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

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Cesar Ritz (1850-1918) & Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935)

Cesar Ritz was a Swiss hotelier whose name is more synonymous with hotel luxury and fine food than Conrad Hilton, J.W. Marriott or William Waldorf Astor. Along with his chef de cuisine, Auguste Escoffier, Ritz was already well known across Europe when they were invited to run the revolutionary new Savoy Hotel in London in 1889.

The land on which the Savoy stands was bought in 1880 by the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte to build the Savoy Theatre dedicated to presenting the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas which he produced. Impressed by the opulence of the American hotels in which he’d stayed while touring, D’Oyly Carte decided to build London’s first luxury hotel. It had electric lighting, elevators serving the 268 guestrooms and marble bathrooms with a constant supply of hot water. The hotel was designed by architect Thomas Edward Collcutt (1840-1924) who won the Grand Prix for Architecture at the Paris International Exposition in 1889.

Six months after the Savoy Hotel opened, Carte hired Cesar Ritz at an annual salary of about $200,000 with equally generous wages for the maître d’hotel Louis Echenard and the chef Auguste Escoffier. They met in 1884 when Ritz was managing a hotel in Monte Carlo. When he lost his chef to the new Hotel de Paris, Ritz hired Escoffier, one of the most celebrated chefs in Europe.

They were an odd couple and ideal partners but were opposite temperamentally. Whereas Ritz was debonair and outgoing, Escoffier was methodical and cerebral. Ritz was ambitious and extravagant while Escoffier was self-assured and precise. He organized a modern brigade system with specialist chefs working in parallel allowing for faster service. He was imperturbable, soft-spoken and wore a carefully-trimmed mustache.

Ritz realized that his success in the luxury hotel business depended in large part on having a superb restaurant in the hotel. Aside from their sharply different personalities, it turned out that Ritz and Escoffier worked very well together. They were also friends. Escoffier named some of his famous culinary creations for well-known patrons:

  • Peche Melba after the Australian soprano
  • Poularde Andelina Patti after the French singer
  • Filets de sole Walewska after the mistress of Napolean III

In keeping with the operational style of the food and beverage business in those days, both Ritz and Escoffier operated in the standard financial mode: they took kickbacks and a 5 percent commission in cash from suppliers (who made up their losses by shorting their deliveries to the Savoy). They were following the long-standing customs and practices of their trade. Ritz and D’Oyly Carte’s business plan was for the Savoy to occupy the very heart of cosmopolitan London to bring together socialites, celebrities, royalty, bohemian artists and newly-minted millionaires.

Escoffier’s cuisine was less complicated than his predecessors eliminating unnecessary ornamentation, inedible decoration and superfluous sauces. Escoffier’s motto was “above all, make it simple….” He is best known for his kitchen reforms and for his elevation of the status of cooks who were divided into parallel teams. Each one dealt with a single aspect of a dish as assigned by the chef de partie who oversaw each brigade. This technique speeded up the time needed for preparation and enabled food to be delivered hot to the tableside. Escoffier also developed the prix fixe meal with a seven-course menu for a set price.

The Savoy under Cesar Ritz’s management served a distinguished and wealthy clientele. It was able to attract respectable society women who previously did not dine in public restaurants. The hotel became such a financial success that Carte bought other luxury hotels. But then in 1897, Ritz and his partners were dismissed from the Savoy and were implicated in the disappearance of large amounts of wines and spirits and for accepting gifts from the Savoy’s suppliers.

D’Oyly Carte had no option but to fire Ritz and Escoffier with the following letter of dismissal:

“By a resolution passed this morning you have been dismissed from the service of the Hotel for, among other serious reasons, gross negligence and breaches of duty and mismanagement. I am also directed to request that you will be good enough to leave the Hotel at once.”

Ritz threatened to sue the hotel company for wrongful dismissal, but was evidently dissuaded by Escoffier, who felt that their interests would be better served by keeping the scandal quiet. It was not until 1985 that the facts became public knowledge.

By the late 1890s, Ritz was an extremely busy man with hotel projects in Madrid, Cairo, Johannesburg, Rome, Frankfurt, Palermo, Biarritz, Weisbaden, Monte Carlo, and Lucerne. According to his wife, “Cesar’s suitcases were never completely unpacked; he was always either just arriving from or departing upon a new journey.” In 1896, Ritz formed the Ritz Hotel syndicate with the South African millionaire Alfred Beit, reputedly the wealthiest man in the world. They opened what became the celebrated Hotel Ritz in the Place Vendome, Paris in 1898. He opened the Hotel Ritz in London in 1905 which became one of the most popular hotels for the rich and famous. The Ritz Hotel in Madrid opened in 1906 inspired by King Alfonso’s desire to build a luxury hotel to rival the Ritz in Paris. In each of these hotels, Ritz partnered with Auguste Escoffier until Ritz had to retire in 1907 because of deteriorating health. After a long illness, Ritz died on October 26, 1918. Despite his humble Swiss background, Cesar Ritz and his luxurious hotels became legendary and his name entered the English language as the epitome of high-class cuisine and hotel operations.

A recently published book Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class by Luke Barr (Clarkson Potter) tells this fascinating story. Cesar Ritz gave his name to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels in Paris, Madrid, London and New York – as well as to the ninety-one hotels in the Ritz Carlton chain and to the Ritz cracker. His surname even became an adjective, “ritzy.” Ritz was known as the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings.”

Postscript: As I finished writing this hotel history, the following press release was issued:

“Marriott International today (July 24, 2018) announced that it had signed an agreement with luxury hospitality development firm Flag Luxury Group to bring The Ritz-Carlton brand to New York City’s vibrant NoMad neighborhood, also known as North of Madison Square Park… Designed by award-winning architect Rafael Vinoly, this landmark project will include both hotel accommodations and branded residences conceived of by renowned interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg…. True to The Ritz-Carlton brand, the tower will include refined accommodations, a fine-dining restaurant, the brand’s renowned Club Lounge, a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa and fitness center, and a chic roof top bar…. Nearby, Madison Square Park- a public space since 1686- will provide guests the opportunity to enjoy a full schedule of cultural, culinary and family events.”

Please Take Note
Effective June 5, 2018, my new address is:
Mr. Stanley Turkel, CMHS
5000 Fairbanks Avenue #321
Alexandria, Virginia 22311

My Published Books

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

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Fanciful PredictionIn the September 1912 issue of American Homes & Gardens, futurist Harold D. Eberlein presented his predictions of the impact of air travel on American cities.  Eberlein foresaw a proliferation of roof gardens on top of large hotels to provide pleasing views for guests.  He also predicted that travelers could expect to find “clerks and bellboys posted on the top floor ready to attend to the immediate wants of tourists who have just arrived by airplane. Aerial taxicabs will circle like vultures over the hotel waiting for a doorman to signal one of them to alight and pick up a departing guest.” The creation of drones and self-driven vehicles shows just how close we are to fulfilling Eberlein’s fanciful prediction of the future. Google’s efforts to build delivery drones and internet-beaming balloons are no longer just science projects.

Definition of “Turnpike” – It came from the practice of placing a pike or staff across a toll road. One side of the pike was imbedded with spikes. When the toll was paid, the pike was turned spikes down so the traveler could pass. The first turnpike was built between Philadelphia and Lancaster in 1792.

The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality – In order to understand how the pineapple became the symbol for hospitality, we must return to Newport, Rhode Island in the 17th century. It was founded in 1639 by settlers seeking religious freedom. Newport’s majestic schooners participated in the infamous Triangle trade:  ships would sail to western Africa to pick up slaves, continue to the Caribbean to trade the slaves for sugar, molasses and sugar and then back to New England. Along with these commodities, captains would bring home pineapples whose exotic shape and sweetness made them a rare delicacy in the colonies.  Before emails or cellphones, sea captains would place the pineapples on their gate posts or over their doorways to inform neighbors that they had returned.  Colonial hostesses would set a fresh pineapple as a centerpiece of their dining table when visitors joined their families in their homes.  Later, carved wooden pineapples were placed over the doorways of inns and hotels to represent hospitality.  The practice has continued to the present and frequently one sees the pineapple icon in hotels, restaurants and homes to signal an atmosphere of hospitality and welcome.

Hokusai, the great Japanese master printmaster, once wrote:

“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings. Yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking into account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvelous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.”

Please Take Note

Effective June 5, 2018, my new address is:

Mr. Stanley Turkel, CMHS

5000 Fairbanks Avenue #321

Alexandria, Virginia 22311

My Published Books

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

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Jefferson Hotel, U.S. Grant Hotel, The Montauk Manor and The Jung Hotel

Some years ago, I served as the hotel consultant to the Sybedon Corporation, a New York-based real estate firm that specialized in restoration of historic hotels. The major hotel projects were:

  • Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, Virginia
  • U.S. Grant Hotel, San Diego, California
  • Montauk Manor, Montauk, Long Island
  • Jung Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jefferson Hotel (1895), Richmond, Virginia (140 rooms)

Tobacco baron Lewis Ginter began building the Jefferson Hotel in 1892. It was designed by Carrère and Hastings, the same architectural firm that designed the New York Public Library, the Ponce de Leon Hotel (St. Augustine), Henry Flagler’s Whitehall Mansion (Palm Beach), and many more.

As a centerpiece for the upper lobby, Ginter commissioned Richmond sculptor Edward V. Valentine to create a life-size statue of Thomas Jefferson from Carrara marble. Ginter imported exotic palm trees from Central and South America and purchased hundreds of valuable antiques. The hotel opened on Halloween in 1895 for the engagement party of Charles Dana Gibson and Irene Langhorne, better known as the Gibson Girl.

During World War II, the hotel lodged transient U.S. Army recruits. The stained-glass skylights and windows were taken down to conform to blackout requirements. In March 1944, another fire broke out and soon after the war ended; a gradual decline set in. By 1980, the hotel was closed to everyone except the occasional moviemaker.

After acquisition by the New York-based Sybedon Corporation, renovation began in 1983. Three years and $34 million later, the hotel was reopened on May 6, 1986. Old paint was removed from walls to reveal mahogany paneling and from exterior columns to uncover pure marble. Hand-carved fireplace mantels, ornate ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, writing tables and assorted bric-a-brac were cleaned, polished and restored.

On July 2, 1991, the Jefferson was sold to Historic Hotels, Inc., a Richmond-based group of investors. In the next year, a multi-million dollar renovation began, which included redecoration of all guestrooms and suites, the Rotunda and Palm Court, enhanced parking and improved amenities. A full-service health club is on-site, and the Jefferson Hotel also boasts one of Richmond’s finest restaurants, Lemaire.

For many guests and visitors, the dramatic 36-step polished marble staircase in the lobby- has been the cynosure of all eyes. Since the film classic “Gone With the Wind” was allegedly filmed on the Jefferson Hotel staircase, it is hard to stand at the base without visualizing Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O’Hara up those stairs.

The Jefferson Hotel is one of only 52 American hotels with both the AAA Five-Diamond and the Forbes Five-Star ratings. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

U.S. Grant Hotel (1910), San Diego, California

The U.S. Grant Hotel was built by U.S. Grant, Jr. in honor of his illustrious father, President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant bought the 100-room Horton House Hotel and demolished it to construct the current hotel in 1910. It was designed by the famous architect Harrison Albright, best known for the West Baden Springs Hotel (1902), French Lick, Indiana with the largest free-spanning dome in the world, then known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

When it opened, the U.S. Grant Hotel featured top floor arcadia windows, balcony balustrades and imposing lentil cornices. Inside, a grand white marble staircase with a carved alabaster railing led from the lobby up to the hotel rooms. In 1919, Baron Long acquired ownership of the hotel and in the next twenty years instituted many improvements.

When the Grant Hotel went through another ownership change after World War II,  the Grant Grill was created off the lobby on Fourth Avenue. In 1969, after sit-ins by a group of female attorneys, the Grant Grill ended its mens-only policy. As a tribute to those brave women, a brass plaque was installed outside the Grant Grill reflecting the end of that discriminatory policy.

The hotel was extensively refurbished in the 1980s by the New York-based Sybedon Corporation and Christopher Sickels.

In 2003, the hotel was purchased by the very ancestors of the land on which she stood. The Sycuan Tribal Development Corporation (STDC), the business arm of Sycuan, a sovereign tribe of the Kumeyaay Nation, acquired the 11-story hotel for $45 million.

The Kumeyaay Indians are one of four Native American tribes that are indigenous to San Diego County and can trace their San Diego roots back more than 10,000 years. Their people lived on the northern edges of San Diego and south past the Mexican border, with land that includes the very spot where the U.S. Grant now stands.

President Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, disapproved the treatment of the Indians of the American West. In 1875, he passed an executive order setting aside 640 acres of land in Dehasa Valley in East San Diego County for the Kumeyaay Tribes. In great part due to its efforts, the United States Government in 1891 passed the “Act for the Relief of the Mission Indians” which officially recognized the sovereign status of California’s Indian Tribes.

The Kumeyaay, who had suffered so enormously at the hands of generations of Westerners, remember Ulysses S. Grant as a rare soul among politicians. In an act of poetic justice, the extraordinary restoration of the U.S. Grant Hotel paid respect to its history and to the heritage of the Kumeyaay Nation.

Montauk Manor (1927), Montauk, Long Island (178 rooms)

The Montauk Manor was built by Carl Graham Fisher. It had an oceanfront bathing pavilion, complete with an outdoor pool and 1,600 feet of boardwalk along the beach. Eighteen holes of golf was available at Montauk Downs. There were twelve outdoor tennis courts and six indoor courts. For polo enthusiasts, playing fields complete with paddocks, stables, and herds of ponies were maintained at the nearby Deep Hollow Ranch. In addition, fox hunts, horseback riding and deep sea fishing were available.

In the 1920s, Montauk was a cosmopolitan resort, a Monte Carlo on the Atlantic that attracted the world’s elite. Montauk Manor was the most luxurious hotel on Long Island, a favorite of the New York/Newport clientele. The Manor’s popularity supported direct steamer service to and from Manhattan. Each night of the summer season, scores of fancy touring cars and limos would transport scores of blue bloods and society swells who were bound for fine food, excellent wines and the sound of money hitting the gambling tables.

Jung Hotel (1908), New Orleans, Louisiana (207 rooms)

First opened in 1908, then expanded in 1925 and again in the 1960s, the Jung Hotel was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth. It had once been known as the largest convention hotel in the South. It was called the Jung for more than 75 years and, later it was known as the Clarion, Radisson, Braniff Place, Grand and Park Plaza. The Jung family (Peter Jung, Sr., Peter Jung, Jr. and A. L., Jung) built the original hotel to the designs of the same architectural firm which built many public buildings during Governor Huey P. Long’s tenure. In the late 1920s, they designed three major hotels: the Jung Hotel and the Pontchartrain Hotel, both in New Orleans and the Eola Hotel in Natchez, Mississippi. In its prime, the Jung Hotel played host to Mardi Gras krewes, high school proms, carnival balls and a 1964 appearance by President V. Lyndon Johnson who delivered a re-election campaign speech. In the 1970s, the Sybedon Corporation renovated the hotel, opened two restaurants, refurbished two ballrooms, and instituted shuttle bus service to the French Quarter.

Developer Joe Jaeger is converting the Jung into a mixed-use complex including residential apartments, extended stay rooms and commercial space. The hotel has sat vacant since Hurricane Katrina.

Please Take Note

Effective June 5, 2018, my new address is:

Mr. Stanley Turkel, CMHS

5000 Fairbanks Avenue

#321

Alexandria, Virginia 22311

My Published Books

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

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Ralph Hitz (1891- 1940)

The hotel business has seen many fine promoters and salesmen but perhaps none as creative as Ralph Hitz. His two favorite expressions “Contact the hell out of ‘em” and “Give ‘em walue and you get wolume”, spoken in his thick Viennese accent, were a key to his philosophy of business. And it worked.

Hitz does not rank with the other great hotelmen in the sense that he built an empire or left an estate. He did neither. His period in the limelight lasted only 10 years, a period when the hotel business was at its low ebb in American history. Hitz was a sales and promotion phenomenon, who was able to take ailing hotels and forecast within a few dollars what their sales and profits would be and then produce the sales he had forecast.

Born in Vienna, Austria, on March 1, 1891, Hitz ran away from home three days after his family arrived in New York in 1906. After beginning as a busboy, he spent the next nine years working in restaurants and hotels around the nation, then got into hotel management. In 1927, Hitz was made the manager of the Hotel Gilson in Cincinnati where he tripled the hotel’s net income. During the 1930s, his National Hotel Management Company was the largest chain of hotels. In New York, it included The New Yorker, The Lexington and The Belmont Plaza. In addition, he operated The Adolphus in Dallas, The Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati, The Nicollet in Minneapolis; The Van Cleve in Dayton and one in Chicago.

He spent $20,000 (a large sum in the depression year of 1930) in changing a delicatessen into a coffee shop. The coffee shop was in instant success. Against the Name bands and ice shows were also a favorite with Hitz. He saw to it that his shows and performances were well attended even if 30% to 40% of the guests at first night performances were “dead heads”, non-paying guests. His explanation: “Business brings business”. He was the first, according to his son, Ralph Hitz, Jr., to air condition a hotel dining room. Again a simple explanation: “People eat more when they are cool”.

Guests checking into a Hitz-managed hotel were showered with attention. As a guest registered he was asked, “Is this your first visit?” If the reply was “Yes,” a floor manager was called and informed. “It is Mr. Jones’ first stay,” whereupon the floor manager extended a warm welcome. The room clerk then called a bellman and, being careful to use the guest’s name, announced “Show Mr. Jones to room 1012.” Then the inevitable, “Thank you, Mr. Jones”.

When the 2,500 room New Yorker Hotel prepared to open, Hitz was hired to manage the new venture, which opened on January 2, 1930, weeks after the stock market crash. Hitz’s ability to turn a profit during the Depression led the hotel’s mortgage holder, Manufacturers Trust, to hiring him to operate all of its hotels. In 1932, the National Hotel Management Company was created with Hitz as the president.

Hitz tracked information about annual conventions for 3,000 organizations, sent weekly bulletins to each of his hotels, and lobbied to have conventions booked in the seven cities where the NHM hotels were located. Hitz recognized the importance of keeping his employees happy, paid competitive wages, sent gifts on special occasions, and protected the jobs of any employee with at least five years of service. Hitz was the first manager to create a customer database. In the days before computers, Hitz maintained file cabinets with information on the preferences of thousands of guests. Among the uses of the data were to order the newspapers from a guest’s hometown, to be delivered to their rooms.

Another Hitz idea was a closed circuit radio system, similar to the in-house television channels in modern hotels, to advertise services in each of his hotels. A guest would need only to switch on the radio to learn about the evening’s scheduled entertainment and the day’s menus. In the hotel dining rooms, Hitz hired a special chef (called a “Tony”) to make café Diablo and Crêpes Suzette, and to sell the treat for an affordable 50 cents.

During the registration procedure the word loved most by the guest, his name, was used at least three times. The bellman was trained to say, “Are you expecting mail or telegrams, Mr. Jones?” Later, the bellman passed the good news on to the elevator operator that Mr. Jones was stopping at the hotel. “Tenth floor, for Mr. Jones.” This “strange music” of one’s name did not stop until the guest was cozily settled in his room. On the way to the room, the floor clerk was also let in on the fact that Mr. Jones had arrived. The bellman picked up the key with “Number 12 for Mr. Jones”. Once in the room the bellman hurried about putting away the guest’s coat and hat, unpacking his luggage if he so desired, explaining the Servidor, the laundry and valet facilities. Finally: “Mr. Jones, may I be of further service?” By this time, Mr. Jones was feeling quite friendly toward Mr. Hitz and the hotel. A first-stay guest could expect even more of the red-carpet treatment: a few moments after having settled down in his room, he was called by the Hospitality Desk and solicitous inquiry made to see if “Anything further can be done to make your stay comfortable.”

A guest who stopped at a Hitz hotel 100 times became a member of the Century Club, his name engraved in gold on a gift notebook. E.M. Statler started the idea of slipping the daily newspaper under the guest room door. “Compliments of the management”. Hitz went a step further and provided a hometown newspaper for the guest (provided he came from one of the cities from which most of the hotel’s business was derived).

Tall people were given room with seven-foot beds. Parents with children were sent a special children’s letter soon after registering. Sick patrons were personally visited by the floor managers. Guests leaving on an ocean trip were sent bon-voyage messages. While most hotels were requiring guests without luggage to pay in advance, a no-luggage guest at a Hitz hotel was provided with an overnight kit containing pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste and shaving gear.

Everyone in the Hitz hotels was trained and expected to be a supersalesman. Room clerks were sent out over the country for one or more months each year to pick up business and get acquainted with their customers first-hand. A Hitz man was supposed to give his all for the hotel, and room clerks were expected to make calls within their own city during their off-hours. To insure compliance, each salesman kept a file card on each prospect and noted the time of the contract. Hitz hired a 7-passenger plane to sales-blitz all cities of 100,000 and more in population.

Selling went on all the time the guest was in the hotel. If he opened a closet door, there staring him in the face was a placard advertising one of the hotel services or a dining room. Even the mirrors in the bathroom medicine cabinets held advertisements. Should the guest settle down on the bed to listen to the radio he was still within the master-seller’s voice range. The radio was interrupted at set intervals so that the hotel services might be extolled and called to the guest’s attention.

At 8:00 AM, the radio system started with a breakfast announcement; at 12 o’clock noon the day’s luncheon with prices were quoted; at 6:00 PM, the guest learned about the wonderful dance band currently playing in the dining room; at 7:00 PM, three-minutes were given over to a little talk made by the publicity manager who told about the interesting guests and events of the day. Finally, at midnight the valet service, laundry or some other hotel service was featured and the guest could drift off to sleep assured by the words, “Goodnight on the behalf of the management and the entire staff.”

Hitz is credited with being the first to develop and exploit a guest history. Cesar Ritz, before the turn of the century, had sent private letters to his hotels describing the idiosyncracies, and special likes and dislikes of his guests. Hitz systematically collected the information he wanted on each guest and set up a guest history department. This department, manned by a separate staff, kept guest records and followed the Hitz system of bringing the guest back to the hotel.

The system made routine the collecting of each guest’s birthday and wedding anniversary date, his credit standing and other information of value to the hotel. Routine also was the sending of a letter to all first-time guests, to each guest who had stopped with the hotel twenty-five times, fifty times and one-hundred times.

On the fiftieth visit the guest received a complimentary suite. With the hundredth visit an appropriate gift with a letter was sent. Birthday greetings and wedding anniversary felicitations went to all regular guests. Color signals on the record cards showed if there was to be no publicity, if the person was undesirable and not to be welcomed or if the address given was questionable.

Special credit cards for people important to the hotel were developed by Hitz management. Statler had given gold fringed cards to his friends which entitled them to the ultimate in service and accommodations. Hitz also gave a Gold Credit Card to persons who might influence convention or other group business.

Anytime a Gold Card holder checked into the hotel he was extended special courtesies, and was at liberty to bedazzle wife and clients with a virtually unlimited credit. So too were “Star” reservations, people who for any reason the management thought important.

Hitz had a system for nearly everything. If one of his employees had a baby, he got a bank deposit book with a $5.00 deposit in it. For twins, the employees received $25.00, and just in case there were triplets, $100.00.

Waiters were instructed never to ask guests “Do you wish more butter?” but always, “Do you wish butter?” Beer was served at 45°F in winter, 42°F in the summer. Should an undesirable person attempt to register at a Hitz hotel, this little contingency was handled with adroitness and business acumen: they were offered only the highest-priced rooms.

To insure that guest rooms were really clean and in immaculate order, a full-time room inspector went from room to room checking on everything in the room. His inspection was in addition to the O.K. placed on the room by the regular inspectors.

Hitz preached guest service which was implemented by a carefully devised system. From his days as a bus boy and waiter, every system was a “setup”. He had a setup for each hotel practice. A Hitz hotel was operated by the numbers. Bellmen were uniformed and drilled by a former trainer of Roxy Theatre ushers. Hitz demanded much from his employees and because it was a time of economic depression, he got superior performance. He also paid higher wages. The prevailing wage was $85 a month for a room clerk; Hitz paid $135. His department heads were the highest paid in the business because he knew it was through them that his systems would be implemented.

Promotion was a part of the Hitz personality and he used it to promote himself as well as his hotels. In 1927, he was offered the management of the Cincinnati Gibson Hotel which was having financial difficulties. No one was more surprised than the board of directors when Hitz promised to earn $150,000 in profit during his first year of operation. The directors were more astounded than surprised when his first year’s profits were $158,389.17.

Because he gave guests who paid regular rates the same superior service that was associated with deluxe rates, his hotels ran high occupancies. During the Depression, when hotel occupancies over the nation were at 50% and lower, such an operator was in great demand. Bankers and insurance company officials who reluctantly got into the hotel business via foreclosed mortgages were eager for his services.

Hitz did more than promote, he introduced all-out standardization to hotelkeeping. His kitchens were fine examples of efficiency and uniformity. Controls of all kinds were installed and thorough-going accounting practices followed. The income from his restaurants, and such services as valet and guest laundry, were so high as to confound his contemporaries. What others had done, he could do better.

A hard-driving man, he was also known for quick thinking and a well-developed sense of humor. To get a true picture of him, one had to see him making daily tours of his house, busily taking copious notes, and later, during the check-in hours, to see him in the lobby, a short, ebullient man personally greeting new arrivals in his almost incomprehensible Viennese accent.

Hitz became ill towards the end of 1939 and died of a heart attack at the Post Graduate Hospital in New York City on January 12, 1940 at the age of 48. His funeral was held at the University Chapel before a gathering of hundreds of mourners. He was cremated and interned at Fresh Pond Crematory on Long Island New York.

The Ralph Hitz Memorial Scholarship, to support undergraduate students studying Hotel administration, was established in April 1941 by the Hotel Ezra Cornell at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. It is maintained to this day.

Please Take Note

Effective June 5, 2018, my new address will be:

Mr. Stanley Turkel, CMHS

5000 Fairbanks Avenue

Mailbox #321

Alexandria, Virginia 22311

My Published Books

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

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

stanturkel@aol.com /  917-628-8549

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 196, Hotel History: The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado (1918)
For over a century, dreamers, farmers, investors, and even a Prussian Count have held a vision of the magnificence in store for the Colorado Springs area. It took the foresight, dedication and incredible vision of one man, Spencer Penrose, to bring the dream to reality… and to make it wonderful enough to last 100 years.

Even before it was the Broadmoor Dairy Farm, the land at the base of Cheyenne Mountain was a ranch where corn was grown for making brooms. Willie Wilcox, who came to the area seeking his fortune and hoping to find a cure for his tuberculosis, bought the land in 1880 and established a small dairy. Unfortunately, Wilcox’s inexperience with animals soon became evident, and he realized that without significant investments the project would not be a success, so he began negotiations to sell the land.

Prussian Count James Pourtales had also come west to seek romance and fortune, and in 1885 he brought his knowledge of German scientific farming to Colorado Springs, and began a partnership with Wilcox to bring the dairy back to life. Although the dairy was still doing well by 1888, Pourtales realized it would not turn a large enough profit or return on his investment to be of aid to his estates in Prussia. He decided the only way to make a decent profit would be to create an upper-class suburb of Colorado Springs with numerous amenities to increase the value of the home sites. So in 1890, Count Pourtales formed the Broadmoor Land and Investment Company and purchased the original 2,400-acre tract.

To entice people to buy lots, Pourtales built The Broadmoor Casino, which opened July 1, 1891. A small hotel was constructed a few years later. Continually beset by financial problems, Pourtales was unable to move forward with development of the site, and the property was forced into receivership. In 1897, the casino and its small neighboring hotel was eventually converted into a boarding house and day school for girls.

On May 9, 1916, Spencer Penrose, a Philadelphia entrepreneur who had made his fortune in gold and copper mining, purchased The Broadmoor Casino and Hotel 40-acre site, and an adjoining 400 acres. Penrose devised a new project to turn the Pikes Peak region into the most interesting, multi-faceted resort area that could be conceived and he had the money to do it.

Using the famous New York architectural and design firm Warren and Wetmore, Penrose began construction of the main complex on May 20, 1917. With the objective of creating the most beautiful resort in the world, Spencer Penrose imported artisans from Italy and other European countries to create the ornate moldings and paintings which adorn the interior and exterior of the hotel. Italian Renaissance in style, the original Broadmoor resort was designed with four wings which were completed in June 1918. An 18-hole golf course was designed by the master golf-course architect, Donald Ross.

The resort officially opened on June 29, 1918, newly christened as The Broadmoor with architectural and design features including a spectacular curved marble staircase, dramatic chandeliers, Della Robbia-style tile, hand-painted beams and ceilings, a carved marble fountain, and a striking pink stucco façade.

The genius of Spencer Penrose was not limited to the construction and operation of a world-class resort. He was brilliant in the promotion and marketing of the resort, and the surrounding areas. Penrose correctly assessed the tourist value of Pikes Peak for the growth of The Broadmoor. He built the Pikes Peak Road leading to the summit as an alternative to the Cog Railway and established the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which is still considered one of the finest privately-owned zoos in the United States. In 1925, Penrose purchased and modernized the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which became one of his most enduring legacies.

When The Broadmoor opened in 1918, Penrose charged each and every employee with providing a level of service and overall experience as yet unattainable in the United States. He contracted Italian Executive Chef Louis Stratta and charged him with bringing his inventive and international ideas to America’s west. In the resort’s 100-year history, The Broadmoor has had only six General Managers and four Executive Chefs, a true distinction in the hospitality industry, and a testament to the “quality of life” at the resort.

The Broadmoor’s surge in fame led to an expansion of the resort’s facilities, all created to achieve The Broadmoor’s “grand plan” of top-rated service and uncompromising excellence. Addressing the popularity of golf as an American pastime, The Broadmoor hired famed golf-course architect Robert Trent Jones to design a second golf course; Jones’ nine-hole course was expanded to 18 holes in 1965. A third golf course, designed by Ed Seay and Arnold Palmer was added in 1976.

In 1961, The Broadmoor constructed the International Center, a dedicated meeting space, followed by a new building housing additional guest rooms, and The Penrose Room, a fine-dining restaurant. In 1976, the West Complex was completed, adding another 154 guestrooms and a variety of meeting facilities. Colorado Hall, a second conference facility was constructed in 1982 and the 12,000 square-foot Rocky Mountain Ballroom opened in 1994. In 1995, an additional 150 guestrooms with either lake or mountain views, were added.

Also in 1995, the hotel opened the new Broadmoor Spa, Golf and Tennis Club, that featured a full-service, world-class “amenity spa”. This state-of-the-art fitness center included an exercise room, aerobics studio, indoor swimming pool and outdoor heated lap pool and Jacuzzi, a golf clubhouse, three restaurants and lounges and both golf and tennis pro shops.

The summer of 2001 saw the completion of an 11,000 square foot infinity edge swimming pool that was added to the north end of Cheyenne Lake, along with Slide Mountain waterslides, a children’s pool, two 14-person whirlpools, 13 cabanas and a new pool café.  In October 2001, the venerable Broadmoor Main Building closed for the first time in the history of the resort to undergo a major renovation. Each of the original 142 rooms, the lobby, lounges, restaurants, retail outlets and public spaces were redone. The renovation of guestrooms included high-speed Internet access, multiple phone lines, PC data ports and enhancements like large five-fixture bath facilities with soaking tubs, separate showers and plumbing, new sprinkler systems, and other high-tech features.

In May 2002, The Broadmoor unveiled the completion of a $75 million renovation project. The project began with the addition of the Lakeside Suites building, with 21 spacious rooms, most with fireplaces and either patios or balconies.

In October of 2005, The Broadmoor added 60,000 square feet of additional meeting space with the completion of Broadmoor Hall. Located next to the International Center and Colorado Hall, Broadmoor Hall brings the total available conference and meeting space on the property up to 185,000 square feet. The Carriage Museum was relocated from the south side of the property and expanded to 8,000 square feet. The museum features historic memorabilia, vintage automobiles and carriages from the Penrose private collection. South Tower has been renovated to include all new guest rooms with luxurious five-fixture baths, fireplaces, balconies and flat screen TV’s in living area and bathrooms and the latest in technological upgrades. In July of 2006, the Mountain Course opened with 18-holes, designed by Nicklaus Design, bringing The Broadmoor up to 54 holes of championship golf courses.

Since its opening, this grand resort has been the destination of presidents, statesmen, foreign dignitaries and celebrities. United States Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George H.W. and George W. Bush. Dignitaries include King Hussein of Jordan, Princess Anne, Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu of Japan, the King of Siam, Margaret Thatcher, and the NATO Ministerial Alliance. The hotel has also attracted many entertainment and sports celebrities throughout its long history including John Wayne, Maurice Chevalier, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Charles Lindbergh, Clark Gable, Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Sir Elton John, Ted Turner, Jane Fonda, Terry Bradshaw, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Michelle Kwan, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Sugar Ray Leonard, Stephen Tyler and Aerosmith.

The Broadmoor is the longest-running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five-Diamond and the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards. The Broadmoor has received the Five Star rating for a record 56 consecutive years and the Five Diamond rating for 40 years. “The Grande Dame of the Rockies” is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

My Newest Book

“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” is available in hardback, paperback and ebook format.

Ian Schrager writes in the Foreword:

“This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”

This trilogy consists of the following three books:

  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi

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

My Published Books

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

When Coney Island went from a sandbar resort in Brooklyn to the city’s biggest beachfront playground in the 1880s, all sorts of attractions popped up. There were beer halls, roller coasters, so called “freak shows” and a one-of-a-kind gaudy structure known as the Elephantine Colossus. It was constructed in 1884 by James V. Lafferty (1856-1898) who thought that the next great architectural step was to design buildings in the shape of animals, birds and even fish. During the twelve years before it burned down, the jumbo-size hotel in Brooklyn was known as the Colossus of Architecture and the Elephantine Colossus. A 1924 Brooklyn Eagle article gave the dimensions as 175 feet tall and 203 feet long.

According to “Brooklyn… and How It Got That Way” by David W. McCullough (1983), the building had 31 guestrooms and was made of wood with tin sheathing. It had long curving tusks and an oversize howdah.

David McCullough wrote,

“To get to the observatory in the howdah, customers entered the hind leg marked Entrance and wound up a circular flight of stairs. The other rear leg- each was 60 feet around- was the exit, and one of the front legs was a tobacco shop. At night, beacons shone out of the four-foot-tall eyes.”

Ten years earlier, the 25-year-old Lafferty constructed the Inexhaustible Cow at West Brighton. This popular stand provided drinks, from milk to champagne for parched Coney visitor throats. Lafferty had tested his elephant idea a few years near Atlantic City with a smaller structure which he called Lucy the Elephant. Lafferty was backed by his family’s wealth and driven by a vision for a new kind of real estate promotion that would lure prospects to the desolate stretch of sand dunes where he hoped to sell plots for vacation cottages.

Atlantic City at that time was fast growing into a Victorian vacation metropolis centered around the Absecon Lighthouse, the landmark that was then the symbol of the seaside resort. Lafferty wanted to establish a similarly impressive landmark and sense of place for his own new development in “South Atlantic City.” To gain the attention of the public and press, he chose what was then a startling concept: a building shaped like a gigantic animal. To fully appreciate Lafferty’s feat, it’s important to understand that in the 1880s, the idea of erecting a structure shaped like an animal was unheard of even as the new engineering techniques and technologies of a quickening industrial age made such complicated architectural projects theoretically possible.

In 1881, Lafferty retained an architect to design a building in the shape of an elephant from the exotic land of the British Raj celebrated in the period’s illustrated adventure magazines. Simultaneously retaining a patent attorney, Lafferty also sought to prevent anyone else in the United States from constructing animal-shaped buildings unless they paid him royalties. The U.S. Patent Office examiners found Lafferty’s to be a novel, new and technologically significant concept. In 1882, they granted him a patent giving him the exclusive right to make, use or sell animal-shaped buildings for seventeen years.

More sculpture than carpentry, the construction of Lucy involved hand-shaping nearly a million pieces of wood to create the required load supports for a 90-ton structure with an outsheath of hammered tin. The amazing elephant building, which did generate the national publicity Lafferty hoped for, was the first of three he constructed. The largest—a gargantuan, twelve-story structure twice as large as Lucy—called the “Elephantine Colossus” was erected in the center of the Coney Island, New York, amusement park. The third Lafferty elephant, slightly smaller than Lucy, was “the Light of Asia,” erected as the centerpiece of another Lafferty land sale program in South Cape May. The Colossus later burned down, the victim of a fire on September 27, 1896 and the Light of Asia was torn down, leaving Lucy the only survivor.

By the late 1880s, although the elephant buildings were drawing crowds of awed spectators, Lafferty’s over-extended real estate ventures were losing money. Lucy and his surrounding Absecon Island holdings were sold to John and Sophie Gertzer, who operated the elephant building alternately as a tourist attraction, miniature hotel, private beach cottage, brothel and tavern. Meanwhile, “South Atlantic City” developed into a thriving shore community that later changed its name to Margate. In 1920, Lucy the Elephant tavern was forced to close by the passage of Prohibition. When that law was repealed in 1933, she immediately became a bar again. In the 1950s, as a new America emerged from World War II to build webs of superhighways and adopt airplanes as a cheap new way of travel to exotic vacation destinations, Lucy faded from the public’s attention and fell into disrepair. By the 1960s, she was a dilapidated public safety hazard slated to be torn down.

In 1969, just ahead of the wrecker’s ball, the “Save Lucy Committee” formed by the Margate Civic Association began two decades of public struggles that moved Lucy to beachfront land owned by the city and restored the peculiar structure as a historic site and tourist attraction. Since 1973, enough money has been collected in dedicated “Save Lucy” campaigns to restore the structural integrity and exterior of the 90-ton wood-and-tin pachyderm. But the fundraising battle continues today as the group works to raise additional money required to underwrite the never-ending costs of maintenance and fighting rust, rot and even lightning strikes on the great wooden beast.

My Newest Book
“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” is available in hardback, paperback and ebook format.

Ian Schrager writes in the Foreword:

“This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”

This trilogy consists of the following three books:

  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi

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

My Published Books

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 194: John McEntee Bowman Part II

Hotel History: John McEntee Bowman Part 2
During his lifetime career as a hotel developer and operator, John Bowman was a horse lover and a thoroughbred racing enthusiast. He was president of the United Hunts Racing Association and the National Horse Show. For a time, he served as the president of the Havana-American Jockey Club that operated the Oriental Park Racetrack in Marianas, Cuba.

In addition to the six Biltmore Hotels which I described in Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 193, here are the descriptions of ten more Biltmore hotels.

  • Flintridge Biltmore Hotel- located in La Canada Flintridge atop the San Rafael Hills in California. Site of the present day Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy campus with some of the historic buildings still in use. Designed by architect Myron Hunt in 1926, in the Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style. Myron Hubbard Hunt (1868-1952) was an American architect whose projects included many landmarks in Southern California. In 1927, Hunt designed a hotel for Senator Frank P. Flint which was quickly sold to the Biltmore chain of hotels. Due to the Great Depression, the Flintridge Biltmore Hotel was sold in 1931 to the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, who founded the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, an all-girls’ day and boarding high school.
  • Griswold Hotel- in New London, Connecticut near Groton. It was built by Morton F. Plant, the wealthy philanthropist who was the son of the railroad, steamship and hotel tycoon Henry Bradley Plant. Two years after building his Branford estate, Plant purchased the dilapidated Fort Griswold House on the eastern point of the Thames River and erected a dazzling two-story luxury hotel. With a total of 400 rooms, the Griswold Hotel was 240 rooms larger than the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island making it the largest luxury resort hotel in the Northeast. As described in a 1914 Griswold Hotel brochure, the freshest of foods was grown by Plant’s Bradford Farms. The guestrooms, detailed in mahogany, were lit with electricity and provided long-distance telephone service. Dancing was offered nightly and no expense was spared on service, food or décor.

    In 1919, the Griswold was acquired by Bowman’s Biltmore Hotel company. After the 1929 stock market crash, the Griswold fell on hard times until it was purchased by Milton O. Slosberg in 1956. He added a 3,600 ft. salt water pool and invested a million dollars in upgrades. But in 1962, a botched resale resulted in acquisition by the Pfizer Company which eventually tore the Griswold down. Today, the land belongs to the Shennecossett Golf Course.

  • The Belleview-Biltmore Hotel- Belleair, Florida first opened in 1897 as the Belleview Hotel. It was built by Henry Bradley Plant to designs by architects Michael J. Miller and Francis J. Kennard of Tampa. It contained 145 rooms, Georgia pine construction, swiss-style design, a golf course and race track. The Belleview became a retreat for the wealthy whose private railroad cars were often parked at the railroad siding south of the hotel. The Belleview, named the “White Queen of the Gulf”, was the largest wood-frame building in Florida. In 1920, it was purchased by John McEntee Bowman and named the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel. It was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979, closed in 2009 and demolished in 2015 despite heroic efforts by preservation groups to save it. In its heyday, the Belleview Biltmore attracted presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, the Duke of Windsor, the Vanderbilts, the Pew family, the DuPonts, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and entertainers Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan and Carol Channing.
  • The Miami-Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida-was opened in 1926 by John Bowman and George Merrick. In order to create a one-of-a-kind resort hotel, Bowman selected the architectural firm of Schultze and Weaver once again. As Bowman wrote in a 1923 issue of Architectural Forum,

    “Any well constructed building that will provide adequate shelter and good management bears the responsibility of food and services but for atmosphere-that’s intangible to the well-being and satisfaction of the hotel guest – we must book primarily to the architect.”

    Schultze and Weaver had Miami experience as the designers of the Miami Daily News Tower (1925), Miami Beach’s Nautilus Hotel (for Carl Fisher) and the Roney Plaza Hotel (for E.B.T. Roney). The Miami-Biltmore Hotel opened with a magnificent gala ceremony that was the social event of the year. An overflow crowd of 1,500 guests attended the opening dinner-dance on January 15, 1926. The Biltmore was one of the most fashionable resorts in the United States. The $10 million project included a golf course, polo fields, tennis courts and an enormous 150 by 225 foot swimming pool. The 18-hole golf course was designed by the famous golf course architect Donald Ross. One of The Biltmore’s big bands was led by the famous Paul Whiteman.

    The Miami-Biltmore Hotel was one of the most fashionable resorts in the entire country through the late 1920s and early 1930s. Up to 3,000 spectators turned out on Sundays to watch synchronized swimmers, bathing beauties, alligator wrestlers and the four year-old boy wonder, Jackie Ott, whose act included diving into the immense pool from an 85-foot high platform. Before his Hollywood career as Tarzan, Johnny Weismuller was a Biltmore swimming instructor who later broke world records at the Biltmore pool.

    The Biltmore served as a hospital during World War II and as a Veterans Administration Hospital and campus of the University of Miami Medical school until 1968. It was restored and opened as a hotel in 1987, owned and managed by the Seaway Hotels Corporation. On June 19, 1996 the National Register of Historic Places designated the Biltmore a National Historic Landmark, an elite award earned by only 3 percent of all historic structures.

  • The Belmont Hotel, New York, N.Y.– across 42nd Street from Grand Central Terminal was the tallest in the world when built in 1908. It was demolished in 1939.
  • The Murray Hill Hotel, New York, N.Y.–  on Park Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets. It was demolished in 1947.
  • The Roosevelt Hotel, New York, N.Y.– was connected to Grand Central Terminal. It opened as a United Hotel and merged with the Bowman- Biltmore Group in 1929. It was purchased by Conrad Hilton in 1948 and later by the N.Y. Central Railroad until 1980. Today it is owned by Pakistan Airlines and operated by Interstate Hotels and Resorts.
  • The Ansonia Hotel, New York, N.Y.– was built as a luxury apartment hotel on the upper west side of Manhattan in 1904. When it opened, The Ansonia was “the monster of all residential hotel buildings”, according to the New York World. The Bowman-Biltmore Group owned and operated the Ansonia from 1915 to 1925. During the first several years of Bowman’s operation, Edward M. Tierney of the Hotel Arlington, Binghamton, N.Y. was managing director of the Ansonia. Later, George W. Sweeney, managing director of the Hotel Commodore was also appointed as manager of the Ansonia.
  • The Providence Biltmore Hotel, Providence, Rhode Island– was opened in 1922. It was designed by the architects Warren and Wetmore and operated by the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels chain until 1947 when it was bought by Sheraton Hotels. In 1975, the Biltmore closed and remained vacant for four years. After reopening in 1979, the hotel had a series of owners including Dunfey, Aer Lingus, the Providence Journal, Finard Coventry Hotel Management and AJ Capital Partners. It is now named the Graduate Providence Hotel, has 292 guestrooms and the largest Starbucks in New England.
  • The Dayton Biltmore Hotel, Dayton, Ohio– was built in 1929 in the Beaux-Arts style by architect Frederick Hughes. It was considered one of the finest hotels in America and was managed by Bowman-Biltmore Hotels until 1946. Subsequently, it was operated by Hilton Hotels, Sheraton and, in 1974, became the Biltmore Towers Hotel. In 1981, the Kuhlmann Design Group redeveloped the property into elderly housing. On February 3, 1982, the Dayton Biltmore was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The Havana Biltmore & Country Club, Havana, Cuba– opened in 1928 and was managed by the Bowman Biltmore Company

My Newest Book

“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” is available in hardback, paperback and ebook format.

Ian Schrager writes in the Foreword:

“This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”

This trilogy consists of the following three books:

  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi

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

My Published Books

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 193: Hotel History: John McEntee Bowman* (1875-1931)

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: John McEntee Bowman

John McEntee Bowman, president of the Bowman-Biltmore Hotel Corporation, had no easy boyhood. Born in 1875 in Toronto to Irish-Scottish immigrants, Bowman came to New York in 1892 when he was seventeen years old with the traditional lack of funds. He carried a letter of introduction to the manager of the old Manhattan Hotel at Madison Avenue and Forty-second Street. After waiting hours for an interview, he left without seeing the manager. He subsequently mailed the letter, asking for an appointment but received no reply and no returned letter. He got his first experience in the hotel business when an employment agency sent him as a front desk clerk to a summer hotel in the Adirondacks and the following winter to a hotel in the south. He later landed a job as riding- master at the Durland Riding Academy in Manhattan, a skill he learned in Canada working for a stable of race-horses on the county fair circuit. When Durland’s passed a rule that the riding masters had to wear uniforms, Bowman rebelled, resigned and set up his own small riding academy with a few horses until he left it to take charge of wines and cigars in the old Holland House on Fifth Avenue then operated by owner Gustave Baumann. Baumann served as his teacher and mentor and ultimately appointed him as his assistant and secretary. When Baumann opened the New York Biltmore Hotel on New Year’s Eve in 1913, he appointed Bowman as vice president and managing director. In the summer of 1914, when Baumann in a fit of depression leaped from an upper-story window of the Biltmore, Bowman succeeded to the presidency. The Biltmore was designed by Warren & Wetmore in the popular Beaux-Arts style and opened near Grand Central Station with twenty-seven floors and one thousand guestrooms.

At the turn of the twentieth century, railroads provided the genesis for the development of hotels. No invention up until then transformed modern life like the railroad which fostered development of new hotels near city railroad terminals. The ultimate development was the Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the Beaux-Arts centerpiece of an extraordinary complex of hotels, office buildings and apartment buildings. Railroad engineer William Wilgus conceived a way “to make the land pay more.” Prior to the construction of Grand Central, land was viewed as having value on and below the surface including rights to mineral resources. But Wilgus realized that the space over the tracks was valuable as well and invented the concept of “commercial air rights”. To pay for the enormous costs of excavating this area, Wilgus proposed selling the rights to real estate developers who were eager to build skyscrapers over the tracks.  Throughout the 1910s and 1920s Wilgus’s concept of air rights was realized. The Commodore, Biltmore, Park Lane, Roosevelt and Waldorf-Astoria were all developed in keeping with Wilgus’s brilliant innovation.

The Hotel Monthly (“The Biltmore, New York’s Newest Hotel Creation,” January 1914) praised the operating benefits of the Biltmore’s regular, square-shaped plan, including symmetrical layout of corridors with very few turns, easing the circulation of guests. The U-shaped light well of the guestroom floors allowed better light and ventilation, creating a large number of desirable rooms. The interior design located the public spaces in a logical and well-established division with the lower-level public rooms and upper-floor ballroom.

When Prohibition removed the economic cushion of liquor profits, John Bowman and the Warren & Wetmore firm applied a more rigorous cost analysis for the new Commodore Hotel in New York (1918-1919). They intended that the Commodore, built over Grand Central Station, would have two thousand rooms at lesser rates than the Biltmore. John Bowman wrote in Hotel Management (April 1923):

“This large number of people includes many who are not used to complete personal service such as the attendance of a valet, and who do not like to be waited upon too much. So the degree of our service which corresponded with the reduced cost as compared with the Biltmore, also corresponded with fair exactness to the desires and business demands of the guests. This great volume as compared with the overhead makes it possible to give say roughly eighty percent of the Biltmore service at sixty percent of the prices.”

Hotel World magazine apparently agreed with Bowman. In an article titled “Hotel Commodore, New York City Now Heads Bowman Chain of Caravansaries” (February 1919), they wrote,

“No other hotel in the world offers so much at any price. In the construction of the building the thought has been kept constantly in mind to produce a great hotel that could be operated at very low cost… This the architects have been able to accomplish.”

By 1919, Bowman had bought and sold two major New York hotels, had acquired the Hotel Ansonia and had taken over the operation of the Murray Hill Hotel and the Belmont Hotel. By the time he opened the Hotel Commodore, his New York properties totaled nearly eight thousand guestrooms and, according to a headline in the New York Times (May 6, 1918), “encircled” Grand Central Terminal. Meanwhile, Bowman was expanding his Biltmore hotel empire across the United States and into Cuba.

“The Biltmore Hotel” was the name adopted by Bowman for his chain of hotels. The name evokes the Vanderbilt family’s Biltmore estate whose buildings and gardens are privately-owned historical landmarks in Asheville, North Carolina.

●  Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel–  in the early 1920s, Southern California had a great surge in population, business creation and real estate development. Bowman commissioned Schultze and Weaver to design the Los Angeles Biltmore. The 11-story 1,112 room hotel opened in 1923 and became known as the “host of the coast”. Composed of three huge towers, the Biltmore quickly became a Los Angeles icon with its grand ballroom seating 650.  In May 1927, the hotel hosted the founding banquet for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar statue was reportedly sketched on a napkin in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom.  The main lobby is three stories high with deep barrel vaulting, a gilded, coffered ceiling and features a dramatic staircase derived from an early sixteenth- century staircase in the Spanish Burgos Cathedral. The hotel has served as the backdrop setting for more than 50 major motion pictures including Ghostbusters, The Nutty Professor, Independence Day, True Lies, Dave and Beverly Hills Cop.

●  Sevilla- Biltmore Hotel, Havana, Cuba-  During the 1920s, Havana was a favorite winter vacation destination for well-to-do Americans. In 1919, John Bowman and Charles Francis Flynn bought the four-story Sevilla Hotel which was built in 1908 by the architects Arellano y Mendoza. On January 28, 1923, the New York Times reported that Bowman would build a ten-story addition with Schultze and Weaver designs. Set at a right angle to the original Sevilla, the new building added two hundred guestrooms and bathrooms, the 300-seat Roof Garden restaurant with spectacular views of the Presidential Palace, the Capitol Building and Morro Castle. The expanded Sevilla Biltmore Hotel opened on January 30, 1924. Bowman and Flynn timed their expansion just right.  The Sevilla-Biltmore opened the year before Prohibition was imposed in the United States.

The hotel was featured in Graham Greene’s novel, Our Man In Havana.

●  Atlanta Biltmore Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia-   John McEntee Bowman and Holland Ball Judkins partnered with Coca-Cola heir William Candler to develop the $6 million Atlanta Biltmore in 1924 with eleven floors, 600 guestrooms, extensive convention facilities and an adjacent ten-story apartment building. The Atlanta Biltmore was designed by Bowman’s favorite architectural firm of Schultze and Weaver.

The Atlanta Biltmore was built close to the downtown area but separated from the business district. The hotel opened with great fanfare with a chartered train from New York City to bring wealthy and famous guests to Atlanta for the grand opening. The opening festivities were broadcast nationally over the radio.

The Atlanta Biltmore, once known as the South’s supreme hotel, staged galas, tea dances, debutante balls, and recitals by visiting Metropolitan Opera stars. It served celebrities such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mary Pickford, Bette Davis, and Charles Lindbergh. For more than 30 years, WSB, the South’s first radio station, broadcasted from its studios within the hotel and the radio tower on the hotel roof which became a landmark on the city skyline. Facing increased competition from Atlanta’s modern downtown hotels, it was sold to a series of owners beginning in the 1960s and closed its doors in 1982. In Spring 1999 after extensive renovations, the former Biltmore Hotel reopened for the first time in almost 20 years and won an Honorable Mention in the Best Mixed-Use Deal of the Year category in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

●  The Westchester Biltmore Country Club, Rye, N.Y.-   In May 1922, Bowman opened the luxurious Westchester- Biltmore Country Club in Rye, New York. In the summer of 1919, an eight-story building was built from designs by the New York architects Warren & Wetmore. In it Bowman combined what were to become signature elements of all his great hotels; a total environment that would include amenities well beyond that of an ordinary country club. Members and guests were able to participate in golf, tennis, squash, trap shooting, and swimming at a private bathing beach on Long Island Sound. Bowman, who was a fan of amateur horse racing, built a polo field designed for horse shows and other equestrian entertainment. The two 18-hole golf courses were designed by Walter J. Travis, the great British golf champion-turned-golf course architect. On May 15, 1922, John McEntee Bowman formally opened the Westchester County Club with almost 1,500 members.

●  The Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, Arizona- Warren McArthur Jr., his brother Charles and John McEntee Bowman opened the Arizona Biltmore on February 23, 1929. The Biltmore’s architect of record is Albert Chase McArthur but it is often referred to as a Frank Lloyd Wright design. This attribution is refuted by Wright himself who wrote in the Architectural Record:

“All I have done in connection with the building of the Arizona Biltmore near Phoenix, I have done for Albert McArthur himself at his sole request, and for none other. Albert McArthur is the architect of that building- all attempts to take the credit for that performance from him are gratuitous and beside the point. But for him, Phoenix would have had nothing like the Biltmore, and it is my hope that he may be enabled to give Phoenix many more beautiful buildings as I believe him entirely capable of doing.”

Mc Arthur did utilize one of Wright’s signature design elements: the Textile Block system. In 1930, the McArthurs lost control of the resort to one of their primary investors, William Wrigley, Jr.  Ten years later, the Wrigley family sold the hotel to the Talley family. In 1973, after a large fire destroyed most of the property, it was promptly rebuilt better than ever. After a series of ownership changes, CNL Hotels and Resorts acquired it in 2004 and gave the management contract to KSL Recreation, Inc. In 2013, the Arizona Biltmore was sold to the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. Hilton operates it as a member of the Waldorf=Astoria Collection.

●  The Hotel DuPont, Wilmington, Delaware-   At its opening in 1913, the Hotel DuPont was designed to rival the finest hotels of Europe. The new hotel contained 150 guestrooms, a main dining room, rathskeller, men’s café/bar, ballroom, club room, ladies’ sitting room and more.

During the first week alone, after its gala opening, 25,000 visitors toured the new hotel, where no expense was spared. In the ornate public spaces, nearly two dozen French and Italian craftsmen carved, gilded and painted for over two and a half years. Polished brass beds were made up with imported linen, while sterling silver comb, brush and mirror sets were placed on the dressing tables. In the main Dining Room, now known as the Green Room, fumed oak paneling soared two and a half stories from the mosaic and terrazzo floors below. Six handcrafted chandeliers and a musicians’ gallery overlooked the opulence. After dinner, many guests enjoyed professional performances at the Hotel’s own Playhouse Theatre, now known as the DuPont Theatre. Built in only 150 days in late 1913, its stage is larger than all but three of the New York City’s theatres.

During its early days, the hotel showed its commitment to struggling local artists by displaying their works. Today, they highlight one of the foremost collections of Brandywine art, including three generations of original Wyeth masterpieces.

In the 1920s the hotel was managed by the Bowman-Biltmore Hotel Company and named the DuPont-Biltmore Hotel. Through the years, the hotel has been host to presidents, politicians, Kings, Queens, sports figures, corporate giants and celebrities.   (to be continued)

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

My Newest Book

“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” is available in hardback, paperback and ebook format.

Ian Schrager writes in the Foreword:

“This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”

This trilogy consists of the following three books:

  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi

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

My Published Books

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 192: Hotel History: The Negro Motorist Green Book

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Negro Motorist Green Book

This series of AAA- like guides for black travelers was published by Victor H. Green from 1936 through 1966. It listed hotels, motels, service stations, boarding houses, restaurants, beauty and barber shops. Widely used when African American travelers faced a swamp of Jim Crow laws and racists attitudes which made travel difficult and sometimes dangerous.

The cover of the 1949 edition advised the black traveler, “Carry the Green Book with you. You may need it.” And under that instruction was a quote from Mark Twain which is heartbreaking in this context: “Travel is fatal to prejudice.” The Green Book became very popular with 15,000 copies sold per edition in its heyday. It was a necessary part of road trips for black families.

Although pervasive racial discrimination and poverty limited car ownership by most blacks, the emerging African American middle class bought automobiles as soon as they could. Still, they faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences along the road, from refusal of food and lodging to arbitrary arrest. Some gasoline stations would sell gas to black motorists but would not allow them to use the bathrooms.

In response, Victor H. Green created his guide for services and places relatively friendly to African Americans eventually expanding its coverage from the New York area to much of North America. Organized by states, each edition listed businesses that did not discriminate on the basis of race. In a 2010 interview with the New York Times Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, described this feature of the Green Book as a tool that “allowed families to protect their children, to help them ward off those horrible points at which they might be thrown out or not be permitted to sit somewhere.”

The inaugural edition of the guide in 1936 contained 16 pages and focused on tourist areas in and around New York City. By the U.S. entry in World War II, it had expanded to 48 pages and covered nearly every state in the Union. Two decades later, the guide had expanded to 100 pages and offered advice for black tourists visiting Canada, Mexico, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. The Green Book had distribution agreements with Standard Oil and Esso which sold two million copies by 1962. In addition, Green created a travel agency.

While the Green Books reflected the disturbing reality of American racial prejudice, they also enabled African Americans to travel with some degree of comfort and safety.

Victor H. Green, a Harlem-based U.S. postal workers published the first guide in 1936 with 14 pages of listings in the New York metropolitan area culled by a network of postal workers. By the 1960s, it had gown to nearly 100 pages, covering the 50 states. Over the years, they were used by black drivers who wanted to avoid the segregation of mass transit, job seekers relocating North during the Great Migration, newly-drafted soldiers heading South to World War II army bases, traveling businessmen and vacationing families.

It is a reminder that highways were among the country’s few unsegregated places and, as cars became more affordable in the 1920s, African Americans became more mobile than ever. In 1934, much roadside commerce was still off-limits to black travelers. Esso was the only chain of service stations that served black travelers. However, once the black motorist pulled off the interstate highway, the freedom of the open road proved illusory. Jim Crow still prohibited black travelers from pulling into most roadside motels and getting rooms for the night. Black families on vacation had to be ready for any circumstance should they be denied lodging or a meal in a restaurant or the use of a bathroom. They stuffed the trunk of their automobiles with food, blankets and pillows, even an old coffee can for those times when black motorists were denied the use of a bathroom.

The famous civil rights leader, Congressman John Lewis recalled how his family prepared for a trip in 1951:

“There would be no restaurant for us to stop at until we were well out of the South, so we took our restaurant right in the car with us… Stopping for gas and to use the bathroom took careful planning. Uncle Otis had made this trip before, and he knew which places along the way offered “colored” bathrooms and which were better just to pass on by. Our map was marked and our route was planned that way, by the distances between service stations where it would be safe for us to stop.”

Finding accommodation was one of the greatest challenges faced by black travelers. Not only did many hotels, motels, and boarding houses refuse to serve black customers, but thousands of towns across the United States declared themselves “sundown towns,” which all non-whites had to leave by sunset. Huge numbers of towns across the country were effectively off-limits to African Americans. By the end of the 1960s, there were at least 10,000 sundown towns across the U.S. – including large suburbs such as Glendale, California (population 60,000 at the time); Levittown, New York (80,000); and Warren, Michigan (180,000). Over half the incorporated communities in Illinois were sundown towns. The unofficial slogan of Anna, Illinois, which had violently expelled its African-American population in 1909, was “Ain’t No Niggers Allowed”. Even in towns which did not exclude overnight stays by blacks, accommodations were often very limited. African Americans migrating to California to find work in the early 1940s often found themselves camping by the roadside overnight for lack of any hotel accommodation along the way. They were acutely aware of the discriminatory treatment that they received.

African-American travelers faced real physical risks because of the widely differing rules of segregation that existed from place to place, and the possibility of extrajudicial violence against them. Activities that were accepted in one place could provoke violence a few miles down the road. Transgressing formal or unwritten racial codes, even inadvertently, could put travelers in considerable danger. Even driving etiquette was affected by racism; in the Mississippi Delta region, local custom prohibited blacks from overtaking whites, to prevent their raising dust from the unpaved roads to cover white-owned cars. A pattern emerged of whites purposefully damaging black-owned cars to put their owners “in their place”. Stopping anywhere that was not known to be safe, even to allow children in a car to relieve themselves, presented a risk; parents would urge their children to control their need to use a bathroom until they could find a safe place to stop, as “those backroads were simply too dangerous for parents to stop to let their little black children pee.”

According to the civil rights leader Julian Bond, recalling his parents use of the Green Book, “It was a guidebook that told you not where the best places were to eat, but where there was any place to eat. You think about the things that most travelers take for granted, or most people today take for granted. If I go to New York City and want a hair cut, it’s pretty easy for me to find a place where that can happen, but it wasn’t easy then. White barbers would not cut black peoples’ hair. White beauty parlors would not take black women as customers – hotels and so on, down the line. You needed the Green Book to tell you where you can go without having doors slammed in your face.”

As Victor Green wrote in the 1949 edition, “there will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment…. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States.”

That day finally came when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became the law of the land. The last Negro Motorist Green Book was published in 1966. After fifty-one years, while Americas highway roadside services are more democratic than ever, there are still places where African Americans are not welcome.

My Newest Book

“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” is available in hardback, paperback and ebook format.

Ian Schrager writes in the Foreword:

“This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”

This trilogy consists of the following three books:

  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi

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

My Published Books

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 191: Hotel History: “Buffalo Bill” Cody

By Stanley Turkel

Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917)
William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917) was an American legend, bison hunter, government scout, Wild West showman, pony express rider and hotel developer. In 1902, Cody opened the Irma Hotel named after his daughter. He anticipated an increasing number of tourists coming to Cody, Wyoming on the recently-built Burlington Railway. While most Americans knew about the legendary Buffalo Bill because of his Wild West Show, he was also a promoter of tourism in the Yellowstone National Park.

After his father’s death, Bill Cody became a rider for the Pony Express at age fourteen. During the American Civil War, he served in the Union Army from 1863 to 1865. Later, he served as a civilian scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1872 for gallantry.

Buffalo Bill’s legend began to spread when he was still in his twenties. Shortly thereafter, he started performing in cowboy shows that featured episodes from the frontier and Indian Wars. He founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1883, taking his large company on tours in the United States and beginning in 1887 in Great Britain and continental Europe. He toured Europe eight times through 1906. The show was enormously successful in Europe, making Cody an international celebrity and American icon. Mark Twain commented, “It is often said on the other side of the water that none of the exhibitions which we send to England are purely and distinctly American. If you will take the Wild West show over there you can remove that reproach.”

After opening the Irma Hotel in 1902, Cody completed construction of the Wapiti Inn and the Pahasca Teepee in 1905 with the assistance of artist, rancher and philanthropist Abraham Archibald Anderson. Beginning in the mid-1870s, Anderson studied art in Paris, first with Léon Bonnat, then under Alexandre Cabanel, Fernand Cormon, Auguste Rodin, and Raphaël Collin. Anderson developed a reputation for his portraits. His 1889 portrait of Thomas Alva Edison is in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

In 1900, Anderson commissioned New York’s 10-story Bryant Park Studios building by architect Charles A. Rich. Situated on the south side of Bryant Park, its generous windows and high-ceilings were designed specifically for artists. Anderson maintained his own suite on the top floor until the end of his life. Bryant Park Studios became immediately popular, and tenants included John LaFarge, Frederick Stuart Church, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and William Merritt Chase. The building still stands.

Returning to the United States in the summers, Anderson bought land in northwestern Wyoming and developed it into the Palette Ranch. He personally designed William “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s guest ranch Pahaska Teepee, and his own home, Anderson Lodge. That lodge became the first administrative headquarters for the Yellowstone Forest Reserve in 1902, as President Roosevelt named Anderson as the first Special Superintendent of Forest Reserves. Anderson played a significant role in the preservation and development of the Yellowstone region.

These facilities were located in the 50 miles between Cody and east gate of Yellowstone Park on the Yellowstone Trail which was proclaimed as the “most scenic 50 miles in America” by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Pahaska Tepee was built between 1903 and 1905 as a hunting lodge and summer hotel and is listed on the National Historic Register. Its name was derived from the words “pahinhonska” (the Lakota’s name for Buffalo Bill) meaning “long hair of the head,” and “teepee” (lodge) resulting in “Longhair’s Lodge”. It was built after the Chicago-Burlington-Quincy Railroad spur line and government road to Cody was completed.

The Wapiti Inn was located within a day’s wagon ride from Cody and the Pahaska Teepee was within a two-day drive. Automobiles were prohibited from Yellowstone until 1915 so that the Pahaska Teepee was the last stop for vehicles entering the Park. As more automobiles were allowed to enter Yellowstone, overnight stay at the Wapiti Inn declined and the hotel was demolished. The logs were used to build a bunkhouse at the Pahaska Teepee. The main structure of the Teepee is a two-story structure measuring 83.5 feet by 60 feet. The building faces east, down the valley of the Shoshone River. The main level is surrounded by porches on the north, south and east with a main entrance centered on the eastern porch. The double doors lead into a hall that extends to the roof with a stone fireplace at the opposite end. The dining room is behind the fireplace. The hall is surrounded by mezzanine galleries. A small suite of rooms over the east porch was used by Cody. The Pahaska Teepee operates as a mountain resort and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It was called the “Gem of the Rockies” by Buffalo Bill.

The Irma Hotel is a landmark in Cody, Wyoming with a famous bar made of cherry-wood that was a gift to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria. The Irma opened with a party on November 18, 1902, which was attended by the press and dignitaries from as far away as Boston. The hotel quickly became the social center of Cody. In the meantime, Buffalo Bill was under pressure from creditors and was forced to sign over the hotel to his wife Louisa in 1913, who was at the time on bad terms with him. After Cody’s death in 1917, the hotel was foreclosed upon and sold to Barney Link. Before the end of the year Link’s estate sold the property back to Louisa, who owned it until she died in 1925. The new owners, Henry and Pearl Newell, gradually expanded the hotel, building an annex around 1930 on the west side to accommodate automobile-borne visitors. After her husband’s death in 1940, Pearl Newell operated the hotel until her own death in 1965. She left the hotel’s extensive collection of Buffalo Bill memorabilia to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and stipulated that proceeds from the estate be used as an endowment for the museum. The Irma Hotel is still open for business as both a hotel and restaurant. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places, listed in 1973.

The historic Wapiti Lodge is a beautifully restored property located in the heart of the Northfork Valley, overlooking the Shoshone River. Built in 1904 in place of the demolished Wapiti Inn by Ben and Mary Simpers, it was known as the Green Lantern Tourist Camp, and believed to be the first establishment to hold a license to sell beer after Prohibition was repealed. The Simpers also started the first food service in the valley, serving chicken dinner to both tourists and locals in the area. The Simpers subsequently sold to F.O. Sanzenbacker in 1931, and the name was changed to the Wapiti Lodge. The lodge evolved over the decades, from a gas station, general store, post office, and restaurant, now returning to its original offering of relaxation and recreation to area travelers. The property even served as the home of the Wapiti Post Office from 1938 until 2010. Although over 100 years old, time has been kind in preserving the lodge’s structure and grace. Today, the lodge epitomizes Wyoming’s character and charm, with a bit of the old intertwined with the comforts expected by discerning travelers.

In addition to a house and cabin, six suites are now available, all capturing the style and elegance of past and present. The Lodge boasts of modern comfort and convenience for guests with kitchenettes, phones, WIFI cable TV, continental breakfast, gathering areas, and a gameroom for kids and adults alike. The spectacular scenery surrounding the lodge is an extra bonus along with fishing on the private stretch of the Shoshone River.

As a frontier scout, Cody respected Native Americans and supported their civil rights. He employed many of them with good pay and a chance to improve their lives. He once said that “every Indian outbreak that I have ever known has resulted from broken promises and broken treaties by the government.” Cody also supported the rights of women. He said, “What we want to do is give women even more liberty than they have. Let them do any kind of work they see fit, and if they do it as well as men, give them the same pay.” In his shows, the Indians were usually depicted attacking stagecoaches and wagon trains and were driven off by cowboys and soldiers. Many family members traveled with the men, and Cody encouraged the wives and children of his Native American performers to set up camp – as they would in their homelands – as part of the show. He wanted the paying public to see the human side of the “fierce warriors” and see that they had families like any others and had their own distinct cultures. Cody was also known as a conservationist who spoke out against hide-hunting and advocated the establishment of a hunting season.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a large and modern facility located near the center of Cody. It contains five museums in one, including the Draper Natural History Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum and the Buffalo Bill Museum which chronicles the life of William F. Cody, for whom the center is named. The historical center is a favorite stopping point for tourists passing through the town on their way to or from Yellowstone. Old Trail Town, a restoration of more than twenty-five historic Western buildings and artifacts is located in Cody just off the Yellowstone Highway. Rodeo is important in the culture of Cody which calls itself the “Rodeo Capital of the World”. The Cody Nite Rodeo is an amateur rodeo held every night from June 1 through August 31. Cody is also host to the Cody Stampede Rodeo, one of the largest rodeo in the nation sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association which has been held from July 14 every year since 1919.

My Newest Book

“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” is available in hardback, paperback and ebook format.

Ian Schrager writes in the Foreword:

“This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”

This trilogy consists of the following three books:

  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi

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

My Published Books

My Service as an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-four 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:

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

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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, providing 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.

All of his books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549