all kinds, restaurants, a movie theater, 14 meeting and banquet halls and the largest salt water swimming pool in the United States. Black and white photographs on the walls of the fitness center memorialized pool visits by Esther Williams, Johnny Weismuller and Buster Crabbe. The spa included steam rooms, sun lamps, and antique reducing machines, one of which applied a vibrating hip sling and another concealed all but the head of its victim in a zip-front canvas bag.

In 1995, after years of deterioration and foreclosure, a serious fire destroyed the original building and damaged the surrounding structures including the tower building. After repair, the St. George Tower is now a residential cooperative building. The Weller Wing of the St. George, once the hotel entrance, is now part of Educational Housing Services (EHS) which provides dormitory services to 1200 university students in the New York City area.

On March 28, 2010 the following news item appeared in the New York Times:

For co-ops desperate for new ways to increase income, consider what the St. George Tower in Brooklyn Heights has decided to do. The co-op board for the Tower, a 27-story building at 111 Hicks Street, looked up one day and decided to sell the enclosed former home of the building’s water tanks for the reuse as a 30th floor penthouse with a roof terrace. The price tag is $2.495 million.

The penthouse would be created in what is now raw industrial space with exposed pipes and walls. But it also has floor-to-ceiling arched windows and according to Kevin Brown, a senior vice president of Sotheby’s International Realty and the co-op’s broker, “drop-dead views” facing the harbor, Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn. “Your breath is taken away when you look out those windows,” Mr. Brown said.  He said the board found a clever way to create value where there had been none before, and spent months getting approval from the attorney general’s office and the city buildings department before putting the space on the market.

The 66-by-53 foot space still has one remaining tank, which will be boxed in. The board has consulted with an elevator company to consider ways to bring one of the building’s elevators up to the 30th floor.

“Somebody is going to have to want a challenge to create something here,” Mr. Brown said.  “But they will only be limited by their imagination and pocketbook.”

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can also be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
     

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

Tags: stanley turkelhotel historynobody asked mehotel bossertst. george hotel

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Related News

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 204: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1911) Part 2

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris Lapidus

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 200: Hotel History: Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 199: Hotel History: Fanciful Prediction, Definition of “Turnpike”, The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality, Hokusai, the Great Japanese Printmaker

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 198: Hotel History: Jefferson Hotel, U.S. Grant Hotel, The Montauk Manor and The Jung Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But…No. 197: Hotel History: Ralph Hitz (1891-1940)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 196: Hotel History: The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado (779 rooms)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 195: Hotel History: The Elephantine Colossus Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 206: Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (1869-1958)

A pioneering American woman architect and interior designer whose distinct architectural knowledge was steeped in the culture and landscape of the Southwest. As the architectural historian for the Fred Harvey Company, she designed hotels, restaurants, gift shops and rest areas along the major routes of the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railway from 1902 until her retirement in 1948. Yet few of the nearly five million people who visit the Grand Canyon National Park every year are aware of Mary Colter and her accomplishments. No wonder she’s been called “the best-known unknown architect in the national parks.”

Born on April 4, 1869 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she was the daughter of Irish immigrants William Colter, a merchant, and Rebecca Crozier, a milliner. She experienced a transient childhood moving with her family from Pennsylvania to Texas and Colorado before finally settling down in Saint Paul, Minnesota at the age of eleven. In 1880, Saint Paul had a population of 40,000 people and a large minority of Sioux Indians, survivors of the Dakota War of 1862 which forced many to leave the newly-formed state.

Mary Colter graduated from high school at the age of 14 and after her father died she attended the California School of Design (now the San Francisco Art Institute) until 1891 where she studied art and design. Established by the San Francisco Art Association in 1874, the California School of Design, one of the first art schools in the West, provided its students with a comprehensive art education. For fifteen years Colter taught drawing at Mechanic Arts High School and lectured at the University of Minnesota Extension School. Her first design commission came when she met Minnie Harvey Huckel, daughter of the founder of the Fred Harvey Company.

In 1902, Colter started working for the Fred Harvey Company as an interior designer and practical architect. Her first assignment was to create an interior design for the Harvey Company’s newest project: the Indian Building adjacent to Harvey’s Hotel Alvarado in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Alvarado was designed by architect Charles Frederick Whittlesey (1867-1941) who trained in the Chicago office of Louis Sullivan. In 1900, at the age of thirty-three, Whittlesey was appointed Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. He designed the El Tovar Hotel at the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque with eighty-eight guestrooms, parlors, a barbershop, reading room and restaurant.

Mary Colter’s design for the adjacent Indian Building helped to launch the Harvey Company’s long-time sponsorship of Indian arts and crafts. The Albuquerque Journal Democrat reported on May 11, 1902 that the Alvarado Hotel “opened in a burst of rhetoric, a flow of red carpet and the glow of myriad brilliant electric lights with hopes that it would attract the wealthier classes to stop in Albuquerque on their travels to the West.”

Fred Harvey brought civilization, community and industry to the Wild West. His business eventually included restaurants, hotels, newsstands and dining cars on the Sante Fe Railroad. The partnership with the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe introduced many new tourists to the American Southwest by making rail travel comfortable and adventurous. Employing many Native-American artists, the Fred Harvey Company also collected indigenous examples of basketry, beadwork, Kachina dolls and a lively collection of exotic artifacts, handicrafts and Mission-style furniture.

Mary Colter’s Indian Building contained work and exhibit rooms with Indian basketmakers, silversmiths, potters and weavers at work. It launched the Harvey Company’s long-standing sponsorship of Indian arts and crafts. Mary Colter designed a new cocktail lounge in 1940 in the Alvarado and named it La Cocina Cantina to capture the design of an early Spanish kitchen.

From 1902 through 1948, Mary Colter served as the primary designer for the Fred Harvey Company, completing designs for twenty-one hotels, restaurants, lounges, curio shops, lobbies and rest areas along the major routes of the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railway. She captured the romance and mystery of the American Southwest and Native American artistic culture. Some characteristic features of her designs were tiny windows allowing shafts of light to accent red sandstone walls; a low ceiling of saplings and twigs resting on peeled log beams; a hacienda enclosing an intimate courtyard; a rough boulder structure, built into the earth as if part of a natural rock formation. These details shaped American visions of the Southwest for generations to come.

All twenty-one of Colter’s projects reveal her acute understanding of and commitment to both the natural and cultural landscape in which she worked. Through her interior designs, Colter demonstrated a spirited irreverence in her compositions, offering a clever demonstration of her own inventive Arts and Crafts sensibility.

Meanwhile, in the projects she termed “re-creations,” such as the Hopi House (1905) and Desert View Watchtower (1933) in Grand Canyon National Park, she almost always followed the architectural features of the original prototypes.

Employing indigenous Native American builders, demanding the use of local materials when possible, and attending to minute historical details obtained through research expeditions to various Indian historical ruins, Colter strove for stylistic verisimilitude without attempting to make, as she put it, a “copy,” or a “replica.”

In her smaller-scaled tourist architecture at the Grand Canyon, Colter introduced more innovative designs, including those for Hermit’s Rest and Lookout Studio (both 1914), places for Canyon visitors to stop that were intended to be “hidden under the rim,” according to Colter.

In Lookout Studio, she created a single-level, horizontal structure of rusticated Kaibab limestone that mimicked the stratification of the eroded rock below, ensuring unobstructed views from other promontories by means of architectural camouflage which allowed the innate drama of the Grand Canyon to enrich tourists’ experiences.

Other Harvey projects drew Colter away from the Grand Canyon, giving her the opportunity to design station-hotels along the Sante Fe Railway line, through which her architectural vision could manifest at a great scale. Of the El Navajo Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico (1923), she wrote, “I have always longed to carry out the true Indian idea, to plan a hotel strictly Indian with none of the conventional modern motifs,” probably referring to the ersatz Native Americana common to so many of the inferior hotels arising in the Southwest after World War I. Both the El Navajo in Gallup, New Mexico and La Posada in Winslow, Arizona, demonstrated Colter’s engagement with regional design issues and evoked the originality and wit of her earlier projects.

Colter retired to Santa Fe in 1948 and died there in 1958. Frank Waters, the great historian and expert on Native Americans of the Southwest, in his book Masked Gods: Navaho and Pueblo Ceremonialism (1950), recalled Mary Jane Colter:

“For years, an incomprehensible woman in pants, she rode horseback through the Four Corners making sketches of prehistoric ruins, studying details of construction, the composition of globes and washes. She could teach masons how to lay adobe bricks and plasters how to mix washes.”

Although her contemporaries often called her a “decorator,” her projects, of which four– Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest, Lookout Studio, and Desert View Watchtower – have been designated National Historic Landmarks, suggest that “architect” would be a more accurate and enduring description.

In early 2018, a book entitled False Architect: The Mary Colter Hoax by Fred Shaw stated that Colter was never trained or certified as an architect. It claimed that she falsely took credit for designs produced by others.

In response to this provocative thesis, Allan Affeldt, co-owner and operator of the La Posado Hotel, Winslow, Arizona wrote in September 2018: “All of us in the Harvey world are quite upset about the book. Shaw is clearly a misogynist.” Affeldt added:

“The attributions of Colter’s works to Curtis and others is preposterous, and obviously discounted by the many including Harvey family with direct knowledge of Colter and the buildings. We have collectively decided it best to ignore these self published rantings and not give Shaw a podium for his hatred.”

Don’t Miss The New Movie “Green Book”

My hotel history No. 192, “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, was published on February 28, 2018. It told the story of a series of AAA-like guides for black travelers published from 1936 through 1966. It listed hotels, motels, service stations, boarding houses, restaurants, beauty and barber shops which were relatively friendly to African Americans. Now the newly-released movie “Green Book” tells the story of Don Shirley, a Jamaican-American classically trained pianist and his white chauffeur, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga who embark on a 1962 concert tour through the segregated Deep South. Despite the movie’s title, there are only a few references to the actual Green Book travel guide. But the movie is excellent and entirely worth seeing.

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can also be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 205: Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey (1835-1901)

Just one hundred years ago, two architectural jewels opened at the Grand Canyon. They  are the 95-room El Tovar Hotel and the Hopi House Indian Arts Building. Both reflect the foresight and entrepreneurship of Fred Harvey, an immigrant from England, whose business ventures eventually included restaurants, hotels, newsstands and dining cars on the route of the Sante Fe Railroad. The partnership with the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe introduced many new tourists to the American Southwest by making rail travel comfortable and adventurous. Employing many Native-American artists, the Fred Harvey Company also collected indigenous examples of basketry, beadwork, Kachina dolls, pottery and textiles.

Fred Harvey arrived in the United States in 1850 at 15 years of age. His first job was a “pot walloper”, a dishwasher in New York City at the Smith and McNeill Café. Harvey made a career change and worked for railroads with travel opportunities for twenty years all over the United States. He learned first-hand what travelers in the West had to endure: uneatable dry biscuits, greasy ham and weak coffee. He even traveled on the Hannibel & St. Joseph known as the “Horrible & Slow Jolting”.  After rejection by the Burlington Railroad, Harvey struck a deal with Charles Morse, president of the Santa Fe Railway. With only a handshake to seal their agreement, the two companies began a long and fruitful partnership.

The railroad travelers of that era moved through Chicago on a slow journey westward on hard board seats in overcrowded crude coaches. At a time when most railroad food was poor and even inedible, Fred Harvey provided appetizing and affordable meals in comfortable dining quarters. He opened his first railroad restaurant in Topeka, Kansas in 1876 where good food, spotless dining rooms, and courteous service brought booming business.

The Santa Fe Railway provided the buildings for the Harvey restaurants where the passenger trains would stop twice daily for meals. The railroad carried all the produce and supplies needed by the Harvey restaurants including transporting the dirty laundry.  Fred Harvey hired, trained and supervised all personnel and provided for food and service. Harvey’s policy was “maintenance of standards, regardless of cost.” He believed that profits would grow if the food and service were excellent. “Meals by Fred Harvey” became the slogan of the Sante Fe Railway. To maintain this excellence, he hired and trained girls of the finest character as waitresses, the famous “Harvey Girls”.

Harvey placed ads in Eastern and Midwestern newspapers that read: “Wanted, young women of good character, attractive and intelligent, 18 to 30 years of age as waitresses in Harvey Eating Houses in the West. Good wages with room and meals furnished.”  Harvey Girls were trained to high standards of prompt and courteous service. They were the key to serving hundreds of passengers in about 20 minutes…the average length of time a train would need for servicing. Only white women were hired as Harvey Girls with no black women and only a few Hispanic and Indian women who ever served as waitresses. White European immigrant women were apparently acceptable. Minority workers, male and female, worked in the Harvey kitchens and hotels where they served as maids, dishwashers and pantry girls. Harvey had no shortage of applicants. It is estimated that a hundred thousand women applied from 1883 until the 1960s.

Harvey Girls all wore the same uniform, outfits befitting a nun: a long-sleeved black dress with a stiff “Elsie” collar, black shoes, black stockings and hairnets. The company furnished a full white wrap-around apron so stiffly starched that it had to be pinned to a corset. Harvey Girls wore no jewelry, no makeup and chewed no gum. They lived in dormitories where they were closely supervised by their manager (or manager’s wife), and curfews were strictly enforced in the early years. They were looked after as carefully as boarding school students in female seminaries in the East. They worked very hard and their eight-hour-a-day shifts were often split to conform to train schedules. They were told what to wear, where to live, whom to date and what time to go to bed. When the Harvey Girls were recruited in the early years, they agreed not to marry for at least a year.

Will Rogers wrote about the Harvey Girls:

“In the early days, the traveler fed on the buffalo. For doing so, the buffalo got his picture on the nickel. Well, Fred Harvey should have his picture on one side of the dime and one of his waitresses with her arms full of delicious ham and eggs on the other side, ‘cause they have kept the West supplied with food and wives.”

One of the reasons for the Harvey Houses’ success was their ability to serve fresh, high quality meat, seafood, and produce at remote locations across the Southwest. Trains would deliver beef from Kansas City, seafood and produce from southern California year-round.

Harvey House workers were able to handle large numbers of passengers in a short amount of time because the conductors on the train would get menu selections from the passengers and that information would be teletyped ahead to the Harvey House cooks. When the train pulled into the station and the passengers began to get off the train, a white-coated Harvey House staffer would hit a brass gong which stood outside the entrance to the restaurant. This let passengers known instantly where to come, and the Harvey Girls were ready to serve them.

Harvey operations at Union Stations in Cleveland, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles included newsstands, gift shops featuring Indian jewelry and weavings, barber shops, liquor stores, private dining rooms, restaurants, coffee shops, cafeteria, haberdashery, candy and fruit stands, miniature department store, cocktail lounges and soda fountains. Harvey was among the first to market its own name–brand “designer” goods: Fred Harvey hats, shirts, shaving cream, candy, playing cards, even Harvey Special Blend whiskey. Except for the prohibition years, Harvey sold exclusively a Scotch distilled by Ainslie & Heilbron in Glasgow. As a forerunner to Starbucks, Harvey packaged its own select coffee for public sale in 1948. The blend was already famous among Sante Fe travelers and Harvey sold 7,000 pounds in the first two weeks. The press dubbed him “Civilizer of the West” and one article from the 1880s said “he made the desert blossom with beefsteak and pretty girls.”

The Harvey company built luxurious resort hotels within sightseeing distance of major western attractions in national parks like the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest.

In 1870, Harvey built the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas which resembled a fine English home with fountains and candelabra in the surrounding garden and luxurious guest accommodations inside including an elegant dining room. At the turn of the century, another Harvey House of equal beauty was the Bisonte Hotel in Hutchinson, Kansas followed by the Sequoyah in Syracuse and El Vaquero in Dodge City, all built in Spanish Mission style.

The chaotic Kansas frontier included a transient population of cowboys and herd bosses, cattle-selling Texans, prostitutes and saloon-buffs. Harvey built the Arcade Hotel in “bloody Newton, the wickedest town in the West”, after the cattle industry moved to Dodge City. Later, Harvey moved his district headquarters to Newton from Kansas City including construction of a major dairy, an ice plant, meat locker-rooms, a creamery, a poultry feeding station and produce plant, a carbonating plant for bottling soda pop and a modern steam laundry.

As the Santa Fe Railway moved across Kansas to Colorado and to New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, Harvey hotels opened every hundred miles or so. New Mexico was the home of sixteen, five of which were among the most beautiful in the system: the Montezuma and Castaneda in Las Vegas (NM), La Fonda in Sante Fe, the Alvarado in Albuquerque, El Navajo in Gallup and El Ortiz in Lamy.

Each of these hotels was unique but perhaps none more so than the long-forgotten Montezuma Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico. An enormous castle-like structure, built adjacent to hot mineral springs, it was the largest wood frame building in the country with 270 rooms and an eight-story tower. Its connected spa-bathhouses served five hundred people a day and competed with the finest health resorts in the United States and Europe. After it burned to the ground in 1884, Harvey and the Santa Fe immediately rebuilt the million dollar hotel. This second structure also suffered a serious fire and was again replaced in 1899. After Harvey’s El Tovar Hotel opened in 1905 at the Grand Canyon, the Montezuma closed.

From 1901 through 1935, the Harvey Company and the Sante Fe built twenty three hotels of which only the following are still in operation: El Tovar and the Bright Angel Lodge in the Grand Canyon, Arizona and La  Fonda in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

This article is excerpted from my book: “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry” AuthorHouse 2009

Please Take Note

My newest book has been published by AuthorHouse: “Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher.”

My Other Published Hotel Books

All of these books can also be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-six years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

About Stanley Turkel

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

www.stanleyturkel.com

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549