By: Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D.

Buehl Mansion
Buehl Mansion, Sharon, PA

There is no precise, universal definition of a Grand hotel. Miriam-Webster defines grand as:
“: involving or including many people or things : very large in scope : intended to have an important or impressive result
: impressive because of size, importance, etc.
: intended to impress people”
It defines hotel as:
“: a place that has rooms in which people can stay especially when they are traveling : a place that provides food, lodging, and other services for paying guests.

So putting the two words together comes up with an obvious meaning. Perhaps the term first came into the American vernacular with the release of the 1930 novel and 1932 motion picture with its hall of fame thespian case written by William A. Drake and the latter directed by Edmund Goulding.Grand Hotel old book cover

Wikipedia which according to the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University Law School making it in the author’s opinion quite reliable in general defines the term to mean:
“a large and luxurious hotel, especially one built in a traditional architectural style.”
Not exactly sure what is meant by “traditional architectural style,’ but the author believes this is a pretty good definition. In his first visit to Florence, Italy the taxi taking him to the Grand Hotel Cavour where he had believed he was staying took him to three other Grand hotels in that legendary city until the one where his room was booked was finally found. Just about every major city in Italy has numerous “grand hotels.”
Here we consider a grand hotel to be “A large and luxurious historical hotel that is an architectural gem.”
Over the last year the author has stayed or dined at most of the legendary American grand hotels and the Canadian equivalent, the great railway hotels that fit his definition.
In the United States these have included the appropriately named “Grand Hotel” on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, “America’s Resort,” The Greenbrier in West Virginia, “The Grand Dame of the Rockies,” the Broadmoor, the Homestead in Virginia, the Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the Hotel de Coronado in California, the Mission Inn in California, the Breakers in Florida, the two grand hotels of the French Lick Resort in Indiana, the Badin Springs and French Lick Hotels, the Case Monica in Florida and a few others.

The-Grand-Hotel pic for Intro
In Canada, these include the “Castle in the Rockies,” the Banff Springs, the two other former Canadian Pacific Railway castles, its other castles the Frontenac in Old Quebec City, and Vancouver in Vancouver, British Columbia the Empress in Victoria also in B.C. the Chateau Lake Louise and Palster in Calgary, Alberta and the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa Ontario.

Fairmont Chateau Laurier01
Many of the Historic Hotels of America administered and chosen by the National Trust for Historic Preservation fit our definition of a grand hotel. One-by-one the author has been filling his Bucket List with visits.


As the Victorian Age or Era concurrent with the reign of England’s Queen Victoria, (1837-1901) ended many of these grand hotels were built. Iona Miller wrote a nice piece that defined it well:
“The Victorian era is generally agreed to stretch through the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). It was a tremendously exciting period when many artistic styles, literary schools, as well as, social, political and religious movements flourished. It was a time of prosperity, broad imperial expansion, and great political reform. It was also a time, which today we associate with “prudishness” and “repression”. Without a doubt, it was an extraordinarily complex age that has sometimes been called the Second English Renaissance. It is, however, also the beginning of Modern Times.
The social classes of England were newly reforming, and fomenting. There was a churning upheaval of the old hierarchical order, and the middle classes were steadily growing. Added to that, the upper classes’ composition was changing from simply hereditary aristocracy to a combination of nobility and an emerging wealthy commercial class. The definition of what made someone a gentleman or a lady was, therefore, changing at what some thought was an alarming rate. By the end of the century, it was silently agreed that a gentleman was someone who had a liberal public (private) school education (preferably at Eton, Rugby, or Harrow), no matter what his antecedents might be. There continued to be a large and generally disgruntled working class, wanting and slowly getting reform and change.

Black and White old town pictureConditions of the working class were still bad, though, through the century, three reform bills gradually gave the vote to most males over the age of twenty-one. Contrasting to that was the horrible reality of child labor which persisted throughout the period. When a bill was passed stipulating that children under nine could not work in the textile industry, this in no way applied to other industries, nor did it in any way curb rampant teenaged prostitution.
The Victorian Era was also a time of tremendous scientific progress and ideas. Darwin took his Voyage of the Beagle, and posited the Theory of Evolution. The Great Exhibition of 1851 took place in London, lauding the technical and industrial advances of the age, and strides in medicine and the physical sciences continued throughout the century. The radical thought associated with modern psychiatry began with men like Sigmund Feud toward the end of the era, and radical economic theory, developed by Karl Marx and his associates, began a second age of revolution in mid-century. The ideas of Marxism, socialism, feminism churned and bubbled along with all else that happened.

In the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry M. Flagler in 1888, now the centerpiece of Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fl and no longer a hotel per se, guests had to be invited to lodge there.Ponce de Leon hotel To even be considered guests had to be listed on the Social Register, pay upwards of today’s equivalent of $1,000 a night, in cash, upfront and stay a minimum of six months.



This blog will visit and explore some of the finest historic hotels in both the United States and Canada, and their magnificent pools.


Castle Hotels

Bellhurst Castle, Geneva, New York on Lake Senecca
Bellhurst Castle, Geneva, New York on Lake Senecca

Not all so-called “Castle Hotels” are actually castles.  Probably none in the United States or Canada is technically a castle.  Often the term is interchanged inaccurately with a chateau, a manor house, a palace or even fort.

While we will be blogging many of these grand castle hotels here given they are unusual and exciting hostelries to visit and preferably spend a night or more of, and are very historic, let’s begin with a few definitions for the sake of accuracy:

“A castle (from Latin: castellum) is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble.” -Wikipedia.

Which means it must be:
A. Fortified
B. A residence for it’s owner
C. Built in the Middle Ages, in Europe or the Middle East.

The Castle Tyrol built by the Count of Tyrol in Germany in 1347 IS A REAL CASTLE.
The Castle Tyrol built by the Count of Tyrol in Germany in 1347 IS A REAL CASTLE.

“A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop.”
“Château” is a French word, so it’s mostly used on things related to France or French. It can be translated into “castle”, but that can be misleading, since the word is less well defined than “castle” is, and can be used on a variety of things, many of them would be called “country houses”, “mansions” or “palaces” in English.

Arguably the most famous chateau in the world is the 16th century jewel and largest chateau in and of the Loire Valley's myriad of grand chateaus, Chateau de Chambourg is also probably the most copied as well.  The author has visited this in the last year, but it is not a hotel.
Arguably the most famous chateau in the world is the 16th century jewel and largest chateau in and of the Loire Valley’s myriad of grand chateaus, Chateau de Chambourg is also probably the most copied as well. The author has visited this in the last year, but it is not a hotel.

And, for good measure “A fort” is a fortified construction that is used as a defense and deterrent.

This is a fort.
This is a fort.

One wishing to stay a a real  castle probably unless we discover one we had not known existed here, will have to visit one abroad, best shot being Europe.  We have been there, done that and they were incredible experiences as there are many which now provide accomodations.  However, understanding those we have and will profile here are hostelries that have elements of a castle, often looking like a small one, these are great choices for a limited stay.

Norembuerger Inn looks like a small castle. It is located in one of America's most beautiful small towns, Camden,Maine.
Norembuerger Inn looks like a small castle. It is located in one of America’s most beautiful small towns, Camden,Maine.
Manresa Castle in pictureque Port townxend, Washington, across from Seattle on the northern section of the Puget Sound is named after Manresa, Sprain.  It's greatest claim to fame, like many of the selections were post here is that it is allegedly haunted, but we survived a night there.
Manresa Castle in pictureque Port townxend, Washington, across from Seattle on the northern section of the Puget Sound is named after Manresa, Sprain. It’s greatest claim to fame, like many of the selections were post here is that it is allegedly haunted, but we survived a night there.

Many of the castle hotels overlap in categorizing them with manor houses, mansion hotels and even legitimate grand hotels.  Thornewood Castle on American Lake in Lakewood (Tacoma, Washington) is technically a transplanted manor house.

Thornewood Castle.
Thornewood Castle.

The Castle Inn & Spa overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York was a huge mansion that has the elements of a castle, a grand hotel and a mansion.

Castle on the Hudson.
Castle on the Hudson.

We will be visiting and profiling others including these:


Castle Marne, Denver, Colorado.
Castle Marne, Denver, Colorado.
Terrell Castle, San Antonio, Texas.
Terrell Castle, San Antonio, Texas.
Castle Inn, Riverside, Wichita, Kansas.
Castle Inn, Riverside, Wichita, Kansas.

Stay tuned …

Thornewood Castle, Lakewood (Tacoma), Washington

Trhonewood logoJust south of Tacoma, Washington in the suburb of Lakewood on the American Lake sits an authentic 500-year old English Castle.  Thornewood is an elegant Elizabethan manor house that was painfully disassembled, piece-by-piece by Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, and transported from the English countryside and reassembled beginning in 1907. Renowned architect Kirland Kelsey Cutter was in charge of this Tudor-Gothic project, now arguably America’s most magnificent Bed & Breakfast.

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It is set out on three acres of grounds and lakefront that includes a sunken garden, the beautiful loggia, and private dock and beach. Sunsets are magnificent.

While it lacks a moat and fortifications that would make it technically a castle, it is everything else that a castle offers, constructed with concrete and steel on a solid three-foot-thick foundation. Exterior walls are brick and concrete with steel reinforcement. The floors are ten inches of concrete. From1908 to 1911, with many of the materials, including the brick, oak paneling, oak staircase and the medieval stained glass coming from the castle in England it was reassembled. The red brick facing on the outside of the estate was imported from Wales. Three ships were commissioned to transport these building supplies around Cape Horn to the Pacific Northwest.

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The castle offers over 27,000 square feet of living space, graciously arranged under one tile roof and boasts 54 rooms, including 22 bedrooms and 22 baths.

A priceless collection of rare artwork, hand painted onto glass surrounded by panes of crystal, are mounted in windows throughout the estate. You should be looking through them when the snow is falling, it’s magnificent! Created in the 15th to 17th centuries, they were previously owned by an English duke who spent 40 years collecting the chards and panels of lost art.

The staircase as well as the doors were hand sewn from 500-year-old ancient English oak and are held together by wood dowels.TW 4

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Public spaces are luxurious, creating an ambience.

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The suites are luxuriously appointed and elegantly decorated, filled with antiques and historical pieces, not simply reproductions as found in many other grand historic hotels and mansions.

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Beautifully sculpted fountains, located in the circular drive and sunken gardens, are the focal points of their statuary collection, which includes many pieces, including the “Kingsale Hounds,” the only pair of these statues in the United States.

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The sunken “Secret Garden” will make guests feel as if they were stepping into the novel “The Secret Garden.” The garden was designed over 100 years ago by the Olmsted Brothers, led by stepbrothers John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who designed many of Seattle’s original parks a hundred years ago. They were also well-known for designing Central Park and Prospect Park in New York. They planted wisteria, purple clematis, climbing hydrangea, and pillar roses in this formal English garden.

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In 1926, House Beautiful named the gardens one of the five most beautiful in America. It was also named the most beautiful garden in America by the Garden Club of America in 1930. The sunken garden has also been featured in a Smithsonian Heritage exhibit.

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American Lake offers breathtaking sunsets and from it the Castle sits majestically with one of America’s potentially-active strato volcano, Mount Hood ominously rising above it in the adjacent Cascade Mountains.

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Thornewood has also been used as a location for several films and photo shoots. Most famously, Thornewood Castle starred as the haunted mansion in Stephen King’s ABC television mini-series, “Rose Red.”

Kings TV ad Rose Red

The “Red Rose Suite”

Rose red room

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The prequel to “Rose Red,” “The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer,” based on the book by Ridley Pearson was also filmed in large part at Thornewood Castle.

The outside view of Thornewood Castle may also be seen in the Daniel Day Lewis film “There Will Be Blood.” This film was nominated for several Academy Awards.

Thornewood is without question an experience that cannot be found anywhere else in North America.


Visit their website at


Strater Hotel, Durango, Colorado

1The Strater is an authentically preserved Victorian era, Western, hotel in southwest Colorado at the foot of the San Juan Mountains and the state’s mining district.  It is named after Durango, Mexico which was named after Durango, Spain. Perhaps unlike any historic grand luxury hotel anywhere, it melds the spirit of the Old West with the modern amenities of other opulent modern hostelries.


The town was founded in 1861 by the Denver and Rio Grand Railroad, a site the existing town of Animas City refused to support the railroad’s plans for a depot just south of it. It turned out in retrospect to be a blunder of historic proportions.


Henry Strater, a Cleveland pharmacist, had the vision and faith that Durango would prosper, and with its prosperity, it would need a grand hotel. Building it in this remote section of the country proved a huge challenge, but Strater and his brothers overcame it and the  Strater Hotel opened after an expenditure of $70,000, and placement of 376,000 native red bricks and hand-carved sandstone cornices and sills.


It proved to be a popular winter retreat as the Durango townsfolk would close their own homes during the cold winter months and move into the hotel. Each room boasted its own wood-burning stove and comfortable furniture, with some rooms equipped with pianos and washstands. The washstands served double duty, as the cabinet also housed the “facility,” which was emptied each morning by the maids.


The hotel also boasted a strategically designed three-story privy. At night, the jewel of the city’s main business district glows with ambience.


The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad began construction to the mining town of Silverton in 1881 and has been in operation ever since, initially as a mining train. However, the scenery was so spectacular it did not take too long for its owners to realize its true value was as a tourist attraction.


Arguably, no other railroad in America offers the majestic, and often scary views of the D&R. Its station is a block from the hotel and as shown below, it passes to and from its 45 mile trek to Silverton.


Spending an evening or more as a hotel guest, and/or dining and enjoying its equally authentic Diamond Belle Saloon, one can easily convince themselves they are in the early 1880’s.


1887, and in fact the 1886-1888 saw the construction of probably more enduring historic grand hotels than any other 3-year period in American history, as a coming post of this blog will demonstrate.


The Roaring 80s and Gay 90’s during the Gilded Age (a term coined by Mark Twain) featured in exquisite interiors in opulent hotels and mansions that have and will never be replicated. Most of the furnishings and even ceilings and wall panels were imported from Europe.


Given that journey ended thousands of miles from either ocean in the mountains of southwest Colorado makes this even more unique and extraordinary.




Many a “dude” family from the big cities may have conned their friends and families that they were “roughing it” in the mining towns of the Colorado mountains, but we know better.



The town continues to revel in its past and celebrate its founding days.


The region with three of Colorado’s 54 14,000’ peaks just north of the city offers the total seasonal Colorado experience that perhaps only Colorado can offer.



The Diamond Belle Saloon is not a camp, but has the authentic feel remindful of the Gay 90’s on San Francisco’s Barbary Coast with none of the roughness of Nevada’s Virginia City. It may be a good placed to leave the wife behind.




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Visit their site at

Willard Intercontinental, Washington D.C.

1The Willard InterContinental Washington is a historic luxury Beaux-Arts hotel located at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. Among its facilities are numerous luxurious guest rooms, several restaurants, the famed Round Robin Bar, the Peacock Alley series of luxury shops, and voluminous function rooms. It is two blocks east of the White House, and two blocks west of the Metro Center station.


The first structures to be built at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW were six small houses constructed by Colonel John Tayloe III in 1816. Tayloe leased the six buildings to Joshua Tennison, who named them Tennison’s Hotel.


The structures served as a hotel for the next three decades, the leaseholder name changing it several times: Williamson’s Mansion Hotel, Fullers American House, and the City Hotel. By 1847, the structures were in disrepair and Tayloe’s son, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe, was desperate to find a tenant who would maintain The Willard as it stands today.


Henry Willard leased the six buildings in 1847, combined them into a single structure, and enlarged it into a four-story hotel. He purchased the hotel property from Benjamin Tayloe in 1864, but a dispute over the purchase price and the form of payment (paper currency or gold coin) led to a major equity lawsuit which ended up in the Supreme Court of the United States.


The Supreme Court split the difference in Willard v. Tayloe. 75 U.S. 557 (1869): The purchase price would remain the same, but Willard must pay in gold coin (which had not depreciated in value the way paper currency had).


The present 12-story structure, designed by famed hotel architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, opened in 1901. Hardenberg was the architect of two of New York City’s most iconic and enduring buildings, the 2nd Hotel Plaza and the Dakota apartment building (were John Lennon lived and was assassinated in front of).


The Willard Hotel flying the presidential flag in the 1920s, indicating the President of the United States was on the premises.

For decades, it was the only major D.C. hotel so close to the White House and United States capitol building, and housed many dignitaries during its history.


The first group of three Japanese ambassadors to the United States stayed at the Willard with seventy-four other delegates in 1860. They observed that their hotel room was more luxurious than the U.S. Secretary of State‘s house. It was the first time an official Japanese delegation traveled to a foreign destination, and many tourists and journalists gathered to see the sword-carrying Japanese.


From February 4 to February 27, 1861, the Peace Congress, featuring delegates from 21 of the 34 states, met at the Willard in a last-ditch attempt to avert the Civil War. A plaque from the Virginia Civil War Commission, located on the Pennsylvania Ave. side of the hotel, commemorates this courageous effort.


Later that year, upon hearing a Union regiment singing John Brown’s Body as they marched beneath her window, Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic while staying at the hotel in November 1861.


On February 23, 1861, amid several assassination threats, detective Allan Pinkerton smuggled Abraham Lincoln into the Willard during the weeks before his inauguration; there Lincoln lived until his inauguration on March 4, holding meetings in the lobby and carrying on business from his room.


On March 27, 1874, the Northern and Southern Orders of Chi Phi met at the Willard to unite as the Chi Phi Fraternity.


Many United States presidents have frequented the Willard, and every president since Franklin Pierce has either slept in or attended an event at the hotel at least once; the hotel hence is also known as “the residence of presidents.”


It was the habit of Ulysses S. Grant to drink whiskey and smoke a cigar while relaxing in the lobby.


Folklore (promoted by the hotel) holds that this is the origin of the term “lobbying,” as Grant was often approached by those seeking favors. However, this is probably false, as Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary dates the verb to lobby to 1837.


Plans for Woodrow Wilson‘s League of Nations took shape when he held meetings of the League to Enforce Peace in the hotel’s lobby in 1916.


Six sitting Vice-Presidents have lived in the Willard. Millard Fillmore and Thomas A. Hendricks, during his brief time in office, lived in the old Willard; and then four successive Vice-Presidents, James S. Sherman, Thomas R. Marshall, Calvin Coolidge and finally Charles Dawes all lived in the current building for at least part of their vice-presidency.



Fillmore and Coolidge continued in the Willard, even after becoming president, to allow the first family time to move out of the White House.


Several hundred officers, many of them combat veterans of World War I, first gathered with the General of the Armies, John J. “Blackjack” Pershing, at the Willard Hotel on October 2, 1922, and formally established the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) as an organization.


Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in his hotel room at the Willard in 1963 in the days before his March on Washington.



On September 23, 1987, Bob Fosse collapsed in his room at the Willard and later died. Among the Willard’s many other famous guests are P. T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, General Tom Thumb, Samuel Morse, the Duke of Windsor, Harry Houdini, Gypsy Rose Lee, Gloria Swanson, Emily Dickinson, Jenny Lind, Charles Dickens, Bert Bell, Joe Paterno, and Jim Sweeney.


It’s interior spaces are of immense beauty and exude luxurious ambience.

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Out front across from Pershing Park are the the hotel’s outdoor sidewalk cafes.




Pershing Park just across Pennsylvania Avenue adds great outdoor ambience.


It is a magical place 12 months of the year, but hits its peak during the Holiday season.



Visit their official homepage at

Palmer House, Chicago

Palmer_House_Hilton_Logo1As you step through the automatic doors into The Palmer House, you are welcomed by classic architecture, art and a breathtaking ceiling, all in divine Victorian grandeur.

Plmaer house marquis


A prime location, business center and 10,000-sq. foot, three-level spa and fitness center, with an indoor pool, attracts guests to the Palmer House Hilton along with the charm of staying in a 1925 Beaux Arts-style Chicago hotel with classic French Baroque decor in its landmark lobby.


Originally a Chicago business magnate’s gift to his wife, the historic Palmer House Hilton has operated continuously since 1873 and housed the rich and famous during the 1893 World’s Fair. It has been recognized as a member of the Historic Hotels of America.


It is one of the country’s oldest grand hotels, the current building being the third edition.  The first one was completed n October 9, 1871, but burned down just 13 days later when Mrs. O’Leary’s infamous cow allegedly sparked The Great Chicago Fire.

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Four years later it was rebuilt as a four-story edifice with today’s 3rd edition being completed in 1925 as a 25-story skyscraper. (note this collage of the the Palmer House II advertised it was “fire-proof.”

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Few ultra-luxurious hotels, or for that matter few historic grand hotels are as opulent as this jewel of Chicago’s Loop.

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Palmer House grand staircase

3rd Plamer house staircase

The Palmer House is steps from Millennium Park, 2 blocks from Macy’s and the Art Institute, and 1 mile from Lake Michigan, Magnificent Mile shopping, and Wrigley Tower.  The people of Chicago are wonderful & welcoming and that spirit is echoed here.


Opulence is the rule, not the exception.

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Palmer House ballroom


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The hotel’s 1,600+ guestrooms at the Palmer House Hilton feature antique-style decor, pillowtop mattresses, and marble bathrooms.


The Palmer House offers two dining options on site. Potter’s is the lobby level bar and lounge offering cocktails and appetizers. Before heading out for dinner,d Italian fare, you can sip some bubbly in the atmospheric lounge.

A great place to relax and people watch, our new Lobby Bar. Enjoy cocktails or afternoon tea under the one of the most famous ceilings in world.

Potter’s is a comfortable, yet sophisticated bar and lounge catering to Chicago’s diverse community – a hot spot for dealmakers, trendsetters and up and coming elite. Offering fresh, artisanal, well-crafted cocktails and bar menu, Potter’s is an ideal location for cocktail parties and receptions.


It was here that a pastry chef was charged with creating a new confection to wow fair-goers, resulting in the birth of the brownie. The hotel still serves their chocolate creation at their in-house Lockwood Restaurant.

The hotel has a gift shop, beauty salon and concierge services.

Lockwood  is main bistro has a ontemporary menu inspired by traditional French and Italian cuisine. Upscale setting. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Lockwood restaurant

Lockwood Plamer House

 Plmaer houe back wall

The Palmer House is to Chicago what the Waldorf-Astoria is to New York.  A Who’s Who of famous celebrities and world leaders visiting The Windy City (given this nickname not for the wind, but the windbag politicians) .  it’s most famous or better-stated ill-famous resident, Brooklyn-born Al Capone took power over the Chicago mob in 1925, the very same year the current Palmer House opened.

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Capone in prise

14 years later he moved into a new home, but the Palmer House kept getting more and more famous.

Please visit their official website at

Cliff House at Pikes Peak

logo 2Located at the foot of the country;s most famous mountain in the Manitou Springs Historic District in the heart of the Colorado Springs area, the Cliff House at Pikes Peak has history older than the State of Colorado itself, forever intertwined with what it is today.  There are few locations in the entire country that offer the excitement, adventure and majestic natural beauty that Manitou Springs does.

The cliff house from side



The beautiful architecture and early turn of the century styling of Cliff House at Pikes Peak is charming and immaculately preserved. Located in Manitou Springs Historic District, its a 4 star hotel just miles from many unbelievable attractions including Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain.


Cliff House is a National Register of Historic Places listing and is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

pikes-peakThe mountain behind the Cliff House was named by explorer Zebulon Pike in 1806. standing at 14,115-foot, Pikes Peak  provides stunning views for up to 80 miles, which are said to have inspired admirer Kathryn Lee Bates to pen the lyrics to “America the Beautiful” in 1893.

cliff house historical photo


Mantiou Springs postcard

Cliff dwellings

Cave of the Winds

Few American communities offer the eclectic charm of Manitou Springs where carbonized healing waters fracture the ground throughout the town.  It has been called a “Hippie Mayberry” by the New York Times.

dpowntwon Maintou Springs

In the narrow Ruxton Canyon of Pikes Peak lies the first step of the Manitou Incline. The once railroad track now consists of approximately 2,744 steps made entirely of railroad ties. Although it’s only one mile in length, the ascension averages a 41% incline (68% at its highest) and a 2,000 foot climb in elevation!


It was built in 1907 to provide access to water tanks at the top of the mountain. The railroad was constructed to service the water pipes atop the mountain.


The Manitou Incline has been hailed as the holy grail of cardio for locals and athletes, alike.  It is not a hike for the faint of heart, or heights. It is considered one of the highest sets of stairs in the world and the trail is rated Extreme.


In comparison, the incline has more stairs than the Empire State Building in New York City! Although many people have been hiking it for years, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Incline was finally recognized as a public hiking trail.a691c2709e44dc0f97f4f0ca23a4f4b3

Also sitting in Ruxton Canyon is the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Open since 1891, the Cog Railway is another Manitou must-see. Spencer Penrose, owner of The Broadmoor Hotel, acquired the Railway in 1925.


This amazing train, open all year,  climbs up exhilarating grades and curves. The ride reveals stunning hidden vistas that are only visible from the train route.



More adventure awaits at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park. With two amazing cave tours and daring attractions atop breathtaking Williams Canyon, Cave of the Winds Mountain Park is the perfect exploring spot for you and your whole family.


Discovered in 1881, Cave of the Winds Mountain Park has been a must-see Colorado Springs attraction for travelers for more than a century. The Wind Walker Challenge Course is hundreds of feet above the canyon and a personal challenge to complete.


Strap yourself into the Bat-A-Pult to fly hundreds of feet over the canyon! This zipline adventure lets you soar 1200 feet at 40 miles per hour!


The Cave of the Winds Mountain Park is a great fun-filled day of exploration for your family year-round. The Garden of the Gods red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. About 250 BC Native American people camped in the park. Colorado Fine art nature landscape photography poster prints, decorative canvas prints, acrylic prints, metal prints, corporate artwork, greeting cards and stock images by James Bo Insogna (C) - All Rights Reserved. Please feel Free to share our links, with Family or Friends who may also enjoy them. If you like my Art Gallery, please spread the word and press the Pinterest, FB, Google+, Twitter or SU Buttons! Thank you! *PLEASE NOTE, WATERMARKS WILL NOT BE ON THE PURCHASE PRINTS*

The Garden of the Gods’ red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC


Garden of the Gods - The Garden of the Gods red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. About 250 BC Native American people camped in the park. Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971. The area was first called Red Rock Corral. Then, in August 1859, two surveyors who helped to set up Colorado City explored the site. One of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a "capital place for a beer garden." His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods Colorado Fine art nature landscape photography poster prints, decorative canvas prints, acrylic prints, metal prints, corporate artwork, greeting cards and stock images by James Bo Insogna (C) - All Rights Reserved. Please feel Free to share our links, with Family or Friends who may also enjoy them. If you like my Art Gallery, please spread the word and press the Pinterest, FB, Google+, Twitter or SU Buttons! Thank you! *PLEASE NOTE, WATERMARKS WILL NOT BE ON THE PURCHASE PRINTS* (C)The outstanding geological features are the ancient sedimentary beds of deep-red, pink and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted into “fins” by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains.

After an exciting day of hiking and sightseeing, unwind in one of Cliff House’s 54 unique guest rooms decorated in the style of the late 1800’s with fireplaces, hot tubs and gorgeous mountain views.


There is no need for one to leave the luxury of the Cliff House to enjoy a fantastic meal. Choose from one of the Cliff House’s award-winning dining establishments.


The Cliff House Dining Room has gained national renown as one of Colorado’s premier dining destinations. They have received the distinguished DiRoNA Award and the 4 Diamond Award in Fine Dining from AAA.


The Red Mountain Bar and Grill is all about comfort food and good times. Whether it’s the plush leather sofas, the dark wood and cool marble of the bar, the massive flat-screen TV’s, or the stunning 2nd story balcony with a romantic fire-pit patio below, you can’t help but feel at home here.


After a day of countless activities, hiking, climbing the great Incline, horseback riding  and exploring so many natural wonders, the Cliff House offers a relaxing repose it utter luxury.

Cliffhouse suit

Please visit their official website at

The Driskill Austin, Texas

Driskill logo 2It is almost mind boggling to realize 48 years after The Battle of the Alamo, a little city about an hour north of San Antonio would become the sight of arguably the state’s most beautiful and glitzy hotel.driskill hotel night


After arguably the most famous battle on American soil, or what was to become American soil (then the Republic of Texas the old mission converted into a makeshift fort deteriorated for years.)

The alimon with wooden logs

Today, it is almost lost in the center of bustling San Antonio, albeit Texas’ #1 tourist attraction.

The Alamo today

The Driskill is a Romanesque-style building completed in 1886, the oldest operating hotel in the state capitol Austin, Texas.

driskill lobby

Colonel-DriskillIt was conceived and built by Col. Jesse Driskill, a cattleman who spent his fortune constructing “the finest hotel south of St. Louis.” Unfortunately, he lost the hotel a year later in a high-stakes poker game.

He died a broken man and is believed to haunt the hotel to this day. It is said he makes his presence known by the scent of his cigar smoke and the occasional appearance in a guest’s room, especially to the ladies.


The hotel was completed at a cost of $400,000. Its four stories occupied almost half a block, with three arched entryways on the south, east, and north sides.


Carved limestone busts of Driskill and his two sons, Bud and Tobe, crown the hotel on each of these sides. Six million bricks went into the structure, along with limestone features.


The 189 newly renovated guest rooms and suites offer the unique charm of Texas. With Cityscape rooms and the opulent Cattle Baron suite, each uniquely designed space has classic styling and the rich colors of the surrounding Texas Hill Country.


Beyond the luxurious room accomodations, the Driskill offers a dining experience like no other. The 1886 Cafe & Bakery offers  fabulous drinks, desserts and a full brunch menu. The dining room boasts stained glass windows, white marble with green wood accents, high ceilings and lots of natural light.


On the other dining spectrum is the Driskill Grill, a landmark of dining in the city. The Grill has presented an unforgettable dining experience since 1929. Known as one of Austin’s leading restaurant, it holds a AAA Four-Diamond ranking and offers a daily revolving menu. Last year, it was Open Table’s Diner Choice restaurant.


Austin, Texas was settled only a year before the most famous event in Texas history took place, the Battle of the Alamo. It is the capital of the Grand State of Texas with a population of about 912,000. Its official slogan promotes it as “Live Music Capital of the World”.


There are almost 200 music-oriented clubs and live musicians and  in the area and known for its PBS TV Concert Series Austin City Limits.


The Driskill is located in the heart of Austin, just miles away from the University of Texas, Austin campus and walking distance from the live music scene of Sixth Street. Their 24 hour concierge service makes sure every stay is unforgettable.


Boardwalk_GO_pierThe hotel is just blocks from Lady Bird Lake, a reservoir on the Colorado River. It is a popular destination for paddle boarding, kayaking and watching Austin’s bat colony.

bat statuebat 2

The bat colony takes flight from under the Congress Avenue bridge. Austin’s bridge bats are Mexican free tailed bats that migrate from central Mexico.

aerial view

This beautiful 19th century hotel will make your trip to Austin one you will not soon forget!

Please visit their official website at


Hotel Boulderado

9_1HotelBoulderadoLogoThe Boulderado, north of Denver in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains opened its doors on New Year’s Day 1909 and instantly became one of America’s most beautiful grand hotels.  It’s distinctive exterior ediface is similar in color to the Aspen’s Jerome Hotel and Durango’s Strater in the western and southwestern portions of the state.


Boulder’s first luxury hotel, is located  in the heart of downtown Boulder and listed on The National Register of Historic Places.


In the early 1900s, when Boulder was evolving from a dusty frontier town to a cultured small city, its residents yearned for an upscale hotel. Business men and women raised the funds to build the Hotel Boulderado, which opened on New Year’s Day, 1909.


Since then, it’s come full circle from late Victorian luxury, through a shaky beginning in the teens, prosperity in the twenties, a fall in the Depression, post-war modernization, deterioration and, finally, restoration to even surpass its former grandeur.


Designed by local architects William Redding & Son, the five-story brick building incorporates both Italian Renaissance and Spanish Revival features. It follows a trend of open court hotels started by the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and carried over to Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel, built in 1892.

Hotel-Boulderado- night view

Early guests included actress Ethel Barrymore, actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and evangelist Billy Sunday. Some who followed were Clarence Darrow, Helen Keller, Robert Frost, Benny Goodman, and Louis Armstrong, as well as a generous representation of today’s political figures, speakers, entertainers, and musicians.

Few hotels anywhere have as amazingly gorgeous interior. Guests looking upwards from the lobby can usually be seen looking upwards, pointing and marveling in wonderment.

Hotel Boulderado Historic Atrium & Christmas Tree 2009 - Horizontal Image

stained glass at Boulerado

The woodwork is the product of skilled craftsmen, an art virtually lost in the modern world.

Boulderago staircase, 2nd floor

coaches in Bolderado lobby

Then and now, with its distinctive iron red brickwork coming to life.

Boulderado Composite 2.1

The hotel is located just one block from the center of excitement – the Pearl St. Pedestrian Mall, an expansive outdoor mall area closed to traffic with many shops, bars, and eateries available in the historical district.


Featuring 160 luxurious guest rooms and suites each room in the historic section is decorated with Victorian wall coverings, antique furniture and a rich history of guest service. The hotel spans over 10,000 sq.ft. of special event space and offers one of the finest venues for weddings and conferences in downtown Boulder.


The hotel is walking distance to the Univ. of Colorado, Boulder Creek Path, local museums, the Boulder Theatre, Town Hall, and hiking trails.


The hotel offers tourist packages for unique and interesting ways to explore Boulder’s rich history or visit for the annual Shakespeare Festival, Bolder Boulder Stadium, Iron Man and many other Boulder city-wide events.


elevator The Boulderado’s 1908 Otis original elevator still in use. Guests are treated to rides on it as it still requires an elevator operator.




There are 3 in house bars and two restaurants.  The bar tenders were delightful and gave us some history of the hotel. The basement bar was was very impressive, making you feel like you were back in the 20s! There are also 2 skeeball machine in the basement bar, which are in a separate room so as not to disturb other customers.

On-site dining in Spruce Farm & Fish, Corner Bar and License No.1 or through in-room dining.    We dined downstairs in The Corner Bar, the food was well above average bar food and easy to get a seat – even on a Saturday night. You must take an old Otis elevator from the lobby which is run by the same staff who manage the valet parking.

Please visit their official site at

The Hay Adams Washington, D.C.

1The Hay–Adams is a luxury hotel located at 800 16th Street NW in Washington, D.C. Lafayette Square and St. John’s Episcopal Church, also known as the Church of the Presidents, are located across the street. The hotel is a contributing property to the Lafayette Square Historic District and a member of the Historic Hotels of America.2

The hotel occupies the site where the 1885 homes of John Hay and Henry Adams which had stood at 16th and H Streets NW. In 1927, Harry Wardman bought the property and razed the homes, a major bit of District of Columbia history.


Hays (below left) was Abraham Lincoln’s, private secretary. He served as United States Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.  Adams (below right) was a descendant of the John Adams and John Quincy Adams’ family.  His father was Lincoln’s ambassador to London.


Hay’s home was the 1884 work of famed architect Henry Hobson Richardson who designed elaborate, Romanesque homes during the so-called “Gilded Age,” coined by Mark Twain.


The hotel, designed by Mihran Mesrobian, was built on the site in 1928 in Italian Renaissance style. It features impressive architectural embellishments such as Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders, walnut wainscoting, and intricate ceiling treatments featuring Elizabethan and Tudor motifs.


Wood paneling from the Hay residence was repurposed in the public space now known as the “Hay-Adams Room.” Many historic details have been carefully preserved to this day.

6The Hay–Adams slogan is “Where nothing is overlooked but the White House.” It is the District’s closest hotel to it, just across the avenue. Day or night the view of the president’s residence is stunning from the hotel.


The Hay–Adams was purchased in the 1930s by hotel magnate Julius Manger who owned 18 hotels in New York City alone. During the depression he sought to increase his hostelry holdings in the U.S. capital city of Washington, D.C., which he felt was a safe investment. Manger bought the Hay Adams House in 1933 where he resided until his death in March 1937. He also purchased the Annapolis and Hamilton hotels located in Washington D.C.


At the time of his death, Manger was the largest independent hotel operator in the United States. The Manger family owned the Hay Adams from 1933 to 1973, during which time the hotel was known as the Manger Hay-Adams. In 2006, B. F. Saul Company, a D.C. area real estate company, bought the Hay-Adams for $100 million.


The hotel demonstrates class, grace and elegance and has always been a popular lodging place for prestigious White House invitees. President Obama and his family stayed in the Hay–Adams for a period of two weeks prior to his inauguration because the Blair House was occupied.



The Hotel’s 5-Star quality restaurant and catering venues are immensely popular.


The Hay–Adams is said to be haunted by Henry Adams‘s beloved wife, “Clover” (Marian Hooper Adams), who committed suicide on this site in 1885, before the hotel was built. Her spirit is said to be walking the floors, trailed by the scent of almond. Potassium cyanide, the home darkroom chemical she ingested, smells like almonds.

hay adams

It has attracted prominent Washingtonians and elite travelers, including Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Sinclair Lewis and Ethyl Barrymore. Guests were drawn to the Hotel by its unparalleled views of the White House, Lafayette Square and St. John’s Church.


Guests are also attracted by luxurious amenities such as large suites, kitchens, steam heat, elevators, circulating ice water, and, in 1930, Washington’s first air-conditioned dining room.


Typical events included “Emerging Voices in Media”, a reception by actress Rosario Dawson, Maria Teresa Kumar from Voto Latino and Bruswick Group’s David Sutphen who entertained guests on the roof of the hotel. 5688943246_d5228716af

The Hay Adams guest rooms are beautifully-appointed and exude elegance, class and grace.


For a premium, those with the most stunning views overlook the White House with the Washington Monument and United States Capitol building in the distance, where guests can get an unparalleled view of the District’s most spectacular events.


The Hay Adams is everything one could want and would expect in this genre of hostelry. It offers throughout beautiful decor and luxury, elegant ambience, great service and breathtaking views.


Please visit their official site at


The Peabody Memphis

peabody_logo_jpgThe Memphis skyline is lit up with the famous red neon “The Peabody” sign. The luxurious Peabody Hotel in downtown is located in the heart of “Blues City” within blocks of Beale Street, the Gibson Guitar factory, Sun Studio and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.peabody








The current Peabody Hotel building, on Union Avenue, is an Italian Renaissance structure designed by noted Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager.  Construction began less than a month after the old hotel closed. The new hotel was built on the previous site of the Fransioli Hotel, a structure which looked nearly identical to the original Peabody Hotel. The new hotel opened on September 1, 1925.


Beale Street runs from the Mississippi River to East Street. It is lined with blues clubs and restaurants with yearly festivals and outdoor concerts.


The Beale Street Music Festival brings major acts from a variety of musical genres together and kicks off what is known as Memphis in May. beale-st-music-festival-1024x680

memphis sign

The Music festival is followed by International Week and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. This May marks the event’s 40th anniversary!

The Memphis in May's World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest continues on Friday, May 18, 2012 at Tom Lee Park as hundreds of teams competed for over $110,000 in prizes. Musical acts included Rayland Baxter and Sun Studio All Stars, and prizes were awarded in Cole Slaw, Anything But, Baked Beans, Hot Wings and Sauce. (Photo by Lance Murphey/Memphis in May)

pigbbq joint

Along with its Mississippi River location, the home of Elvis at Graceland a few miles from the hotel, great blues and rock n’roll music, the city is also known for being the home of the National Civil Right Museum at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.

lorraine sign lorraineThis elegant edifice is probably best known for a custom dating back to the 1930s, its five resident Mallard ducks, who march daily though the Grand Lobby at 11 am and 5pm.


They have made television appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Sesame Street, Coach and The Oprah Winfrey Show and have been featured in People magazine and Sports Illustrated.


The idea of the marching ducks began in 1932 when the General Manager of the hotel returned from a hunting trip and left his decoy ducks in the fountain of the lobby bar…and left them there, a tradition was born.


Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus animal trainer, Edward Pembroke took the job in the 1940’s of “Duck Master”. Pembroke delivered the ducks to and from the fountain each day. until 1991.peabody ducksThat delivery soon turned into a full-fledged spectacle, with the ducks marching from their rooftop abode, into the elevator, down to the lobby and across a red carpet into the fountain. duck march


historiThe hotel is listed as a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was given the 2015 Award for excellence and named the Best Historic Hotel.


It was built in 1869 and has hosted the likes of Presidents Andrew Johnson and William McKinley, General Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.


The hotel closed in 1923 in preparation for a move one block away on Union Avenue. It now has 464 luxurious guest rooms and suites each furnished with antique-style furniture, full sitting areas and private bathrooms.


For years, the Peabody has been acclaimed for its spectacular restaurants ranging from a 4-star dining room to the lobby bar open until the late evening.

chez phillipe

Chez Phillipe is the most opulent dining area in Memphis serving exquisite french cuisine and wines. The adjacent Capriccio Grill is known for having the best steaks in Memphis with fresh lobster and seafood flown in daily.


The Lobby Bar affectionately known as “the living room of Memphis” is an elegant and upscale bar in the lobby of the Peabody.


They always have someone playing the piano and a delectable array of desserts and drinks to  choose from complete with

duck sugar 2 duck shaped sugar cubes! This is the place to watch the Duck March, but the bar is always packed on the weekends. A great place for those who love people watching in a gorgeous setting. This is the place to see and be seen in downtown Memphis.



With all the opulence inside the Peabody, there is an aspect of fun and outdoors with their renowned rooftop parties. The Peabody’s rooftop parties have been a staple of Memphis’ spring and summer social life since 1939.????????????????????????????????????

The rooftop can hold hundreds of people and its one of the best places to see the sunset over the Mississippi River.

peabody rooftop party

With its luxurious amenities, magnificent dining and unique culture, its no wonder the Peabody Memphis is known as the “South’s Grand Hotel”.


Please visit their official site at

Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa


Omni Bedford Springs Resort is a resort hotel outside of Bedford, Pennsylvania. It is a contributing property to the Bedford Springs Hotel Historic District, a designated National Historic Landmark.


The hotel was documented in 2005 by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The resort is part of the Omni Hotels & Resorts brand, based out of Dallas, Texas.



Many of the Grand Hotels in the United States and Canada include the name “Springs” in them. A hot spring is a spring produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the Earth’s crust.


A hot spring used as a pool in British Columbia, Canada (above)

There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the crust of the earth. While some of these springs contain water that is the correct temperature for bathing, others are too hot to do so and immersion can result in injury or death.


During the early years of the Grand Resort Hotel Movement, most of these hotels were built around or directly on top of hot springs and promoted as a place for rest, relaxation and healing. Among the very first and most popular was this iconic landmark located almost equidistant between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

bedford springs 2

The Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to New York were discovered even before our country was born as a nation were found to have a density of such hot spring.


Former soldiers from as far back as the French and Indian War, nomads and explorers picked up what was to become the American knack for entreprenuership and discovered that these springs would draw customers willing to pay for the privilege of resting, relaxing and healing their bodies.

hot springs trees

Many of these early entrepreneurs were physicians and quickly used the abundance of these healing waters to build their practices and/or sell what cost them nothing if the acquired deeds to the lands and the springs in bottles as miracle drugs.

In 1796, Nicholas Shauffler discovered a high mineral content in the natural freshwater springs located on the property of Fredrick Naugel, outside of Bedford, Pennsylvania.


The earliest native settlers discovered the “healing powers” of the waters, some who considered these spots as sacred.


John Anderson, then practicing in the town of Bedford, purchased the land containing the springs in 1798 and proceeded to build bathing facilities for his patients; thus starting the tradition of people traveling to experience the waters of the Bedford springs and setting the foundation for what is today Bedford Springs Resort, an upscale destination, located just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike.


Bu 1809 what was to become the Bedford Springs Hotel Resort had three buildings on the site, including The Stone House, Crockford and a precursor to the Evitt House.

photo posted on

As its popularity grew, in 1824, Bedford Springs was hailed as the “Montpelier of America” in a column in the July edition of the National Gazette & Library Register, which noted with praise the waters, accommodations, activities, food and wine.

omni entrance

The popularity of the resort benefited from the emphasis on outdoor life in the mid-nineteenth century as east coast American cities became increasingly industrialized and polluted, and from the establishment of stops in Bedford for the B&O and Pennsylvania Railroads beginning in 1872, providing easy accessibility from cities such as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York.


From 1857 to 1891 it became known as the “Summer White House” for President James Buchanan and also served as a getaway and meeting place for other presidents such as William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor, as well as a multitude of senators and congressmen.


The decades of the 1870s through the 1890s, the “golden age” of America’s grand resorts, saw the Bedford Springs Hotel as “resort gold standard.”

Visit their official website at:

Fairmont San Francisco


The west coast is home to some of the world’s most luxurious Grand Hotels and the Fairmont chain does not disappoint in San Francisco. This hotel atop Nob Hill provides breathtaking views of the city and the San Francisco Bay.


The rooms at the Fairmont leave nothing to be desired. With their dramatic decor and sweeping city views, you may never want to leave.

pent 3

penthouse 2

The penthouse suite entrance, restored to its original 1920’s glory.


It seemed unimaginable that after the famous earthquake of 1906, the already completed, massive structure destined to be the Fairmont San Francisco still stood. The Fairmont had not yet opened its doors, however the interior furnishings had been delivered and it was slated for opening later that year.

sf fairmont

French architect, Julia Morgan, was recruited to work on the Fairmont. Exactly one year after the Earthquake on April 18, 1907, the Fairmont Hotel opened and soon became the social hub of the city.

opening 1907

For over 100 years, their famous two-story gingerbread house in their Grand Lobby has been the star of the show, with an actual edible exterior! The holiday spirit of the Fairmont is unmatched with its “North Pole Nook” where you can visit Santa, Elves and a Christmas Fairy.


ginerbread house

awning winter

Fairmont SF

The Fairmont dining experience will leave your tastebuds wanting more. There are 3 mouth watering dining options within the hotel. The Caffe Cento, The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar which offers exotic Asian cuisine and The Laurel Court which offers a true San Francisco fine dining experience and the British tradition of High Tea. High Tea includes tea service for 2 complete with finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts to name a few. One can easily spend a couple hours enjoying the atmosphere for a special occasion or just to get dressed up on a Sunday afternoon.

tea 2

Delectable treats during High Tea at the Fairmont


The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar waiting for its evening guests. (below)


tonga 2

In 1961, the Fairmont unveiled a 23-story tower boasting San Francisco’s first glass elevator carrying people up to the opulent Crown Room at the top.

glass 2


A recent $85 million restoration elevated the entire property to its present-day status, transforming the historic building into simply the best. At present, the Fairmont has 530 guest rooms, 61 suites and world-famous penthouses.

Please visit their official site at

Historic Grand Hotel Hall of Fame


The author and the which has published this work, has taken the liberty of some creative license to create a Grand Hotel Hall of Fame and begin selecting and inducting worthy candidates subjectively, with some degree of objectivity into it. Not desiring to create a firestorm of controversy readers are encouraged to submit candidates for consideration.

Every inductee into the Historic Grand Hotel Hall of Fame will be
presented with a bronze or some other metal plaque designating
their induction.

1. Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Michigan

1. Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Michigan


Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada

2. Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada


The Breakers Hotel Palm Beach, Florida

3. The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, Florida


Greenbrier Hotel and Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

4. Greenbrier Hotel and Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia



5. Fairmont Chateau Le Frontenac, Old Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

5. Fairmont Chateau Le Frontenac, Old Quebec City, Quebec, Canada



6. <a href=alcazar ponce de leon

6. Ponce de Leon, Alcazar and Casa Monica (Flagler Complex) St. Augustine, Florida

fr lick
7. French Lick Resort, The French Lick Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel, French Lick & West Baden, Indiana

7. French Lick Resort, The French Lick Hotel and West Baden Springs Hotel, French Lick & West Baden, Indiana

8. Omni Mt. Washington Hotel and Resort Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

8. Omni Mt. Washington Hotel and Resort Bretton Woods, New Hampshire



9. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

9. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada


10. Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

10. Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


11. Hotel del Coronado, Coronado Island, California

11. Hotel del Coronado, Coronado Island, California


12. Mission Inn, Riverside, California

12. The Mission Inn, Riverside, California


14. The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado

13. The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado


13. Fairmont The Empress, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

14. Fairmont The Empress, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

15. Omni The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia

15. Omni The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia

16. Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California

16. Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park, California


17. Omni Grove Park Inn, Ashville, North Carolina

17. Omni Grove Park Inn, Ashville, North Carolina


18. Omni Bedford Springs Hotel, Bedford, Pennsylvania

18. Omni Bedford Springs Hotel, Bedford, Pennsylvania

The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

1This resort hotel inspired the study and passion of the author of his ongoing physical tour and resulting anthology of the historic grand hotels.


The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, a small island located at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac that connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan and separates the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas was built almost overnight in a span of only a few months in 1886; 93 days to be exact It’s front porch measures 600’ feet and gives a sweeping, breathtaking view of the Straits.


If there is a more passionate and informed lover of historic grand hotels than its current concierge and historian Bob Tagatz, that person has escaped the radar of the author, perhaps the 2nd greatest fan of these grand ladies of American and Canadian hostelries. Mr. Tagatz whom the author has attended his lectures and picked his brain probably to a point of annoyance was recognized as by the Historic Hotels of America in 2013 as the “Hotel Historian of the Year “ award and for anyone who shares our passion of these iconic masterpieces of grandiose hostelry, a stay at the Grand Hotel and attendance at one of My. Tagatz’s tours and presentations is strongly recommended. 45

While his definition of the concept is more restricted than ours, namely a wooden structure built by a transportation company. 31

He relates that the Grand was built by the Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad and the Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Company for $250,000.2.pngAs with just about every other Hall of Fame inductee listed here, it is well known for a number of notable visitors, including five U.S. presidents, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain.
It comes into view about a mile out for visitors on the Mackinac Island Ferry from Mackinac City, Michigan a 16-minutes cruise which even in summer time can be rough. It is not open between late October and May when the water is usually frozen solid and cover with snow.


It comes into view about a mile out for visitors on the Mackinac Island Ferry from Mackinac City, Michigan a 16-minutes cruise which even in summer time can be rough. It is not open between late October and May when the water is usually frozen solid and cover with snow.7

Unlike the architectural masterpieces like the Ponce Deleon, Breakers and West Badin Springs hotels which their structures and edifices by themselves are worthy of grand status, this wooden building is enhanced inside with an amazing array of colors thanks to the interior design mastery of Carlton Varner and his mentor the late Dorothy Draper, who also worked his miracles at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. Every room, public and private has its own unique identify and the only thing in common is the incredible colors and designs.


Many would critique the splendid cacophony, technically mean sounds but here colors which speak as loud as any sound might, as “garish, and that would be an understatement, but so what? From the moment one climbs the stairway after being ceremoniously being dropped off the its own elegant horse-drawn carriage, replete with a Swiss Guard like drive, it excites the senses.


All guests arrive in Grand Style, Even employees arrive by horse, horse and buggy or bicycle.

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


All guests arrive in Grand Style, Even employees arrive by horse, horse and buggy or bicycle.


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


The hotel has changed and been expanded over time, but the essence remains. A challenge of finding and identifying historic photos of it and the island is difficult given in many ways it remains much as it did 128 years ago when then, like now there were no mechanized vehicles.

Mackinac Island has banned automobiles for almost a century. Reportedly the only power-driven vehicle is its lone firetruck, a good idea in an island filled with Victorian wooden structures,
Framed on a wall in the hotel lobby this is a rare, perhaps unique photo of an automobile on the Island, where they have been banned since 1898. In all probability it was ferried over to the waterfront in Mackinac Village, about a mile from the Grand and placed on a wagon and pulled by a team of horses up the hill to the hotel.
It is simply an advertisements. Today such an ad would be much easier to create with Photoshop.


One resident at the time was quoted as calling cars “mechanical monsters” — clearly not a glowing review.
No other hotel or resort in America given this unique ambience of the pre-automobile, historic experience can replicate the uniqueness of visiting an island free of even electric-powered vehicles. The Mackinac Village Council moved to outlaw the automobile before the monsters had a chance to take over.


There have been numerous challenges, including a 2003 court case of Bertrand vs. City of Mackinac Island where the appellate court issued this ruling “We hold that allowing plaintiff to use an electric-assist tricycle on defendant’s public streets does not fundamentally or substantially alter the character of Mackinac Island.”
Another distinct aspect of Mackinac Island and the Grand is its setting where it gets coollllddd. Weather records indicated the coldest day on record was -7°F (the hottest being only 86°F), but Tagatz reported that last year the temperature inside the hotel one day dropped to -35°F.


Almost certainly it gets much colder in the Straits. As a result the Grand Hotel closes every year in late October for its Closing The Grand single day ceremony where real fans who spend the night are allowed to tour every room and suite and get some great snacks as all of the hotel’s eateries empty the refrigerators and give away what is left. It stays closed until May where an even greater ceremony takes place. Too bad, because the scenery only gets more beautiful as the white stuff falls.



The straits can be brutal in winter, virutally impassable except by dogsled, bicycle or icebreaker ship. Mackinac Bridge is the only land route that connects Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsula, the latter which makes up 20% of its land mass.




The hotel is strategically located in the Straits that separate Lakes Michigan and Huron and Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula, virtually the center of the three largest great lakes. It has been called “The Queen of the Great Lake” for good reason.


Stripped down, sanding by itself the core of the Grand would be indistinquishable from many Victorian era seaside resorts.
But this is aptly named “The Grand” for good reason. It sits prominently on one of the highest hills on the island overlooking the straits. From the ferries that arrive from Mackinac City on the Lower Peninsula and St. Ignace across the bridge on the Upper Peninsula, late April through late October.

20As the boats begin their short cruise from Mackinac City the hotel is the first thing that comes into sight on the island, a white dot that gets larger and larger as the ferries approach the docks. The Hotel which was built in a span of only 93 days so the original owners, the railroad could take advantage of the 1887 summer season. It is amazing that it has endured so long given its relatvely fragile structure, especially since all but 12 of the hundreds of original wooden grand hotels built by transportation companies survive, the others being victim to fires, decay and modernization.



Over time as its popularity grew it was it was expanded and beautified to the point where today it is as handsome as any hotel in the world. As Hotel Guest arrive from the docks in grand Victoria style up a long, gradual hill. As it gets closer it is hard for the excitement for first time visitors or even regulars who keep returning not to get stronger and stronger in anticipation.


Unlike many resorts, especially seaside resorts with a plethera of recreational activities, the Grand also has its formal side, True to the high Victorian lineage that it has preserved more so than virtually any other hotel in the world with the island’s no-automobile policies it strictly imposes an evening dress code for any guests or visitors who even want to stroll around the hallways and other public areas.
It is not unusual for even a $1,000 a night guest to be politely admonished that to sit on the porch and enjoy a sweeping panorama of the straits that they are not dressed “appropriately.”


The Grands most distinquishing feature, another unique aspect that sets it apart from every other hotel in the world is it’s magnificant 600’ porch that overlooks the lower portions of the property and the striats. According to the Guiness Book of World Records, it is the largest on the planet, and arguably the most beautiful.



Most guests and visitors to the great hotels of the world are familiar with the name of the architect, even if he or she or it is world-renowned. Many of the grand hotels were designed by famous architects, but the Grand, along with the Greenbrier who he also serves, has an amazing interior architect, an actual curator. 33Carlton Varney is a wizard of color and furnishings. He is the protégé of legendary interior decorator, Dorothy Draper all contributed to dramatic design often referred to as “the Draper touch”.

As Varney, present and current owner of Dorothy Draper & Co., writes in the biography of his mentor, The Draper Touch, “She revolutionized the concept of “design” by breaking away from the historical “period room” styles that dominated the work of her predecessors and contemporaries. As an artist she was a modern, one of the first decorators of the breed, and a pioneer. She invented “Modern Baroque”, a style that had particular application to large public spaces and modern architecture. 32

She craved public space, the canvas on which she did her most inspired work ( e.g. the restaurant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, nicknamed “The Dorotheum”). To Dorothy, public space represented a place for people to come and feel elevated in the presence of great beauty, where the senses could look and feel and absorb the meaning of a quality life. She used vibrant, “splashy” colors in never-before-seen combinations, such as aubergine and pink with a “splash” of chartreuse and a touch of turquoise blue, or, one of her favorite combinations – “dull” white and “shiny” black. Her signature “cabbage rose” chintz, paired with bold stripes; her elaborate and ornate plaster designs and moldings – over doors, on walls and ceilings; her black and white checkered floors (The Quitandinah Palace & Casino Resort, Petropolis, Brazil); her massive, paneled, lacquered doors (Arrowhead Springs Hotel, California), some framed with bolection (Hampshire House, New York) or with elaborate plaster or intricate mirror frames (Camellia House, Drake Hotel, Chicago) “

After four years during World War II, The Greenbrier Hotel served as a surgical and rehabilitation center for 24,148 soldiers. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway reacquired the property in 1946 and initiated a comprehensive redecoration of the hotel by renowned Draper. After she died in 1969 her work was continued not only at the Greenbrier but at the Grand by Varney. Their touch makes both hotels virtual museums of color.

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The Grand Hotel’s 385 suites and rooms include seven suites that were decorated in honor of our country’s former first ladies, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush were all consulted on the décor for the apartment which bears their individual name on the third and fourth floors on the West End of the Hotel, overlooking the Mackinac Bridge. The Jacqueline Kennedy Suite replaced the former Summer Place theme room on the east side of the front of the hotel in 2002.




From a single room to its multi-room grand suites, every accommodation is custom-designed and unique. The public spaces are even more colorful.


There are a myriad of excellent restaurants on and just off premise where diners can get anything from a gourmet hamburger to its sumptuous brunches.




The hotel public spaces including hallways are virtual art museums, filled with sculptures, paintings, pottery and colorful flower arrangements.




Varney believes that fragrances are in many ways as important as visual beauty and many of the suites are perfumed with flowers as are the grounds and for that matter the entire island.




The resort offers many adjacent structures and includes its famous Ester Williams swimming pool, a 220’ serpentine-shaped heat one. Williams was a former competitive swimmer who joined the Billy Rose’s Aquacade after the outbreak of World War II forced cancellation of the 1940 Summer Olympic Games. She swam.


When the show was held in New York, she spent five months swimming alongside Olympic Gold Medal winner Johnny Weissmuller and caught the eye of many Hollywood producers and stars and after a few small roles she evolved into a major box office smash. 55

In 1947, her motion picture this time for keeps was shot at the Grand and while here she commemorated her namesake pool. In 1980 another popular film was also shot here, Somewhere in Time. Female lead Jane Seymour routinely revisits for the hotel Somewhere in Time weekend.

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PLease visit their official site at


Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

a1The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a Fairmont Hotel on the eastern shore of Lake Louise, near Banff, Alberta. The original hotel was gradually developed at the turn of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was thus “kin” to its predecessors, the Banff Springs Hotel and the Château Frontenac.


The hotel’s wooden Rattenbury Wing was destroyed by fire on 3 July 1924, and was replaced by the current Barrot Wing one year later. The Painter Wing, built in 1913, is the oldest existing portion of the hotel. The Mount Temple Wing, opened in 2004, is the most recent wing and features modern function facilities; these include the Mount Temple Ballroom.

Originally conceived as a vacation destination to lure wealthy travelers into taking trains and heading West, but modern technology had a different idea. As canals and early turnpikes replaced the horse and buggy, railroads which began in the early 19th century as the most economical and practical means of long distance travel made such advances in transportation obsolete, the automobile and airplanes did the same to the iron rails.


By then however this incredibly picturesque setting and its beautiful chateau took on sufficient renown of its own. The Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louse were in about the same proximity to each other as was and is America’s The Homestead and Greenbrier and together the National Park offered not only strictly outdoor activities but two gorgeous, incomparable resorts.

From the start, the goal was to exploit the stunning natural beauty of the emerald-green lake and of Victoria Glacier which rose above it. There were still many hiking and canoeing itineraries for nature lovers and the Lake Louise region also gained international acclaim as one of the most popular ski resorts in the world.

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Lake Louise is many things to many people, a world class, and immensely-popular sky destination in the winter, a summer paradise with hiking, horseback riding and camping in the summer. Or simply a place to rest and relax without ever leaving the Chateau.


Most of the great historic grand hotels in the United States and Canada most seasonal, or at least explode into their full glory in one season or another, but rather more than one. Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel closes with a popular “Closing the Grand” single day event in late October and reopens with an even bigger splash in May. The Sagamore Resort and Spa at the northern end of New York’s Lake George in the Adirondacks after closing down for the winter when it attracts far fewer guests than in the summer in 2008, due in part to the economy, is now open only on weekends.


The magnificent bookends of Florida’s The Breakers and California’s Hotel del Mar, the eastern and western most southernmost grand hotels have never seen a flake of snow as far as we know. To try to keep guests coming who enjoy usual warm weather activities such as swimming, the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, as several of its fellow Omni-managed grand restarts keep their outdoor swimming pool open year-round by heating it and the decking. Others offer an indoor ice staking ring in the summer. At Lake Louise, no man-made decisions are necessary to expand the attraction. It is as much a winter as a summer draw (and the spring and fall are not too shabby either).

The turquoise water than Lake Louise is perhaps most famous for is not something it has an exclusive one. In fact most of the northern alpine lake also create the appearance of having such vibrant colors, when in fact all pure water is colorless. While relatively small quantities of water appear to be colorless, water’s tint becomes a deeper blue as the thickness of the observed sample increases. The blue hue of water is an intrinsic property and is caused by selective absorption and scattering of white light. Impurities dissolved or suspended in water may give water different colored appearances. Clean water appears blue in white-tiled swimming pools as well as in indoor pools where there is no blue sky to be reflected. The deeper the pool, the bluer the water.

Scattering from suspended particles also plays an important role in the color of lakes and oceans. A few tens of meters of water will absorb all light, so without scattering, all bodies of water would appear black. Because most lakes and oceans contain suspended living matter and mineral particles, known as colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), light from above is reflected upwards.


Scattering from suspended particles would normally give a white color, as with snow, but because the light first passes through many meters of blue-colored liquid, the scattered light appears blue. In extremely pure water—as is found in mountain lakes, where scattering from white-colored particles is missing—the scattering from water molecules themselves also contributes a blue color.


Lake Louise depending on the time of year, and even the time of day seems to change colors. In fact it may look blue from one prospective and green, turquoise or any number of other blue-green colors from others.
The lake is a relatively small glacier lake formed and fed by the Mount Victoria high above the end opposite the Chateau. When snow and ice melt the cascading water picks up silt and it descends toward the lake bed. The silt floats on or near the surface and the sun’s rays reflect off it. The human eye picks up some waves of color at different times and from different views and the many apparent colors of Lake Louise are detected easier than other colors and hues. So while the pure water is colorless (if you put some in a jar or even a large barrel you’d see this), the human eye will detach different color light waves.


Just about 6 miles from the Chateau Lake Louse, a 19-minute car ride in summer (but closed in winter) is one of the region’s and in fact the world’s most spectacular sites. The Valley of the Ten Peaks (French: Vallée des Dix Pics) crowns Banff National Park is a valley in Banff National Park with ten notable peaks and also includes Moraine Lake. They line up like soldiers and range from 10,000 to 11,234.


Like Lake Louise, nearby Lake Moraine also varies its colors as a result of the silt-laded glacieral waters. Above several of te majestic peaks in the Valley of the Ten Peaks reflect off its mirror like surface.


A visit for the first time to the Chateau in either winter or summer will result in being infused with a teaser that will draw one back six months later when the season has changed. It is hard to imagine how the combination of the huge peak of Mount Victoria above the opposite end of the lake, the either turquoise or sometimes sapphire blue in summer or frozen pure white in winter waters can be equally-beautiful at the opposite end of the year. But it is!


Two other examples of season contrasting beauties at the Chateau looking out from one its dining rooms.
Like perhaps no other grand hotel resort with a lake, river or ocean front setting, the Chateau Lake Louise in winter transforms its beautiful in summer lake used for canoeing and swimming into a winter wonderland of activities.


Imported from Calgary down the mountains from the National Park the resort has cut ice blocks brought in which are assembled into a fairytale ice castle and ice bar one what during the rest of the year is the lake.






ADULTS ONLY!  While the young and energetic enjoy skating in and around the ice castle the Chateau provides indoor sport outdoors at its unique ice bar that serves steaming hot chocolate and a wide variety of liquors and ice wine to warm one’s innards.

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28 29 30 31The wonders of the natural setting are without questing the star of the show here. There are few places on the globe that can match the utter beauty of the Canadian Rockies and even less which have two grand historic hotels. That said, it is not to diminish the magnitude of the building itself.

32The original building was a half-timbered building built in 1889. It was again enlarged in 1912-13 it was done so by W. S. Painter who was currently at work on the first of the Banff Springs Hotel fireproof additions. The new concrete wing on Chateau Lake Louise abandoned the Chateau style as it had been developed by Price in favor of a more modern approach The new wing had a flat roof and no dormers. It only vaguely recalls the Empress Hotel (Victoria B.C., 1904-08) with its flat-arched ‘loggia’, actually the dining room windows, between two towers, one of which seems to have been inspired by an Italian villa; and by the slight projection of the upper story.”


With the demolition in 1924 of the wooden portion of the building, a return to the traditional Chateau style was mandated. “By this time the style had achieved symbolic value over and above that of a simple hotel. It had come to signify things Canadian. The final result, while described by a noted journalist n his article “Canadian Castles” as a “splendid edifice although he felt it lacked the continuity both in form and style, of the Banff Springs Hotel, and seems less well suited to its spectacular mountain site. Perhaps the fact that Lake Louise is incomparable, and in this author’s opinion that includes the Banff Springs Hotel for the natural beauty of its setting justifies the simply architecture, similar to what is prevalent in Switzerland arguably the only other region in the entire world that offers the amenities of modern technology along with mind-numbing natural beauty. But, this should not diminish the fact that the Chateau Lake Louise is still a beautiful hotel, natural beauty or not natural beauty.

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Most of the rooms, public and private are obviously designed to maximize the visual pleasure of the natural setting for of the guests.

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The Chateau Lake Louise may be the most eminent mountain resort in North America, if not the world, when combining the natural beauty, recreational opportunities, luxurious, elegant interiors and bistros, and pure class.

Please visit their official site at

Fairmont Banff Springs

1The Banff Springs Hotel is a luxury hotel that was built between 1887 and 1888 as one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It is constructed in Scottish Baronial style and located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The original building was designed by American architect Bruce Price. It was built between spring 1887 and spring 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway at the instigation of its president, William Cornelius Van Horne.

Starting in 1911, a wholly new structure was built in stages to replace the 1888 hotel. Price’s Shingle style-influenced wooden structure was replaced with a new building of concrete and faced with stone. The new building was designed by another American architect, Walter S. Painter.

It’s spectacular setting in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, just above the Bow Falls is close to the thermal springs. The main view from the hotel is across the valley and toward Mount Rundle, which frequently is cited in geology books for its exposed and tilted ancient seabeds. This view, called by its founder as “The Million Dollar View” in the late 19th century in today’s economy is incalculable. This opinion and great marketing ploy was the child of CPR president William Cornelius Van Horne who as mentioned above personally chose the site as part of a string of grand hotels across Canada that would draw visitors from abroad to his railway.

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His most famous quote was, “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.” It worked to perfection and today the Banff Springs along with its sister Queen of the chain, the Fairmont Le Château, 2,475 road miles to the east embody the concept and are each the zenith of a Historic Grand Hotels in Canada. Many others are smaller versions, such as the Fairmont’s MacDonald in Edmonton and the Fort Garry in Winnipeg, but only these two and perhaps the jewel of the Grand Trunk Railway, the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa are on such an exalted level.


MacDonald’s goal and dream to build a series of greet hotels as incentives for people to use the railroads and thus use the railroads to develop the country all the way to the Pacific Ocean went into almost immediate high gear with the construction and instant popularity of the Banff Springs.

aHalfway up the internal staircase closest to the Bow Falls is found a noted painting of William Davidson felling trees on the Miramichi River during colonial times. Davidson, who had grown up in Moray, close to Banff, Scotland (which the national park, city and hotel were named after), was the first European settler in that area of Canada.
The name borne by the Canadian city and the national park is derived from his native country. The painting of the pioneer is by the war artist Cyrus Cunoe (1879–1916), who executed a series of paintings for the Canadian Pacific Railway.


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Also similar to the Chateau Frontenac, a great deal of the charm and charisma of the Banff Sprngs is due to its being multi-seasonal. Its perch high in the Canadian Rockies unlike the Frontenac which was built in the oldest neighborhood in North America established for all intense and purpose a link between eastern Canada and the British Columbia which was a sovereign province.

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The ancient Bow Glacier stands out in summer but blends into the other whiteness of the Canadian Rockies in winter. It melts and flows into Bow Lake and flows as Bow River all the way east to Calgary and beyond, passing by the hotel and help creating the view.


The turquoise waters of the river and many alpine lakes’ Lake Louise being perhaps the most famous of them all, is created when melting snow and ice picks up silt and floats on the surface of the lake formed and the blue and green hues as the sun reflects off them are detected by the human eye.


Directly behind and below the Hotel which begins the “Million Dollar View” is the Bow Falls where the Bow River cand Spray River converge, a majestic sight in winter and summer alike.



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19 20  “The Million Dollar View”

21“The Queen of the Canadian Rockies”

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The roughhewn native stone that adorns the edifice and the inside lobby.




This is not just an historic castle-like hotel, but an ultra-luxurious one at that.


It offers all the amenities.



No historic Grand Hotel is complete unless it comes with stories of its ghost or ghost. The bride below is said to have died falling down a hotel staircase looking for her groom and her apparition is reported to have been seen periodical by guests as she continues to search for her beau.


The Banff Springs Hotel is a virtual palatial castle that led to the westward of expansion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the development of Canada through the Rocky Mountains and British Columbia.

PLease visit their official site at

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

aThe paramount reason the Most Photographed Hotel In The World has received that designation by the Guinness Book of World records is self-evident from the very first moment a new visitor approaches it, day or night, winter, spring, summer or fall. It is simply majestic in every sense of the word. It’s prominence in the skyline of Quebec City is breathtaking,

The Château Frontenac (French pronunciation: [ʃɑto fʁɔ̃tənak]).locally called simply,, “The Castle” for obvious reasons is a grand hotel in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, which is operated as the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. Château Frontenac is situated at an elevation of 54 m (177 ft). It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980. Prior to the building of the hotel, the site was occupied by the Château Haldimand, residence of the British colonial governors of Lower Canada and Quebecy. The current hotel capacity is more than 600 rooms on 18 floors.

It was named Frontenac was after Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, who was governor of the colony of New France from 1672 to 1682 and 1689 to 1698. The Château was built near the historic Citadelle, the construction of which Frontenac had begun at the end of the 17th century. The Quebec Conference of 1943, at which Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King discussed strategy for World War II, was held at the Château Frontenac while much of the staff stayed nearby at the Citadel.
Although several of Quebec City’s buildings are taller, the landmark hotel is perched atop a tall cape overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, affording a spectacular view for several miles. It is easily recognizable from across the river.

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From any prospective it appears to be a monarch atop an altar. The longPromenade on the seaside of The Castle has been popular since it’s Construction at the end of the Victorian era.

This masterpiece of architectural design was the work of architect Bruce Price, as one of a series of “château” style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company (CPR) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the newer portions of the hotel—including the central tower (1924)—were designed by Canadian architect William Sutherland Maxwell. CPR’s policy was to promote luxury tourism by appealing to wealthy travelers.

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Since Québec’s foundation in 1608, this area has evolved to a small portside village with fur trading posts and elegant homes. Quartier Petit-Champlain is the oldest district in North America. It comprises narrow streets lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques and bistros. Visitors come in droves throughout the year to see the impressive historical architecture and cobblestone streets, making the Petit- Champlain one of the most popular attractions in the city. It lies directly below the hotel, reached by The Breakneck Stairs, the city’s oldest stairway built in 1635 or the Old Quebec Funicular, built in 1879 that takes it down and up to the Frontenac.


The Château Frontenac opened in 1893, six years after the Banff Springs Hotel, which was owned by the same company and is similar in style. Another reason for the construction of the Château Frontenac was to accommodate tourists for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair; however, the hotel was not finished in time.




Arguably, but not much of one, is the Chateau Frontenace occupies the most historic location for any historic grand hotel in North America. It lies on the Cap Dimmant and just above the historic Citadel.


The Cap Dimaant (Cape Dimaond) is the cape aa promiory in which the city is located,formed by the confluence of a bend in the St. Lawrence river tp the sit and east and much smaller St. Charles River to the north. Just b3elow and to the east of The Castle is the even more historic Loa Citadelle, (beliow)still an active military installtion and the officieal resident of the Conadian Monarch and the Governor General of Canada.


The Ramparts of Quebec City are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America.

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The elegance of the style preserved and improved by the Fairmont management chain which purchased many of the old Canadan Pacific and Grand Trunk Railway hotels is evident as soon as visitors step through the large bronze front and elevator doors.


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Just cattycorner from the Chateau Frontenac is aus Anciens Canadians Restaurant, housed in the oldest building in the oldest house in all of Quebec, built in 1875. It is one of many outstanding and picturesque bistros steps from the magnificent Castle.

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The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is simply An Experience like no other, combining an incredible setting, edifice and ultra-luxury hotel with all the modern amenities, in what many believe is the most beautiful historic hotel in the world.

Please visit their website at

Mohonk Mountain House

1The Mohonk Mountain House, also known as Lake Mohonk Mountain House, is a historic American resort hotel located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, New York. Its prominent location in the town of New Paltz, New York is just beyond the southern border of the Catskill Mountains on the western side of the Hudson River. Mohonk Mountain House is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Historic Landmark Program’s “Statement of Significance”, as of the site’s historic landmark designation on June 24, 1986, states:
Begun in the 1870s as a small resort for family and friends by the Smiley brothers, it became so popular that it was enlarged many times. Because of the Smiley’s love of the outdoor life, the area around the hotel was treated as an integral part of the attractions of the resort. Much of this area was planned as an experiment in conservation of the natural environment, and as an educational tool for the study of botany, geology, and outdoor living.


It matters little what season it is, the Mohonk Mountain House and its setting presents is utterly majestic


Mohonk Mountain House was built in 1869 by two brothers on 2,200 lush acres surrounding Lake Mohonk in the Shawangunk Ridge in New Paltz, New York. The historic resort is located on the shore of Lake Mohonk, which is half of a mile (800 m) long and 60 feet (18 m) deep. The main structure, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986, was built by Quaker twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley between 1879 and 1910. It has 259 guest rooms, including 28 tower rooms, an indoor pool and spa, and an outdoor ice-skating rink for winter use. The picturesque setting of the resort on the lake was featured in a print by Currier & Ives.

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Englishman Henry Hudson had been hired for the journey by a Dutch trading company, the Dutch East India Company, and his explorations led to the area first being settled by the Dutch. He was looking for a quick passage to China as he sailed along America’s north Atlantic coast in 1609. He thought he found what he was looking for when he entered New York Bay and what is now the river named for him. He and his crew of 18-20 men, sailing on a ship called the Half Moon, traveled about 150 miles up the river near what is now Albany before realizing it would not lead them to their destination of choice.

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Early maps and sailing journals tell us that the area was viewed as inhospitable, with wild animals, poisonous snakes, mountains and thick forests too dense to traverse. The river itself was seen as treacherous, especially in the stretch known as the Hudson Highlands. This area begins about 50 miles north of New York City and extends for about 15 miles, between what is now Peekskill and Newburgh. Here the hills rise up more than 1,000 feet along either shore and fierce currents and strong winds made sailing extremely difficult and dangerous. Areas of the river here were dubbed World’s End and Devil’s Horse Race by the Dutch sailors.
Much of a America’s most elite and successful have been drawn to the Hudson Valley’s bounty and beauty. Politicians, artists, businessmen and socialites built fabulous estates up and down the river’s banks, each adding their own unique contributions to the area’s collective history. 11

As members of the American aristocracy, these modern settlers were able to hire the best architects, landscape artists, and decorators to build their palaces.
Their legacy includes some of the finest examples of several historic styles of architecture, landscaping, and interiors, from the early Federal period to the numerous revival styles of the late 19th and early 20th century. It is our great fortune that many of these estates have been meticulously restored and lovingly maintained to recreate each home’s historical and cultural significance, as well as personal character. The estates along the river recreate a history not only of the Hudson Valley, but of the United States, contained in a many layered contextual experience. The Mohonk, like almost all of the Victorian grand hotels and resorts was originally conceived to offer these so-called “privileged” who populated the lower Hudson River Valley a home away from home to allow them to partake in the many recreational opportunities it continues to offer to this day.

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Resort guests may ride horses; go boating on the lake; fish; play tennis, golf, disc golf, croquet, or shuffleboard; tour a historic barn and greenhouse; take carriage rides; swim in the lake or pool; receive spa treatments; do yoga or meditation; visit the fitness center; listen to concerts and lectures; hike 85 miles of trails; stroll through formal gardens and a maze; ride mountain bikes; or go rock climbing.[7] Winter activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice-skating. There are a variety of additional activities available as well. The resort also offers dozens of regularly scheduled group activities each day.
There is a library in the main building; several books written by regular Mohonk guests are included in the collection. The hotel also has special rooms for viewing television and using the internet, and wireless internet access is complimentary throughout the resort.

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Supervised children’s activities are available for adults who want privacy or free time to explore the resort on their own.
The Mohonk Mountain House has hosted many famous visitors including industrialist John D. Rockefeller, naturalist John Burroughs, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, and Bill Clinton. Guests have also included former First Lady Julia Grant, author Thomas Mann, and religious leaders such as Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, Reverend Ralph W. Sockman, Reverend Francis Edward Clark. Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’í Faith founder Bahá’u’lláh, stayed here in 1912 during the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration as part of his journeys to the West.

From 1883 to 1916, annual conferences took place at Mohonk Mountain House, sponsored by Albert Smiley, to improve the living standards of native American Indian populations. These meetings brought together government representatives of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the House and Senate committees on Indian Affairs, as well as educators, philanthropists, and Indian leaders to discuss the formulation of policy. The 22,000 records from the 34 conference reports are now at the library of Haverford College for researchers and students of American history.
The this all-season resort also hosted the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration between 1895 and 1916, which was instrumental in creating the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. Those conference papers were donated by the Smiley Family to Swathmore College for future research.


Perhaps no grand historic hotel has the authentic ambience of the Mohonk. It feels virtually untouched by time and unlike most others while it offers the modern amenities, it retains its original atmosphere.


The property offers thousands of acres of unspoiled scenery. At the top of the Shawangunk Ridge, this Victorian castle is perched above Lake Mohonk. A total of 395 species were inventoried, including two new plant species to the Shawangunks: Barren Strawberry and Cattail Sedge. Giant Swallowtail Butterflies are also a new addition to the Preserve. The Mohonk Preserve is a way to gather species data and promote community conservation. Allowing people to get engaged and gain understanding on why biodiversity and habitat protection is important, continuing the legacy of leading naturalist Daniel Smiley. The Mohonk Preserve protects nearly 7,000 acres of mountain ridge, forest, fields and streams. Black bear, coyote, eastern chipmunk, eastern cottontail, porcupine, red fox, striped skunk, white-tailed deer and woodchucks, can all be found in the Preserve.
One can enjoy the tranquility of these sacred trees, Black Cherry, grounded by the Chestnut Oak, protected by the Red Oak, serene by the Hemlock Pitch, peaceful by the Pine, and inspired by Red Maple, It has been called “a sanctuary for the soul.” One can be able to harvest these medicinal plants, surrounded by almost magical forces.


Choosing a Grand Hotel, Resort Historic or Exotic Inn or Boutique Hotel

“Our Poetic License”

The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

This Blog was created to focus on America’s and Canada’s historic Grand Hotels. Anyone reading our early postings may remember we defined An Historic Grand Hotel for our purposes here as:

“a large and luxurious hotel, especially one built in a traditional architectural style.”

Given, for integrity and accuracy purposes every hostelry we have blogged and every one we will in the future as well, as every one featured in our upcoming book Grand Hotels, Great Pools and other ones in the works are at the very least visited by us, and almost always ones we have been a guest at. This required us to add three, additional general limitations, namely that (1) the hotels or resorts should be located in almost as a hamlet in their own, not in a large city, and in most cases, (2) have been built during the Victorian (the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901) or immediate (through the 1920s) Victorian eras and (3) are located in the United States or Canada.

The magnificent interior of The Greenbrier which shares the the same interior decorator (curator) with the Grand, Carlton Varney.

The magnificent interior of The Greenbrier which shares the same interior decorator (curator) with the Grand, Carlton Varney.

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The Fairmont flag now flies high over several of the most magnificent of all former Canadian Railway Hotel; clockwise Quebec City’s Chateau Frontenac, Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier (actually the pride of the mildly competing from 1909-1923 Grand Trunk Railway), the Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs.
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Clearly excluded would be what few would argue are grand hotels in large cities, such as New York’s Hotel Plaza, Chicago’s Palmer House and the Hay-Adams in Washington, D.C. We have also taken some poetic license to cross over any fuzzy lines in the sand when a particular hotel was one we just had to include.

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Clockwise, the 2nd Hotel Plaza in New York City; the Hay-Adams in Washington, D.C.; the 3rd and 1st Palmer House (nee Palmer Hotel) in Chicago.

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“Grand Hotel” is actually a title in Europe, especially Italy, where the first grand hotels appeared. None may be more grandiose than Monte Carlo’s Hotel Paris adjacent to the at least equally grandiose Monte Carlo Casino.
While never a hotel, the largest and most spectacular of the France’s Loire Valley chateaus or castles, the Chateau de Chambord is the epitome of ornate architecture inspired by many of the grand hotels, most notably Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier.

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Paris Hotel, Monte Carlo 1863 (left)
Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley 1509 (right)

We have established at press time for today’s blog, our choice of seventeen (17) inductions into our subjective (with some objective standards) Grand Hotel Hall of Fame. Others we have yet to visit are undoubtedly worthy, but we do not just happen upon a Grand Hotel and then consider it. We have and will continue to do extensive research in books, on the Internet and in our extensive travels to identify possible inductees. We have also urged readers to nominate or suggest others to us which we will visit when it appears one is worthy of such consideration.

And then we found exceptions to our blog that clearly do not fit one or more requisites of a grand hotel, and in fact are not technically a hotel, grand in the sense of size, or even historic. For the time being, if or until we decide to create one or more additional blogs, we have again invoked poetic license, or Executive Privilege in the author’s role as Executive Director of and have already posted blog articles on absolutely fabulous inns we have visited, including A Sunset Chateau, a relatively new inn in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, the magnificent 1996 Inn of the Five Graces in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the most previous qualified of all many traveler’s choice as The Most Romantic Hotel in the World, Saint Lucia’s Ladera Resort. Ladera does not fit any of the parameters, but it would be hard to believe that any lover of historic grand hotels would not be intrigued and fascinated by this foreign, small, relatively new hostelry.

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St, Lucia’s Ladera Resort is not a grand hotel, arguably at most an inn or boutique hotel, and obviously not in the United States or Canada, and is not even historic transformed into a resort in 1982.
Yet given its unique architecture and spectacular setting (called “A view with rooms”) we have included a special addition blog as “The Most Romantic Hotel in the World,” which some may debate.15 16

A Sunset Chateau in Sedona, Arizona has been blogged for obvious reasons.

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We were blown away by Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Inn of the Five Graces, above, and extraordinarily impressed by the less glitzy but certainly impressive and as well managed as any hotel or inn we’ve visited, the
renovated once late 19th century Victorian mansion, Evanston, Illinois Stone Porch by the Lake (below).

19We will also take the liberty of including former Grand hotels that are still standing, albeit have been converted to another use, such as the magnificent Ponce de Leon Hotel in Saint Augustine, Florida.20 21

These three are recent blogs, but others included in the author’s upcoming book Grand Hotels, Great Pools where he also devoted from the template or script appeared already are finding their way into it. These are Mansion Hotels, including Sharon, Pennsylvania’s Buhl Mansion; Saratoga Springs, New York’s Batchelor Mansion Inn; and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania’s Mansions on Fifth, all while a “luxurious hotel, especially one built in a traditional architectural style,” are petite compared to the most famous true grand hotels. We have also chosen to add a special category of Honorable Mention for rebuilt or copycat grand hotels such as what many rate America’s Greatest Resort,Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The Ocean House was built in 1868, demolished in 2005, rebuilt in 2010 retaining much of the original structure’s form when possible.21 22

Clockwise, the totally rebuilt (in 2010) Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island and its former self built in 1868 and demolished in 2005, the Batchelor Mansion House in Saratoga Springs, New York. One of that city’s most magnificent Victorian mansions converted to a mansion hotel.

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Clockwise, the Buhl Mansion in Sharon, Pennsylvania, now and then (1891 when constructed), 1906 McCook Minion in Pittsburg, now called the “Mansions on 5th as another smaller mansion is adjacent to it.

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Therefore, until further notice we will include unique and splendid magnificent mansion and boutique hotels and inns periodically here.

Rarely will one of these historic palaces, even those well preserved or magnificent restored to their former glory be picked as one of the world’s best hotels. Today, the privileged as those who could afford a stay at a palace such as what may be the most spectacular historic grand hotel the Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine, Florida whose requirements included (1) Be on the Social Register, (2) Pay cash in advance, (3) Minimum stay 6 months and (4) Be invited.

Today those who can most afford to stay almost anywhere, other than those who appreciate the historical ambience of a historic grand hotel or inn, or a historic designed boutique hotel tend to stay at a modern, 5-Star resorts or exotic romantic, remote hostelries. We ain’t knocking these choices and several may eventually be blogged here or in a companion blog site. A myriad of “experts,” frequent travelers, travel writers and magazines publish every year their individual lists of the “World’s Best Hotels.” Since rarely, if ever does The Best Hotel repeat, much less have a few-year run atop any of those lists, we contend that these annual lists where a single hostelry is picked “The Best” is more a marketing gimmick, rather than a legitimate, objective selection. However, we do not challenge the fact that everyone is most certainly magnificent and worthy of a visit if one can afford the travel expense and what are sometimes daily room, suite and cabana fees upwards of $2,000. Most historic grand hotels, resort hotels, and mansion hotels we blog are not inexpensive, as the least expensive room may be well over $500.00 a night. But, many offer discount packages. For example, Omni’s Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia offered a room we took advantage of for only $200.00, breakfast included.29 30

World’s Best 2015? Clockwise, according to Trip Advisor’s contributors, Gili Lankanfush: Maldives Resort, although in another article they selected Taj Falaknuma Palace in India; Triple Creek Ranch, Montana was chosen by  Travel+Leisure magazine; Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, California was selected by U.S. News and World Report.

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Our focus will remain on truly Historic Grand Hotel and Resorts, with as explained above a few noteworthy exceptions here and there.

How To Find and Choose An Historic Grand Hotel, Historic Hotel Resort or Historic Mansion Hotel is an exclusive blog and companion  website (under construction) focusing on Victorian and immediate post Victorian historic grand luxury hotels.

In planning our stays that will be featured here when a worthy gem is found, for the grand hotels, mansion hotels, unique boutique hotels and inns we use several directories available complimentary at almost every hotel in a given collection.

The first place to look is in the Historic Hotels of America directory, or its website.

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Administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, there are currently over 260 selected hotels nationwide, one or more in most states. Every qualified and accepted hotel by the National Trust proudly displays the distinctive HHA and many which have been selected on the National Register of Historic Places its plaque, usually at its entrance.

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There are also various directories we use to target a potential property to visit and then blog about:

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These guides do not list just historic hotels, inns or mansions, but they can be found within.The Hilton and Marrior chains which include properties, almost all licensed that range from Budget to Upscale, as high as 5-Star (by the AAA) or 5-Diamond (by Forbes, replacing Mobil) operate their most elite hotels and resorts which they designate as follows.

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Marriot also has a collection of “Autographed” special hotels that even if not historic, have historic or particularly distinctive, artistic architecture and accoutrements. 41
We then do an Internet search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. to review photos of possible candidates. We tend to eliminate those hotels that do not appear to have “traditional (or distinctive) architectural style,” meaning traditional of the era. Not all list historic hotels have traditional or distinctive exterior architecture, even though almost all have palatial interiors.38

 Fairmont Hotels which headquarter in Toronto and has changed its name from the Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel to Fairmont taking that moniker from its Fairmont on Nob Hill in San Francisco, an historic, ultra-luxury hotel, operates many ultra-luxury hotels worldwide, but the majority of its former CPR hotels are in Canada.


Most historic grand hotels in the United States Are owned by a single entity, family or individual, with the exception of numerous properties Omni operates (the Mount Washington, The Homestead, and The Bedford Springs. Other upscale chains such as The Four Seasons, Westin, Ritz-Carlton and Five Star Alliance may have an historic grand hotel here and there (the search is always continuing), but for the most part operate modern hotels and resorts.

Few if any chains operate historic inns or Mansion Hotels.

Inn of The Five Graces: Heaven in Santa Fe

By: Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D.


The booklet that all guests who stay here receive says this about the oasis city that this heavenly inn is situated in:

“Santa Fe is an ancient city by American standards. Five hundred years before the arrival of the Spanish in 1540 there were Pueblo villages here, 7,000 feet above sea level. Tiny houses and large buildings alike were constructed of a durable mixture of mud and straw called adobe. The city – the oldest state capital in the country – was wrought with battles between the Conquistadors and Pueblo Indians for control of the area. Three hundred years later, New Mexico became a United States Territory in 1846, and a state in 1912. Robust trade began by way of the Santa Fe Trail; and the fresh clear air and dry climate brought many people seeking a cure for tuberculosis. The Inn of the Five Graces anchors the historic, 17th century Barrio de Analco, or Quarter “Across the Water” in the language of the Mexican Tlaxcalpa Indians, who came to Santa Fe in 1598 with the Spanish. This is the oldest inhabited block in the United States.”

Today, only St. Augustine, Florida settled in 1565 is an older American City than this what was founded in 1607 as “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís,” the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi. It had been inhabited as far back as the 900’s by what the Spanish called the “Pueblo Indians.,” members of the Clovis culture of Paleo-Indians, perhaps the oldest so-called “Indian” culture in the Western Hemisphere which has been by archeological evidence theorized to have begun as far back as 12,000 years ago.

Santa Fe de Nuevo México, shortened to Nuevo Mexico, translated to “New Mexico” was not named after the nation of Mexico, but after the Mexica (Aztec) Empire. From here, the territories that now comprise the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Texas and California were governed. Unlike St. Augustine, much of Santa Fe remains authentic and preserved or at least restored.









Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assis (1869)



Oldest Church in America (1610)
The Mysterious “St. Joseph Staircase” at Loreto Chapel (1972)

8In 1996, a neglected cluster of traditional adobe buildings in America’s oldest neighborhood the Barrio di Ancalco was magically transformed into one of the most unique and beautiful inns on the planet.
The Barrio is characterized by adobe-brick, flat-roofed, Pueblo-style buildings once found throughout the region. That year, Ira and Sylvia Seret, internationally-known importers of exotic antiques, rugs, textiles and architectural elements, conceived the hotel named “Serets: 1001 Nights” as a showcase for their combined creative talents. From its 1996 opening as “Serets: 1001 Nights”, the 24 hour hotel was a showcase for their combined talents. In 2002, the Inn was renamed to honor its sensuous atmosphere along with its many Afghan and Tibetan artifacts. The name “Five Graces” refers to an Eastern concept — the five graces of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Each needs to be honored in the full experience of life. Over the years, the Serets’ original vision has been continually developed with meticulous attention to excellent service, cuisine, and comfort as the Inn has grown into newly acquired properties on its historic street.

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The Barrio which the Inn is centered in is the oldest neighborhood in the country, with Pueblo Indian roots going back to 900’s. On De Vargas Street, a few hundred years for the Inn The Oldest House rests on part of the foundation of an ancient Indian Pueblo dating from around 1200 AD. This pueblo was once inhabited by a tribe from the Tano speaking tribes of the northern part of the territory. Sometime around 1435 AD, this tribe abandoned their village, moving on to other sites farther south in search of water, better fields or hunting ground. While the author did not gain great favor with the proprietors pointing out that there are several houses in Dedham and Plymouth, Massachusetts that predate the present structure on the foundation by a few years, there seems no question that if one counts the ancient foundation, it definitely is the oldest known to exist in the country.

The Inn is only a half-mile from the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the terminus of the famous Santa Fe Trial, on De Vargas Street, a half block from what Santa Fe claims to be The Oldest House in America (despite the fact that numerous houses in Dedham and Plymouth, Massachusetts predate it, but not its 13th century foundation). Yet, from the outside, it is barely noticeable, but is in fact a hideaway oasis that is incomparable with any other inn or hotel on the planet.

Unlike many great inns of the world, which are prominently perched on a precipice, often with a grand edifice the Inn of the Five Graces is easy to miss and to be frank, quite understated from the roadway. However, this plays a part in its being a hideaway virtually in the center of the City, less than a half mile from the historic Plaza. It is akin to discovering a treasure in a plain brown package. Once instead, it explodes in a blend of a kaleidoscope of Southwest and Orient colors, shapes, textures and sumptuous beautiful interior architecture and furnishings.


Once inside its inauspicious external edifice, it explodes into a kaleidoscope of exotic colors, shapes and fabrics. Best stated, it has been accurately described as “Where the Southwest meets the Orient.” This was recognized in the May 2002 issue of Architectural Digest in an article 1001 Nights, An Exotic Inn in Santa Fe For Scheehrazade which observed:
“The juxtaposition of serene Spanish-inspired exteriors and colorful Asian-enhanced interiors makes for an extraordinary environment within a city where imaginative fantasy is commonplace. In the sitting room in the Herat Suite, for example, shamanic Navajo sand-painting motifs were translated into copper beadwork strung by Afghan women; they also appear in the Afghan dhurries and the Persian carpet. The combination of Oriental textile patterns, Native American motifs and Mexican ceramics is softened by historic Moorish designs now interpreted in Pueblo and Navajo weavings.”22 23 24 25

Each suite is mysterious and deeply luxurious, and individual. Much of the furniture is hand-crafted and one of a kind. Even the ceilings are adorned with copper detailing and centuries-old beams.

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What truly distinguishes this mini-palace from even the finest, ultra-luxurious inns and 5-Star, 4-Diamond hotels and resorts that authors have investigated is the rooms and suites. Every one is ultra-luxurious and sumptuous that adds to the peace, contentment and relaxation a guests enjoys. One never wants to leave.18 19

Nothing is left to chance. Even the ceilings, like the great palaces of Europe are decorated.

Literally every square inch of the suites and bedrooms are covered with fine silks, mosaics and other works of art.24 23 25 2627303132

And the bathrooms … Each shower compartment and bathtub is covered with hand-painted mosaics and are mini art galleries in their own. We felt almost like we were committing an art crime by daring to take a bath or a shower in such a work of art. The silk bedding covers the ultra-comfortable feather beds. This is probably the last inn or hotel one would expect a fitness center, but the inn of the five graces has one, and probably deserves the moniker of “inn of the ten graces,” if not more. 33 34 35 36

It is almost sacrilegious to refer to the Inn as a “Bed & Breakfast,” but if offering guests a delicious, gourmet meal in a gorgeous dining room is factored into the overall experience, then technically this is just that, but never exclusively that.


Finally, to add an exclamation point to a stay at the Inn of the Five Graces but another unmentioned grace is its fitness center. of course extending the motif. About the only thing missing is a little on premises gourmet bistro, but for no other reason than one simply does not want to leave the place, even for a meal. There is a paranoid fear that for some reason you will not get back in. 41


Any artistic masterpiece does not simply happen. It requires the vision, talent and creativity of the artist or artists. The founders of The Inn of The Five Graces, Ira and Sylvia Seret were uniquely-qualified and driven to build this oasis of art and artistry. In a previous blog published on the magnificent Ladera Inn in the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia, The Most Romantic Hotel in The World, we observed, that it was not a room with a view but “A view with rooms.” The Inn of The Five Graces is not a hostelry with great art, but a great art gallery with rooms. It was accepted as a member of arguably the most prestigious group of hotels in the world, “Relais & Chateaux “which was found in 1954 with the mission “to spread its unique art de vivre across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character.”42Ira Seret’s fascination with color and pattern blossomed in the creative excitement of New York City’s pop art movement. By 1968, living in Afghanistan, he began to develop his eye for exquisite handicraft, bringing back textiles that shape the aesthetic of the time beginning with the hugely popular sheepskin coats.

Ira and the late Designer Angelo Donghia created the famous tents for fashionable nomads that won acclaim in Bloomingdale’s notable vignettes while with Manhattan’s Stark Carpet, Ira began the dhurry fashion in floor coverings, searching remote corners of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India for the vibrantly patterned flatweaves. In January 1974, Ira and his future wife Sylvia joined creative forces.31 32 Ira and Sylvia’s immense talent, curiosity and worldliness took them throughout all the provinces of Afghanistan
and Pakistan in search of the treasure now found in the retail shop, and of course their crowning glory, the Inn.33 34

The two spent the next five years in a dance together creating both personal artwork and building cottage industries which employed hundreds of local craftspeople. In 1970, Ira returned to Afghanistan this time on a quest for flat woven cotton dhurries. Dhurries were more rare then kilim. Made for palaces and large houses, dhurries could be quite large and well-suited for the American market.

The search took him to all the provinces of Afghanistan as well as to Pakistan. In 1970, Ira partnered with Angelo Donghia again to redesign Pakistani wedding tents for western urban dwellers in Lahore to manufacture the tents with local tentmakers, who specialized in the Gulgari style of boldly patterned, hand appliqued tents.

In the spring of 1974, Ira and Sylvia designed their own nomadic dwelling, a 12 sided tent in which every other panel could open for ventilation. Working daily with a group of Kabul women, they pieced together brilliantly colored textile scraps found in the local bazaar into collages for each of the 12 doorways.

Ira and Sylvia went on to design a popular line of dhurries and kilim called “Afghan traffic”, inspired by the continual trains of camels, flocks of sheep, and pure white doves crossing the Afghan landscape.

In 1981, an outdoor courtyard along the Santa Fe River became the Seret’s first retail outlet. The business soon expanded into an adjoining two story building. At the time, Santa Fe was in the early stages of becoming an international mecca for an eclectic mix of creative people. Designer Chuck Winslow featured the Seret store in an Architectural Digest story.

Seret & Sons retail store probably belongs in Santa Fe’s Canyon Road Artists’ Colony.

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An empty lot on Galisteo Street became a two-story Alhambra style gallery, designed to resemble an ancient market center. The Seret & Sons compound of buildings and outdoor areas now fills most of the block at the corner of Galisteo and West Alameda. Today, Seret and sons 70,000+ square-foot gallery houses furnishings and architectural antiques from more than a dozen countries. The store is known for its extensive collection of rugs and textiles from central Asia and beyond – gabbehs, dhurries, kazaks and kilims as well as a world-class collection of antique rugs assembled by Ira Seret over his long career as a collector. Gorgeous antique furnishings from Tibet, India, and Peru also abound – the Seret collection of Tibetan furniture furnishings is the largest in the world.

Called “one of the world’s great shopping experiences” by Condé Nast, Seret and sons devoted customers from all parts of the world return year after year to discover the Seret’s latest designs and collections.

The Seret’s blended these furnishings with the local West interiors and signature Seret style.
Ira Seret’s uniquely designed upholstered dhurry and kilim covered furniture. As the project evolved, Sylvia began to create tiled mosaic bathrooms that inspired awe and enchantment.

From the richly embroidered bedspreads to the stunning rugs, antique carved columns, archways and marble panels, each magnificent element found in the Inn of the Five Graces has its source at Seret & Sons extensive show rooms a short walk from the Inn.


The Great American & Canadian Railway Hotels

By Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D.

Among the Great North American grand hotels, Canada has a proliferation of them, almost solely currently operated under the Fairmont flag. There is no chain in the United States which includes so many as the Fairmont chain offers in Canada.

Two corporations, one founded by a great industrialist and the other by a railroad worker established the first so-called “Railway Hotels” in both countries.



While the Banff Springs and the Chateau Frontenac were and are the jewels of the former Canada Pacific Railway hotels, the Harvey House hotel’s two jewels were the El Tovar on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the La Fond on the Plaza at the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe.
While the Banff Springs and the Chateau Frontenac were and are the jewels of the former Canada Pacific Railway hotels, the Harvey House hotel’s two jewels were the El Tovar on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the La Fond on the Plaza at the terminus of the Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe.

In 1850, a 15 year old boy from London arrived in New York City and became a “pot walloper” or dishwasher at an upscale restaurant and began a lifelong passion with fine dining. Fred Harvey worked his way west, stopping in New Orleans, St. Louis, and Kansas City, he acquired knowledge of the restaurant industry. 11

His goal was to own his own restaurant, and in that endeavor, he accepted a lucrative position as a traveling freight agent on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. Traveling conditions were frightful in the late 1860’s and early 1870’s. Trains were dusty and full of mice and flies. Experienced travelers packed their own picnic of fried chicken, hard boiled eggs, cheese and maybe a piece of cake. When that ran out, you were forced to disembark the train and take your chances on whatever was available at the station.

In 1875, he approached officials at the Burlington Railroad with his idea of opening restaurants at the train depots. Railroad officials had no interest in supplying food and laughed him out of their office. But as he left the office, one of the officials commented that he should approach the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, which was the most rapidly expanding railroad in the West. Santa Fe liked the idea and a partnership was formed. Harvey opened the first restaurant, The Harvey House, in Topeka, Kansas in 1875. It was an immediate success, not only with travelers, but with local residents as well. Within 9 years, there were 17 Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe route, and the first restaurant “chain” was born.

Harvey’s only problem was his wait staff. The waiters were undependable, coming to work drunk, picking fights, and destroying company property. No one civilized wanted to work out West. Where could he get decent, dependable help? Women.

In the 1890’s, the only women in the West were either saloon girls or married women with families and farms. It was truly the Wild, Wild West, full of cowboys, gunslingers, scam artists and roughnecks. An uncivilized place to be. So, Harvey did something truly revolutionary. He placed an ad in East Coast papers for women 18 – 30 years of age, attractive, educated, and decent. Harvey offered room and board, free train passage, and wages of $17.50 per month. No experience necessary. Harvey wanted to train them his way. But would they come?

If the Harvey Girls were not famous enough, the 1946 motion picture starring the top box office star in the world, Judy Garland cemented it for posterity.

They came like gangbusters. In the late 19th century, opportunities for women were very limited. The only suitable positions were as teachers, servants, dressmakers, or factory workers. Not only was being a Harvey girl an opportunity to make great money, it was an opportunity for adventure. But being a Harvey girl was not easy.


For the Southwest, Harvey hired architects Charles Whittlesey and Mary Colter to design influential landmark hotels in Santa Fe and Gallup, New Mexico, Winslow, Arizona, and at the South Rim and the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the 1910s and 1920s. The rugged, landscape-integrated design principles of their work influenced a generation of subsequent western U.S. architecture through the National Park Service and Civilian Conservation Corps structures built in the Depression. Harvey and his architects created an entire set of cultural images. Probably the grandest of all of the Harvey House Hotels was the still extant El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, completed around 1905. It is virtually a few hundred feet from the mile-deep crevice.

Winslow, Arizona’s La Pasada which opened in 1930.
Yes Virginia, there is another Las Vegas … in New Mexico. The Alvarado Harvey House Hotel was a popular destination along The Santa Fee Railroad long before THE Las Vegas in Nevada became a world icon of great hotels

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While Harvey may have been the pioneer in the United States of the chain hotel, his efforts paled in comparison to those of William Cornelius Van Horne.

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More about Van Horn later, but first a little railroad history of the line that made him famous, richer and which led to the building of the grand hotels of Canada.
Perhaps no other country in the world was built with such reliance on hotel. After the purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867, the Canadians thought they saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to act quickly to expand their country to the Pacific. Building of an “Imperial Road,” a coast-to-coast railroad was the solution and to encourage travel on it, the building of grand hotels that catered to wealthy potential travelers was the glue that made the railroads affordable and practical.

The creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway was a task originally undertaken for a combination of reasons by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. British Columbia had insisted upon a transport link to the East as a condition for joining the Confederation of Canada (initially requesting a wagon road). The government however, proposed to build a railway linking the Pacific province to the Eastern provinces within 10 years of 20 July 1871. Macdonald saw it as essential to the creation of a unified Canadian nation that would stretch across the continent. Moreover, manufacturing interests in Quebec and Ontario needed access to raw materials and markets in Western Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister, Sr. John MacDonald and his namesake Hotel, Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel MacDonald.


The first obstacle to its construction was political. The logical route went through the American Midwest and the city of Chicago, Illinois. In addition to this was the difficulty of building a railroad through the Canadian Rockies, an entirely Canadian route would require crossing 1,600 km (990 mi) of rugged terrain across the barren Canadian Shield and muskeg of Northern Ontario. To ensure this routing, the government offered huge incentives including vast grants of land in the West.
In 1873, Sir John A. Macdonald and other high-ranking politicians, bribed in the Pacific Scandal, granted federal contracts to Hugh Allan’s Canada Pacific Railway Company (which was unrelated to the current company) rather than to David Lewis Macpherson’s Inter-Ocean Railway Company which was thought to have connections to the American Northern Pacific Railway Company. Because of this scandal, the Conservative Party was removed from office in 1873. The new Liberal Prime Minister, Alexander Mackenzie, ordered construction of segments of the railway as a public enterprise under the supervision of the Department of Public Works led by Sandford Fleming. Surveying was carried out during the first years of a number of alternative routes in this virgin territory followed by construction of a telegraph along the lines that had been agreed upon.[4] The Thunder Bay section linking Lake Superior to Winnipeg was commenced in 1875. By 1880, around 700 miles was nearly complete, mainly across the troublesome Canadian Shield terrain, with trains running on only 300 miles of track.

C.P.R locomotive and employees
C.P.R locomotive and employees

With Macdonald’s return to power on 16 October 1878, a more aggressive construction policy was adopted. Macdonald confirmed that Port Moody would be the terminus of the transcontinental railway, and announced that the railway would follow the Fraser and Thompson rivers between Port Moody and Kamloops. In 1879, the federal government floated bonds in London and called for tenders to construct the 206 km (128 mi) section of the railway from Yale, British Columbia, to Savona’s Ferry, on Kamloops Lake. The contract was awarded to Andrew Onderdonk, whose men started work on 15 May 1880. After the completion of that section, Onderdonk received contracts to build between Yale and Port Moody, and between Savona’s Ferry and Eagle Pass.

Building the Railway 1881-1885

Canadian Pacific Railway Crew laying tracks at lower Fraser Valley, 1881

It was presumed that the railway would travel through the rich “Fertile Belt” of the North Saskatchewan River Valley and cross the Rocky Mountains via the Yellowhead Pass, a route suggested by Sir Sandford Fleming based on a decade of work. However, the CPR quickly discarded this plan in favor of a more southerly route across the arid Palliser’s Triangle in Saskatchewan and via Kicking Horse Pass and down the Field Hill to the Rocky Mountain Trench. This route was more direct and closer to the American border, making it easier for the CPR to keep American railways from encroaching on the Canadian market. However, this route also had several disadvantages.
In 1881, construction progressed at a pace too slow for the railway’s officials who, in 1882, hired the renowned railway executive William Cornelius Van Horne to oversee construction with the inducement of a generous salary and the intriguing challenge of handling such a difficult railway project. Van Horne stated that he would have 800 km (500 mi) of main line built in 1882. Floods delayed the start of the construction season, but over 672 km (418 mi) of main line, as well as various sidings and branch lines, were built that year. The Thunder Bay branch (west from Fort William) was completed in June 1882 by the Department of Railways and Canals and turned over to the company in May 1883, permitting all-Canadian lake and rail traffic from Eastern Canada to Winnipeg, for the first time in Canada’s history. By the end of 1883, the railway had reached the Rocky Mountains, just eight km (five miles) east of Kicking Horse Pass. The construction seasons of 1884 and 1885 would be spent in the mountains of British Columbia and on the north shore of Lake Superior.
By 1883, railway construction was progressing rapidly, but the CPR was in danger of running out of funds. In response, on 31 January 1884, the government passed the Railway Relief Bill, providing a further $22.5 million in loans to the CPR. The bill received royal assent on 6 March 1884.
On 7 November 1885, the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, British Columbia, making good on the original promise. Four days earlier, the last spike of the Lake Superior section was driven in just west of Jackfish, Ontario. While the railway was completed four years after the original 1881 deadline, it was completed more than five years ahead of the new date of 1891 that Macdonald gave in 1881. The successful construction of such a massive project, although troubled by delays and scandal, was considered an impressive feat of engineering and political will for a country with such a small population, limited capital, and difficult terrain. It was by far the longest railway ever constructed at the time. It had taken 12,000 men and 5,000 horses to construct the Lake section.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Canada, the CPR had created a network of lines reaching from Quebec City to St. Thomas, Ontario by 1885, and had launched a fleet of Great Lakes ships to link its terminals. The CPR had effected purchases and long-term leases of several railways through an associated railway company, the Ontario and Quebec Railway (O&Q). The O&Q built a line between Perth, Ontario, and Toronto (completed on 5 May 1884) to connect these acquisitions. The CPR obtained a 999-year lease on the O&Q on 4 January 1884. In 1895 it acquired a minority interest in the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, giving it a link to New York and the Northeast United States.


The last spike in the CPR was driven on 7 November 1885, by one of its directors, Donald Smith, but so many cost-cutting shortcuts were taken in constructing the railway that regular transcontinental service could not start for another seven months while work was done to improve the railway’s condition (part of this was due to snow in the mountains and lack of snow sheds to keep the line open). However, had these shortcuts not been taken, it is conceivable that the CPR might have had to default financially, leaving the railway unfinished.
By that time, however, the CPR had decided to move its western terminus from Port Moody to Granville, which was renamed “Vancouver” later that year. The first official train destined for Vancouver arrived on 23 May 1887, although the line had already been in use for three months. The CPR quickly became profitable, and all loans from the Federal government were repaid years ahead of time. In 1888, a branch line was opened between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie where the CPR connected with the American railway system and its own steamships. soo6045dantweetleThat same year, work was started on a line from London, Ontario, to the American border at Windsor, Ontario. That line opened on 12 June 1890.

The CPR and the settlement of Western Canada

A CPR land offering

Practically speaking, the CPR had built a railway that operated mostly in the wilderness. The usefulness of the prairies was questionable in the minds of many. The thinking prevailed that the prairies had great potential. Under the initial contract with the Canadian government to build the railway, the CPR was granted 25 million acres (100,000 km2). Proving already to be a very resourceful organization, Canadian Pacific began an intense campaign to bring immigrants to Canada. Canadian Pacific agents operated in many overseas locations. Immigrants were often sold a package that included passage on a CP ship, travel on a CP train, and land sold by the CP railway. Land was priced at $2.50 an acre and up but required cultivation.

At the age of fourteen, Van Horne began working on railroads serving in various capacities on the Michigan Central Railway until 1864, then for the Chicago and Alton Railway for whom he served as the general superintendent from 1878-1879. In 1882, he was appointed general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway and in 1884 became its vice-president. Rising to president in 1888, he is most famous for overseeing the major construction of the first Canadian transcontinental Railway.

Van Horne considered the railway an integrated communications and transportation system and convinced the directors and shareholders to create a telegraph service and an express freight delivery service as a complement to the railway. Van Horne was knowledgeable in nearly every element of the railway industry, including operating a locomotive. A wealthy man, he later became an investor of the Cuba Railroad Company, which managed to build the first trans-country railway connecting Havana with the two eastern provinces (Camaguey and Oriente) and the city of Santiago de Cuba in 1901.untitled

He was also responsible for launching the sea transport division of the Canadian Pacific Railway, inaugurating a regular service between Vancouver and Hong Kong in 1891 on the Empress luxury liners, and lastly presided over the expansion of the CPR in the luxury hotel business and participated in the design of two of the most famous buildings in the chain, the Château Frontenac in Quebec City and Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta.

Van Horne served as a governor of McGill University from 1895–1915 and was one of the first in Canada to acquire artworks by members of the French impressionist movement.
He built the Van Horne Mansion in Montreal and a large summer estate which he named “Covenhoven” on Minister’s Island, adjacent to CPR’s resort town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Van_Horne_Sherbrooke_Stanley_Montrea_1890The island estate is accessible by a road during the Bay of Fundy’s low tide.

Beautiful view on Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Beautiful view on Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada

In 1886, the CPR had constructed a few small hotels to accommodate travelers, including Glacier House in Glacier National Park at Rogers Pass and Mount Stephen House in Field, British Columbia. Other small hotels were soon constructed at Kicking Horse Pass, North Bend in Fraser Canyon, Sicamous on Shuswap Lake, and Revelstoke. Some of the lesser pioneer hostelries were designed primarily to provide meal service for passengers in the Rocky Mountains, where railway grades were too severe to justify the operation of dining cars (see the Big Hill), although Glacier House and the Sicamous Hotel were destination hotels in their own right. All establishments operated successfully for a number of years, but were abandoned as hotels, when through dining car service made their maintenance unprofitable. Glacier House attracted considerable alpine patronage till diversion of the railway’s main passenger service to the Southern Mainline left it considerably removed from the beaten track, and this resort too ceased to operate.6944524930_9f59e0a1ca_z

Other small hotels were operated in the Kootenays region south of the mainline, notably at Balfour where Balfour House was a lodging for ferry passengers connecting across Kootenay Lake, which was an integral part of service on the Southern Mainline. In 1886, Van Horne built Fraser Canyon House in North Bend (part of Boston Bar), and locally called in its day the CPR Hotel. Later renamed the North Bend Hotel, the original structure burned down in 1927, with a second hotel built in 1929 but no longer extant.

Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, 1929

CPR’s Hotel Department for the operation of tourist accommodation began with the opening of the Hotel Vancouver on May 16, 1888, this was the first of three railway-owned hotels by that name in Vancouver. Two weeks later, the Banff Springs Hotel was officially opened on June 1, 1888. Newly appointed CPR president William Cornelius Van Horne had personally chosen the site in the Rocky Mountains for the new hotel, and he envisioned a string of grand hotels across Canada that would draw visitors from abroad to his railway.

Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, 1929
Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, 1929

The original Banff Springs Hotel, though much smaller than the present hotel, became such an immediate hit among tourists of the 1880s, the CPR encouraged the federal government to establish Canada’s first national park in the territory surrounding it; eventually leading to a network of national parks across the nation. Hotels in major metropolitan areas served by CPR soon followed and these were intended for use by both tourists and business travelers.
The Chateau Lake Louise, opened in 1890 as a single-story building of log construction, was also popular for tourists. Subsequent additions were made to it in 1893, 1900, 1906, 1911, 1913, 1924 and reconstruction in 1925. Additions to the Banff Springs Hotel were completed in 1911, 1914, 1926 and 1928, necessitated by the growing volume of tourist traffic.
In addition to hotels, the CPR also operated five bungalow camps across the country as well. It owned, operated or leased a number of camps, tea houses and chalets in remote sections of the Rockies served by Canadian Pacific lines. These include Emerald Lake Chalet and Yoho Valley Lodge, Field; Lake O’Hara and Lake Wapta Lodges at Hector and Moraine Lake Lodge at Lake Louise. Tea houses were located at Twin Falls, Plain of the Six Glaciers, and Lake Agnes, near Lake Louise.

Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City
Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, sister of the Banff Springs and the Most Photographed Hotel in the World.

First of the company’s eastern hotels, the Château Frontenac was opened at Quebec City on December 11, 1893, while subsequent additions in 1904, 1906, 1916 and 1923, which included the great central tower, made it one of the finest hotels in Canada. It was further improved in 1926.
The turreted Place Viger Hotel, now one of Montreal’s familiar landmarks, was the city’s leading hostelry for many years. Erected in 1898, the hotel and its adjacent terminals catered to a large section of the traveling public till 1935 when the hotel ceased to operate. 21For the next Canadian Pacific hotel development the spotlight shifts westward again, when the small hotel at Sicamous, British Columbia, was opened in 1900. Overlooking Shuswap Lake, the Hotel Sicamous was a great favorite with the visiting tourist. Once owned and operated by the CPR, operation in its later years, was under lease. The hotel was demolished in 1964.
In 1901 the McAdam Hotel one of the CPR’s smaller hotels was opened at McAdam, New Brunswick, gateway to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea and other popular vacation resorts. The following year saw the opening of the Emerald Lake Chalet, near Field, British Columbia. Its proximity to Banff and Lake Louise further enhanced its popularity in the Rocky Mountain vacation picture. In 1903 The Algonquin hotel at St. Andrews was taken over by the CPR.[1]
Next link on the CPR hotel chain appeared in Winnipeg, when the Royal Alexandra Hotel was completed in 1906. Substantial additions were made in 1914 on this popular prairie hostelry, the largest CPR hotel between Toronto and Calgary. The hotel was connected directly to the railway station, and enjoyed a lavish career for many years. However, by the mid-1960s with the increasing dominance of the airlines, and the hotel’s physical location, the number of guests had decreased significantly. The Royal Alexandra closed in December 1967, and was demolished in 1971.

The Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia
The Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia

The Empress Hotel, the CPR’s world-famous hostelry at Victoria, British Columbia, was erected two years later and officially opened on January 20, 1908. Additional wings have since been added, the latest in 1929. Like the Royal Alexandra, the Empress was also a candidate for demolition in the mid-1960s, however, this well-known Canadian landmark was instead renovated and refurbished and has since undergone further restoration to its original, pre-war elegance.

The Palliser Hotel at Calgary joined the CPR hotel family in 1914 when it was opened to the public. This handsome and well-appointed hostelry near the Rocky Mountain foothills, was enlarged in 1929. In 1927, in the neighboring province of Saskatchewan, the company opened its Hotel Saskatchewan at Regina, which soon became a favorite stopping-place for visitors to the Queen City of the West.PC005332The Royal York Hotel, once billed as the largest hotel in the British Empire and one of the finest on the continent, opened its doors on June 11, 1929. A well-known landmark on the Toronto skyline, one of its attractions was said to be its spectacular view overlooking the vast expanse of Lake Ontario, a feature that seems to have been lost to the recent condominium development of Harbor front.

The tourism success of the CPR’s subsidiary in Nova Scotia, the Dominion Atlantic Railway, led the CPR to invest in a series of Nova Scotian Hotels. The CPR was the lead investor in the Lord Nelson Hotel built in Halifax in 1927 to rival Canadian National’s Hotel Nova Scotian. Next came the construction in 1929 of the new, baronial style Cornwallis Inn at Kentville, Nova Scotia in the Annapolis Valley and the rebuilding of the Digby Pines Hotel at Digby. The Nova Scotian chain was completed in June 1931 with the new rustic Lakeside Inn resort at Yarmouth.


A Brief History of Hotels

In all probability, the first lodging facilities for travelers were built well over 3,000 years ago along the Mediterranean “Trade Routes.” They were located along the sea and the heaviest traveled inland passageways.
Hotels and civilization over the last several millenniums have developed simultaneously. They date well before biblical times, The Greeks offered thermal baths, earlier versions of public and private swimming pools that were offered to weary travelers. The Romans built large mansions that provided accommodation to travelers, punctuated also by thermal baths.
In the Middle East and Asia there was continuous migrations, often religiously inspired. In Europe monasteries and abbeys offered refuge to travelers on a regular basis. Many religious orders built their own hostelries.1
Inns multiplied, but they did not yet offer meals. Staging posts were established for governmental transports and as rest stops. They provided shelter and allowed horses to be changed more easily. Numerous refuges then sprang up for pilgrims and crusaders on their way to the Holy Land.
Traveling then became progressively more hazardous. At the same time, inns gradually appeared in most of Europe. Some of them have remained famous, for example, l’ Auberge des Trois Rois in Basle, which dates from the Middle Ages. Around 1200, staging posts for travelers and stations for couriers were set up in China and Mongolia.
As the hotel industry began to develop in Europe, signs were hung outside establishments renowned for their refined cuisine. At the end of the 1600s, the first stage coaches following a regular timetable started operating in England. Half a century later, clubs similar to English gentlemen’s clubs and masonic lodges began to appear in America.
In Paris in the time of Louis XIV, the Place Vendôme offered the first example of a multiple-use architectural complex, where the classical façades accommodated boutiques, offices, apartments and also hotels. At the beginning of the 1800s, the Royal Hotel was built in London. Holiday resorts began to flourish along the French and Italian Rivieras.
The Holt Hotel in New York City was the first to provide its guests with a lift for their luggage.
The inauguration of the Grand Hôtel in Paris took place on 5 May 1862 in the presence of the Empress Eugénie. The exterior façades with their high arched doors and their Louis XIV windows were in the style required for the surroundings of the Opéra. The greatest names in painting and decoration participated in the completion of this hotel, the grandest in Europe in its dimensions, luxury and installations. The first hydraulic lift was installed in this hotel. “Lighting was supplied by 4000 gas jets; heating by 18 stoves and 354 hot air vents.”

2Perhaps the first hotel that called itself “Grand” was Le Grand Hotel was built by the wealthy brothers Isaac & Émile Pereire and designed by Alfred Armand. Construction began in April 1861 and the hotel was inaugurated on April 5, 1862 by Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, before officially opening on June 30, 186. The hotel’s construction was part of the complete reconstruction of Paris supervised by Baron Haussmann at the time and it was built in the proscribed style, with a mansard roof. Filling an entire triangular city block, the hotel boasted 800 rooms on four floors for guests, with another whole floor for their servants. The hotel has hosted royalty throughout its long history, including Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra, King Edward VII of England and Queen Rania of Jordan. Victor Hugo hosted parties at the Le Grand Hotel and Émile Zola used the hotel for the setting of the death of his tragic character Nana. 3 Industrial France is in the process of coming together and increasing its reach. Both the 1855 and 1867 World Fairs are being prepared, which will bring in visitors from the world over. At this the time when the “Grand Hotels” were being built, the “Grand Hôtel du Louvre” – demanded by Napoleon III – was among the first…4In Colonial America, the first inns were established along colonial post roads which were traversed by stagecoaches, buggies and horseback riders. Stagecoach stops provided respite after a long day’s journey, where travelers could enjoy a repast, stock up on necessary goods, seek rest and be protected from the many outlaws, “highway robbers”, who were particular threats in the dark of night. In his book Hotel (An American History), author Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz wrote when George Washington embarked on his presidential tours of 1789–91, the rudimentary inns and taverns of the day suddenly seemed dismally inadequate. But within a decade, Americans had built the first hotels—large and elegant structures that boasted private bedchambers and grand public ballrooms.

The Tremont House, 1829 in Boston reportedly was the first American hotel to have indoor plumbing.
The Tremont House, 1829 in Boston reportedly was the first American hotel to have indoor plumbing.


With the invention and fast proliferation of the automobile in the early 20th century, the first motor hotels, or motels began to crop up along major travel routes. It took until the middle of the century until the suburbs of today began, primarily small bedroom communities with small homes and businesses, not particularly suitable to host guests overnight, and they resulted in the second highest concentration of lodging facilities.

First Motor Inn (Motel) San Luis Obispo, California, 1925
First Motor Inn (Motel) San Luis Obispo, California, 1925

There is no absolute proof when the first inn, or hotel was established in the United States.
Many claim that distinction, but the task is made harder by agreeing on a definition, numerous ones began as residential dwellings and evolved into hostelries for traveling Guests.10

With the invention and fast proliferation of the automobile in the early 20th century, the first motor hotels, or motels began to crop up along major travel routes. It took until the middle of the century until the suburbs of today began, primarily small bedroom communities with small homes and businesses, not particularly suitable to host guests overnight, and they resulted in the second highest concentration of lodging facilities.

The Milleridge Inn, Jericho, NY is among many that claim to be "America's Oldest". It dates back to 1672
The Milleridge Inn, Jericho, NY is among many that claim to be “America’s Oldest”. It dates back to 1672
Robert Morris Inn, Oxford, Maryland 1710
Daniel Webster Inn, Cape Cod, MA 1746
Daniel Webster Inn, Cape Cod, MA 1746

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa


The Mission Inn, now known as The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, is a historic landmark hotel in downtown Riverside, California, about 60 miles west of downtown Los Angeles in so-called Inland Empire that includes the other relatively large city, San Bernadino. Although a composite of many architectural styles, it is generally considered the largest Mission Revival Style building in the United States. Built back in 1876, at least its earlier buildings for most of its life, were relatively unknown even to Southern Californians, perhaps because a mission-style building was nothing out of the ordinary. Once inside, that perception changes quickly. It’s almost hideaway status may be the result of many of Hollywood’s most popular luminaries, many who hid an hour west in the middle of the desert in Palm Springs, or in their oceanfront hideaways in Malibu desiring anonymity. For 125 years, the Mission Inn has been the center of Riverside, host to a number of seasonal and holiday functions, as well as occasional political functions and other major social gatherings. Pat and Richard Nixon were married at one of the two wedding chapels, Nancy and Ronald Reagan honeymooned there, and eight other American Presidents have visited the Inn: Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and George W. Bush.


Social leaders who have stopped at the Mission Inn include Susan B. Anthony, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Huntington, Albert Einstein, Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst, Hubert H. Bancroft, Harry Chandler, Booker T. Washington, Helen Keller and John Muir.
The list of entertainers who have toured the Inn is extensive. Lillian Russell, Sarah Bernhardt and Harry Houdini were early visitors to Frank Miller’s hotel. Other guests have included actors such as Ethel Barrymore, Charles Boyer, Eddie Cantor, Mary Pickford, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis (who was married at the Inn in 1945), W. C. Fields, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Fess Parker, James Brolin and Barbra Streisand, Raquel Welch and Drew Barrymore. Other celebrities such as Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard and Tears for Fears have stopped by. Given this, it is certainly not a secret Grand Hotel, albeit probably was never even given that distinction.
The author experienced it first hand in 1961 when it was the first place he stayed in what was to be a nearly 30-year extended visit to the Golden State.


What is now known as the Inland Empire was inhabited for thousands of years, prior to the late eighteenth century, by the Tongva, Serrano, and Cahuilla Native Americans. With Spanish colonization and the subsequent Mexican era the area was sparsely populated at the land grant Ranchos, considering it unsuitable for missions. The first American settlers arrived over the Cajon Pass in the San Bernardino Mountains to the north in 1851, a group of Mormon pioneers who were the first residents of San Bernardino. Although the Mormons left a scant six years later, recalled to Salt Lake City by Brigham Young during the church’s Utah War with the US government, other settlers soon followed.


The arrival of rail and the importation of navel and Valencia orange trees in the 1870s touched off explosive growth, with the area quickly becoming a major center for citrus production. This agricultural boom continued with the arrival of water from the Colorado River and the rapid growth of Los Angeles in the early 20th century, with dairy farming becoming another staple industry. In 1926, Route 66 . It was not until the turn of the 20th century that Riverside even was much of a community. But, the Mission Inn was by then almost a quarter century old. The property began as a small cottage hotel called the “Glenwood Hotel,” built by civil engineer Christopher Columbus Miller in 1876. In 1902, Miller’s son Frank Augustus Miller changed the name to the “Mission Inn” and started building, in a variety of styles, until he died in 1935.
Miller’s vision for the eclectic structure was drawn from many historical design periods, revivals, influences, and styles. Some are Spanish Gothic architecture, Mission Revival Style architecture, Moorish Revival architecture, Spanish Colonial style architecture, Spanish Colonial Revival Style architecture, Renaissance Revival architecture, and Mediterranean Revival Style architecture. With one section over another, addition upon addition, the result is a complicated and intricately built structure, comparable to the Winchester House. It contains narrow passageways, exterior arcades, a medieval-style clock, a five-story rotunda, numerous patios and windows, castle towers, minarets, a Cloister Wing (with catacombs), flying buttresses, Mediterranean domes and a pedestrian sky bridge among many other features.
During the 30-year construction period Miller traveled the world, collecting treasures to bring back to the hotel for display. The various museum-quality artifacts on the property have an estimated value of over $5 million.
The St. Francis Chapel houses four large, stained-glass windows and two original mosaics by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The windows were salvaged from the Madison Square Presbyterian Church and the chapel purpose built to house them. The Mexican-Baroque styled “Rayas Altar” is 25 feet tall by 16 feet across, carved from cedar and completely covered in gold leaf. For his “Garden of Bells,” Miller collected over 800 bells, including one dating from the year 1247 described as the “oldest bell in Christendom.” This explains why much of the Inn has an ambience unlike any American hotel of any size or stature. It is a truly exhilarating experience. It’s mosaics and frescos which line the stairwells and walls are each artistic masterpieces of museum quality. One is fortunate to stay here, rather than visit it by guided tour. While its original edifice was removed in favor of it’s walled frontyard pool, there is still almost too much to take in on several visits.

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If one suddenly found themselves transported into and woke up inside this place without knowing it was not in semi-arid Southern California, then would expect they were in Valencia or Seville, Spain.

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The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa


The Omni Grove Park Inn is a historic resort hotel on the western-facing slope of Sunset Mountain within the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Asheville, North Carolina. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel is an example of the Arts and Crafts style. It also features a $44 million, 40,000-square-foot, modern subterranean spa,
It has a glorious history, comparable with virtually every other Hall of Fame Grand Hotel, yet it is only the second most famous building in Asheville, North Carolina. It arguably has hosted more famous guests, but not more visitors, which the most famous, The Biltmore Estate, 4.5 miles away has as is now one of North Carolina’s most attended tourist destinations. a2

Now managed by the elite Omni management company which also runs and has incorporated its name into several other Hall of Famers here, the Grove Park Inn features 55,000 square feet of versatile event, banquet, convention and meeting space. This includes an 18,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom and an 8,800-square-foot Heritage Ballroom. The inn has 510 guest rooms plus, 42 meeting rooms and suites as well as pre-function areas and outdoor terraces, patios and balconies. Upon entrance is the Great Hall, which measures 120 feet (37 m) across and features 24-foot ceilings and two 14-foot stone fireplaces and the resort’s grand lobby is famous for the elevators hidden in the chimneys of the fireplaces, which transport guests to their rooms. Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains can be seen on the adjacent side of the Great Hall on the grand patio where every day at sunset the Grove Park Sunset Chime is sounded. Many US Presidents, famous actors and actresses, and other people of note have stayed at the “Inn”. It is also said that the Inn has a perpetual visitor: The Pink Lady Ghost. The legend of the Pink Lady states that in the 1920s, she fell, or was pushed from the hallway outside her room over the rail where she fell to the floor of the Palm Court Pavilion below. The room that she stayed in, 545 has been reported from people who stayed in the room of experiencing cold spots in the room and sometimes seeing her apparition.
Grove Park is situated with a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains with virtually every room facing the blue hue peaks, the public and guests takes advantage of the stunning vista.


Exterior sketch of the Grove Park Inn by Fred Seely, 1912

The Grove Park Inn was conceptualized by Edwin Wiley Grove (1850–1927) with the help of his son-in-law, Fred Loring Seely (1871–1942). Edwin Wiley Grove, known as the “Father of Modern Asheville” was born in 1850 on a small farm in Tennessee in his mid-twenties, Grove purchased Paris Medicine Company originally based in Paris, Tennessee. The firm was moved to St. Louis. Its primary money-making product was Grove’s Chill Tonic, which was a tasty syrup elixir containing quinine. Edwin believed the Asheville, North Carolina climate would have health benefits and be the ideal location for a resort. His doctors sent him there to determine if the climate would help reduce or cure his bouts with extreme hiccups, which would last several weeks at a time.


Like its fellow Hall of Famer, the French Lick Springs Hotel, the Grove Park was afforded and built through the earnings of the sale of a miracle medicinal product, their Pluto Water, and here Groves Chill Tonic.

Before extolling the grandeur of this truly unique edifice, no story about the Grove Park Inn can ignore its magnetism to attract the rich and famous,
Not quite the 22 and 27 of The Homestead and The Greenbrier, it still hosted ten American presidents, Calvin Coolidge, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and yes, Barack Obama.
While the now famous bunker of The Greenbrier built with the strictest of secrecy to house Congress in case of nuclear attack, according to a 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal, the United States Supreme Court was planned to relocate to the Grove Park Inn in the event of such an attack during the height of the Cold War.

Harvey Firestone, Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford and Fred Seely at Grove Park Inn, 1918. Edison’s most famous invention and the Peak of his fame coincided with the building of the Grand Hotels, many of which he electrified, including the Grove Park Inn. He, Firestone and Ford often accompanies by president Calvin Cooledge often travel together, including numerous camping trips. At the Grove Park in these nature lovers could enjoy nature’s beauty and the elegance of a specutacular Grand Hotel.
Harvey Firestone, Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford and Fred Seely at Grove Park Inn, 1918. Edison’s most famous invention and the peak of his fame coincided with the building of the Grand Hotels, many of which he electrified, including the Grove Park Inn. He, Firestone and Ford often accompanied by president Calvin Coolidge traveled together, including numerous camping trips. At the Grove Park, nature lovers could enjoy nature’s beauty and the elegance of a spectacular Grand Hotel.

The hotel has hosted many famous celebrities over the years,including William Jennings Bryan (who spoke at the hotel’s opening), Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Elbert Hubbard, Helen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, John D. Rockefeller, Gen. John J. Pershing, Dean Smith, Jerry Seinfeld, John Waters, David & Amy Sedaris, Mischa Barton, Mike Huckabee, former NC Governor Bev Perdue, Sanjay Gupta, Trey Anastasio, Charles Schwab, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Enrico Caruso, Harry Houdini, Al Jolson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bobby Jones, Wiley Post, Will Rogers, Bill Tilden, Billy Graham, Barack Obama, William Shatner, Don Cheadle, Vijay Kansupada, Raziel Reid and many others.
F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed at the hotel for two years to write while his wife was in an insane asylum in Asheville. The rooms in which he stayed, 441 and 443, are available for guests. One is furnished exactly as it was during his stay in the 1930s. Rooms in which famous people stayed are marked by plaques on the door saying who stayed there and when. On February 3, 1930, William Howard Taft resigned from the US Supreme Court in the Great Hall Lobby.a8a9

The master of the occult and expert on speaking to the dead who has yet to speak from the grave, Houdini plays into the history of the hotel.
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Every historic Grand Hotel is rumored to be inhabited with ghosts. Given some of the unusual tales of famous and even not-so-famous guests who perished under suspicious and unusual circumstances, like the builder of the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, Charelville Hays who went down with the Titanic days before its planned grand opening. The Del Coronado and even New York’s Hotel Plaza, built the same year the Mt. Washington and the year before the Grove Park are famous for their alleged ghostly inhabitants. The Pink Lady supposedly while dressed in pink fell to her death in the Palm Court atrium around 1920 and has been haunting guests ever since.a10

The blue hue that has given the range its name, the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking from the resort.a11 a12 a13 a14
Stepping inside does not disappoint after being wowed by the almost overwhelming beautiful stone exterior.a15

The lobby is known as The Great Hall — and for good reason. Measuring 120 feet across, the hall features 24-foot ceilings and two gigantic 14-foot stone fireplaces. Throughout its massive lobby, words of inspiration from noted authors and anonymous sources are etched in stone. It’s famous for the elevators cleverly hidden in the chimneys of the stone fireplaces (put there to conceal the noise of the machinery), which continue to transport guests to their rooms. Seeing the large staircases and knowing the building has several floors, seemed to mean one had better be prepared to begin climbing. Ain’t so. Step around one of its huge fireplaces, almost hidden from view, appears to be an entrance to a cave, but in fact it is one of its world-famous elevators listed in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as a true anomaly … its three old time elevators still under the control of an elevator operator are hidden inside the chimneys.a12 a13 a14 a15

But an even more impressive sight awaits the hotel’s lucky guests. Buried deep below the ground in a courtyard overlooking the Inn’s Sunset Grill and Edison Grills, with their magnificent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a bevy of caves entered from the two more modern, but still rustic wings. They lead to the hotel’s world class spa and one of its two inside pools.

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Grove Park Inn transports others back to a bygone day of rustic grandeur most places, but not here because it never passed.
Even a book on hotels and their pools would be remiss in featuring anything in Asheville, without paying homage to its main house, a Châteauesque-styled mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895. It is the largest privately owned house in the United States, at 178,926 square feet of floor space (135,280 square feet of living area). Still owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age. Less than five miles from The Grove Park Inn, first time visitors have to be awestruck by its sheer size.

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The Broadmoor



Aptly called The Grand Dame of the Rockies, The Broadmoor is a hotel and resort in the Broadmoor neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is a member of Historic Hotels of America of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Its visitors have included heads of state, celebrities, professional sports stars, and businessmen.
The main resort complex, situated at the base of Cheyenne Mountain is 6,230 feet (1,900 m) above sea level, and 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of downtown Colorado Springs. The resort has hotel, conference, sports, and spa buildings that radiate out from Cheyenne Lake. The Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley is a luxury lodge and set of cabins situated on Cheyenne Mountains.
Historically, national and world skating and hockey championships were held at the Broadmoor World Arena. Golf championships have been held at the Broadmoor Golf Club since 1921. The resort has also been the site of clay shooting championships.
Spencer Penrose bought the property in 1916 and began to build The Broadmoor in 1918 to be the “Grand Dame of the Rockies”, patterned after elegant European hotels with excellent service and cuisine. Architects Warren and Wetmore, who designed Ritz-Carlton and Biltmore Hotels, were hired to design the hotel buildings. Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture and the landscape architect of Central Park and the nation’s still largest private home, Ashville, North Carolina’s Biltmore, was brought on to design the landscape for The Broadmoor’s 3,000 acres. Penrose hired Donald Ross, a golf architect, to design the first golf course. At the time, it was the highest golf course in the United States. Far Eastern and European artwork and antiques were purchased for the hotel. A dismantled English pub was brought to the United States and reassembled at the resort. The resort had one of the first full-service spas in the country and a supervised activities club for children.
His goal was to build “the finest hotel in the United States”. The shooting school was run by Annie Oakley. After having spent $2 million (equivalent to $31,358,407 in 2015) building the resort, it opened in 1918. 3 4A polo field was built west of the hotel in 1928. The Broadmoor Riding Arena was built across Cheyenne Lake from the main hotel in 1930. The Broadmoor’s hangar was built in 1930 at the Colorado Springs Airport, east of the city, for the guest’s use. In 1942, the resort sold the hangar to the city of Colorado Springs.
The Broadmoor Ice Palace, an Olympic training center, opened on January 1, 1938 on the resort grounds. It held a total of fourteen National Sports Festivals, World Figure Skating Championship, and U.S. Figure Skating championships. Also in 1938, the Will Rodgers Memorial Stadium was built in 1938 across Cheyenne Lake from the hotel where concerts, rodeos, and Native American dances were held.
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With all of its outdoor mountain flavor, skiing and a large lake connecting to its massive outdoor pool, giving the appearance as if the pool flowed into the lake, inside the hotel feel with a combination of rustic elegance and all the human accoutrements once could expect in any 5-star hotel. It has the ambiance of one in Midtown Manhattan, Beverly Hills, or Chicago. Service is superb and guests are treated like royalty.

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The Mount Washington


Located at the foot of the highest peak (6288’) along the Eastern Seaboard and Northeastern America, its namesake mounting in the New Hampshire’s Presidential Ranges of its White Mountains. The mountain has earned the reputation as one of the most severe climates on the globe and for many years held the distinction of having the strongest recorded gust of wind on Earth, 231 mph on April 12, 1924. With these factors combined, winds exceeding hurricane force occur an average of 110 days per year. Fortunately, this Grand resort itself is far less extreme, to the point its beautiful outdoor pool in the growing Omni (its management company) tradition is open year round (thanks to heated sidewalks and decks).

This hotel and resort exudes class and history and is the only Hall of Fame Grand Hotel in New England and arguably hosted the most historical, far-reaching global event, 1944 Bretton Woods Monetary Conference that gave birth to the World Monetary Fund and World Bank.2

The community is in Bretton Woods, part of a land grant made in 1772 by Royal Governor John Wentworth. The area was named after Bretton Hall, Wentworth’s ancestral home in Yorkshire, England.
The superstructure of The Mount Washington Hotel boasted a steel network, uncommon in its day. The Mount Washington Hotel was built by New Hampshire native Joseph Stickney, who made his fortune in coal mining and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Stickney spared no expense in building the imposing hotel. The latest design and construction methods were used. Innovative and complicated heating and plumbing systems were installed. To this day, the Bretton Woods Hotel has its own private telephone system and Post Office. Ground was broken in 1900 and construction was completed in 1902. Two hundred and fifty Italian craftsmen, skilled in masonry and woodworking, were brought to Bretton Woods and housed on the grounds. A new type of power plant served reliably for over 50 years. Like just about every other Hall of Fame inductee, it has been host to countless celebrities, including Thomas Edison and three U.S. presidents. However, unlike almost all of its sister Hall of Famers, it also hosted virtually all major world leaders in 1944 before World War II even ended.3 4

The most inhospitable mountain peak in North America stands tall and looks down on the historical hotel.
When it hosted the Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference, delegates from 44 nations convened, establishing the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, setting the gold standard at $35 an ounce and designating the United States dollar as the backbone of international exchange. The signing of the formal documents took place in the Gold Room, located off the Hotel Lobby and now preserved as an historic site.


The world’s first and most famous Cog Railway takes visitors up the second steepest railway grade on Earth, with an average grade of 25% and maximum one of 37% . The Pilatus railway in Switzerland is the steepest rack railway in the world, with a maximum gradient of 48% and an average gradient of 35%, is the only one that exceeds these frightening angles. At its steepest point, Jacobs Ladder, a passenger standing at the opposite end of the sort car would be 17’ higher than one at the other end.
While not on hotel grounds, the mountain and railway are a must for any adventurous guest or visitor to the hotel, and part of the Mt. Washington Hotel Experience.6The author braving the Mt. Washington Cog Railway at the base of the Mountain…in the summer. (Below)78

The Bretton Woods Conference, formally known as the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, was the gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II. It was held from the 1st to 22nd of July 1944. Agreements were executed that later established the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, which is part of today’s World Bank Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). the main terms of this agreement were:
• Formation of the IMF and the IBRD, which is today part of the World Bank.
• Adjustably pegged foreign exchange market rate system: The exchange rates were fixed, with the provision of changing them if necessary.
• Currencies were required to be convertible for trade related and other current account transactions. The governments, however, had the power to regulate ostentatious capital flows.
• As it was possible that exchange rates thus established might not be favourable to a country’s balance of payments position, the governments had the power to revise them by up to 10%.
• All member countries were required to subscribe to the IMF’s capital.





Bretton Woods Conference Participating Nations Flag Display Case located within the Gold Room at the Mount Washington Hotel.


Several of even the Grand Hotels, likes Mackinac Island, Michigan’s Grand Hotel and the Hotel Del Coronado were wooden structures that were not archecturally alone considered masterpieces of engineering, the Mt. Washington was. It included and includes many innovative and practical inclusions, all aimed at making the experience in New Hampshire’s frigid and windy winter climate not bar to being a guest.12

Its interior domes such as this in the main Dining Hall was designed to move the air and create a comfortable climate.


The hotel was constructed at a cost of $1.7 million ($44.6 million in 2012 dollars) by Joseph Stickney, a native of Waltham, Massachusetts, who had made a fortune before the age of 30 as a coal broker in Pennsylvania. In 1881 Stickney and his partner, John N. Conyngham, had purchased the Mount Pleasant Hotel nearby from lumberman John T.G. Leavitt, a large early hotel that was later demolished. Subsequently, Stickney began work on his Mount Washington Hotel. He brought in 250 Italian artisans to build it, particularly the granite and stucco masonry. Construction started in 1900 on the Y-shaped hotel, which opened on July 28, 1902. At the opening ceremony, Stickney told the audience, “Look at me, gentlemen … for I am the poor fool who built all this!” Within a year he was dead at the age of 64.
Many of its contemporaries like the Del which was built 16 years earlier, and the Grand a year later show the signs of age with warped and unleveled floors and, sagging doorways and window frames. Not the Mt. Washington. Since it was built on a huge slab of solid granite and of the highest quality materials available at the time, it simply cannot settle. There are no discernable cracks anywhere and no window and door frame has changed in its 113 glorious years. It may be the toughest and most solidly grand lady of all.14

The hotel was built, as most Grand Hotels of the era to cater to the wealthy. Here, they line up with their horseless carriages, a privilege of the prevailed class of the day.15

Today, the basement, lower floor cut through the granite foundation still reserves the feel and ambience of 113 years ago when it was constructed.16

Early on the limousines and chauffeurs of the clientele are shown here lining up in the special shed garage. (above). Below typical guests arrived from Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and those looking on a side trip from Millionaire’s Row at Bar Harbor, Maine where many along with Newport, Rhode Island, albeit a little less grant maintained their summer and vacation homes.


Life was, and is still good at the Mt. Washington.21 22 23

Hotel del Coronado



Hotel del Coronado (also known as The Del and Hotel Del) is a beachfront luxury hotel in the city of Coronado, just across the San Diego Bay from San Diego, California. It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States (after the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon) and was designated a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark in 1970.

Since it was first built more than 125 years ago, the Del has been a beacon of grandeur and refinement among vacation destinations in Southern California and the world. With its iconic red-shingled roof adding a dash of majestic color to the dazzling azure Pacific coastline, The Del stands as the definitive example of what a luxury resort should be.


Located on Coronado Island, reach from the mainland by boat on a high, winding bridge, only seven miles by car from downtown San Diego, the second most populated city in the nation’s most populated city.  It is the southernmost true hotel in the southwestern corner of the United States.

Along with The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, the Del Coronado is the only Grand Hotel situated right on the beach. It is so impressive that Disney World in Orlando’s premier hotel, The Floridian, appears an exact replica, although it has some elements of another Hall of Famer, the Mt. Washington in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

No other oceanfront hotel, or any hotel in the Golden State is so emblematic of it than this masterpiece. It was the site of the 1960 popular film Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon.

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Imitation is the best form of flattery, and the multi-million dollar investment by Walt Disney company in Orlando, Florida in building in the late 1960’s what appears at first glance to be a virtually copy of the Del is just that.

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While the hotel is a true, modern 5-star hotel in almost all respects, it is almost unique among historical Grand Hotels in maintaining its late 19th century feel and ambiance. It truly must feel to today’s guests as their predecessors did 129 years ago when its doors first opened.


The lobby and interior public spaces of the Del are in strict contrasts to the lily white exterior.

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In the modern world of celebrity adulation that ushered in the Golden Age of the Silver Screen, nothing gains more attention and publicity than having celebrity guests and a hotel being used as the site of a popular film or motion picture. From 1983 to 1988, James Brolin and Connie Selecca starred in the Aaron Spelling mega hit television series based on the 1965 Arthur Haley’s novel, Hotel. While that hotel was called The St. Gregory it was the set at the flagship and namesake of the Toronto-based Fairmont Hotel chain, San Francisco’s Fairmont. Many of the Hall of Fame Grand Hotels featured here are Fairmonts. This was also the case with the grand set at Mackinac Island’s The Grand Hotel, with the flick, Somewhere in Time starring the late Christopher Reeve in 1980 and years before in 1947 with the Ester Williams hit The Time for Keeps, where its iconic pool was unveiled and named in her honor (see below).

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The Del Coronado if not in name, certainly in visual identity earned that distinction when probably the most photographed actress in history, Marilyn Monroe starred with not exactly bit players Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in Some Like It Hot in 1959, most scenes being filmed there.

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The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia


The Omni Homestead is a luxury resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains. The area has the largest hot springs in the state, and the resort is also known for its championship golf courses, which have hosted several national tournaments. The resort also includes an alpine ski resort; founded in 1959, it is the oldest in Virginia. Like the majority of the historic hotels and resorts featured herein The Homestead has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

1766, Thomas Bullitt built a lodge on the site, which is considered the founding of The Homestead. It has hosted vacationers ever since, including twenty-two U.S. presidents.

The modern resort dates from 1888-1892, when a group of investors headed by J. P. Morgan bought the business and started rebuilding it from the ground up. The original hotel buildings burned down in 1901 caused by a fire in the bakery. The main Homestead hotel was constructed afterwards, one wing a year, with the main lobby reconstructed in 1903.2

Many American Presidents and influential people were Homestead guests. William Howard Taft spent July and August, 1908 at the Homestead, working and relaxing before the final campaign push, as briefly did outgoing President Theodore Roosevelt. Other notable guests included cartoonist Carl E. Schultze of Foxy Grandpa fame.

From December 1941 until June 1942, following the United States’ entry into World War II, the Homestead served as a high-end internment camp for 785 Japanese diplomats and their families until they could be exchanged through neutral channels for their American counterparts. The diplomats were later transferred to the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, 38 miles to the southwest.

The Homestead in 1903
The Homestead in 1903


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The Washington Library was never visited by the General and our first President, but 22 other presidents have and it is dedicated to him, then and learning. But a few miles down the road in neighboring Warm Springs, also managed as part of the Omni Homestead Resort and open to guests The Jefferson Pools, also called Warm Springs Bathhouses and Warm Springs Pools, are two spa structures of historic significance. The name was changed in the 20th century from “Warm Spring Pools” to “Jefferson Pools”. The spa is part of The Homestead, a resort hotel.

The Gentlemen’s Pool House is the oldest spa structure in the United States. The octagonal wood building was built in 1761. The spas are naturally fed by a 98 °F (37 °C) mineral spring. The men’s spa holds 40,000 US gallons (150,000 L) of constantly flowing water.

The Ladies’s Pool House was built in 1836. The buildings have changed little over the years, being made of wood with a central pool and a roof that is open to the elements. There are small alcoves around the pool for clothes, and it is usual to bathe naked. Famous bathers include Thomas Jefferson who spent three weeks in 1819 bathing three times day and described the waters in a letter to his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, as being of “first merit.”.

The Jefferson Pools, include the Men’s (l.) and woman’s Pool Houses, both fed from below by a hot underground spring.

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Local legends say that Native Americans journeying through the valley discovered these magnificent crystal springs hundreds of years ago, and archaeological evidence seems to confirm that this area has been used by humans for at least 9,000 years.


The first recorded survey of the area was done by Thomas and Andrew Lewis. Thomas Lewis and his son obtained 140 acres of the land, including the warm springs. Andrew Lewis was an early partner of Thomas Bullett, who procured 300 acres including the hot springs and built the first hotel in 1766 on the site of The Omni Homestead Resort.

The Gentlemen’s Pool House, the large, octagonal, white wooden building, along with the pool inside it, was built in 1761. The oldest spa structure in the U.S., it was intended for use by both ladies and gentlemen, although at separate, alternating times. The pool is similar in size and shape to the nearby mineral springs – about 120 feet in circumference with approximately 43,000 gallons of constantly flowing spring water. In 1836, the circular Ladies’ Pool House was constructed to give the ladies their own pool.


French Lick Resort: West Baden Springs Hotel & French Lick Springs Hotel


Hearing of French Lick, Indiana and thinking immediately of Boston Celtics great Larry Bird is akin to hearing about San Francisco and thinking about Joe Montana. It’s understandable because often America’s grand hotels, much less the communities in which they are located in are not on the forefront of the minds of most American’s especially those who are neither history, historic amd/or luxury hotel buffs. But, it is the home of an award-winning, great resort that includes not one, but two grand historic hotels, its a1namesake the French Lick Springs Hotel and former arch rival and enemy the West Baden Springs Hotel about a mile away in neighboring West Baden Springs (of course).

Only the 3-grand hotel complex in St. Augustine, Florida features more than a single grand hotel a proverbial stone’s throw from another. In Henry M. Flagler built two companion hotels across the street from each other, the Ponce deLeon and the Alacazar in 1887 and bought and completed the construction of a third the Case Monica.   Like Flagler did so many years ago these competing grand palaces only became siblings when a wealthy new owner bought out the competition.

The West Baden Springs Hotel is a historic landmark hotel in the town of West Baden Springs in Orange County, Indiana, United States, known for its vast domed atrium. It is currently part of the French Lick Resort. Prior to the completion of the Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1955, the building had the largest free-spanning dome in the United States and was the largest in the world from 1902 to 1913.

Most of the Grand Hotels are housed in iconic and almost always beautiful edifices. Some look grand, like The Grand and The Greenbrier, but are not necessarily architectural wonders. Others are, like The Breakers. Put the West Baden Springs in the latter category. Without the dome, it’s a beautiful, historic hotel, but might not be Hall of Fame (ours) quality. Many great hotels, grand hotels are not in our opinion.

Origin of the Largest Dome in the World

In June of 1901 Lee W. Sinclair decided to build the hotel of his dreams after the initial one burned down. The hotel he desired consisted of a cylindrical building topped with the largest dome in the world and which would now be built out of nonflammable materials. Also, since West Baden is known for its mineral springs, Mr. Sinclair’s dream hotel would mimic, if not ultimately surpass, the most luxurious spas in Europe.

Most architects deemed this design—combining the largest dome in a building complex with natural springs impossible, but Harrison Albright, a young man right out of school, with very little experience, was confident he could build Mr. Sinclair’s grand hotel. Another problem was that Sinclair demanded it be constructed in a year so it could open on the 1-year anniversary of the burning destruction of a predecessor on the property. Almost with a Steve Jobs’ “distorted view of reality” as his biographer Walter Isenberg described the business genius in his best-selling work, Jobs, Sinclair appears to have something similar. But like Jobs, he pulled it off. The result of a 600’ in circumference masterpiece, 100’ high which bird literally flew around from palm-tree-to-palm tree. It mimic and even old, much older building the Pantheon built in 118-128 AD, still the world’s largest concrete dome, measuring 142’ in diameter and that same measure floor to ceiling. The West Baden’s steel and glass dome is almost 200’ in diameter, albeit only ¾ as high.


Built 1774 years and over 3000 nukes apart on different hemispheres, the Roman and West Baden Springs domes.



Christened not only by Sinclair, but many who saw I “the 8th Wonder of the World,” the hotel folk added a little Hollywood to I the Pantheon lacked or did not need, lights and changing colors


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George Rogers Clark is credited with discovering the salt licks and mineral springs in 1778. The evidence of salt deposits enticed the government to plan on mining large quantities of salt for the demands of meat preservation to be used by the early pioneers. It was then determined the saline content was not sufficient to support the large scale extraction of salt and the property was offered for sale. Dr. William Bowles purchased the large tract of land where the French Lick Springs Resort now sits and built a small inn on the site. In 1832, the first French Lick Springs Hotel was constructed and the area became popular as a mineral springs resort. Much of the property surrounding the springs at Mile Lick was marshy, subject to yearly flooding, and unsuitable to farming.   A mineral or salt lick is a place where animals can go to lick essential mineral nutrients from a deposit of salts and other minerals. The location was original the site of a French trading post, Voila!

The community about a mile away from the French Lick Hotel was renamed West Baden in 1855 (after Wiesbaden, the German city (Baden Baden) known for its mineral springs), and the hotel name was changed likewise. In the late 1800s, guests arrived from across the country on seven separate railroads for relaxation and the alleged curative powers of the mineral water. Sidewalks led from the hotel to seven numbered springs, all of which were covered by open wooden shelters. A group that included Lee Wiley Sinclair from Salem, Indiana, purchased the hotel and 667 acres (2.70 km2) in 1888 for $23,000 and over the next few years, he bought his partner’s interest. Sinclair turned the facility into a cosmopolitan resort, including a casino advertised as “The Carlsbad of America” after Karlsbad; a renowned spa town situated in western Bohemia, Czech Republic.

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Established in 1845, this award-winning hotel is along with the West Baden Springs Hotel is part of the Award-Winning French Lick 1Resort (2013 Best Historic Resort in America by Historic Hotels of America administered by the National Trust for : Preservation). Both occupy a former mineral lick (AKA salt lick in south central Indiana.)

French Lick was originally a French trading post built near a spring and salt lick. A fortified ranger post was established near the springs in 1811. On Johnson’s 1837 map of Indiana, the community was known as Salt Spring. The town was founded in 1857.

The sulfur springs were commercially exploited for medical benefits starting in 1840. By the latter half of the 19th century, French Lick was famous in the United States as a spa town. In the early 20th century it also featured casinos attracting celebrities such as boxer Joe Louis, composer Irving Berlin and gangster Al Capone.


Managed by Thomas Taggart in the early 1900s, the hotel became famous for its mineral spring Pluto Water and for its championship golf course, designed by Donald Ross. Taggart wanted to make the hotel a relaxing spa where people would stay for weeks at a time and return frequently.

The Pluto Water was rumored to be everything from a cure-all to a relaxation beverage.

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Gimmick, placebo or even fraudulent remedy besides, it worked and made all concerned very well-to-do, if not filthy rich.

When the West Badin Springs in 1902 was rebuilt into the 8th Wonder of the World, with his huge, highly-publicize dome, the French Lick Springs Hotel, much like the Alcazer in St. Augustine was to the Ponce deLeon played second fiddle for decades. The new owner who purchased both historic grand hotels invested an incredible reported $382.000,000 in restoring both icons to their former glory … and beyond.

As a result, the French Lick Springs which from afar appears less majestic and impressive than its new sister a mile away (linked by a special rail line) is probably even more opulent inside.

The lesser known and less respected of the two Grand Hotels, is more opulent that it’s more famous sister.
Connected through hallways from the main section of the hotel the Casino offers guests that Las Vegas experience, albeit on a smaller scale.

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In 1903, the roads were dirt and horse-drawn carriages were the norm. Imagine the delight when electric trolley service began. Guests could catch the streetcar at the steps of West Baden Springs Hotel and go all the way (a whole mile) into downtown French Lick. The trolley was a raging success, and in 1916 it set a record for carrying 250,000 people in a single year. At a nickel a ride, that’s over $300,000 in revenue in today’s world. Not bad for what was billed as the “world’s shortest trolley line.”

According to Railway Historian Alan Barnett, the electric cable car offered “ping-pong” service because it was not designed to make turns. When the car reached French Lick, the conductor would physically move the overhead power line around the back, allowing for the return trip to the depot at West Baden.

The advent of the automobile put the brakes on the trolley service in 1919. That is until Alan Barnett and the folks at the Indiana Railway Museum (IRM) resurrected the idea in 1987. They were able to find Trolley Car #313 from Portugal, the closest thing they could find to the original 1903 car. Last year the entire track was rebuilt along with the equipment and once again the two Grand palaces are linked.


The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida


A spectacular resort destination on Florida’s Atlantic coast, The Breakers Palm Beach, has lured generations of discerning travelers to its idyllic, Italian-Renaissance setting. It offers the irresistible charm and storied history of a legendary oceanfront resort, seamlessly blending with an amazing range of modern amenities.


Situated on 140 acres of incomparable oceanfront property in the heart of Palm Beach. The Breakers is the only complete resort experience on the island, arguably America’s most affluent and beautiful residential and resort community with its multitude of amenities, you never have to venture off property.


A magnificent, Italian-Renaissance design and breathtaking setting give it exotic appeal, yet the resort’s stateside location makes it conveniently accessible for ease of travel. Unlike most of the Hall of Fame selections, The Breakers is not isolated in a remote location, but the jewel on top of Florida’s Gold Coast.


The only Hall of Fame Grand Hotel sitting right on the sandy oceanfront, other than the Hotel del Mar, 3,000 miles to the west on our other ocean, from a prospective majestic settings it arguably is unique there as well.


Much like most of the other Hall of Famers, The Breakers guest register read like a “who’s who” of early twentieth‑century America: various Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Astors; the tycoons Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan; the publisher William Randolph Hearst; the five‑and dime kings W.T. Grant and J.C. Penney; and even assorted European nobility and U.S. presidents.

Aerial view of Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida CONTACT Carla Hotvedt at SILVER IMAGE¨ Photo Agency and Weddings 352.373-5771 or
Aerial view of Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida

One privileged and wealthy enough at the dusk of the Victorian Age in America to be invited to the Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine, might have been astounded that there could actually be a grand hotel even more impressive just 250 miles down the Atlantic and Florida seaboard.

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It is no coincidence that they both were the brainchild and came from the wallet of the same visionary, the aforementioned Henry Morrison Flagler.

flaglerFirst known as The Palm Beach Inn, it was opened on January 16, 1896 to accommodate travelers on Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway on a beachfront portion of the grounds of the Royal Poinciana Hotel, which Flagler had opened beside Lake Worth Lagoon facing the inland waterway in 1894. Guests began requesting rooms “over by the breakers,” so Flagler renamed it The Breakers Hotel in 1901.


The wooden hotel burned on June 9, 1903 and was rebuilt, opening on February 1, 1904. Rooms started at $4 a night, including three meals a day. Because Flagler forbade motorized vehicles on the property, perhaps which was later to inspire the farsighted locals on Mackinac Island at few decades later. Patrons were delivered between the two hotels in wheeled chairs powered by employees.


Unlike The Greenbrier and particularly The Grand, The Breaker’s edifice itself is an architectural wonder. The architecture of the hotel is in the Italian Renaissance style, inspired by the magnificent Italian villas of the 1400’s.


The exterior features Belvedere towers with graceful arches, patterned after the Villa Medici in Rome.  The long 1,040 landscaped drive: leads to the Florentine Fountain patterned after one of the fountains at the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

Moon rise over the golf course in Palm Beach Island at the Breakers Hotel. HDR photo tone mapped in Photomatix Pro and Topaz software.
Moon rise over the golf course in Palm Beach Island at the Breakers Hotel. HDR photo tone mapped in Photomatix Pro and Topaz software.

The magnificent front lobby was inspired by the Great Hall of the Palazzo Carega (circa 1560) in Genoa. The hotel’s main façade was inspired by Rome’s Villa Medici.

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Given Palm Beach in the 20th century evolved into the Newport of the late 19th, the mecca for Lady Astor’s Four Hundred, and has been the Beverly Hills of the East, perhaps no other single hotel in a single city in the United States was and is a more popular social scene for the super-rich.

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The Greenbrier: America’s Resort


The Greenbrier is a Forbes four-star and AAA Five Diamond Award winning luxury resort located just outside the town of White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, United States.

The Greenbrier’s classic architecture, exquisite interior design, carefully sculpted landscape, impeccable service and outstanding amenities have hosted distinguished guests from around the world since 1778.

A spring of Sulphur water is at the center of the resort property. It issues forth below the green dome of the white-columned springhouse that has been the symbol of The Greenbrier for generations. Beginning in 1778, Mrs. Anderson, a local pioneer, came to follow the local Native American tradition of “taking the waters” to relieve her chronic rheumatism and for the first 125 years the resort was known by the name White Sulphur Springs. While its motto is a continuing self-created legacy, it probably earns that distinction. It is widely regarded as one of the finest luxury resorts around the world. Surrounded by the wondrous Allegheny Mountains, The Greenbrier offers exclusive services and amenities such as championship golf, fine dining, more than 55 activities, designer boutiques, our world-renowned mineral spa and a 103,000 square foot gaming and entertainment venue.a2

Many of America and Canada’s grand hotels and resorts were built on top of or alongside so-called “therapeutic springs,” thus those facts are incorporated into their names. The Greenbrier is another prime example. A spring of Sulphur water is at the center of the resort property. It issues forth below the green dome of the white-columned springhouse that has been the symbol of The Greenbrier for generations. Beginning in 1778, Mrs. Anderson, a local pioneer, came to follow the local Native American tradition of “taking the waters” to relieve her chronic rheumatism and for the first 125 years the resort was known by the name White Sulphur Springs. Following the Civil War, the resort reopened. It became a place for many Southerners and Northerners alike to vacation, and the setting for many famous post-war reconciliations, including the White Sulphur Manifesto, which was the only political position issued by Robert E. Lee after the Civil War, that advocated the merging of the two societies. The resort went on to become a center of regional post-war society, especially after the arrival of the railroad.

In the 1950’s it gained worldwide fame as the home course of the one of the greatest and best known professional golfers in history, Slammin’ Sammy Snead who . A total of 26 presidents have stayed at The Greenbrier. Snead was born in nearby Virginia, in the shadow of Hot Spring where he began caddying at the age of seven at another grand and historic resort and famous golfing venue, The Homestead.

The Greenbrier is also the site of a massive underground bunker that was meant to serve as an emergency shelter for the United States Congress during the Cold War. It was code named “Project Greek Island” and Fritz Bugas was former onsite superintendent. It was constructed secretly during the Eisenhower Administration and the height of the Cold War below a new wing of the hotel because of The Greenbrier’s strategic location on almost a direct line as the crow flies from the Nation’s Capital, but shield by the Alleghany Mountains. Underground huge chambers were built for the Senate and House of Representatives to meet and conduct their business in case of an imminent nuclear war.

Stately is an understatement, as The Greenbrier, named for the proliferation of greenbriers in the region and on its 10,000 wooded acres. It’s Springhouse still punctuates the center of the propoerty, below its Presidents’ Cottage Museum, housed in a historic two-story building on a hill which commemorates the 27 United States presidents who have been guests during the hotel’s long history. Every one most likely would have stayed here had it not been expanded in the early 1920’s into the grand place it is today.

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The same grand hotel that might challenge The Greenbrier’s situation on the throne as America’s most famous grand hotel and resort, Michigan’s Grand Hotel, above can challenge it as having the most fashionable and colorful public and private rooms. And it is not by sheer coincidence. While its façade symbolizes the very grand resort experience, the foundation of its lavish décor like it’s not technical sister hotel up north is the product of world-famous Dorothy Draper interior designer and her protégé, Carlton Varney. Dorothy Draper was a pioneer in interior design, dominating the field from 1925 to 1960 when she was named the most influential tastemaker in America. The high-society interior designer was hired to renovate the resort after it was used as a hospital during World War II. She left the hotel with a bold new personality, using color and oversized patterns to paint a picture that reflected the luxury of space, elegance and sense of history in every detail. As a result, America’s Resort remains a one-of-a-kind property with guestrooms, suites and cottages unlike any other in the world (except The Grand).a8 Please refer to my facebook post from my stay here this past weekend.

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A Sunset Chateau: The Most Colorful Small Inn in the Southwest


Sedona, Arizona bills itself as “The Most Beautiful Place On Earth In So Many Ways.” It is one of those special places which transfix and hypnotize with a majestical beauty not found anywhere else on the planet.


There up against its southwestern hills is a jewel in its ornate crown. A Sunset Chateau is a myriad of colors set against the brown and gray hillsides masquerading as a bed & breakfast boutique inn. It is aptly named in a community located in the Verde Valley region in the north-central area of State of Arizona, 4300 feet above sea level, AKA Red Rock Country. It is hard to argue that Sedona may offer the most beautiful sunsets on the planet as the red and orange hues of the sun are intensified and captured as they reflect off the naturally- red and orange limestone of the weathered ridges in the northern portions of the community.

The formation of the iconic, weathered peaks of Sedona and its red rocks date back to an estimated 320 million years ago. Deposits of rocks and minerals caused by many factors built up and were composed of a myriad of colors and hardness. They were buried one atop the other on the relatively flat surface of the Sedona area.

Like much of the globe, the area was constantly changing due to many geological upheavals. The Earth’s crust is broken up into ten major tectonic plates averaging about sixty miles in thickness. Due to the rotation of the planet and other less relevant factors, over time they literally floated on the surface of the earth and drifted toward and away from each other. About 200 million years ago, all of today’s continents and land plates which had drifted together to form the super continent Pangea began to separate. This is known as continental drift. 3

As they separate, from time to time, they collide. The Pacific plate and the North American plate collided and caused the upheaval of the land that is now known as the Colorado Plateau. It was created when the North American plate was pushed over the Pacific plate and as these two massive land masses squeezed together so tightly that the edges of both had no other choice but to rise. It is roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States, covering covers an area of 130,000 square miles within western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, southern and eastern Utah, and northern Arizona. About 90% of the area is drained by the Colorado River and its main tributaries: the Green, San Juan, and Little Colorado. Most of it today is composed of desert, high plains and the mountains, primarily the Rocky Mountains.


The Rocky Mountains and Colorado Plateau were formed when the North American Teutonic plate collided with the Pacific Plate and resulted in the land on their edges rising.







The Sedona region, before the great squeeze, was a delta under the sea with many layers of minerals and rocks. As it rose, the Earth of Sedona witnessed cracks and streams of water from rivers flowing between these cracks. The water gradually withered the rocks of Sedona giving it interesting shapes like cathedral, coffee pot, bell and so on. The present red rock formation in Sedona is due to this erosion. Today the area is located just at the base of the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment that runs east-west through the middle of Arizona and defines the boundary between the Colorado Plateau to the north, and the Basin and Range to the south. The Mogollon Rim is about 200 miles long, and ranges between 2000 and 3000 feet in height. In the Sedona region, erosion has gradually eaten away at the rim, moving it northward a distance of about four miles and leaving behind some of the most spectacular and picturesque canyons and buttes found anywhere in the world.

The many layers of rock under the Colorado Plateau and the mountains.

The majority of the hills and mountains is nothing but sandstone which is very porous in nature, while the lower lawyers are composed of harder basalt and limestone, The presence of hematite (iron oxide, otherwise known as rust) in the water stained the sandstone as water containing iron passed through them and a lot of iron gathered around these rocks gradually giving it a red tinge. Thus, the oldest rocks which are as much as 250 million years old are even brighter red in color. The water running off the edge of the escarpment constantly away at the lower layers, creating the sheer cliffs. Eventually enough soft material is weathered away that it undercuts the cap layer, which subsequently breaks off in large slabs and falls into the canyons. This exposes new soft material and the process starts again, with the cliff face now twenty-odd feet further north than it was before.

Sedona’s earliest settlers were native Sinagua, Hohokum, Anasazi, Hopi. They considered it a sacred place. Their cultures remain and were blended over centuries by the cultures of the early pioneer settlers, the artists, and metaphysical/spiritual communities that followed. The great beauty clearly has caused most who first visit, as it must have been the case with the first inhabitants to be mesmerized with the majesty of it and repose and reflect. No wonder today it is considered to be one of the world’s most spiritual places. Beauty does that.

A Sunset Chateau is perfectly located, perhaps better than virtually any other spot in Sedona, where the full panorama of the beautiful natural hills unfold, where the sky and its blazing glory is a majestic backdrop of the magnificent mountains.6 7 8 9

As magnificent the view the chateau affords, this is not simply a view with a room. Even without its setting, it would by any standards be considered a wonderful chateau to stay at. The grounds have been cultivated into a park-like setting of gardens, patios, waterfalls and ponds. Throughout the grounds are murals, sculptures, mosaics and other works of art, all which capture the spirit of Sedona.

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A beautiful view on a property with magnificent grounds (in a cultured community, as will be discussed below) make for a wondrous destination. However, A Sunset Chateau pulls off the perfect trifecta, evident the moment one steps inside the main lobby and their room.

There are many incredible natural wonderlands around the globe, including the Grand Canyon which is but a two-hour drive to the north. Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border, as well as Italy’s enchanted Lake Como and St. Lucia’s Ladera Resort all offer breath-taking, unique views of nature at its best. We did not anoint Ladera “The Most Romantic Hotel in the Word,” but so agree it is by whomever first made that observation, that we are willing to fight to the death anyone who argues to the contrary. But, A Sunset Chateau is much more than a pretty face, again, not just offering a view with a room. Every interior space is reminiscent of Sedona itself.

The community’s heritage and cultural experiences span history from archaeological discoveries of petroglyphs and dwellings created by the ancient Yavapai Native Americans, to the 19th and 20th centuries. Through town, one cannot miss current masterworks of art and photography galleries, world-class restaurants that serve 3-Star quality food and wine, beautiful decor and great ambience and often music and a fireplace.1 2 4 5 6 7 9 10





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It is evident once inside that the proprietors have ensured the Sedona Experience extends here too. Every public place and each unique room is filled with art and beauty.


Please see my review on


The Most Romantic Hotel in the World

SPECIAL ARTICLE: Our blog is dedicated to and generally will feature Historical Grand Hotels of North America. Today's entry is a rare, but worthwhile exception.

By: Richard K. Cacioppo, Sr., J.D.

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Perched 1000 feet above the turquoise, emerald and blue waters of the southern Caribbean Sea on the country island of St. Lucia, Ladera is the quintessential and epitome of a romantic hotel. Technically part of the Windward islands of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies, Ladera, is literally translated to mean “slope” or ”hillside.” Many simply call it “Heaven,” or the often uttered description of St. Lucia itself, “Paradise.” (defined itself by Merriam Webster as “An intermediate place or state where the souls of the righteous await resurrection and the final judgment” and “ A place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight.”)

Rivals for the most romantic island in the world Bora Bora, Tahiti or Kauai all justifiably can lay claim to that title, but none have what St. Lucia has … the incredible Pitons and Anse Des Piton bay.. Gros and Petite Piton are twin 2,250+’, 250,000-year old volcanic plugs that frame the white sands of Sugar Beach that was imported years ago and spread over the natural black volcanic sand and the multicolored bay. They do not have the rain forest that gradually slopes a mile in distance and 1000 feet in elevation up to Ladera which dramatically captures all of the above in a single glance. Ladera is unique in all forms of the word. There is no other place in the world that can match its exotic location, breathtaking views, Garden of Eden plantation and rainforest setting, unique architecture, incredible staff of St. Lucians, as friendly a people as there is on the planet, gourmet restaurant, or hands-on, caring proprietor.111

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This was captured by the author from his room 3-walled suite of the morning view from Ladera two days ago as he and his wife were bidding farewell. All rooms and suites are completely open on the bay side and Piton side to allow guests to literally experience nature au natural while housed in an 5-Star lodge. Each guest is decorated as a luxurious Dream Suite decorated with colonial antiques and locally sculptured and drafted furnishings.

The resort, built in the early 1980’s, was partitioned from the oldest cocoa plantation on the island, The Rabot Estate near Soufriere, the original French capital. St Lucia lies in the cocoa belt which girdles the Earth, plus or minus 20 degrees latitude from the Equator.


The estate is divided up into 16 different cortès or areas of terroir (a term more familiar to wine grape, tobacco and perfume flower growers that include the total environmental setting, the combination of weather or mini climates (sunlight, wind, temperature, humidity), altitude, latitude and longitude).

It, as is the case with the other local plantation just a stone’s throw from Ladera, the local forest and even the challenging paths up and down each Piton is a virtual Garden of Eden. There grow wild and domestic versions of Bananas, Guava, Mango, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Avocado, Coconut, Mamoncillo (also known as Chenet or Spanish Lime), Pomegranate, Sweetsop (Sugar Apple), soursop, Glaze Apple, Star Apple (a.k.a. Five Fingers), Goose Berry, Tamarind, Sea Grapes. And, of course what may be the world’s finest cocoa.1Ladera fruits





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The pirate François le Clerc (also known as Jambe de Bois, due to his wooden leg) frequently visited Saint Lucia in the 1550s. 1Ladera Fancois Le ClercIt was not until around 1600 that the first European camp was started by the Dutch at what is now Vieux Fort, a mere 15 miles south of Ladera. In 1605, an English vessel called the Olive Branch was blown off-course on its way to Guyana, and the 67 colonists started a settlement on Saint Lucia. After five weeks, only 19 survived due to disease and conflict with the Caribs, so they fled the island. The French officially claimed the island in 1635. The English attempted the next European settlement in 1639, and that too was wiped out by Caribs.

The first crops to generate an income for the island were tobacco, cocoa and cotton. These then gave way to the great sugar plantations. Flowers were the main income generator from the 1700s until the 1940s, when it gave way to bananas (“green gold”). St Lucia’s valleys gradually became covered in the banana’s broadleaved plants, swaying gracefully in the tropical breeze.

Dasheen is the resort’s fine gourmet restaurant, where its expert chef incorporates local ingredients cabbage, lettuce, cassava tomatoes, squash, and christophene, among the vegetables grown and harvested on the island. Cashews, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and a wide variety of nuts and spices also grow naturally, as well as some of the world’s most beautiful flowers, such as birds of paradise

The island has a mountainous volcanic interior and much of it is covered in natural rainforest, another reason why many consider it the most beautiful island in the Caribbean.1Ladera Trees1Ladera Mist

Though it is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, its magnificent rainforest houses rarely seen plants and animals, especially birds. Of all the native animals in the rainforest, perhaps the most feared by tourists is Fer-de-Lance, commonly called by locals as serpent. Also called the lance head snake, it is the most venomous snake in South and Central America. Snakes are nocturnal so keep watch when you travel on night hikes. Other snake species would be the Boa Constrictor that grows from 20 inches to 14 feet long. It is not harmful unless when provoked, making a loud hissing sound. An interesting fact about boas is that, they are good swimmers but are seldom found in water. Fortunately, none of these are a threat to guests at Ladera, where one usually sees a wide variety of small birds and its famous green and brown harmless geckos.

But alas, none of these intimidating creatures and critters pose any threat to Ladera guests or other tourists or adventurers unless they choose to venture in the interior of the island onto high volcanic mountains and lush brush and other vegetation. Ladera, St. Lucia is a place of utter peace and tranquility.

Perhaps the most colorful animal in the St. Lucian rainforest is the parrot, commonly known as Jacquot, their national bird. Lizards offer flashes of bright color in the rainforest; probably one of the most startling is the Green Iguana. It can grow up to 6 feet, with its tail about two-thirds of the total length.

The amazingly varied terrain makes St. Lucia a home for this potpourri of exotic wildlife, making this country definitely a paradise for those who love animal watching.

Conde Nast traveler once called Ladera “The Best Hotel In the World,” and this past May, it was recognized with a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor who gives such an award only to establishments that consistently achieve great traveler reviews. It topped that achievement when receiving the travel sites Hall of Fame Award given to businesses that have earned the Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years.

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One guest who could travel to anyplace in the universe chose Ladera to film these scenes from the original Superman movie in 1978. The plot has him hosting Lois Lane at his futuristic home elsewhere flying out to gather some exotic ingredients to cook her a Super Meal and Ladera was his choice.

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If Ladera could be compartmentalized into but four major components, they would arguably include (1) Its Exotic Location, (2) Spectacular Setting at that location with Mesmerizing Views, (3) Unique, Amazing Grounds and Physical Plant and (4) Stunning Interior Spaces.

The Location

The Caribbean Islands are either large sand dunes or mountainous volcanic peaks extending deep into the sea. At first glance many perceive them to be sunny, sandy islands, but they are different in as many ways as they are similar, each with its own physical and cultural personality. St. Lucia, as pointed out above is mountainous and volcanic, with lush forests and plantations. Being a Windward Island in the Lesser Antilles, it is one of the Sea’s southernmost and beautiful.

Islands and Its People

The islands of the Caribbean belong to various nations. Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands belong to the United States. Among the territories of Britain are Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. The islands range widely in size, with Cuba being the largest, followed by Hispaniola and Jamaica. Many of the smaller islands are uninhabited. Some of the uninhabited islands, such as the Isla de Ratones just off the shore of Puerto Rico, are available for day trips and are reached by ferries, boats or kayaks. St. Lucia has approximately 175,000 permanent residents are approximately divided as 70.3% Afro-Caribbean, 10.8% Mulatto, 10% Dougla, 5.6% White Caribbean, 2.2% Indio-Caribbean and .06% Carib. Despite a per capita income of only $13,000 annually, they are, in this author’s and many other’s opinions as among the friendliest in the world. Find a St. Lucian who is not helpful or has a wide smile on his or her face and you have found a rare individual.

The Setting

Spectacular mountain settings overlooking lakes, lagoons and beautiful beaches are not unique to the Caribbean, nor South Pacific, New Zealand, the Swiss, German, Austrian and Italian Alps, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. America’s Maine and Northern California and Southern Oregon Coasts are spectacular as is Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast. The world has thousands of utterly spectacular settings. However, most are not a 45-minute drive from an International airport, nor offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy these vistas from the comfort of an ultra-luxury hostelry which would be ultra-romantic even if it was located in midtown Manhattan …. especially from any room in the establishment.

While Ladera was the first true luxury boutique or any kind of hotel or resort on St. Lucia, it no longer has an exclusive on majestic views of the Pitons, probably the most famous icon in a single location in all of the Caribbean; it also does not have an exclusive on luxury. Nearby Jade Mountain, about 20 minutes up the western coast, is pretty much acclaimed as the most luxurious of all island resorts, and its sister, Anse Chastanet Resort, as well as the former Jalousie Plantation, now a Viceroy Resort called Sugar Beach along with it are at least as luxurious as Ladera. But, Ladera still and as long as it exists can and will lay legitimate claim to offering viewers the most spectacular of all direct views of twin Pitons, the full cresent-shapped white sands of Sugar beach, and the multi-colored waters of the bay while overlooking a lush rain forest. Only from the 1000-foot elevation of Ladera can one see the small turquoise rings of water around both Pitons. This phenomena result from the flow rain colorless water filtering down both peaks (piton is defined as a spike or spire) and picking up silt which technically impurities the it as it enters the ba and reflects the blue and green light rays of the spectrum that create the appearance of different colors. This is the same effect that gives Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies its unique turquoise color when the weather is warm.

1 Ladera Jade Resort
Jade Mountain Report, 20 minutes at most north of Ladera and a few miles north of Petite Piton bills itself as “St. Lucia’s Most Luxurious Resort” and even “St. Lucia’s Most Romantic Luxury Resort”. It may be worthy of the former description, but in the opinion of this author, not the latter. Its futuristic architecture is impressive, as is its its view of the Pitons in the near distance, but it lacks the historic rustic charm of Ladera and the direct view between both peaks and the white sands and turquoise waters below separated from the resort by a lush rain forest.

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The Grounds and Buildings

The resort is reported to have been built into the cliff and is remindful of El Tovar Lodge in the Grand Canyon which sits on the very edge of the South Rim. Both descend about a mile down, the canyon at almost a 90-degree angle down to the Colorado River below, the rain forest at gentle slope to Sugar Beach and the bay below. Both offer imposing, unique panoramas. Guests at El Tovar can only see the views from outside the buildings, on its porches or behind a glass window from some guest rooms with a canyon view. At Ladera, not only are the views universal regardless of where on the edge of the forest property one is peering from every single every public and guest room is completely walless and totally open to the elements on the bay and forest side.

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There is no place like this in the world. The late American designer John DiPol (1938-2007) who later built Villa Piton close by as his masterpiece and private residence is responsible for the Ladera exterior and interior designs. The Villa which can be rented is an extension of the Ladera concept. His trademark was an open air-concept, where every room and public space only has only three walls and is completely exposed where a fourth usually is. There is nothing between these rooms and the rain forest directly below which extends a mile down to Sugar Beach, the Anse de Piton bay and the two prominent Pitons. Brds, and other cirtterra fly (or crawl) in and out of the rooms with almost complete freedom, other than a water pistol the management leaves around to gently shoo them away if desired.

John DiPol’s vision and design embodies a stunning culmination in a refined experience of the Island’s natural splendor; and all the while cultivating intimate privacy. In flawless homage to its tropical homeland, he fused the lush natural landscape with authentic St. Lucian materials to engender a space without bounds, one of peace, beauty and tranquility.

It is hard to argue with the fact that other resort or hotel on the island, and perhaps on the entire planet matches Ladera for its romance is strengthened enormously by the lush and colorful grounds, rustic buildings that blend into the dark volcanic soil. On all sides it is bordered by greenery, heavy woods on deep, rich soil. Throughout the property are little pools, foundations and waterfalls. 1 Ladera entry

Remindful that this was since 1745 until 1982 part of the now adjacent Rabot Estate and Plantation and long before that was established, the natural environment, the Garden of Eden existed for millennia as the backdoor of the resort and in many ways matches the majestic views and lush rain forest, Pitons and water on the bay on the front side. As discussed above, the island naturally grows tens of varieties of fruits and vegetables, spices and exotic flowers. No other resort can lay claim to being a Garden of Eden with an elevated view of the site every guest and visitor to Ladera sees from every room.1 Ladera Rabot Estate1 Ladera Greenery1 Ladera Greenery 21 Ladera top

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Interior Spaces

It would be foolish to claim that what truly distinguishes Ladera from any other hotel or resort in the world is its unique interior rooms, namely its missing fourth wall, but that is certainly a major factor although several other St. Lucia hostelries copied the idea. Nonetheless, its open walls look over from every room the rain forest, beach and bay below, of course framed by the unique majestic Pitons.

Most units as its suites are often referred to technically mean a guest is residing ¾ indoors and ¼ outdoors,

Not only do its cute, harmless green and brown tiny geckos scurry around when not seemingly frozen in place over the tile floors and sometimes on the carved dark wooden counters and furniture, but birds fly in and out freely. Guests and diners are given little water pistols to ward off these intruders, but the author did not have the heart to frighten, or at least persuade them away. This is among the charm of the place.

The rooms are often two-storied with a lovely living room with a terrace and its own small intimate private pool, and an upstairs bedroom with an elevated, four-poster canopy bed screen in with white opaque views to keep out unwanted friends during the overnight.

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At the neighboring Fond Doux plantation, coconut and grapefruit trees grow side-by-side.
At Ladera, guests always can expect to be joined by friends.

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Mansion Hotels

An impressive mansion built in 1910, the Glidden House is a full- service boutique hotel conveniently located on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Guests rooms are beautifully appointed with an inviting décor and style that is accompanied by the latest sophisticated amenities including a 42” plasma screen television and high speed wireless internet. It is one of many grand old mansions saved from the wrecking ball and transformed in wonderful boutique bed and breakfast hotels and inns within the financial reach of those who never experienced Victorian and post Victoria luxury.

The Golden Era of the Grand Hotel began roughly fifteen years after the end of the Civil War. Some of the existing resorts such as the Greenbrier and The Homestead were expanded or extensively modified to fit Victoria elegance. Many of these were simply torn down, while others were built upon to the degree that the original structures remain buried under new lumber, stucco and plaster. A few have left the original structures in place and added wings and adjacent buildings some keeping the original motif and others modern ones.

The grand hotels and resorts catered to the wealthy. The founder of modern Florida, a great hotel and railroad builder and John D. Rockefeller’s partner in building Standard Oil Henry Morrison Flagler built what may be the grandest of the grandest of the grandest hotels in America’s oldest city (1565), St. Augustine, Florida.

Here within a few hundred yards of each other still stand three magnificent hotels, the Hotel Monica which Flager did not conceive but purchased when the original owner ran out of cash, the Alcazar which as magnificent as it was and is was built for the less wealthy and as a recreational adjunct to the Hotel Ponce de Leon. The Hotel Monica is still a hotel, the Alcazar houses St. Augustine City Hall and a museum of high Victoria interiors and the Peace d’resistance the Ponce in the 1980’s was converted into the main building of his namesake, long after his death Flagler College. The Alcazar and Ponce offer limited tours and lectures by various curators and historians. The fortunate students of the college are now the only inhabitants.

The 1886 Wentworth Mansion in Charleston, South Carolina symbolizes what the author considers the most picturesque of all southern cities. It tower provides a 360-degree panorama of the heart of the city and environs.
The 1886 Wentworth Mansion in Charleston, South Carolina symbolizes what the author considers the most picturesque of all southern cities. It tower provides a 360-degree panorama of the heart of the city and environs.

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Many of the wealthiest Americans were business tycoons like Flagler and Rockefeller whose main ones originally were in the northeast or the corridor between Chicago and New York City. Eventually they or their children built vacation homes in the warmer climates, primarily Florida. The largest home ever built to this day in the United States is the 178,926 square feet (16,622.8 m2) of floor space (135,280 square feet (12,568 m2) of living area).Biltmore by George Washington Vanderbilt, youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt, the son of the patriarch of the so-called Building Vanderbilts, Commodore Cornelious Vanderbilt. It was meant to be his family home amidst 125,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountain foothills and valley. That being his intention, it lacked the grandeur of the cottage of Newport other family members built in Rhode Island. But, in terms of sheer size it dwarfed any of those huge mansions. To find a larger home one must venture to the country homes and palaces of England and France, many legitimate palaces.

Thornewood Castle, Lakewood (Tacoma), Washington, arguably the most luxurious of all overnight lodging facilities in America. The 500-year old transplanted English manor house is certainly the oldest.
Thornewood Castle, Lakewood (Tacoma), Washington, arguably the most luxurious of all overnight lodging facilities in America. The 500-year old transplanted English manor house is certainly the oldest.

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Given that these robber barons as those less fortunate and more interested in how they acquired such enormous wealth (Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie left estates at their death in that era far greater than Bill Gates or even the entire Walton Family of Walmart fame have today). And most of it was acquired before in pre income and inheritance day Amercia. Many heirs eventualy were forced to deed their inherited mega mansions to the state, some retaining limited living privileges.

As a result of having such magnificent homes near their businesses they choose to vacation in such wealthy communities as Saratoga Springs, New York, Bar Harbor, Maine or Long Branch, New Jersey famous for its vacating U.S. Presidents. Perhaps they opted to socialize with their brethren they did not want to invite to their own homes, and because many had their own mansions.


Henry Morris Flagler did not owe his wealth to the buiding and operating of Grand hotels, but they were the result of what he had as partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil and part of his iimpressive effort of building the Florida East Coast Railway often through swampland all along the Florida Coast down to remote Key West. Certainly on a level of arguably his finest effort, St. Austine’s Ponce deLeon was Palm Beach’s still magnificent Breakers, about a mile from the estate he build fro his wife, Whitehall where he met his untimely death in a fall, but not until he lived well into his 80;s.
Henry Morris Flagler did not owe his wealth to the buiding and operating of Grand hotels, but they were the result of what he had as partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil and part of his iimpressive effort of building the Florida East Coast Railway often through swampland all along the Florida Coast down to remote Key West. Certainly on a level of arguably his finest effort, St. Austine’s Ponce deLeon was Palm Beach’s still magnificent Breakers, about a mile from the estate he build fro his wife, Whitehall where he met his untimely death in a fall, but not until he lived well into his 80’s


The Grand hotels were places the rich could get away and not have to bring along a huge entourage of servants and staff. Most resorts offered amenities even these land barons lacked, like fox hunting, boating, hiking and climbing and even miracle hot springs therapeutic bathing.

This was not only an era before income and inheritance taxaton, but also an era of limited travel. Today even nomad youngsters buy a ticket and are off to Europe or more exostic destinations thousands of miles from home. The super wealthy being human (some would argue) could not fly and travelled by horse and buggy and then early modes of mechanized transportation. They travel outside of their hometowns and business locations by rail and to Europe by steamship. (A reason in 1912 why so many went down with the Titanic).As a result they had no choice to vacation within a day or so at most a few days in extremely rare case from home.

Today most of the upper class own home in many foreign countries and continents,



Even the architech of post Industrial Revolution American, J.P. Morgan could not fly and had to travel like common folk, albeit in much greater comfortand elegantce, and had to resort to horse drawn, early subway or trolley care transportaont around town, and railroad or steamship travel elsewhere.
Even the architech of post Industrial Revolution American, J.P. Morgan could not fly and had to travel like common folk, albeit in much greater comfortand elegantce, and had to resort to horse drawn, early subway or trolley care transportaont around town, and railroad or steamship travel elsewhere.

When the propeorties could not longer be affordable or when there were options thanks to modern technology thousands of once grand homes, often along as in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, along the shores of Lake George, New York on a Millionaire’s Row.were demolished. In fashionable Bar Harbor, Maine, almost all of the maginifcant homes and estates burned in a 1947 and were never rebuilt. Those few that did survive were sold and converted into inns and hotels.

Among the proverbial ashes of the these rows of the wealthy there remain a few Remants of the Past, glorious Victorian Mansions that are now wonderful boutique hotels. They are about the only places where one of modest means, not that they are cheap can spend a night or a weekend in the lap of Victorian luxury.

Saved numerous times from the wrecking ball Saratoga Springs High Victorina Batchellor Mansion Inn just across of its renowned Congress Park is the most magnificent mansion that surived to this day.
Saved numerous times from the wrecking ball Saratoga Springs High Victorian Bachelor Mansion Inn just across of its renowned Congress Park is the most magnificent mansion that survived to this day.
Chicago's highest rated Bed and Breakfast, the elegant Villa D'Citta in Lincoln Park.
Chicago’s highest rated Bed and Breakfast, the elegant Villa D’Citta in Lincoln Park.
Chicago's highest rated Bed and Breakfast, the elegant Villa D'Citta in Lincoln Park.
Chicago’s highest rated Bed and Breakfast, the elegant Villa D’Citta in Lincoln Park.
Perhaps even more grandiose and elegant than the Batchelloris the author’s choice as the most incredible mansion hotel he has visited in conducting research for this work. It is situated about equidistance from Cleveland to the northwest and Pittsburgh to the southeast in nondescript Sharon, Pennsylvania. It was build by Frank H.Bult in1891 who owend the Sharon Iron workds which was eventually incorporated into Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel, itself which became U.S. Steel.
Perhaps even more grandiose and elegant than the Batchelloris the author’s choice as the most incredible mansion hotel he has visited in conducting research for this work. It is situated about equidistance from Cleveland to the northwest and Pittsburgh to the southeast in nondescript Sharon, Pennsylvania. It was build by Frank H.Bult in1891 who owend the Sharon Iron workds which was eventually incorporated into Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel, itself which became U.S. Steel.

















Even the lawyers did not do too badly. What is known as the Mansions on 5th, a main and smaller adjacent structure on Pittsburgh’s 5th Avenue, formerly called “Millionaire’s Row” is another grand home that narrrolw escaped the wrecking balls. Formrly known as the McCook Family Estate, Willaim McCook was not an industrialist, but obviously wealthy in his own right, but the lawyer for Andrew Carnegies enforcer, the ruthless Henry Frick Clay. Clay precipitated both the infamous Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, the 2nd bloodiest labor battle in American history and the even more tragic Johnstown Flood three years earlier when he ordered a brige that helped contain the huge damn overlooking the town to be modified just enough to both allow members of his exclusive hunting club to cross it with their horse and buggies and to weaken it enough to cause the damn to fail unleashing 20,000,000 tons of rushing water on the unexpecting townsfolk a few miles to the south, 2,209 people perished within minutes.

Cook is considered by many to be American’s first corporate lawyer. The author obviously had the wrong clients. Throughout the country, primarily in the northeast, but not exclusively travelers can stay in some of these great mansions for not much more, if that than a 4 or 5-star hotel.






Chicago's Wheeler mansion in what was before Mrs. O'Learys' cow led to The Great Chicago Fire its Millionaire's Row.
Chicago’s Wheeler mansion in what was before Mrs. O’Learys’ cow led to The Great Chicago Fire its Millionaire’s Row.

Wenteorth insterior

Even more so than the historic grand hotels and resorts, the historic mansion hotels offer guests the opportunity to spend at least a night at the level the robber barons and other wealthiest of American’s enjoyed during the height of the late Victorian and Gilded Age.

The Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Fort Garry

Description of Historic Place
The Fort Garry Hotel is an early-20th-century stone hotel, constructed in the Chateau style. It is centrally located in the city of Winnipeg, one block west of Winnipeg Union Station. The formal recognition consists of the building on its legal property at the time of recognition.
Heritage Value
The Fort Garry Hotel was designated a national historic site in 1980 because it is a Chateau-style hotel, which is of national significance as an architectural type.
The Fort Garry Hotel is one of a series of Chateau-style hotels built by Canadian railway companies in the early 20th century to encourage tourists to travel their transcontinental routes. Popular with the traveling public for their elaborate decor and comfortable elegance, these hotels quickly became a national symbol of quality accommodation.
The Chateau-style vocabulary used by the railway hotels evolved as a distinctly Canadian architectural type. Built by Fuller Construction for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR) in 1911-1913, the Fort Garry combines a Chateauesque roofline with the monolithic form of a 20th-century skyscraper. Fort Garry 3Architects Ross and MacFarlane incorporated motifs found on other railway hotels, including the trademark GTPR Indiana limestone walls. The dramatic setting characteristic of Chateau-style railway hotels was achieved here by erecting a 13-storey structure that dominated the flat, prairie landscape, and by placing the main reception rooms on the seventh floor to provide a commanding view of the city.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute, 8 March 1980
Character-Defining Elements
The key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Fort Garry Hotel include:
– its Chateau style, evident in: its steeply pitched, truncated hip roof, punctuated by multiple peaks, progressively smaller dormer windows, and finials; its imposing massing; its smooth-cut stone cladding; its elaborate decorative stonework
– its main block, divided into three vertical sections defined by continuous bands of string coursing and entablatures: a two-storey arcaded base containing the ground floor lobby and dining rooms; six intermediary storeys with a regular, alternating, window pattern; and a two-storey arcaded top containing the main reception rooms
– features shared with other Chateau-style GTPR hotels, including: strips of oriel windows flanking a slightly recessed centre, a two-storey, arcaded base; delicately carved gables, and Indiana limestone walls
– its high-quality materials, including: smooth, Indiana limestone cladding; a grey granite base; and copper roofing
– its formal entrance with stone stairs, brass railings, and a copper-detailed canopy,Fort Garry 2
– its grand, double-height interior public spaces on the ground and seventh floors, and the relationships between public spaces
– its interior plan on the ground floor, consisting of: a main lobby; a main dining room; and a circular dining room at the rear;
– its elaborate, two-story main lobby surrounded by a mezzanine, with: four large corner piers joined by arches with keystones bearing the national or provincial emblem; stone walls; marble inlay floor; marble stairway with iron and bronze balustrade; gold-trimmed piers and mouldings; bronze railing around the mezzanine; paneled ceiling; front desk concealed between two pilasters; three elevators and the original mailbox
– its main, two-story dining room, occupying the length of the west side of the ground floor, and including: large windows; marble dado; bronze sconces and chandeliers; a paneled ceiling with modeled bas-reliefs of dragons, thistles, pine cones and tulips; bronze, French doors with bronze handles ornamented with the GTPR logo
– the main reception rooms on the seventh floor, and their configuration, consisting of: a central foyer; a loggia beyond; ballrooms at either end of the loggia
– features of the foyer, including: a high, oak-beamed ceiling hung with ornamental, tapered lanterns
– features of the loggia, including: oak, arched openings with Fr