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

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Frederick Henry Harvey (1835-1901)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Rogers wrote about the Harvey Girls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please Take Note

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

My Other Published Hotel Books

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

If You Need an Expert Witness:

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

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

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

About Stanley Turkel

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

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

www.stanleyturkel.com

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel (Part 2)

Hotel owner Dan W. James, like Bill Skirvin before him, did not rest on past accomplishments. In 1959, a swimming pool was added to the north side of the hotel, and one year later he built the Four Seasons Lounge next to the pool. Despite such attempts to modernize his properties, James and other hotel operators were confronting the decline of the central city. Beginning in 1959, new suburban shopping malls were built every few years, drawing shoppers away from downtown. Another factor in the central city’s decline was the new age of motor car transportation, which shifted emphasis from railroads and streetcars to busses and automobiles. City streets, designed for pedestrian traffic and only limited motor use, were too congested for heavy traffic, while limited space impeded convenient parking.

In 1963, just as the problems confronting downtown Oklahoma City were mounting, James announced that he had sold the Skirvin to a group of investors from Chicago. Although this partnership added a $250,000 banquet room to the hotel and made grand plans for the development of both the Skirvin Hotel and Tower, they sold the properties to H.T. Griffin in 1968.

Griffin, who planned to build the proposed Liberty Tower just to the south of the hotel, unveiled a two-year plan intended to rejuvenate the Skirvin and reverse the exodus from downtown Oklahoma City. With an investment of $2.5 million, he redecorated the Sun Suite, added a new restaurant, replaced all the window sashes with bronze-colored frames, replaced all the furniture, added color television sets to each room, and remodeled the lobby, kitchen and coffee shop.

Despite this massive investment, Griffin encountered difficulties. Urban renewal construction was active during the late 1960s, further congesting traffic and discouraging movement downtown. Occupancy rates declined, reaching a nadir of only 32 percent in 1969, a period when an occupancy of 70 percent was necessary to pay operating expenses and outstanding bank loans. In 1968, the hotel made a small profit, but in 1969 and again in 1971 the Skirvin suffered losses. Combined with heavy investment in Liberty Tower, the negative cash flow forced the Griffin into bankruptcy in late 1971.

At this low point in its celebrated history, the Skirvin was placed in the hands of a trustee, Stanton L. Young, who borrowed money for operations and searched for a way to pay off debts and return the hotel to its former grandeur. One year later, Young negotiated to sell the Skirvin Hotel to CLE Corporation, a Texas firm that already owned and managed a chain of hotels across the nation. Purchase price was approximately $2 million.

In late 1972, the new owner announced that the name of the hotel would be changed to “Skirvin Plaza Hotel” and pledged to invest $2.3 million in a general remodeling campaign – a figure which would increase to $8 million by 1974. Much of the work was exterior facelifting, such as repointing mortar, cleaning bricks, and replacing old awnings. Every guest room was gutted and redecorated in one of eight different styles and all new plumbing and electrical wiring was installed.

Suffering from sagging occupancy despite their investments, CLE Corporation in 1977 sold the Skirvin to the Businessman’s Assurance Company. The City’s other fine hotels, such as Huckins, Biltmore, Tower and Black, already had been abandoned, demolished, or converted to office space.

The life of the Skirvin, hanging in the balance for the past 16 years, received a new chance in 1979 when a small group of investors recognized the latent potential of the hotel. With a faith reminiscent of Bill Skirvin, the new investors purchased the hotel for a reported $5.6 million. With the combined resources and talent of investors Ron Burks, Bill Jennings, John Kilpatrick, Jr., Bob Lammerts, Jerry Richardson, Dub Ross and Joe Dann Trigg, the Skirvin Plaza Investors approached their new challenge aggressively.

With a $1 million commitment, the investors undertook an extensive remodeling campaign. In the lobby, workers removed an added staircase in order to regain the openness of the original design. Then, while demolishing other additions, workers found an original wooden archway, which served as a pattern for the design of other arches and wood trim. Above the refurbished walls, ceiling murals were recreated and massive chandeliers imported from Czechoslovakia were installed. The Skirvin, after suffering two decades of decline, was to get another chance.

In 1980, the future of the Skirvin seemed assured. The interior renovation was nearly completed and events were unfolding around the Skirvin that would attract new visitors. Urban renewal, which had slowed during the mid-1970s, gained new momentum when a developer from Dallas began work on the Galleria, the long-promised retail and office complex just a block west and south of the Skirvin.

Another remarkable new development downtown was the preservation of several of the City’s foremost historic buildings. Spurred by mounting prosperity, tax incentives, and the growing demand for office space, investors purchased and renovated structures such as the Colcord Hotel, the Harbour-Longmire, the Black Hotel, Montgomery Ward, and the Oil and Gas Building. This facelifting injected new life into the central city.

The significance of the Skirvin Hotel in the history of Oklahoma was officially recognized late in 1980 when two plaques were unveiled by Governor George Nigh. One plaque designated the inclusion of the hotel on the National Register of Historic Places; the other marked a similar honor from the Oklahoma City Historic Preservation and Landmark Commission.

Nevertheless, the Skirvin skidded into bankruptcy and closed down in 1988 and sat empty until 2007 when it was acquired by Marcus Hotels and Resorts who undertook a $55 million renovation. On its 100th birthday, the hotel reopened as the Skirvin Hilton Hotel and has earned a AAA Four Diamond rating every year since.

“We are delighted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the oldest existing hotel in the state of Oklahoma. The Skirvin Hilton is a grand hotel in the tradition of historic hotels, and was our fourth historic restoration,” said Bill Otto, president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts. “While carefully retaining its historic details, we completely renovated the property and introduced successful restaurant concepts, including the Park Avenue Grill and Red Piano Bar. We are proud to be a part of this celebratory event – and proud to continue to deliver exceptional service to our Oklahoma City guests.”

The project leveraged Marcus Hotels’ 50 years of experience in restoring landmark hotels. Martin Van Der Laan, general manager said, “The Skirvin Hilton has been considered the city’s crown jewel through the turbulent years and rebirth of downtown Oklahoma City in 2006. Today the hotel serves as a chronicler of the city’s history and remains an important piece of the city’s past and future”.

The Skirvin Hilton Hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

*For a more detailed history of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, see the well-illustrated and well-written “Skirvin” by Jack Money and Steve Lackmeyer, Full Circle Press, Oklahoma City, 2007.

Please Take Note

My newest book has been published by AuthorHouse: “Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher.” You can order it from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

My Other Published Hotel Books

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

If You Need an Expert Witness:

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

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

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

About Stanley Turkel

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

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

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel (Part 1)

The Skirvin Hilton Hotel is Oklahoma City’s oldest hotel. It was built by William Balser Skirvin, a native of Michigan who made his fortune in Texas land development and oil. In 1906, Skirvin and his family (including his daughter Pearl who would later become Perle Mesta, ambassador to Luxemborg and a famous Washington hostess) moved to Oklahoma City. Skirvin hired Solomon Andrew Layton, an American architect who designed over 100 public buildings in the Oklahoma City area including the Oklahoma State Capitol. Twenty-two of Layton’s buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Skirvin and Layton made the hotel as self-sufficient as possible. Skirvin installed a proprietary gas pipeline to the building, dug three wells for water supply, built an electric generating plant and operated an in-house laundry and cooling system.

On September 26, 1911, the ornate Skirvin Hotel was opened for public inspection. Visitors attracted to the 10-story building found two exterior wings, each facing south, and a rounded bay between the wings running the height of the structure. The façade was red brick laid in a Flemish bond pattern, the lower level was faced with limestone, and had two covered entryways. Inside, visitors were greeted with a spacious lobby decorated in English Gothic detail. On the west end of the first floor were the Skirvin Drugstore and other retail shops. On the other wing, customers found the Skirvin Café with a stage for musicians. The café was complemented by the Grill Room in the basement and the Tea Room on the mezzanine.

Entering one of the two electric elevators, guests rose to the upper floors where they found 225 guestrooms and suites. Each room had a private bath, was decorated with velvet carpets and hardwood furniture, and had a telephone connected to the Pioneer Telephone Company lines through a large switchboard located behind the front desk.

Skirvin continued to give the hotel much of his attention, despite the daily presence of his first general manager, Frederick Scherubel. Most days, when he was not attending to his oil interests, Skirvin could be found in the lobby greeting guests or talking with businessmen and politicians. He donated a room to the Republican Party, and welcomed Democrats, so the hotel became a center for politics during the early years of statehood. To be close to his “225-room hobby,” Skirvin moved his family to a five-room suite on the ninth floor. In addition to his three children, the Skirvin household consisted of the kids’ menagerie of dogs, raccoons, hawks, and other animals, which they kept on the roof.

During the next ten years, the guest register of the Skirvin Hotel reflected the frontier character of the young, bustling state. Guests included cigar-chomping politicians, free-wheeling ranchers, blanketed Indians from the state’s 70 tribes, oil-rich millionaires, mud-covered drillers, and even bank robbers such as the notorious Al Jennings, the ex-convict who launched his bid for governor from the lobby. William Skirvin, always impeccably dressed in his well-pressed suit, welcomed all with open arms.

By 1923, the hotel’s success and the continued growth of Oklahoma City convinced Skirvin that expansion was justified. Again, the oilman went to the architect Solomon Layton, who developed plans to add another wing and bay to the east, replacing the one-story garage. In addition, plans called for remodeling all existing rooms, the first of many refurbishings which would improve the hotel each decade thereafter. By 1926, with the investment of $650,000, the hotel had a new wing of 12 stories and two wings with 10 stories each.

In March 1928, as another prosperous era was overtaking Oklahoma City, Skirvin announced plans to raise all wings to 14 stories and to initiate an extensive remodeling of the entire hotel. One year and three months after the first well in the world-famous Oklahoma City oil field was discovered, Skirvin let the first contracts for the renovation. By April 1930, the entire building had been raised to 14 floors with 525 guestrooms, a roof garden, a cabaret club and the old café converted into a modern coffee shop. On the ground level, the lobby was doubled in size with specially-designed Gothic lanterns costing $1,000 each suspended from the ceiling, and hand-carved English fumed oak was added to the walls and doors. Skirvin’s most popular addition proved to be the 14th floor rooftop Venetian Room and Restaurant which was decorated with Italian plaster, a parquet hardwood floor, and more than 100 casement windows for flow-through ventilation. Adjoining it on the east, was a new kitchen, furnished with the most modern appliances.

In the west wing, and connected to the restaurant by a foyer, was the Venetian Room, a supper club featuring live music and dancing. Paneled with American walnut and draped with embroidered mohair, brocatelle and damash, the club was decorated with murals depicting Venetian scenes. The floor was specially designed for dancing with alternate blocks of red and white oak polished to a high sheen.

The opening performer was Hal Pratt and his Fourteen Rhythm Kings featuring Hilda Olsen and the Ruth Laird Rockets. Subsequent Venetian Room performers were Zez Confrey, Ted Weems, Ted Fiorito, Jimmy Joy, Johnny Johnson, Charlie Straight, the Seven Aces, the Ligon Smith Band and Peppino and Rhoda, famous ballroom dancers.

Oklahoma City was buffeted by the mounting economic depression which began in December of 1929. With his typical boldness, Skirvin announced that he would expand the hotel by building an annex across Broadway. In March of 1931, crews broke ground for the planned 26-level Skirvin Tower, and work continued until January of 1932, when suddenly Skirvin’s resources crumbled. With only 14 floors of the superstructure completed, Skirvin was forced to temporarily abandon the project, a victim of the spreading financial depression.

Early in 1934, Skirvin resumed work on the Tower, but it was not competed until 1938, and even then only a few of the floors were ready for occupants. Described as a “luxury apartment-hotel,” the Tower was linked to the hotel by a tunnel and many of the service employees worked in both buildings. Later owners would finish the interior and operate the Tower as a hotel until 1971, when it was completely remodeled into a glass-enclosed office building. When William Skirvin passed away in 1944, his three children decided to sell the properties.

In May of 1945, only weeks after Germany’s surrender, the hotel and tower were sold for $3 million to Dan W. James, owner of the Black Hotel, another of the City’s six luxury hotels. James brought considerable hotel management skills to the Skirvin, for he had worked in hotels from Louisiana and Arkansas to Texas and Oklahoma. In 1931, he came to Oklahoma City and bought the Black Hotel. When he assumed control of the Skirvin properties, he faced a formidable task, as high traffic, scarce replacement materials, and absent employees had taken a heavy toll during World War II.

To resurrect the quality and elegance of Skirvin, James embarked on a 10-year modernization program. He installed air conditioning for the entire building; he replaced the original entryway canopies with a wrap-around awning; he added a drive-in registry and a parking garage to the north side; and he redecorated all of the meeting rooms on the east side of the mezzanine. James invested even more in the Tower, where he remodeled the Persian Room, created the Tower Club, and refinished many of the luxury apartments and suites. James realized that a luxury hotel could not succeed in the 1940s without offering a wide range of services to the public. He made every effort to provide room service, in-by-nine-out-by-five guest laundry, a stenographer and notary, a beauty shop, a barber shop, and a house physician.

James instituted several programs to insure good employee relations and maximum effort. He created an 8-page in-house magazine, Inn-Side Stuff, which carried news about employees, contests for efficient service, and information about other divisions of the hotel. James also introduced employee benefit programs such as company-paid insurance policies for longtime workers and annual Christmas dinners for all staff members and their families.

Such policies made the Skirvin one of the most successful hotels in the Southwest, an important role in a city, which was third only to New York and Chicago in the number of conventions attracted each year. This status was enhanced during the post-war years by the presidential visits of Harry Truman and by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Both events helped establish the Skirvin as the queen of hotels in Oklahoma City.

(To be continued)

2.  Please Take Note

My newest book has been published by AuthorHouse: “Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher.” You can order it from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

3.  My Other Published Books

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

4.  If You Need an Expert Witness:

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

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

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

About Stanley Turkel

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

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

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. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.  opened on February 18, 1925 with 440 guestrooms. It is known as the “Grande Dame of Washington”, the “Hotel of Presidents” and as the city’s “Second Best Address” (the White House is the first).

The Mayflower Hotel was built by Allen E. Walker who planned to name it The Hotel Walker. He retained Warren & Wetmore, architects who had designed New York’s Commodore, Biltmore, Ambassador Ritz-Carlton and Vanderbilt Hotels. The supervising architect was Robert F. Beresford who had worked for the Supervising Architect of the Treasury and the Superintendent of the Capitol. When Walker sold his interest to C.C. Mitchell & Company, the new owners changed the name to the Mayflower Hotel in honor of the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.

The Mayflower Hotel’s guest suites had a sitting room, dining room, bath and up to seven bedrooms. Some had kitchenettes and drawing rooms with fireplaces. The hotel offered amenities unmatched by any other hotel in the United States. This included air conditioning in all the public rooms and ice water and fans in all guestrooms. Services included daily maid service, a laundry, a barber shop, a beauty salon, a garage, a telephone switchboard, and a small hospital staffed by a doctor. The Mayflower featured three restaurants and a Grand Ballroom with a proscenium stage.

In 1925, an Annex to the Mayflower was built with a Presidential Suite and a Vice Presidential Suite. The second through eighth floors of the Annex contained guest suites each with five bedrooms and baths. The first floor of the Annex was occupied by the Mayflower Coffee Shop, a vastly expanded version of he original small café located on the ground floor of the existing hotel. The basement of the Annex was occupied by a huge laundry which served the original hotel and annex.

After the Great Depression and World War II, the Hilton Hotels Corporation purchased the Mayflower Hotel in December 1946. They owned and operated it for ten years when they acquired the Statler Hotels chain. They were forced to sell the Mayflower when the government filed an anti-trust action against Hilton.

From 1956 to 2015, the Mayflower Hotel was acquired by a variety of owners including the Hotel Corporation of America, May-Wash Associates, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Stouffer Corporation, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott International, Walton Street Capital and the Rockwood Capital Company.

The Mayflower Hotel hosted the Inaugural Ball of President Calvin Coolidge just two weeks after its opening. It hosted an Inaugural Ball every four years until it hosted its final ball in January 1981. President-elect Herbert Hoover established his presidential team offices in the hotel in January1928, and his Vice President, Charles Curtis, lived there in one of the hotel’s residential guest rooms during his four years in office. Louisiana Senator Huey Long also lived at the Mayflower, taking eight suites in the hotel from January 25, 1932, to March 1934. President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt spent March 2 and 3 in Suites 776 and 781 at the Mayflower Hotel before his inauguration on March 4, 1932.

Two events of significance during World War II happened at the Mayflower. In June 1942, George John Dasch and seven other spies from Nazi Germany entered the United States after being transported to American shores via a submarine. Their goal, named Operation Pastorius, was to engage in sabotage against key U.S. infrastructure. But after encountering a United States Coast Guard patrol moments after landing, Dasch decided the plan was useless. On June 19, 1942, he checked into Room 351 at the Mayflower Hotel and promptly betrayed his comrades. Eighteen months later, a committee of the American Legion met in Room 570 at the Mayflower Hotel from December 15 to 31, 1943, to draft legislation to assist returning military members reintegrate into society. Their proposed legislation, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944- known informally as the G.I. Bill- was put into final draft on Mayflower Hotel stationery.

Twice, the Mayflower has been the site where a U.S. presidential campaign was launched, and twice it hosted events which proved to be turning points in a presidential nomination. In March 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt was vying with Alfred Smith for the Democratic presidential nomination of 1932. John J. Raskob, chair of Democratic National Committee (DNC), opposed Roosevelt’s candidacy. Knowing that Roosevelt had privately committed to repealing Prohibition but had not done so publicly, Raskob attempted to force the DNC, then meeting at the Mayflower Hotel, to adopt a “wet” (or repeal) plank in the party platform. Instead of drawing Roosevelt out, the maneuver deeply offended Southern “dry” (anti-repeal) Democrats who abandoned Smith and threw their support to the allegedly more moderate Roosevelt, and helped him secure the nomination. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman told a cheering audience of Young Democrats of America at a dinner at the Mayflower on May 14 that he intended to seek re-election in 1948. Former Peace Corps and Office of Economic Opportunity director Sargent Shriver announced his run for President of the United States at the Mayflower on September 20, 1975. A more successful campaign began there when Senator Barack Obama locked down the 2008 Democratic nomination for President on June 3, 2008. Hillary Clinton conceded the nomination to Obama on June 7, and introduced Obama to about 300 of her leading contributors at a meeting at the Mayflower on June 26, 2008.

Please Take Note

My newest book has just been published by AuthorHouse: “Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher.” You can order it from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.comand clicking on the books title.

My Other Published Books

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

4.  If You Need 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:

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

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

About Stanley Turkel

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

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

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. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris Lapidus

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Architect Morris Lapidus (1902-2001)

Morris Lapidus was an architect, primarily known for his Neo-baroque “Miami Modern” hotels constructed in the 1950s and 60s, which have since come to define that era’s resort-hotel style – synonymous with Miami and Miami Beach.

A Russian immigrant raised in New York, Lapidus designed over 1,000 buildings during a career spanning more than 50 years, much of it spent as an outsider to the American architectural establishment.

Born in Odessa in the Russian Empire (now the Ukraine), his Orthodox Jewish family fled Russian pogroms to New York when he was an infant. As a young man, Lapidus was interested in theatrical set design and studied architecture at Columbia University, graduating in 1927. Lapidus trained at the prominent Beaux Arts architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore. He then worked independently for 20 years as a successful retail architect with a specialty in store design before being approached to design vacation hotels in Miami Beach.

After his career in retail interior design, his first large commission was the Miami Beach Sans Souci Hotel (opened in 1949 and later called the RIU Florida Beach Hotel), followed closely by the Nautilus, the Di Lido, the Biltmore Terrace and the Algiers Hotels. All were built along Collins Avenue, and amounted to a single-handed redesign of an entire district. The hotels were an immediate popular success.

Then in 1952, Lapidus landed the job of designing the largest luxury hotel in Miami Beach, the Fontainebleau Hotel, which was a 1,200 room hotel built by Ben Novack on the former Firestone estate, and perhaps the most famous hotel in the world. It was followed the next year by the equally successful Eden Roc Hotel and the Americana Hotel (later the Sheraton Bal Harbour) in 1956 for the Tisch Brothers. The Sheraton was demolished by implosion shortly after dawn on Sunday, November 18, 2007.

The Lapidus style is idiosyncratic and immediately recognizable derived as it was from the attention-getting techniques of commercial store design: sweeping curves, theatrically backlit floating ceilings, ‘beanpoles’, and the ameboid shapes that he called ‘woggles’, ‘cheeseholes’, and painter’s palette shapes. His many smaller projects gave Miami Beach’s Collins Avenue its style, anticipating post-modernism. Beyond visual style, there is some degree of functionalism at work. His curving walls caught the prevailing ocean breezes in the era before central air-conditioning, and the sequence of his interior spaces was the result of careful attention to user experience: Lapidus heard complaints of endless featureless hotel corridors and when possible would curve his hallways to avoid the effect.

The Fontainebleau was built on the site of the Harvey Firestone estate and defined the new Gold Coast of Miami Beach. The hotel provided locations for the 1960 Jerry Lewis film The Bellboy, a success for both Lewis and Lapidus, and the James Bond thriller Goldfinger (1964). Its most famous feature is the ‘Staircase to Nowhere’ (formally called the “floating staircase”), which merely led to a mezzanine-level coat check and ladies’ powder-room, but offered the opportunity to make a glittering descent into the hotel lobby.

The Fontainebleau was once called, “the nation’s grossest national product.” The architecture critic of the New York Times Ada Louise Huxtable wrote in 1970 that a purple-and-gold Lapidus-designed bellhop uniform at the Americana Hotel in Miami Beach hit the eye “like an exploding gilded eggplant.” When Lapidus designed the Summit Hotel in New York for Loews Hotels, critic Huxtable said that “it was too far from the beach.”

Lapidus described his theory of design as follows:

“I wanted people to feel something. If two people were walking by one of my buildings and one said to the other, ‘Did you notice that building?’ and the other said ‘what building?’ I’ve failed. But if he looks at it and says ‘Oh my god’ or ‘that monstrosity,’ I was glad. Because he noticed me.”

Lapidus described his formula for success in the hotel business:

“I never thought I would live to see the day when, suddenly, magazines are writing about me, newspapers are writing about me. My whole success is I’ve always been designing for people, first because I wanted to sell them merchandise. Then when I got into hotels, I had to rethink, what am I selling now? You’re selling a good time.”

During the period before his death, Lapidus’ style came back into focus. It began with his designing upbeat restaurants on Miami Beach and the Lincoln Road Mall. Lapidus was also honored by the Society of Architectural Historians at a convention held at the Eden Roc Hotel in 1998. In 2000, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum honored Lapidus as an American Original for his lifetime of work.

Disclosure: I served as Resident Manager of the 50-story, 1,842 room Americana of New York and as General Manager of the 783 room Summit Hotel in New York. Both of these great-looking hotels were designed by Morris Lapidus and are now being considered for designation by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Please Take Note

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

My Other Published Books

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

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-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. 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