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Hotels Great, Grand & Famous

‌facts, tales, secrets and scandals

Hotels Great, Grand & Famous

… facts, tales, secrets   and scandals

Great, Grand & Famous Hotels is part of the Great, Grand & Famous book series, an imprint of Arbon Publishing Pty Ltd. 45 Hume Street, Crows Nest NSW 2065, Australia PO Box 623, Crows Nest NSW 1585, Australia Telephone: +61 2 9437 0438 Facsimile: +61 2 9437 0288 Email: or visit

Fritz Gubler Chryl Perry Project Manager Dannielle Viera Book Design Stan Lamond Cover Design Stan Lamond Photo Research Marilyn Karet, Dannielle Viera Proofreader Marie-Louise Taylor Managing Director Publisher

This publication and arrangement © Arbon Publishing Pty Ltd, 2012 Text © Arbon Publishing Pty Ltd, 2012 Photography credits appear on pages 318–19 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. All images in this book have been reproduced with the knowledge of and prior consent of the copyright holder concerned, and no responsibility is accepted by authors, publisher or printer for any infringement of copyright or otherwise, arising from the contents of this publication. Every effort has been made to ensure that credits accurately comply with information supplied. National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry Author: Gubler, Fritz. Title: Great, grand & famous hotels : facts, tales, secrets and scandals / Fritz Gubler. Edition: 3rd ed. ISBN: 978-0-9804667-9-9 Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-9872820-0-2 Paperback Series: Great, grand & famous Notes: Includes bibliographical references. Subjects: Hotels--History. Dewey Number: 728.509 Printed by Toppan Leefung Printing Limited (China)

Captions for Preliminary Pages Page 1: Step through the front door of any of the world’s great, grand and famous hotels and you will immediately be drawn into a world of elegance and sophistication. Page 2: The new Beaufort Bar, installed as part of the Savoy’s recent three-year renovation project, is one of the most eye-catching additions to this classy London hotel. Pages 4–5: Considered by many to be the world’s most luxurious hotel, the Burj Al Arab’s iconic structure dominates the Dubai coastline. Pages 6–7: Nestled in the heart of Canada’s Banff National Park, Chateau Lake Louise offers visitors a wealth of thrilling outdoor recreation activities. Page 8: The light and airy atrium within Geneva’s historic Beau-Rivage is an oasis of opulence and tranquillity in this bustling metropolis.

Contributors Basia Bonkowski has worked as a television presenter and journalist and been a features writer on several magazines. Having written the book Jesse’s World in 2005, she recently completed her Master of Letters at Sydney University. Josephine Brouard regularly contributes to various Australian publications including Reader’s Digest and Notebook. She recently wrote the critically acclaimed Monsoon Rains and Icicle Drops. Di Buckley is a freelance writer and editor and has wide experience in media, politics and corporate communications. Di has had many articles published in newspapers, books and magazines and has lived and worked in London, New York, The Hague, Hong Kong and Singapore. Jane-Anne Lee has been a journalist for more than 25 years, working on a variety of newspapers and magazines in Australia and abroad. Laurel McGowan has been an author, performer and director in theatre and television. She has worked as a television writer and presenter and had a column in the Australian publication, The Review. Laurel continues to act, write and edit. Hellen Morgan-Harris is a freelance journalist, copywriter, editor and researcher. Susan Myers is a travel writer, historian and lawyer who is currently researching and writing a book. Dannielle Viera has been involved in the publishing industry for over 16 years, first as a copywriter, then as an editor, project manager, proofreader and writer. She has worked on more than 40 books, and has written text on a variety of subjects. Jane Walker has a background in the production of documentaries and commercials, as well as advertising, promotions and publicity.



France: Timeless Luxury

Le Meurice ‘Hôtel des Rois’ In 1898, the Meurice family passed ownership of the hotel over to a group led by Arthur Millon. His affiliations with the Grand Hôtel and its celebrated Café de la Paix made Millon probably the most influential hospitality professional of the time.


Yannick Alléno, head chef of Le Meurice. Opposite page The decor

of the main restaurant was inspired by the Salon de la Paix at the Château de Versailles. The modern-day appearance of Le Meurice owes much to a substantial renovation and expansion that occurred early in the twentieth century.

e Meurice became known as the ‘Hôtel des Rois’, with the hotel’s clientele increasingly dominated by the aristocratic elite from around the world: Alfonso XIII, the deposed King of Spain; the King of Montenegro; the Prince des Galles; King George VI; the Sultan of Zanzibar; the Maharaja of Jaipur; and the Grand Duchess of Russia. Even the Duke and Duchess of Windsor later took advantage of the hotel’s unique merger of luxury and privacy. Artists also loved this hotel: Pablo Picasso married Olga Koklova at Le Meurice; and, for three decades, Salvador Dali would book what had been the suite of King Alfonso XIII for at least one month a year. Germany’s General Dietrich von Cholitz fell in love with both Paris and the hotel, and he selected Le Meurice for his World War II headquarters. After signing the German surrender in a lounge on the first floor, General von Cholitz was expected to destroy the bulk of the city’s great monuments before departing. Many had already been set up with explosives, but fortunately the General simply could not bring himself to obey the order. Over the past 175 years, some fine architectural attributes of Le Meurice naturally lost their sheen and

others (such as a superb carved-glass skylight) were covered over. However, a two-year restoration of Le Meurice, completed in 2000, stunned even the blasé Parisians, and further renovations in 2007 included the creation of the new Restaurant le Dali, which features an enormous canvas by Ara Starck hanging from the ceiling. The hotel is managed as part of the Dorchester Collection, along with other five-star hotels such as the Beverly Hills Hotel. It is very popular, particularly with international travellers who appreciate the modern facilities and perfect city location. yA n n i c k A ll é n o

In 2007, the head chef of Le Meurice, Yannick Alléno, was awarded a third Michelin star at just 38 years of age. Previously, he had been awarded the title of espoir, a new Michelin designation for chefs on their way to a glittering third star. Now, with a third star, he has received an honour that has been described as ‘the crowning glory of a palace head chef ’s career’. Alléno took the reins of Le Meurice’s restaurant in 2003 and heads a team of 74 staff. His ambitious mission to reinvent gastronomic cuisine has led the restaurant to the summit of its reputation.


I ta ly : A R e n a i s s a n c e R e v i va l

Villa d’Este A Different Class With travel more common than ever, the wealthy took great care to differentiate themselves from those of lesser means. First-class travel was introduced, and more ‘suitable’ accommodation for the elite was required. Many establishments were extensions or conversions of existing buildings, often villas or palaces on historic sites. Tolomeo Gallio. Designed by architect Pellegrino Tibaldi, it was considered one of the finest examples of both architecture and landscaping. From 1815 to 1821 the Villa was owned by Caroline, Princess of Wales. Caroline was the estranged queen to George IV, and it was said that the King had only married her for her dowry. She held lavish parties and led a life of utter extravagance. The last owner was Russian Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. A second villa, the Queen’s Pavilion, was inaugurated in 1860 and at the time was said to be a trompe l’oeil masterpiece. The Queen’s Pavilion annexe was built by the villa’s (then) owner, Napoleon’s former aide-de-camp, Baron Ciani. Constructed partially over the water at the boat tie-up, it was named after Caroline and its walls decorated to mimic a Moorish–Venetian palazzo. The splendid Villa d’Este occupies an enviable position on the shores of Lake Como.

Opposite page

The landscaped gardens of the Villa d’Este were created during the residence of Caroline, Princess of Wales, in the early nineteenth century. The gardens have been the location for episodes of the long-running television soap, The Bold and the Beautiful.


The elegant drawing

room of the Villa d’Este.



n 1873, two villas were combined into one property named Villa d’Este. One of the most exclusive hotels in the world, this beautiful Renaissance villa is set amid 10 hectares (25 acres) of meticulously landscaped lake-side gardens. Camellias, oleanders, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, roses and jasmine bushes mingle with centuries-old trees. Topiary hedges, bushes of bamboo and azaleas add to the spectacle. The two most outstanding landmarks are the 500-year-old plane tree and the sixteenth-century mosaic with its Nympheum. Over the years the Villa d’Este has welcomed, among other illustrious personages, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Mark Twain, Joseph Heller, José Carreras and Madonna, together with European royalty and a bevy of international film stars. A lesser claim to fame in its long history is that at the end of World War II, Villa d’Este briefly became an emergency clinic for fleeing Nazis wanting hasty cosmetic surgery before disappearing to South America. The Villa d’Este has probably the best view across Lake Como of any residence in the area. The Villa started life in 1568 as a private residence for Cardinal

Par for the course

Well-known golf course designer Peter Gannon was commissioned to develop an 18-hole parkland range for the Villa. The course winds its way through chestnut, ash and pine trees and is considered one of the most challenging and difficult par 69s in Europe. It is a much sought-after golf course, and many famous golfers have landed at the Villa d’Este’s private helipad to take up the challenge.


S w i t z e r l a n d : Tra d i t i on a n d P re c i s i on

An early photograph shows immaculately dressed hotel school students and teachers. Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne founder Jacques Tschumi is shown in the centre, seated at the table. In 1903, the hotel school moved from the Hotel d’Angleterre to its own premises on Lausanne’s Avenue de Cour. At this time, the school was taking in around 30 new students each year.

The Legacy of Swiss Hospitality Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne During the mid- to late nineteenth century, Switzerland experienced an unprecedented boom in tourism. More than 50 grand hotels were built during this time, and these establishments required skilled employees and well-trained managers. Swiss hoteliers were the first to realise that hospitality was a profession, and that excellence could only be achieved with the help of well-educated staff.


cole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) was founded in 1893 by Jacques Tschumi, of the Beau-Rivage Palace in Ouchy, who was an influential member of the Swiss Hotel Association. The world’s first hotel school, it had 27 students in the first year and classes were held at the Hotel d’Angleterre on the shores of Lake Geneva. In 1903, it moved to a purpose-built campus located on the Avenue de Cour in Lausanne. This was made possible because of the strong support of the Swiss Hotel Association and the success of the school’s initial hospitality students. With a ‘modern’ campus, the school not only took on a leading role in the training and education of hoteliers, but also fostered an active link with the hotel industry.


The school created an outstanding academic program that balanced the practicalities of skills training with the knowledge of the science and art of hospitality management. This approach has been refined and developed over time; today it remains the cornerstone of EHL’s educational philosophy. Students from other countries soon discovered the unique Swiss training institution, and in 1924 – for the first time – there were more foreigners than locals among the 62 students.

by the alumni assisted the school to reopen in 1943, when it took on just 16 students. The postwar euphoria saw a resurgence in the tourism industry, and graduates of EHL were well equipped to manage the rapid expansion of the hotel industry. By 1951, the school had grown to 500 students from over 30 countries and was regarded as the world’s pre-eminent hotel school, a reputation it still enjoys today. Recently, an independent survey has confirmed that EHL is still rated as the number one hospitality school not only in Switzerland but also worldwide. The enormous success of the graduates in the second half of the twentieth century increased the popularity of EHL, and there was an ever-growing demand for places at the school. In 1975, EHL moved to its present, purpose-built campus at Chaletà-Gobet, which is located just north of Lausanne. The modern infrastructures continue to provide students with the best possible teaching and learning conditions. As Swiss educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827) would have said, EHL is an institution where students learn ‘with their heads, their hands and their hearts’.

Alumni S Avin G The Scho ol

Unfortunately, World War II had a devastating effect on the tourism industry not only in Switzerland but also worldwide, and EHL was forced to close in 1941. An ‘SOS Survival’ fundraising drive supported

T wen T y- firST- cen T u ry in ST i T u T ion

The course programs are continually adapted, expanded and revitalised not only to satisfy the ever-changing needs

Students at the hotel school learn both the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills involved in working within the modern hospitality industry.

My Legends at EHL As a proud graduate and an AEHL member, I

respected for his generosity and his encouragement

appreciate the school’s good reputation, which

to students to do their best. Following his death

opened many doors for me during my professional

in 2008, the Peter Barakat Fund was launched.

career. And I do appreciate the effort of the

The purpose of the fund is to pass on his values

school to uphold that reputation because, after

of solidarity and humanity. Now his spirit will

all, it is also the reputation of my Diploma!

continue to be felt at EHL forever.

But I am even more grateful for the positive

To be the face of the school for more than 40

learning experience during my study at the school,

years deserves a medal! I met Sam Salvisberg

which encouraged my personal development in

when he was my Front Office teacher at the

the realms of self-discipline and fair leadership.

school, not much older than his students. He

This positive learning experience was and still is

was a popular and approachable young teacher,

underpinned by the close and caring relationship

available to us at any time. All the students who

that many of the iconic EHL teachers and staff

passed through the school since then have

have with their students. This bond not only

somehow connected with him, and he has a

Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne’s modern campus is

lasts for the duration of the course, but also

very active association with former students:

located at Chalet-à-Gobet, and it offers hospitality

is upheld for the entire duration of one’s

he knows many of the 25,000 alumni, but I

students from all over the world an unparalleled

professional career.

would dare to say that all of them know him!

state-of-the-art learning environment.

During my time at the school I was fortunate to learn from the famous Mr Tour, and all of us

FRITz GUBLER (EHL Student 1970–73)

who had this opportunity will treasure his little

of the hotel industry, but also to fulfil the requirements of new academic recognitions. EHL awards a Bachelor of Science for its International Hospitality Management Programme and a postgraduate degree along the lines of an MBA. Many famous and iconic hoteliers are proud graduates of EHL, including Kurt Wachtveitl of the Oriental in Bangkok, Felix Bieger of the Peninsula in Hong Kong and Hans Wiedemann of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz. A strong alumni network with more than 25,000 members provides an active link between the school and the industry worldwide. Many cities have a Stamm (Stamm is a typical Swiss

book, Aide de Memoire. What a man: professional to the core, disciplined like a Swiss Army General and with a heart like a mother. Mr Barakat was a father figure for most of

Sam Salvisberg, the Deputy to the General Director

the students at EHL. He cared for all of us, and

and the school’s

we will always be grateful to him as he made


our life away from home bearable. He was

member of staff.

word best translated as tree trunk or core), an alumni club that meets regularly to foster friendship and assistance. As the hotel industry moves into the twenty-first century with grander hotels, larger aeroplanes and more extravagant cruise ships, EHL will rise to the challenge

of producing the next generation of capable hoteliers. The school now has more than 1,800 students, and a recent extension and upgrade of its infrastructures will ensure that the school’s facilities are commensurate with the developments of the modern hotel and tourism industry.


Grand Hôtel Stockholm Swinging with the Smart Set Ever since its opening on Blasieholmen in the summer of 1874, the French Renaissance-style Grand Hôtel Stockholm has boasted a luminous guest list, including nobility, political leaders, film stars and the entrepreneurial elite.


Princess Ingrid of Sweden dancing with Prince Carl during a gala at the Grand Hôtel Stockholm in 1935. Top

Situated on the busy

waterfront, the Grand has a front-row view of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town.


ut it was in the 1930s that the hotel staff and guests had the most fun. Jazz had come of age, and foreign guests expected their nightlife to swing. As a result, the Grand Hôtel Stockholm played an important role in promoting big bands and dance evenings, with the social set descending in furs and clouds of perfume to see and be seen. ‘We have acquired a taste for entertainment,’ a 1934 society magazine reported at the time, describing ‘fair maidens in trains and diadems and manly men in tails with brilliantined hair.’ ‘An altogether super-smart, well-dressed and decidedly unmixed crowd,’ it continued, ‘but it is true that the Swedes have a natural advantage when it comes to looking distinguished and elegant. And say what you will of the young gentlemen of Stockholm, but they certainly can dance!’ For many years the world-famous Jack Harris orchestra was almost a house band at the Grand and one of the reasons people took to the crowded dance floor every Wednesday night. Later, in 1937, the hotel employed a seven-man British orchestra to great protest from local musicians. The bandleader responded by suggesting that musicians, too, ‘might benefit from a few foreign impulses from time to time’. The Brits subsequently stayed until the spring of 1939, when Swedish dance music began to make its first real breakthrough.

One regular visitor at this time – who regularly failed to hit the dance floor – was actress Greta Garbo. Garbo, staff noted, often looked like a frightened gazelle and spent more time in solitude on the hotel’s summer verandah than anywhere else. When ordering room service, the privacy-hungry actress was also renowned for hiding while her meals were delivered. reliaBly discree t

In the thirties, discretion at the Grand was ‘a matter of honour’, and none was more discreet than floor manager Max Stern. He recalls an incident when a guest, an English mariner, turned off the hotel’s heating before going to bed and, despite freezing temperatures outside, flung open his bedroom window. During the night the radiator pipes burst and water streamed around the sleeping Englishman, who awoke with a terrific yell, believing his ‘ship’ had run aground. Stern subsequently reassured the guest that he was in fact safe on terra firma. For Stern, this was just another out-of-the-ordinary experience in an extraordinary hotel. Every year around 100,000 people stay at the Grand Hôtel Stockholm, including the Nobel Prize laureates and their families. The hotel’s owners are constantly renovating and refurbishing parts of the hotel to ensure that it offers visitors the latest in modern facilities without detracting from the historic atmosphere.

European Romance


Hotel Kämp Helsinki The Symposium Many celebrated artists have claimed inspiration from the company of other artists. In Finland’s capital at the close of the nineteenth century, the intelligentsia gathered under the red, umber and yellow roof of the elegant Hotel Kämp Helsinki.


arl Wilhelm Kämp, a well-known restaurateur in Helsinki, decided in the 1880s to design and build that city’s first luxury hotel. Kämp’s intention was to finance the hotel himself, but in the end he received state loans and the help of a local businessman, who bought the site. Helsinki’s newspapers kept up a running commentary on the splendid furnishings and fittings being procured for the newest attraction in town. Built in French Renaissance style, the Kämp opened its doors in 1887. It quickly became a cultural and political focal point and a regular meeting place for a new, liberal front called the Young Finns, committed to the evolution of national culture. Kämp regulars included talented painter Axel Gallen and his closest friends at the time, conductor and composer Robert Kajanus and Finland’s greatest composer, Jean Sibelius. This small but significant cultural group, including sculptors, journalists, architects and musicians, called their conversation meetings the ‘Symposium’ and enjoyed their most intense period of activity from autumn 1892 until 1895.

at the Finnish National Theatre to great public acclaim, and Sibelius’s reputation was sealed. Having fallen in and out of fashion many times since his death in 1957, today Jean Sibelius is one of the most popular symphonists of the twentieth century. Hotel Kämp has been linked to the development of Finland as a country for the last 120-plus years, with numerous political debates and deals occurring within the hotel’s walls that have cemented the identity of the Finnish nation. Having undergone extensive renovations and a modern addition, the hotel reopened in 1999 as part of Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), Finnish composer, pictured in his early twenties.

s iBelius and the kämP

Music, Swedish punch, Benedictine liqueur and cigars all helped to fuel the Symposium’s all-night conversations, and none was more intimately involved than Sibelius, who would return home to his longsuffering wife and children full of praise for the insights and revelations he shared in the company of his celebrated friends. In 1903, before departing Helsinki to live in the country, Sibelius retired to the Kämp one evening in the company of friends. There, under the influence of quinine taken to fight a bout of influenza, he composed the first notes of a mournful waltz and returned home later that night to finish writing his melancholy masterpiece, Valse Triste. In December later that year, the waltz enjoyed its debut

Archival material and old photographs were used as references during recent renovations to ensure that Hotel Kämp Helsinki remained true to its glorious past.



Middle and Eastern Europe: Imperial Splendour

The Grand Hotel Europe Splendour in St Petersburg Most European hotels evolved from inns or spas in towns and villages that date back to medieval or even Roman times. Not so the Grand Hotel Europe. Peter the Great, the first Tsar of Russia, just decided to build a whole city on the border of his easternmost territory, newly clawed back from the Swedes.


e then declared it the capital and ordered the whole court to move there. The grandson who succeeded him moved it back to Moscow, but his successor, Anna Ivanovna, moved it back again, and one of her additions was the first school of Russian dance in 1738. Thus it was that nearly 40 years later, an Italian ballerina in the city gave birth to a boy, Carlo Rossi, who became the architect that gave St Petersburg its most memorable buildings and the distinctive town planning that still strikes visitors to the city today. Between 1819 and 1825, Rossi built the Mikhailovsky Palace – now the Russian Museum – and so that it could be seen to advantage, Rossi suggested an elegant boulevard (Mikhailovskaya Street) be built from the main street to the Palace. He unified the look of the

The Caviar Bar In 2007, the Discovery Channel filmed

arts and indulgence. It was the city of the

at the Grand Hotel Europe for the show

Tsars and excess was celebrated, with

Bizarre Foods, showcasing the delights

caviar an integral part of this decadence.

of the newly renovated Caviar Bar, which

The traditional Russian method for tasting

include a refrigerator containing a 50-kg

Beluga Caviar was using ivory spoons –

(110-lb) supply of black caviar, and a

no metal was to touch the caviar! Today

chocolate factory.

horn, and not ivory, is the poor substitute.

The Caviar Bar is a remnant of earlier

However, for those in the know, caviar is

times, when St Petersburg was a city of

best eaten directly from a person’s skin. Hands and wrists would seem logical, but many delighted in using other parts of the body, cooled down with chilled vodka! With this in mind, the Caviar Bar within the Grand Hotel Europe’s dining room had very heavy curtains installed to create a chambre séparée for the privacy of the guests. During the hotel’s recent renovation, it was said that the architect planned to remove these curtains, but relented due to high customer demand!


European Romance

buildings all along the present hotel side of the street into the fine façade we enjoy today, and P Jacquot built the matching opposite side of the street where the St Petersburg Philharmonic Society is today. The bond between the cultural life of St Petersburg and the Grand Hotel Europe has remained cosy ever since.

Inside the honeymoon suite

a ll so cie t y Was tH ere

A St Petersburg landmark,

In 1875, the Grand Hotel Europe opened with all the modern splendours of the other major hotels in Europe, Asia and America. There were lifts and laundries, room service and restaurants, elegant suites and sweeping staircases. Tchaikovsky dined there within two years of it opening and liked it well enough to return for his honeymoon. His wife Antonina, however, he was not so keen on. ‘She is loathsome to me in every sense of this word,’ he said of her, and the marriage broke up within months. No holder of grudges, Tchaikovsky met Johann Strauss at the Grand Hotel Europe nine years later. Ivan Turgenev held court in his suite at the Grand Hotel Europe, where he was inundated with flowers and people queued for hours to be received. Rasputin was a regular while he was in favour with Tsar Nicholas’s wife, Alexandra. But the mad monk’s heavy drinking added to the displeasure Russians felt at the goings-on of the rich while ordinary soldiers died at the front during World War I. Changing the name of the city to the more patriotic Petrograd was not enough. In 1917, the Tsar was forced to abdicate, and Lenin seized control in the name of the Bolsheviks.

the Grand Hotel Europe is


of the Grand Hotel Europe.

located next to Arts Square, close to many great architectural treasures.

Hostage to Poli t ics

Under Communism, the building served many functions including a hotel managed by Intourist between the wars. HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw and John Dos Passos wrote their observations of the Soviet state after being guests there. Vladimir Mayakovsky and Maxim Gorky stayed at the Grand Hotel Europe, and a 21-year-old Dmitri Shostakovich played for Sergei Prokofiev there. The hotel survived the siege of Leningrad (as the city had become in 1924) for 900 days, although it was gutted for any wood that could be burnt as fuel while still serving as a hospital. Pre-1989, it functioned as a hotel once more, where hard currency bought a pale imitation of world-class service. But when Swedish contractors were awarded the job of complete restoration, they used no Russian labourers and employed no-one who had ever worked in Soviet hospitality. They anchored a 276-room training ship in the Leningrad docks and instructed the new staff in the latest Western best practice. The result was a triumph, with genuine antiques abounding. One guest dubbed it the only museum that offers accommodation. The ultimate seal of approval comes from the Romanov descendants, who hold their family reunions here. The hotel is now part of the Orient-Express Hotels Ltd group.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter appeared at the January 2011 ceremony that officially named Russia as the 2018 FIFA World Cup host country, at the Grand Hotel Europe.


The Alfonso XIII

The hotel’s rich decor pays homage to Spain’s complex past, with baroque, Castilian and Moorish elements entwined.

A Moorish Oasis Seville’s Alfonso XIII Hotel is an oasis in a dry southern area of Spain. The Moors knew this area well, and while Europeans in the Dark Ages lived in primitive shelters, the Moors built beautiful structures that have never dated.


The Alfonso XIII is located close to Seville’s famous Santa Cruz area and the Guadalquivir River.


ringing their knowledge of even hotter and drier climes, and their love of sensual pleasure, the Moors created high-arched, cool-tiled, shady spaces with small, unglazed windows and refreshing fountains. The Alfonso XIII still offers these same delights. It is a three-storey, creamcoloured palace with a square tower and tall, arched windows that open onto wrought-iron balconies; the building is surrounded by gardens with towering palms. The reception desk features a ceiling delicately frescoed with angels. The hotel stands at the Puerta de Jerez, now a plaza, but once the gate to the old walled city of Seville. In 1929, the original hotel was built opposite that entry for the Ibero-American Exhibition. There was remodelling in 1992 for the Universal Exhibition. Its style is not slavishly Moorish; there are elements of Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and Art Deco. When

the hotel was built, there were no elevators. The top floors were for the servants of visiting dignitaries, and it still amuses the staff that Americans ask for the penthouse suite; foreign visitors are always surprised to learn that the best room is on the ground floor. This hotel named for a king once had a matching hotel named for a queen. The Reina Christina Hotel was built by Anibal González – as was the still standing Exhibition space, the Plaza de España – while his brother-in-law, Jose Espiau y Muñoz, built the Alfonso XIII. In an ongoing effort to make sure the kingly hotel doesn’t go the way of its queenly equivalent, the Alfonso XIII maintains a ceramics workshop so that wall tiles and mosaic pieces can be reproduced as needed. The hotel is part of the Luxury Collection of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and was closed from May 2011 to March 2012 to undergo major renovations to the hotel’s rooms and services.

European Romance

Reid’s Hotel Getting Away From It All The desire to ‘get away from it all’ somewhere warm – perhaps occasionally exposed to the bracing sea air – could not have been better fulfilled from 1891 onwards than at Reid’s Hotel at Funchal on the island of Madeira.


eassured by the British-sounding name (although the hotel was in fact built by a Scot, and his sons – when bankrupted – sold it to an English-born wine merchant), recovering tuberculosis sufferers and displaced royalty alike chose Reid’s. The style of the hotel was indeed English, but the surroundings were exotic and exciting. Madeira – part of a volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic – boasts a subtropical climate that has always proved attractive to travellers. The rocky promontory on which the hotel was built had no beaches at the bottom and no soil at the top, so a saltwater bathing pool was cut into the rock at the base. The gardens – which the hotel is rightly famous for – are all built on imported soil. Today these gardens are filled with a range of unusual species such as dragon trees, nightflowering cacti and jade vines. Originally you could only arrive at Reid’s by boat. There was a flying-boat service before they built an airstrip on a nearby island, but it was only from 1964 that you could fly direct to Madeira. Once on the island, still more transport problems confounded or delighted you. A hammock carried by two trained bearers took you up the cliff to Reid’s, and all travel over the port’s cobbled streets was on sleds with wooden runners drawn by bullocks. Reid’s has entertained a wealth of celebrities since it opened: Empress Elisabeth (‘Sissi’) of Austria wintered at Reid’s to grieve over the suicide of her son Rudolf; George Bernard Shaw took tango lessons at the hotel; and Winston Churchill licked his wounds there postwar when ungrateful voters chose Clement Attlee’s Labour government over his. The most famous person to seek refuge at Reid’s was General Fulgencio Batista, ousted as Cuba’s ruler by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s popular revolt. Known since 1925 as Reid’s Palace Hotel and last renovated in 2006, it is now operated as part of OrientExpress Hotels Ltd.

Thar She Blows John Huston and Gregory Peck stayed at Reid’s while filming some whale-hunting scenes in Madeira for the film Moby Dick (1956). At that time, whalers still hunted their quarry by rowing up to them in open boats and plunging their harpoons in by hand. During their time at Reid’s, Huston and Peck went on several whaling expeditions. Huston, who loved to hunt, later claimed that in

Gregory Peck reads a newspaper review

one expedition alone 20 whales

of Moby Dick while his wife, Veronique,

had been killed.

and John Huston look on.

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Reid’s prides itself on pampering every visitor – there is even a spa on-site.



Th e U n i t e d K i n g d om : Fr om N ob i l i t y t o C e l e b r i t y

Claridge’s Resort of Kings Built in 1812, Claridge’s was originally known as Mivart Hotel and was run by a former servant of George IV before being passed on to an equally well-connected butler named Claridge. It is said that William Claridge chose the depth of his bow depending on the importance of his visitor, and that his head would almost touch his knees in the company of royalty.


Claridge’s was

voted the ‘Best UK Hotel for Rooms’ in the Condé Nast Traveller Gold List 2010.


urchased by Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1893, the old hotel was demolished and Claridge’s rebuilt according to the plans of renowned architect CW Stephens. It reopened in November 1898. Known as an annexe of Buckingham Palace and the Resort of Kings, the hotel has always been a royal retreat, favoured by the peerage, frequented by the royal families of Great Britain and Europe, and a particular favourite of the late Queen Mother. tHe royAl connect Ion

Princess Diana, arriving at Claridge’s in 1989, is greeted by the concierge.

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Empress Eugénie of France made Claridge’s her winter quarters in 1860, and the hotel’s royal seal of approval was granted after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited her there. The royal connection is further fortified by the long-held practice of visiting dignitaries staying at Buckingham Palace between Monday and Wednesday, then moving into a suite at Claridge’s on Thursday and holding a banquet to return the hospitality.

Designed with the elegant splendour of Victorian and Edwardian England in mind, the corridors were built unusually wide to permit ladies to sweep past each other without their crinoline gowns rustling. In later years this allowed Bing Crosby to practise his golf, putting up and down the carpeted corridors to his heart’s content. Dignified, refined and supremely stylish, Claridge’s came into its own after World War I, flourishing due to demand from aristocrats and peers who had foregone town houses but still required a place to stay during the ‘season’. Claridge’s was extremely popular for debutante balls, and the Opening of the Season parties that occurred in May each year. Basil Ionides redesigned the hotel in the 1920s, and when the building emerged from a cocoon of scaffolding it revealed its new Art Deco splendour. Oswald Milne made further enhancements in the 1930s, adding an extension to the hotel that featured a series of attractive guestrooms and reception rooms. During World War II, Claridge’s became a refuge for royal families in exile: King Haakon of Norway, King George II of Greece and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands all stayed at the hotel, the staff allegedly taking to calling everybody ‘your royal highness’ for fear of making a mistake. King Peter II of Yugoslavia spent much of the war at the hotel, and in Suite 212 his son HRH Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia was born in 1945. Winston Churchill and the King declared the suite to be Yugoslavian territory, and earth from the besieged country was placed beneath the bed so that the heir to the throne would be born on Yugoslavian soil. General Dwight Eisenhower first made Claridge’s his wartime headquarters, but soon decamped to the Dorchester claiming that his sitting room looked like ‘a goddarned fancy funeral parlour’ and that his bedroom was ‘whorehouse pink’. The Dorchester, it seems, was ‘somewhat noisier and somewhat shinier, somewhat more American’ than Claridge’s.

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A Claridge’s suite decked out in Art Deco style.


N e w Yo r k : P o w e r a n d P r o m i n e n c e

The Waldorf =Astoria New York’s Unofficial Palace The Waldorf=Astoria was the result of a unification of two separate hotels, the Waldorf (1893) and the Astoria (1897). When the first Waldorf=Astoria was pulled down and replaced on that site by the Empire State Building, an entirely new Waldorf=Astoria was built uptown. It seems New York would always be synonymous with a Waldorf=Astoria.


illiam Waldorf Astor was involved in the initial stages of the creation of the Waldorf Hotel, together with his financial adviser, Abner Bartlett. Their first task was to find the right person to run the hotel. Their selection was George C Boldt, known to Astor as the proprietor of the impeccably managed Hotel Bellevue in Philadelphia. Boldt accepted the position of Proprietor and General Manager, while Astor maintained ownership of both the land and the building. The architect was Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, one of New York’s most respected specialists in large buildings. He initially attracted serious attention with his Dakota Apartments (1880–84) on Central Park West (where John Lennon was living when he was shot). His other New York hotels include the Astoria (1897), the Manhattan Hotel (1897), Hotel Martinique (1897–1911) and the Plaza, his Beaux-Arts masterpiece that opened to great fanfare in 1907. The final key appointment was Oscar Tschirky as maître d’hôtel. Oscar had made a name for himself at Delmonico’s restaurant, but he became even more famous for his unique brand of customer service at the Waldorf. Indeed, the reputations of both the hotel and Oscar himself became inextricably entwined. In the summer of 1891, New Yorkers began to see the great steel framework of the Waldorf structure rise above the skyline. With the project under way, William Waldorf Astor left New York with his family to relocate permanently to London. Op Ening n nigh igh t

The Waldorf officially opened on 14 March, 1893. With George C Boldt, his wife Louise and Oscar Tschirky standing together at the door to greet each guest, the Waldorf ’s renowned ‘house style’ was born: there would always be a personal touch and scrupulous attention to individual needs. The evening was conceived as a charity fundraiser, and Mrs Alva Vanderbilt proved herself to be a formidable new arrival on New York’s social scene by donating the music – the New York Symphony Orchestra. Its sweet harmonies did not go unnoticed. Nor did Mrs Vanderbilt’s sharp eye miss the 18-carat gold-plated bathroom fixtures in the private suites: ‘You don’t have to clean them, you know,’ she tartly declared. mO rE t han Just a p laCE tO stay

The dramatic effects of the Waldorf ’s presence in the city ricocheted through the entire top end of the hospitality industry. Many of those loyal to other establishments were tempted to try the new Waldorf, and a new mix of people from all walks of New York life was drawn together to create the Waldorf ’s diverse clientele. In fact, the hotel set about changing the way New Yorkers themselves lived. Extending beyond the

traditional offerings of bed and board, large and lavish public rooms were created on the lower floors for the specific use of locals. For the first time, New York’s most important women had, courtesy of the Palm Garden Dining Room, their own place to meet. With facilities such as a grand ballroom and private dining rooms for hire, some saw an opportunity to knock Caroline Astor off her perch as grand dame of New York’s society. It is said that Marion ‘Mamie’ Fish, wife of Stuyvesant Fish, set about her campaign with particular relish! Meanwhile, ‘Oscar of the Waldorf ’, as he came to be known, presided over the hotel with a gracious air of sophisticated insouciance. By the end of 1896, just before the Astoria opened, the Waldorf had become the smartest hotel in America. Social life at the Waldorf=Astoria hit a peak in 1897 when the Bradley-Martin Ball – fancy dress with the theme of Louis XV at Versailles – spilt over from the Waldorf into sections of the yet to be officially opened Astoria. There was some criticism of the lavishness of this occasion. Mrs Bradley-Martin announced that the reason she had given the ball was to provide work for dressmakers, florists and caterers. If there were any further complaints, she threatened to relocate to London. Not long after, she did.

The tropical Palm Garden Dining Room at the Waldorf=Astoria, photographed in 1902. Opposite Opposite page page


Astoria Hotel (1896) by Hughson Hawley.

Construction workers on the Waldorf=Astoria site.

CrEat ing thE astOria

Cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV (who was instructed to build the Astoria next to the Waldorf by his mother, Caroline Astor) didn’t like each other, but Bartlett and Boldt convinced them that they both had much to gain by joining forces. This strategy brought architect Hardenbergh back to erect the Astoria. At 17 storeys, the Astoria stood 65 m (213 ft) tall. The combined hotels offered a total of 1,000 rooms and 750 bathrooms, a 91-m (299-ft) marble ground-floor corridor, a ballroom ceiling 15 m (49 ft) high, and the Palm Garden Dining Room beneath a glazed dome and moulded plasterwork ceiling. Together, the Waldorf= Astoria offered 40 public rooms for the use of locals.

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N e w Yo r k : P o w e r a n d P r o m i n e n c e

The Algonquin Breaking New Ground The Algonquin (1902), on West 44th between Fifth and Sixth avenues, is one of the few great New York hotels in the Beaux-Arts style to have survived with both looks and reputation reasonably intact. Designed by Goldwin Starrett, the Algonquin was particularly popular with well-to-do bachelors and actresses, a traditionally fertile social combination.


hat there were wealthy male clients is not surprising, given the proximity of three of the city’s most famous restaurants – Sherry’s, Delmonico’s and the Colony – and five prestigious men’s clubs. The Algonquin’s theatrical clientele grew after the 1905 opening of the Hippodrome, home to the leggy lasses of the Ziegfeld Follies. an u nusual Cas E

Dorothy Parker reviews a draft copy of a manuscript at her home in 1948.

The newly renovated Algonquin Lobby still exudes Edwardian charm.

Frank Case, the legendary Algonquin manager (from 1907) and owner (from 1927), loved the company of artistic types. He promoted the position of the hotel as being at the centre of New York’s literary and theatrical life, which attracted personalities like Booth Tarkington; Douglas Fairbanks, Sr; John Barrymore; and HL Mencken, who called the Algonquin ‘the most comfortable hotel in America’. William Faulkner drafted his Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech at the Algonquin in 1950. British actor Basil Hallam would go jogging after returning from each night’s performance: ‘He never knew he was the only man on Manhattan Island running up Fifth Avenue in his underwear at night.’ The Algonquin also broke ground in making welcome the new phenomenon of ‘independent’ women, among them the early feminist writers Gertrude Stein and

her girlfriend Alice B Toklas, as well as Simone de Beauvoir, Eudora Welty and Helen Hayes, a Ziegfeld girl who went on to be one of the most acclaimed American actresses of her era. Upon Case’s death in 1946, Ben Bodne acquired the hotel and proceeded with a careful and loving refurbishment, paying great attention to the preservation of the Edwardian style that guests cherished. A new multi-million dollar historical restoration, including hand-selected antique furniture, saw the Algonquin born yet again in 1998. It was last renovated in 2004, and is now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. d OrOth y parkEr

The Colony restaurant’s popularity gained prominence after being ‘discovered’ by Mrs WK Vanderbilt. Yet a small group of not-yet-famous individuals also met here. Apparently, these worthies made such nuisances of themselves by asking for meals at unheard-of hours – breakfast at 11pm and dinner at 2am – that Gene Cavallero, the Colony’s owner, eventually froze them out, whereupon they moved their activities to the Algonquin. At the height of its fame, the group included magazine heavyweights Harold Ross and Robert Benchley; columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Heywood Broun; critic Alexander Woollcott; as well as playwrights George S Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber and Robert Sherwood. Some of the group, including Dorothy Parker, initially met at Vanity Fair. The group’s almost daily lunches in the Algonquin’s Oak Room – characterised by sparring dialogue and droll asides – spanned a decade. The lunch legacy included the creation of many a memorable epigram as well as a brand new magazine, the New Yorker, which was founded by Harold Ross and conceived in part to capture this new form of scalpel-sharp repartee. Though society columns referred to the group as the Algonquin Round Table, they called themselves the Vicious Circle. ‘By force of character,’ observed drama critic Brooks Atkinson, ‘they changed the nature of

Carat Juice Dorothy Parker once said: ‘I love a martini, but two at the most. Three, I’m under the table; four, I’m under the host.’ In 2004, the Algonquin’s general manager, Anthony Melchiorri, decided to offer a new item on the bar menu: the Martini on the Rock. This classic mix of Belvedere vodka and Martini & Rossi vermouth includes a diamond – and an approximate price tag of US$10,000! Joe Imperato is just one of the Algonquin customers to have risen to the challenge, proposing to Melissa Beck in December 2004 with a 1.85-carat square diamond worth US$13,000. ‘She always wanted it to be a big event,’ he explained. The after-work crowd at the hotel’s Blue Bar burst into applause as Beck graciously fished out the very special ‘rock’ in her martini with a toothpick.

American comedy and established the tastes of a new period in the arts and theatre.’ One unlikely member of the group was Harpo Marx. Famous as the Marx Brother who never spoke on screen, he was apparently a voluble contributor to Round Table discussions. g guEsts uEsts at th E algO alg Onq nq uin

The Algonquin’s Oak Room launched the careers of Diana Krall, Andrea Marcovicci, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Peter Cincotti, Jamie Cullum and Harry Connick, Jr. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick

Loewe wrote My Fair Lady in Lerner’s suite, while Harold Ross secured funding for the New Yorker magazine from a fellow poker player in the hotel’s ‘Thanatopsis Pleasures and Inside Straight Club’. Algonquin honeymooners include Douglas Fairbanks and Orson Welles, while Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was among the famous female visitors to the hotel. The Algonquin has also been a favourite with overseas celebrities, such as Noël Coward, Laurence Olivier, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Tom Stoppard, Charles Laughton, Diana Rigg and Anthony Hopkins.

The Midtown location of the Algonquin has been a drawcard for New York’s artistic and cultural elite for over a century.



N e w Yo r k : P o w e r a n d P r o m i n e n c e

The St Regis A Distinguished Clientele An original Beaux-Arts landmark, the St Regis Hotel was financed by John Jacob Astor IV and built in 1904. It was designed with an Art Nouveau feel by Samuel Beck Parkman Trowbridge and Goodhue Livingston for an Upper East Side site on Fifth Avenue and 55th Street.

Opposite page In 2011,

the St Regis Hotel was awarded the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award for the eighteenth year in a row.

Colonel Serge Obolensky pictured in 1964 at the St Regis Roof Restaurant, which he created.


oing against the trend that bigger was better, John Jacob Astor IV insisted on relatively small public rooms: ‘a subtle indication that the management did not want the crowds that milled in Peacock Alley at the Waldorf=Astoria or in the vast lobby of the Astor in Times Square’. The atmosphere of grandeur within the St Regis was created with subtle touches: fresh flowers that were replaced daily, an attentive but unobtrusive butler service, social events with select guest lists, and more. Astor wanted to create a hotel where gentlemen and their families could feel at home. He introduced ‘modern’ conveniences such as telephones in every room, a fire-alarm system, central heating and an air-cooling system. Mail chutes were installed on each floor, a newsworthy innovation at that time. One of the hotel’s other novel features was a special design

Polish-born cosmetics tycoon Helena Rubinstein arranging flowers in her suite at the St Regis in 1945.

‘for the disposition of dust and refuse’ – one of the first central vacuum systems. All maids had to do was plug their vacuum cleaner’s hose into sockets situated throughout the hotel. Throughout its history, the St Regis Hotel has attracted the most glamorous, creative and intriguing personalities of each era. Some of the most famous guests have included Marlene Dietrich, Salvador Dali and his wife Gala, and actress Gertrude Lawrence, who insisted that all her press appointments take place at the hotel. Colonel Serge Obolensky, a Russian prince who had been a page at the Tsar’s court, was associated with the St Regis for a number of years, and married Ava Alice Muriel Astor (the daughter of John Jacob Astor IV) in 1924. In the 1930s, as manager of the St Regis, he refurbished the hotel. s t rE g i s rEb O r n

Today, the St Regis is considered one of New York’s finest hotels, and it remains one of the best preserved in the Beaux-Arts style. The hotel, now operated by Starwood, is the centrepiece of Starwood’s prestigious St Regis brand. To celebrate the hotel’s centenary in 2004, renowned designers Stephen Sills and James Huniford were hired to renovate the hotel’s interiors. In 2008, internationally acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse opened the Adour restaurant at the hotel, named for a river near his birthplace; this restaurant has since been awarded three Michelin stars.



N e w Yo r k : P o w e r a n d P r o m i n e n c e

Party of the Century Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball There’s never been a party in New York quite like it. It is said that people left town because they weren’t invited. Truman Capote’s masked Black and White Ball was held at the Plaza Hotel on 28 November, 1966. Ostensibly in honour of Washington Post proprietor Katharine Graham, it was also a device intended to allow Capote to bask in the immense success of his controversial book, In Cold Blood. The guest list, which included Candice Bergen, Lauren Bacall, Andy Warhol, Mr and Mrs Norman Mailer, Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra, was so salubrious that the event has come to be known as the ‘Party of the Century’. Truman Capote arrives with Katharine Graham, the guest of honour.

Artist Andy Warhol arrives unmasked.


Ambition and Opportunity


Truman Capote dances with an unidentified woman. To the left, publisher Katharine Graham dances with an unidentified man. To the right, actress Lauren Bacall dances with choreographer Jerome Robbins.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy arrives wearing a feathered mask.

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt arrives with a cat on his arm, who happens to be his wife.





Resort Hotels A Time of Leisure The Gilded Age in America heralded the birth of ‘conspicuous consumption’. Social mobility was for the first time achieved through wealth rather than birth. This was no more evident than in New York City, where the new breed of wealthy individuals wielded their power and built their dreams. It was a moneyed society driven to create fabulous and sumptuous spaces wherein the elite could compare, and boast of, their material achievements.


Art Deco hotels on Collins Avenue in Miami, Florida.


his newfound wealth also brought with it an unprecedented increase in leisure time. It was the pursuit of filling this leisure time that precipitated the creation of some of the greatest holiday resorts in America. The grand resorts born of the Gilded Age are emulated both in style and in design to the present day.

T h e ag e o f T h e ra i lway

At the end of the American Civil War there was no shortage of wealthy and sophisticated businessmen spawned by the industrial age who were ready to develop and exploit the untapped resources of their vast country. This began with the building of an expansive network of railway lines that would span

Ambition and Opportunity


Left Left Soaking up the sun at

a resort in Miami, Florida, during the 1950s. Right Right A travel poster

designed to entice visitors to Florida by train.

the country. The new railway systems would not only transport resources but also workers and travellers who were hungry for unspoiled horizons. The railways were largely privately owned, financed by the new breed of America’s wealthy entrepreneurs, and built by a proliferation of migrant workers and cheap labour. Interestingly, this was probably where the expression ‘other side of the tracks’ first came into being. The wealthy classes would establish the transport systems and build themselves houses and lavish resorts on prime real estate on one side of the railway tracks, while their workers were accommodated in cheap housing on the other side of the tracks. Americans were experiencing a new mobility. This was a direct outcome of increased leisure time, improved rail transportation, and the newly constructed spate of urban and resort hotels. The upwardly mobile now travelled to amuse themselves, in the process visiting fairs, expositions and resorts. The beautiful railway resorts built in places like Florida and San Diego and the mountain regions in the 1800s were a reflection of the desires and dreams of an era. The truly wealthy could now afford to head to warmer climes for the winter season and the cooler mountains for the summer, hitching their private railway cars to a steam train and indulging their newfound leisure time in resorts that often looked as if they came from a fairytale. Here they could bask in the warmth of the climate or a log fire, and in each other’s glow, secure in the knowledge that they were truly privileged individuals. The journey of American resort hotels over the years has very much paralleled American tastes and history. Born of the great individual entrepreneurs of the 1800s, they became part of the great American

Dream, until the Great Depression and World War II. With the desire for all things new in the fifties, and the emergence of motels and hotel chains, many resorts fell by the wayside. By the sixties and seventies, when Americans once again sought identity through history and place, resorts crept back in favour. Now, with the desire for leisure and luxury, resorts are back in vogue. T h e M a ki n g o f f lo ri da

The existence, design and style of many famous Florida resorts owe much to the singular vision of a man named Henry Flagler – often referred to as the Father of Miami. A wealthy businessman who established the Standard Oil Company with John D Rockefeller, he decided to devote the second part of


An ornate ballroom inside the Breakers Hotel. Right

Wounded US

servicemen recuperating at the Breakers in 1944.

The Palm Beach Inn opened in January 1896, and within a short time it had exceeded everyone’s expectations in the popularity stakes. Patrons were now requesting rooms ‘over the breakers’, and by the turn of the century Flagler had decided to make sure the hotel had all the amenities and appearances of a luxury hotel. The Inn was remodelled and enlarged in 1900 and christened ‘The Breakers’. The Breakers reB uilT – T wice

At the end of the 1902–3 season, fire mysteriously destroyed the hotel. Within 18 months the same architects and builders that had recently worked on the remodelling of the building had reconstructed it, rendering it with a hint of the French Renaissance. Ironically, the second Breakers also suffered a fiery end, in 1925. Florida was undergoing a land boom at


the time, and the President of the Florida East Coast Hotel Company decided to rebuild the hotel quickly after the fire, not wanting to lose customers to the rapidly rising Mediterranean-style skyscraper hotels mushrooming all over the Miami beachfront. New Yorkers Leonard Schultze and S Fullerton Weaver were commissioned to build what to this day remains the Breakers – a masterpiece in grand hotel design. The style of the hotel heavily referenced Italian Renaissance architecture blended with Spanish influences. Italian artisans were flown in to paint the ceiling of the 150-m (492-ft) main lobby. Everything was under one roof with no need for annexe rooms, common in most resort hotels of the time. Schultze and Weaver even designed the linen, china and silverware for the hotel, and in preparation built a mock-up of one of the 425 guestrooms in a New York loft. The new hotel was built in record time, and reopened on 29 December, 1926. The Breakers has undergone several renovations since 1926 and endured a number of devastating hurricanes. Even though Henry Flagler wasn’t alive to see his grand hotel’s final reincarnation, it still stands proudly as a testament to the legacy of his imagination and vision, setting a benchmark for many resorts the world over. The Breakers is without rival in the rich and glamorous atmosphere of Palm Beach, and in fact is a destination in its own right. The wealthy still flock to the Breakers for ‘the season’, and it remains a majestic symbol of the town’s opulence.

Ambition and Opportunity

Grand Hotel Mackinac The Hotel of First Ladies One of the ‘grandest’ American hotels (called what else but the Grand!) famously features a series of rooms named for American First Ladies and decorated by Carleton Varney according to their style and personality.


he Grand Hotel on sleepy Mackinac Island, Michigan, is one of the 12 remaining great wooden hotel structures born of the Gilded Age. Like the ‘Del’ in San Diego, ‘the Grand’ was built in the Queen Anne style (in just 90 days!), but boasts a front porch larger than any other. It is truly a ‘summer hotel’, closing for the winter when the surrounding lake often freezes over. The hotel was, in fact, built during winter so that 457,200 m (1.5 million ft) of Michigan white pine could be pulled over the icy Straits of Mackinac by horses. Mackinac Island is only accessible by boat or seaplane. As appealing as this largely car-free island was to travellers, the Grand did suffer like so many other hotels from the postwar blues. The then owner was W Stewart Woodfill, who had begun at the Grand as a lowly desk clerk in 1919 and by 1933 had worked his way up to ownership. Woodfill was apparently quite the eccentric, often wearing sneakers with his smoking jacket. His sense of design followed suit, and after World War II he had the hotel refurbished in a style more in keeping with the new wave of chain hotels and motels than one befitting the title of ‘the Grand’.

d oroTh y drap er

In the 1970s, Woodfill’s nephew Dan Musser, who was well on his way to usurping ownership of the hotel from his unconventional uncle, suggested that they hire acclaimed designer Dorothy Draper to give the tired old Grand a much-needed makeover. He phoned the Draper Company asking for Dorothy, only to discover that the grand lady of modern baroque was now lending her hand to the refurbishment of heaven. Her protégé, Carleton Varney, stepped in, and – using the Grand’s signature symbol of geraniums – began a ‘Draperesque’ overhaul. The idea of ‘themed’ suites could be perceived as a slightly tacky and somewhat down-market notion, but with unique skill and flair Varney managed to pull it off in a tasteful style that enhances the Grand. The Grand is a hotel that has always proudly reflected America’s patriotism, and it has a long tradition of honouring many of the hallmarks of American history. Gimmicky it may be, but it seems to suit the sleepy island of Mackinac and the old wooden Grand – yet another great American resort hotel to be declared a national landmark.

Senator Vandenberg (left), Senator Kelley (centre) and Governor Thomas E Dewey sitting on the porch of the Grand Hotel during the Republican National Convention in 1942.

At 201 m (660 ft) in length, the Grand Hotel’s front porch is the longest hotel porch in the world.





Expanding Cities Wealth and Status The unfurling of the Great American Frontier in the 1800s inevitably led to the establishment of several key cities. As the dust settled on territorial battles and the race to create wealth and power escalated, frontier towns mushroomed on the plains. They emerged from the swampy shores of great lakes and coastlines, built in haste out of flimsy bits of wood and tin.


This undated drawing shows the burning of

mall inns, boarding houses and hotels soon appeared in these towns as increasing numbers of itinerants clamoured for their piece of land. Fortunes were made and lost overnight. Those lucky enough to secure their pot of gold began to build grand houses and hotels. Each new house and hotel always had to be bigger and better than the last – and so the great cities of America grew. Misfortune often holds within it the seeds of success and inspiration. This is no more evident than in the stories of how San Francisco, Chicago and even the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, came into being.

Washington, DC by the British in 1814.

Wash ington, D C: t he h u b o f a nat i o n

The White House is

Washington, DC stands alone. Rather than a city established through frontier pioneers seeking their

seen in the background.

fortunes, it was especially chosen by George Washington in 1790 as neutral ground where the President and Congress could converge. George Washington engaged Pierre Charles L’Enfant to map out a design for the future city, which included Pennsylvania Avenue. The plan was for the President and Congress to be separated by a magnificent mile that would eventually be filled by grand homes and foreign embassies. Historically, the location of Washington, DC was at the crossroads of a new and unsettled nation. Warring colonies were still sorting out their rightful place in an evolving empire. Washington, DC also suffered a tumultuous fate in 1814 when the British burned it down during the War of 1812 (which actually lasted from 1812 to 1815). The city was rebuilt to become the hub of a nation catering to a constant flow of visitors. sa n fra nC i sCo : D en o f D re a m ers a nD ga m b lers

The story of San Francisco is one of an ‘instant’ city that was built on gold and dreams. In 1846, it was little more than an old fort, a pier and the ramshackle beginnings of a town. On 7 July, during the MexicanAmerican War, an American flag was raised and 400 inhabitants became Americans overnight. Shortly afterwards, gold was found nearby and San Francisco became a boomtown. By 1850, the population had swelled to 25,000 – most of them men. Hastily built ‘hotels’ were fashioned from canvas to accommodate them. A wild town grew up that was peopled by gypsies, miners, sailors, Chinese immigrants, gamblers and prostitutes hanging around the infamous Barbary Coast. Newly rich miners poured profits into banks, a Stock Exchange and an Opera House. Grand hotels began to appear, in which the millionaires of the new ‘Nob Hill’ could socialise. Until the Suez Canal opened in 1869, San Francisco was a port of call for European


Ambition and Opportunity

tourists, the ‘golden’ gateway to Asia and the Pacific. Grand dukes could rub shoulders with the likes of Wyatt Earp in the chill and fog of this city of harbour, hills and golden sunsets. Those hills shook like never before on the morning of 18 April, 1906. The financial and newspaper centre of western America was virtually destroyed by the Great Quake and resulting massive fire. The worst natural disaster in American history thus far had destroyed old San Francisco. Ch iCago: Crossroa D s Ci t y

Like San Francisco, the city of Chicago grew quickly and then suffered a catastrophe – in this case, fire. The name ‘Chicago’ comes from the Native American word for ‘onions’ or ‘skunk’. The town was established on a smelly swamp that proved quite hazardous for sanitation. In 1855, after a tragic cholera epidemic, the entire city had to be raised. Buildings were jacked up and fill brought in. Two years later Chicago boasted the honour of being the largest city in the Northwest and the home of the soon-to-be-elected Abraham Lincoln. The Illinois and Michigan canal that opened in 1848 allowed shipping to move south from the Great Lakes, through Chicago and down the Mississippi. The location of the city meant that it was also at the crossroads for the many new railways traversing the country. By 1850 the first genuine hotel, the St Francis, had joined numerous inns and taverns catering to visitors and immigrants alike. However, the city was also full of tenement housing and flimsy wooden cottages – ideal fire fuel. When fire broke out in the city after

an unusually dry spell, the resulting blaze burned for two whole days. In the end, the Chicago Fire of 1871 reduced the city to ashes. Amazingly, by 1875 the city was rebuilt and went on to host the 1893 World Expo, attracting 27 million visitors. It was at this Expo that the first American hamburger was served, Wrigley invented Juicy Fruit gum, and the Beaux-Arts style became fashionable. Chicago was now on the world radar as a dynamic and colourful destination. The evolution of the luxury hotel in Chicago was rapid, and by the twentieth century, with the massive growth of retail and commerce, the city took its place as the convention capital of America. Three of the major hotel trade journals were published in Chicago, so it became the centre of the American hotel industry.

The ruins of San Francisco after the terrible earthquake and fire in 1906.

Iron workers building the Palmer House in Chicago enjoy a surprise visit from radio announcer Jack Nelson in 1926.





Hollywood and Las Vegas Glamour and Greed Hollywood and Las Vegas are destinations whose beginnings rest on geographical luck – people were originally attracted to Hollywood because of its fertile soil, and to Las Vegas because of its abundant supply of water. From tiny frontier towns they grew into destinations that promised fame, fortune and fun, while often delivering only heartbreak and ruin. For decades, they have attracted entertainment-hungry hordes with high expectations. Visitors to Vegas expect glitz, gambling and spectacle on an ever-increasing scale, while visitors to Hollywood still expect it to live up to the old MGM motto: ‘more stars than there are in the sky’.


he iconic hotels of Las Vegas and Hollywood seem familiar to us from their presence in many movies and television shows, but there are many secrets and surprises in their varied histories. Las Vegas, despite its reputation for neon and sleaze, continues to reinvent itself – as a place of themepark fun for the whole family, and as a sophisticated destination for lovers (and lovers of luxury hotels). Beyond the tabloid spectacle of hotel frontages clogged with paparazzi and starlets behaving badly, Hollywood is home to hotels that offer both luxury and privacy. New trends have merged with old traditions in Hollywood – courtesy of innovative hoteliers, architects and designers – while in Las Vegas, ambitious entrepreneurs challenge each other to reinvent the world of resort and casino hotels, ensuring that the cycle of demolition, followed by ever-more spectacular construction, continues. Opened in 1927, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre located

The Inven T I on of Las vegas

on Hollywood Boulevard

Las Vegas began as a desert oasis lush enough to be named ‘the Meadows’ by Spanish traders. Travellers found it a welcome watering hole, while settlers tried their hands at mining and farming. It was proclaimed a city in 1905, the same year that the railway opened up the town to a new population of maintenance workers and merchants. The railway pulled out in 1930, but the city soon filled up again, this time with construction workers from the federally funded Hoover Dam project. Gambling, legalised in Nevada in 1931, was the recipient of some of those federal funds. Meanwhile, newly liberalised divorce laws gave rise to the first Las Vegas resorts – dude ranches where people stayed for six weeks to establish Nevada residency and obtain a ‘quickie’ divorce. After the completion of Hoover Dam in 1936, the area continued to benefit from federal dollars, this

is most famous for the handprints and footprints left by a select few actors and actresses in its Forecourt of the Stars. Right

The lights of Las

Vegas are a dazzling beacon in the middle of the Nevada desert.


time courtesy of military bases, firing ranges and the Nevada nuclear test site. However, the end of World War II brought a new challenge for the region – reinventing Las Vegas for peacetime. Entrepreneurs began to see potential in the proximity of Las Vegas to the booming city of Los Angeles, and the success of one early hotel – the El Rancho Vegas – pointed the way to future prosperity.

Ambition and Opportunity

The fI rs rsT T Las vegas resorT h oTeL

The El Rancho Vegas (built in 1941) was constructed just outside the city limits on Highway 91, the main highway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles that would eventually become the Las Vegas Strip. The El Rancho was the vision of Tommy Hull. Legend has it that while waiting for a mechanic on the side of the highway, Hull began counting the cars that passed, marvelled at their number, and thought the spot would be a good place to build a hotel. And build he did, pioneering the concept of gaming, lodging, dining, entertainment and retail facilities all in the one complex – an Old West-themed casino surrounded by motel bungalows and green lawns. The writer William Saroyan tells of taking up residence in one of the El Rancho’s bungalows in 1949 to wait out his divorce. Flush with a publisher’s advance, he spent the six weeks drinking, gambling and cursing his faithless wife. Having gambled away half of the advance, he vowed to win back his losses, quit drinking and gambling, get his divorce and go on his way. In the end, he summed up the experience by saying: ‘Every hour I spent in Las Vegas was part of a killing nightmare. It is a wonder all I lost was $50,000.’ It is unlikely that Saroyan mourned the resort’s destruction by fire in 1960. One person who did shed tears, though, was actress Betty Grable, who wept as

she watched it burn. Starring in the hotel’s theatre at the time, she lost more than US$10,000 worth of costumes. The resort’s most recognisable feature, its 15-m (50-ft) neon-lit windmill, provided onlookers with a spectacle as it flamed and fell. While lawmen pried open the vault with a crowbar and handed out scorched boxes of paper money to employees, almost US$500,000 worth of coins was reduced to molten metal by the intense fire.

The El Rancho Vegas as it looked in 1958, just two years before it was destroyed by fire. Top Top

Actor and singer Rudy

Vallee and his wife relaxing poolside at the El Rancho Vegas resort in 1950.


The members of the Rat Pack photographed in 1960. From left to right: Frank Sinatra; Dean Martin; Sammy Davis, Jr; Peter Lawford; and Joey Bishop.

The Rat Pack Stars of the Strip

King Cole, Peggy Lee and the ubiquitous Rat Pack, they might also end up mixing with the celebrities in the lounge after the late show. In keeping with this Rat Pack connection, the Sands was one of the locations featured in the original Ocean’s 11 (1960), and the Rat Pack spent a month at the hotel filming during the day and performing at night. The Sands continued to provide a range of entertainment for just over 40 years, until it closed in 1996. Even standing empty it was used as a location for the Vegas scenes in the film Con Air (1997), including one in which a plane crashes into the front of the casino. The final Sands extravaganza was its own demolition. The destruction of Las Vegas casinos has become an entertainment in itself, and video of the implosion of the Sands can be seen on any number of Internet sites, alongside that of the Aladdin, the Dunes, the Landmark, the Hacienda and El Rancho, all of which have made way for a new generation of hotels. The Venetian now stands where the Sands once was.

While the gaming tables were Las Vegas’s main drawcard, hotel operators looked for entertainers whose name on a marquee would bring people to their casinos. Entertainers such as Dean Martin, who performed at the Flamingo with Jerry Lewis, but who really began to draw a crowd after one memorable night in 1959 when Frank Sinatra joined him on stage at the Sands.


he act grew to include Sammy Davis, Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, with all five performing a loose set of songs, gags and ad libs. Known as the Rat Pack, the group perfected a kind of self-generated hype by showing up at each other’s performances unannounced, creating a buzz and ensuring repeat visits by the audience. Their appearances were often sold out, and people flocked to Las Vegas to be part of the Rat Pack phenomenon. Hotel marquees advertising the individual performers teased the punters with promises such as ‘Dean Martin – Maybe Frank – Maybe Sammy’. Later, the smooth lounge acts gave way to performers such as Tom Jones and Elvis Presley who brought their own brand of fan hysteria to Las Vegas.


In 1981, magicians Siegfried & Roy opened a show at the Frontier that ran for over seven years, with some three million people catching at least one of their 3,500 performances. Their most recent Las Vegas run (at the Mirage) came to a dramatic end when Roy Horn was attacked by one of his white tigers in 2003 and critically injured. Contemporary performers such as Celine Dion and Prince continue to take up residencies and enthral audiences. The s ands

Opened in 1952, the Sands hotel was both an oasis of ‘cool’ and the entertainment hot spot of 1960s Las Vegas. Not only could patrons watch the biggest supper-club stars of the day, such as Louis Armstrong, Nat

A giant photo of Siegfried & Roy overlooked the Las Vegas Strip until their show closed in 2003 after Roy was injured by a tiger during a performance.

Ambition and Opportunity


On the Strip The Venetian (1) has canals with gondolas steered

The MGM Grand (4) is the king of the desert –

Caesars Palace, built to evoke the glory of

by gondoliers in authentic striped jumpers, straw

with its 5,034 rooms, it is a giant of a hotel. It is

the Roman Empire, features over 3,300 rooms in

hats and red ribbons. Not so authentic is the food

guarded by a 14-m (46-ft) bronze lion (the largest

five towers: Augustus, Centurion, Roman, Palace

served along the canals.

bronze structure in the western hemisphere). It

and Forum. There are two shopping malls – the

is famous for hosting big-name boxing matches.

Forum and the Appian Way – with the very best

New York–New York (2) is exporting Manhattan right into the Nevada desert. Here the food is more

Paris has its own Eiffel Tower in front of the

in designer apparel from world-renowned names

authentic: the typical Greenwich Village deli will

hotel to ensure it is noticed among all the other

serve the perfect pastrami on rye and the gigantic

extraverted, extravagant hotels. Inside, one can

Brooklyn Bridge replica in the background creates

wander along the boulevards lined with restaurants

and casinos on the Strip, opening in 2005 on the

a near-realistic atmosphere. The Luxor (3) is a huge 30-storey pyramid-like structure, noticeable and recognisable from far away. At night a beam of laser light shines from

such as Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Gucci. Wynn Las Vegas (6) is one of the newest hotels

and cafés. As in Paris, they serve a good verre

site of the Desert Inn. Unlike other Las Vegas hotels,

rouge with charcuterie on a fresh baguette. Only

it does not feature an eye-catching attraction like

the chaotic Parisian traffic is noticeably absent.

a fountain or statue on the Strip to draw attention

Bellagio (5) was inspired by the romantic Italian

to itself – the mysterious exterior entices visitors

its apex so brightly that it is visible from space,

resort of the same name, and is renowned for the

to see what’s inside the complex, and they soon

they say! With 4,408 rooms, it is among the ten

Fountains of Bellagio, an aquatic and light show

discover an amazing 1.2-hectare (3-acre) man-

biggest hotels in the world.

choreographed to a variety of musical styles.

made lake and a delightful waterfall.









H o l l y w o o d a n d L a s Ve g a s : G l a m o u r a n d G r e e d

Chateau Marmont A Castle Hideaway Another Hollywood hotel that began life at the very end of Hollywood’s silent era is the Chateau Marmont. Built by attorney Fred Horowitz, construction began in 1927 and the building opened in 1929 as an apartment block. However, after the stock-market crash of 1929 when its high rents became unaffordable to most, the building became a hotel. reading of Rebel Without a Cause. It was at the hotel that Roman Polanski spent his last days in the United States, eluding the snooping of nosy reporters.

The Chateau Marmont is a fabulous folly of magnificent proportions. Opposite page

An arched

dIs Cre T Ion and sCandaL

stone façade shelters the Chateau Marmont patio.


André Balazs, owner of the Mercer hotel in New York City and the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, photographed in 2004.


he castle-like structure was modelled after the Château d’Amboise in France’s Loire Valley. Built to be earthquake proof, the hotel has survived all of Los Angeles’s earthquakes without any major structural damage. In the 1940s, the hotel bought nine cottages that had been built next to the hotel in the thirties. There are also four bungalows, two of which were designed by the influential modernist architect Craig Ellwood. The Chateau Marmont is a hideaway hotel that has traditionally kept a low profile. Greta Garbo signed in as Harriet Brown and succeeded in her desire to be left alone. Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn told two of his wildest young stars, William Holden and Glenn Ford: ‘If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont’, and rented the small penthouse for their parties. Howard Hughes settled into the largest penthouse and spied on starlets gathered around the pool. An unknown Warren Beatty took an eight-dollar room and was locked out for not paying. Judy Garland played the piano in the lobby, and James Dean climbed in a window of director Nicholas Ray’s bungalow during the first

Despite (or perhaps because of ) its discreet reputation, a surprising number of scandals have occurred at the Chateau Marmont, particularly in the rock ’n’ roll era. One of the most public was the death of John Belushi at the hotel in 1982 after overdosing on a ‘speedball’ of heroin and cocaine. Jim Morrison was another who drew attention to himself (and the hotel) by swinging from the roof above his room to enter through his room window, injuring his back in the process. Risqué fashion photographer Helmut Newton was another who died at the property after slamming his car into a wall. The classic rock-star hotel, the Chateau Marmont has played host to many of rock’s rowdiest bands such as Led Zeppelin, who were famous for riding motorcycles through the lobby. It has also been a haven for movie stars. Elizabeth Taylor commandeered the penthouse for her friend, Montgomery Clift, to recuperate in after his near-fatal car accident during the filming of Raintree County (1957). Robert De Niro likes to stay for long periods in one of the bungalows rather than in one of the 63 suites available, reportedly so that he can sleep with the doors open. Unfortunately, he’s been burgled twice. Notorious young star Lindsay Lohan set up home there while her own home was being renovated, until eventually her hellraising proved too much for the hotel’s management and she was asked to leave. Today, the Chateau Marmont is owned and managed by celebrity hotelier André Balazs. Meanwhile, after some lean years, downtown Hollywood has undergone a revival, with restorations to beloved old hotels and the building of new establishments. Located on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, one of the newest hotels is Starwood’s W Hollywood, which opened in 2008. More than 100 years after HJ Whitley built the Hollywood Hotel, entrepreneurs are still dreaming of the perfect Hollywood hotel.


Canada: The Great Railway Chateaux

Banff Springs Hotel Castle in the Wilderness While New York architect Bruce Price was working on the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Montreal railway terminus in 1886, he began to receive drawings scribbled on the backs of envelopes from William Cornelius Van Horne. The drawings were Van Horne’s ideas for a flagship CPR hotel rising from the majestic Rockies above the junction of two rivers.


Visitors relax around the Banff Springs Hotel swimming pool in 1938.

2 18

t would be the first of the Chateau-style hotels to be developed by Price. This hotel would not only be a symbol of the new Canada, but also a means for the CPR to recoup its losses. Like other CPR projects, the Banff Springs Hotel, named after a Scottish county, was built at breakneck speed. Van Horne arrived at the location in 1887 as the hotel was nearing completion. He was horrified to discover that it had been built back-to-front. The kitchen staff would be privy to the best view, while guests would have to be satisfied with a back view to the mountain slopes! Van Horne sketched a dining rotunda and directed it to be placed in front of the kitchen as soon as possible. With its stone exterior topped by steep-hipped roofs, turrets and cedar shingles, the five-storey building was both stately and harmonious with the

surrounding landscape. The Banff Springs Hotel opened in June 1888, taking in over 1,500 guests during its first season. Heavy advertising offering rooms for CAN$3.50 per night preceded the opening. The restorative qualities of the hot sulphur springs proved a huge drawcard, confirming Van Horne’s

Ambition and Opportunity

initial belief that they would be a lucrative investment. Occasionally the pumping system broke down, and staff had to fill the pools with hot water in which bags of sulphur had been tipped. The affluent clientele who now poured in from all over the world never noticed. expansion and renovaT ion

As demand for accommodation increased over the years, so did the size of the hotel. Architect Walter Painter oversaw the redesign and rebuilding of the Banff Springs Hotel in the early 1900s, creating an opulent new tower with interiors by CPR designer Kate Reed. The hotel was further extended in the twenties, catering for the extravagance of the Flapper era when guests would sometimes stay for two or three months. In 1930, the CPR even built a landing strip when jazz musician Benny Goodman said that he could only come by plane! Like so many great hotels after World War II, the Banff Springs suffered from a change in the public’s leisure habits but still managed to soldier on. In 1969,

when it opened for the winter season for the first time, it became a year-round resort hotel and was marketed as such in places like Japan. The Canadian Government declared the hotel a National Historic Site in 1992, and the building underwent a CAN$75 million renovation in 1999. Today the hotel is known as the Fairmont Banff Springs, and it is regarded as one of Canada’s finest establishments. Hollywood star Ginger Rogers takes time to pose for the cameras while on vacation at the Banff Springs Hotel in 1937.

Now known as the Fairmont Banff Springs, the hotel was built to look like a Scottish baronial castle.



Canada: The Great Railway Chateaux

Château Frontenac Matters of State The French and the British are traditional rivals, and they fought several hard and bloody battles on Canadian soil. Château Frontenac, rising majestically above the entrance to Québec City, is a testament to the fact that two great cultures came together to produce a lasting monument to a shared history.

Opposite page

Château Frontenac is located on a bluff overlooking the St Lawrence River in Québec City.


amuel de Champlain, who founded the city of Québec, chose this exceptional location to build the first fort of Québec in 1620. The British destroyed it, and the French Governor, Comte de Frontenac, rebuilt it in 1692. There it stood proudly until 1834, when it finally perished in a fire. A group of prominent ‘Québecians’ and businessmen, spearheaded by Canadian Pacific Railway’s William Cornelius Van Horne, planned to build an opulent hotel on the site of the old fort, one that would become the visual symbol of Québec City. an unforge T TaBLe ed i f i c e

New York architect Bruce Price rejected their ideas for a contemporary hotel and instead created an edifice in the style of a French Renaissance chateau. In Price’s own words: ‘the motif is … the early French chateau adapted to modern requirements, a style certainly in keeping with the old French city … The turrets and towers lend to the whole structure the appearance of a medieval castle perched upon a precipice … Those that poured into the Chateau from Montreal, Toronto,

Pu t t i n g t h e Wa r o n I c e In April 1943, Admiral Lord Louis

ice that was part of plans for a potential

Mountbatten dropped a chunk of special

Allied invasion through Northern Europe.

Lake Louise ice called ‘Pykrete’ in British

‘Project Habbakuk’ involved the creation

Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s bathtub

of floating ice platforms for equipment

at Château Frontenac, during the historic

transport. What Maclean’s magazine termed

a c ru c i aL co n f eren c e

Québec Conference. This was much to

‘the weirdest secret weapon of the war’

the chagrin of Churchill, who was in the

was seriously considered by Churchill and

bath at the time!

the Joint Chiefs

In 1943, Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King elected to host a special conference with Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at Château Frontenac. Known as the Québec Conference, it had the potential for altering the course of World War II. All the hotel’s guests, both permanent and non-permanent, had to be evacuated, and all future bookings cancelled. The hotel manager, Mr Neale, was given six days to empty the hotel of guests and two days to set it up as a military headquarters. Winston Churchill made a radio address from the Conference, in which he said: ‘Certainly no more

Due to gas rationing and patriotism,

of Staff, but

Chateau Lake Louise was closed to the

abandoned in

public during World War II, but scientists

favour of other,

from the Universities of Alberta, Manitoba

faster techniques.

and Saskatchewan used the lake and

2 24

Ottawa and the United States were transported to another place, another time. In a building reminiscent of the Continent’s castles, they could imagine themselves surrounded by the opulence of court life.’ Right from the start, Château Frontenac was an extraordinary success. Although the hotel did not attract Europeans initially, its American and Canadian clientele enabled it to make impressive profits as early as 1898. The demand was so great that several additions and major refurbishments were planned and executed. In 1919, rooms at Château Frontenac were in such great demand that Canadian Pacific asked the Maxwell brothers to double the hotel’s capacity. Given the lack of land and the importance of retaining the boardwalk, the architects proposed the construction of a 17-storey central tower. The tower idea was an architectural masterstroke that unified all the wings and dominated the Québec City skyline. It symbolised the crowning achievement that gave Château Frontenac its famous international stature. The imposing silhouette of the Château was to become the hallmark of the city. From that point on, it became, arguably, the most photographed hotel in the world. Disaster struck on 16 January, 1926, when fire broke out in the Riverview Wing. Fortunately, no-one was injured. Canadian Pacific’s directors decided to have the damaged wing rebuilt, something that was achieved in only 127 working days from the date of the fire.

some surrounding facilities to develop

Winston Churchill,

the ‘Pykrete’, a difficult-to-break and

photographed in

slow-to-melt mixture of wood pulp and

Canada in 1929.

fitting and splendid setting could have been chosen for a meeting of those that guide the war policy of the two great western democracies at this cardinal moment in the Second World War than we have here in the Plains of Abraham, in the Château Frontenac and the ramparts of the Citadel of Quebec …’ Two thousand meals were served each day over the course of the Conference, and in true British style afternoon tea was served at precisely 4pm. The last time Churchill had been in Canada was during Prohibition. Since he loved a tipple, Château Frontenac no doubt came to the party. So much so that Churchill and Roosevelt decided to return for a second conference the following year. Keep ing up u p To daT e

In 1973, Canadian Pacific announced its plan to renovate Château Frontenac. The general manager, Peter Price, revealed that the program would include the remodelling of all guestrooms, new convention facilities, three new bars and three more restaurants. The ambitious refurbishment was designed to bring the hotel up to date. (Certain critics had said that the hotel was ‘stuffy’.) Although this two-year, CAN$10 million renovation program was designed to give the Château a more contemporary look, the hotel’s exterior was fortunately not altered in any significant way: the picturesque building remained true to the vision of Price, Van Horne and the Maxwells.

After the extensive overhaul in 1973, the hotel underwent various renovations from time to time. On 2 March, 1989, the management of Canadian Pacific Hotels and Resorts announced a CAN$65 million renovation program to honour Château Frontenac’s past and prepare it for the future. The restoration and building program took six years, from 1987 to 1993. The most spectacular part of the project was the construction of a new wing. The hotel (branded the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac) now has 618 guestrooms and suites as well as 23 function rooms.

The large picture windows of Le Champlain Restaurant frame a marvellous view of Québec City.


Exotic Discoveries The first travellers to North Africa, the Middle East, Africa, India and Asia were inspired by the lure of tropical climates, unusual landscapes and animals, ancient wonders and the promise of sensual experiences beyond the straight-laced colonial norm. Today’s tourists still journey East towards the rainforest, the savannah or the desert in search of intense experiences filled with unforgettable sights, smells and sounds. Along the way, a stay in one of the grand old colonial hotels helps connect them with a long-gone era of exotic adventure.

During a trip to India in 1962, Jacqueline Kennedy visited the famous seventeenthcentury mausoleum known as the Taj Mahal.



North Africa and the Middle East: Castles in the Sand

The Burj Al Arab Arabian Opulence The eye-catching Burj Al Arab luxury hotel in Dubai is both a triumph of the imagination and an engineering marvel. It is futuristic and fantastic, yet sophisticated and exclusive. Blending the best of East and West, it is still essentially reflective of Dubai’s Arab heritage.


he dynamic Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is credited with putting Dubai on the map. He is acknowledged as one of the major driving forces behind the current economic success that is Dubai. Not surprisingly, he wanted a permanent symbol of that progress that would show the world that Dubai had truly come of age. The brief to architect Tom Wright of WS Atkins was to build a state-of-the-art, super-luxurious, revolutionary structure that would ultimately become one of the world’s great architectural icons. The Burj Al Arab has certainly met that challenge. i nCompara B le design

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince and Ruler of Dubai, whose bold vision is helping define the future of hotels worldwide. Above right

The sail-like

structure of the Burj Al Arab was built on an artificial island linked to Jumeirah Beach by a narrow bridge.


The Sahn Eddar

Lobby Lounge is located at the base of the Burj Al Arab’s atrium, the world’s tallest atrium.

24 0

In engineering terms it is nothing short of miraculous. Located on an artificial island in the Persian Gulf, 400 m (1,300 ft) from the shore, the Burj Al Arab is linked to the mainland by a slender causeway. The Burj can be seen for kilometres: at 321 m (1,053 ft) in height, it is the world’s tallest stand-alone hotel structure. The billowing sail design of the building is modern and sleek, while acknowledging the maritime nature of Dubai and its seafaring history. Designed by Khuan Chew of KCA International, the interiors are colourful but chic, and of palatial proportions. A rich palette of colours has been used to echo the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. In short, it is a psychedelic wonderland. With 1,950 m2 (21,000 sq ft) of 22-carat gilding throughout the building, all that glitters in the Burj is, indeed, gold. The Burj Al Arab has been billed as a ‘seven-star’ hotel (although ratings over five stars are generally not recognised as official), and its physical isolation adds to the aura. It shouts ‘exclusive’ and is off limits to sightseers – unlike most other hotels, where people can drop in for a drink and a look around. The public can only gaze from the shore at this new wonder of the modern world where discretion and privacy are the order of the day. The Burj Al Arab has 202 splendid suites (each one arranged over two floors) and floor to ceiling glass windows that offer breathtaking views of the Persian Gulf.

Exotic Discoveries

There is no hotel anywhere else in the world that compares to the Burj Al Arab. It is unlikely that the hotel will ever be replicated, because it has been uniquely conceived for the specific site that it occupies and the design of the interiors reflects the distinct culture of that part of the world. Operated by the Jumeirah Group, the Burj Al Arab is the epitome of innovation in architecture, interior design and engineering genius. However, it will be the passion of the people who run the hotel and the stories of their guests that will make the Burj Al Arab one of the world’s great, grand and famous hotels.

neW duBai Hotels

The latest initiative of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, is the Bawadi hospitality and tourism project. It will consist of 31 new hotels, among them the biggest hotel in the world, the Asia-Asia, which will have 6,500 rooms. The project also aims to meet the increasing demands of tourism, with the number of people visiting Dubai projected to rise from the current 6 million tourists a year to 15 million by 2015. The cost of the development is estimated at a staggering 100 billion UAE Dihrams (US$27.7 billion).



Africa: Adventure and Mystique

Treetops Hotel The Treehouse that Grew ‘For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess, and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down from the tree the next day a Queen.’ So said legendary hunter Jim Corbett in the visitors’ logbook at the famous Treetops Hotel in Kenya in February 1952. The venture began as a two-room treehouse. An additional facility for the nearby Outspan Hotel, which the Walkers also built and owned, Treetops was open on Wednesday nights as a place where guests could stay overnight to observe some of the best game in Africa in total safety. But due to increased demand, the Walkers soon expanded the treehouse to four rooms. hostess w I th the mostes t

A Tree Hostess was soon required to look after guests. According to Walker’s newspaper advertisement, the unusual qualifications for the job were: ‘1. To be able to use a catapult on the baboon which sometimes snatch cakes off the tea table. 2. To be unafraid of big game. 3. To know all about forest animals. 4. To have the qualifications and charm of an air hostess.’ Surprisingly, the hotel received a large number of replies from all over the world. ‘One application came from a dazzling beauty who sent her photograph, and whose sole qualification seemed to consist of charm, for the only fitness she could quote for the job was 38-22-34,’ Walker said. the royal arrIval

Guests at the Treetops Hotel in 1952 sit in comfortable chairs, with their binoculars and movie cameras, watching the wildlife below as the animals approach the nearby waterhole.



e was, of course, referring to Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, who was the first British monarch since the Act of Union in 1801 to be away from her country at the time of her succession. She was also the first in modern times to have no idea of the exact time of her accession, as her father, George VI, had passed away in his sleep. This incident certainly put Treetops on the map. Treetops was originally built high in a 300-year-old fig tree near a natural pool in 1932 by Major Eric Sherbrooke Walker for his wife, Lady Bettie Walker, who loved the romantic idea of a treehouse in the wilderness. Construction was often difficult, with labourers being chased away by wild animals.

On the day that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived, there were plenty of dramas just getting the royal couple to the hotel. After inviting the couple to Treetops, the Walkers had two concerns: whether or not there would be enough game for them to observe, and whether or not it would be safe for the royal couple to reach the hotel on foot. It was arranged that Lady Walker would hang a white flag on the roof of Treetops if there were any dangerous game lurking near the lodge. And there were: a herd of 47 elephants, some with calves. ‘As we got nearer to the tree, the squealing and trumpeting grew louder and on approaching the clearing, where the big mgumu tree towered above the others, there was a white pillow-case fluttering in the breeze,’ Walker said. The royal couple were given a choice to go on or turn back. They opted to continue.

EE xxoo tt ii cc D D ii ss cc oovv ee rr ii ee ss

‘When within within 50 50 yards yards [46 [46 m] m] of of the the tree tree we we had had aa ‘When fullview viewof ofthe theclearing clearingand andsaw sawthe thewhole wholeherd herdmilling milling full about.Quite Quite apart apart from from the the elephants’ elephants’restlessness, restlessness,aa about. herd which which had had mothers mothers with with their their young young isis always always aa herd risk.One One big big cow cow in in particular particular was was facing facing us, us,standing standing risk. right underneath underneathTreetops, Treetops,flapping flapping her her ears. ears. right ‘Fortunately,there there was was aa crosswind crosswind and and she she did did not not ‘Fortunately, scent us. us.With With rifles rifles pointed pointed at at her, her,and and watching watching her her scent intently,we wewent wentforward forwardstep stepby bystep. step.Princess PrincessElizabeth Elizabeth intently, didnot notfalter. falter.She Shewalked walkedstraight straighttowards towardsthe theelephant elephant did and smiled smiled aa greeting greeting at at my my wife wife who who was was awaiting awaiting and her halfway halfway down down the the ladder. ladder.Then Then unhurriedly unhurriedly she she her handedmy mywife wifeher herhandbag handbagand andcamera, camera,and andclimbed climbed handed the steep steep ladder.’ ladder.’ the tthrIlls hrIlls and and ssppIIlls lls

Treetops Treetops has has had had its its share share of of other other dramas, dramas,too. too.The The original originalTreetops Treetops Hotel Hotel was was burned burned down down in in 1954 1954 by by the the Mau Mau Mau Mau freedom freedom fighters, fighters,protesting protesting against against British British dominance dominance and and discrimination discrimination in in Kenya. Kenya.On On hearing hearing of of the the tragedy, tragedy,Walker Walker went went to to the the site site and and immediately immediately selected selected aa new new area area for for the the hotel hotel to to be be rebuilt rebuilt in in‘a‘a clump clump of of flowering flowering Cape Cape chestnuts’. chestnuts’. Treetops Treetops II, II,which which was was built built in in 1957, 1957,was was much much larger, larger,supported supported by by 39 39 cedar cedar poles poles set set in in over over 11 m m ft) of of concrete. concrete.ItIt overlooked overlooked the the same same waterhole waterhole (3 (31⁄1⁄33 ft) and and salt-lick. salt-lick.Aggressive Aggressive game game chased chased the the builders builders into into the the trees trees so so regularly regularly that that everyone everyone was was relieved relieved when when

the thefirst firstplatform platformwas wasin inplace. place.During Duringthe theconstruction, construction, an anAfrican Africanworker workertrod trodon onaaloose looseboard, board,crashing crashing10 10m m (33 (33 ft) ft) to to the the ground. ground.Barely Barely alive, alive,he he was was rushed rushed to to hospital. hospital.The The next next day, day,he he returned returned to to work, work,beaming. beaming. These These days, days,Treetops Treetops isis operated operated by by Aberdare Aberdare Safari Safari Hotels Hotels Ltd, Ltd,and and there there are are 48 48 rooms rooms and and two two suites suites for for guests. guests.ItIt remains remains an an overnight overnight destination destination only, only,where where visitors visitors are are driven driven from from the the Outspan Outspan Hotel Hotel for for the the night night to to observe observe wildlife wildlife from from the the top top deck, deck,viewing viewing windows windows and and ground-level ground-level hides. hides.

Queen QueenElizabeth ElizabethIIIIand and Prince PrincePhilip Philipare areshown shown around aroundthe theTreetops TreetopsHotel Hotel inin1983, 1983,during duringtheir theirroyal royal tour tourofofKenya. Kenya. Originally Originallybuilt builtinin1932, 1932,the the latest latestversion versionofofthe thehotel hotel–– located locatedininAberdare AberdareNational National Park Park––dates datestoto1957. 1957.

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Africa: Adventure and Mystique

Victoria Falls Hotel Thanks to Dr Livingstone The Victoria Falls Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Zimbabwe, is said to owe its existence to the daring feats of Dr David Livingstone. The Scottish missionary and explorer had been seeking a route from west to east Africa when he was taken to the majestic Victoria Falls, known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (‘Smoke that Thunders’), by the Makalolo tribespeople in 1855.

The Edwardian style of the five-star Victoria Falls Hotel evokes Zimbabwe’s colonial era.

Opposite page, far right

A delightful English-style high tea is served every afternoon in the Stanley’s Terrace restaurant.



oon, word of his exciting discovery traversed borders, countries and continents. European traders came, and a settlement known as Old Drift was established. Foreign visitors travelled by foot, ox wagon or horseback from the Transvaal in South Africa to view the famous curtain of water renamed by Livingstone in honour of the British monarch, Queen Victoria. After 1855, Livingstone had an eventful 16 years, surviving a tussle with a lion that affected the use of one arm. He continued to explore the harsh African landscape, but eventually lost touch with the outside world. When no-one had heard word of him for four years, concern was raised for his welfare. The New York Herald decided to send freelance journalist Henry Morton Stanley to seek him out. In 1871, after travelling 1,126 km (700 miles) in 236 days, Stanley finally located the explorer at Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, and approached him

with the famous question: ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’ The pair soon became friends. But try as Stanley might, he could not persuade Livingstone to return to England. a dIst InG uIshed duo

Livingstone died in 1873, aged 60. One of the most celebrated adventurers of his time, he had traversed about 50,000 km (31,000 miles) of jungle and plains, sought to impart European knowledge to the many tribespeople he encountered and become a legendary figure in the centre and south of the continent. Stanley, too, was also acclaimed as an explorer. He led expeditions along the Nile and Congo rivers from 1874 to 1877, paving the way for colonial rule. During the 1880s, he helped create King Leopold’s Congo Free State and British possessions on the upper Nile. On Stanley’s writing tour of the United States in 1886, author Mark Twain, when introducing him to the crowd, compared him with Christopher Columbus:

Far right

AnFaraerial rightview An aerial of view of

the Victoriathe FallsVictoria showsFalls the shows the sheer powersheer of the power average of the average 3 cubic (38,430 feet) cubic feet) 1,088 m3 (38,430 1,088 m

of water that of flows water over that the flows over the falls every second. falls every second. Welsh-bornWelsh-born American American explorer andexplorer journalist and journalist Sir Henry Morton Sir Henry Stanley Morton Stanley with his boywith Kalulu his inboy 1871, Kalulu in 1871, posing in the posing clothes in the he clothes he wore when wore he met when Dr David he met Dr David LivingstoneLivingstone in central Africa. in central Africa.

‘Now, Columbus started out to discover ‘Now, Columbus started out to America. discover America. Well, he didn’t need to do anything at all but at sitall in but sit in Well, he didn’t need to do anything the cabin the of his shipofand his grip cabin his hold ship and holdand his sail gripstraight and sail straight on, and America would discover Here it was, on, and America would itself. discover itself. Here it was, barring his passage wholethe length and breadth barring histhe passage whole length andofbreadth of the Souththe American continent,continent, and he couldn’t South American and heget couldn’t get by it. He’d to discover bygot it. He’ d got to it. discover it. ‘But Stanley to find ‘Butstarted Stanleyout started outDoctor to findLivingstone, Doctor Livingstone, who was who scattered abroad, asabroad, you may was scattered as say, you over may the say, over the length and breadth a vast slab Africa as Africa big as as big as length andofbreadth of a of vast slab of the United It States. was a blind of search. theStates. United It waskind a blind kind ofHe search. He was the most scattered of men.’ of men.’ was the most scattered Stanley died in London 10 May, One1904. month Stanley died inon London on1904. 10 May, One month later, the later, Victoria Hotel opened house to thehouse the the Falls Victoria Falls Hoteltoopened engineering experts who werewho hired to build engineering experts were hiredatobridge build a bridge over the Second of Gorge the falls; opened over theGorge Second of the bridge falls; the bridge opened the next year. Thisyear. was This a keywas component of the Cape the next a key component of the Cape Town to Cairo line, which was neverwas completed. Town rail to Cairo rail line, which never completed. t h e h otel the hotel lI ves olI nves on

Since its Since opening, its opening, this 161-room this 161-room hotel has hotel undergone has undergone many transformations, many transformations, most recently mostin recently 1990 when in 1990 it when it was returned was to returned its original to itsEdwardian original Edwardian splendour.splendour. Today, Today, amid Zimbabwe’s amid Zimbabwe’s economiceconomic and socialand turmoil, social the turmoil, the Victoria Falls Victoria Hotel Falls is attempting Hotel is attempting to maintain to maintain the the standardsstandards expected expected of a five-star of a establishment. five-star establishment. Set in theSet Victoria in the Falls Victoria National Falls National Park, thisPark, elegant this elegant hotel boasts hotel a private boasts apath private thatpath leadsthat to the leads falls toand the falls and the surrounding the surrounding tropical landscape. tropical landscape. Stanley’s Stanley’s Terrace, Terrace, with an unobstructed with an unobstructed view of the view Victoria of the Falls Victoria Bridge, Falls Bridge, has been has a popular been ameeting popular spot meeting for adventurers spot for adventurers and and aristocratsaristocrats for over afor century, over aand century, it now and offers it now guests offers guests a traditional a traditional afternoonafternoon tea. tea. The hotel’s The staff hotel’s members staff members are proudare to provide proud toworldprovide worldclass service class forservice their guests, for their whether guests,they whether are Hollywood they are Hollywood stars indulging stars indulging in the sophistication in the sophistication of the Royal of the Suite, Royal Suite, or families oron families the hunt on the for ahunt real for African a realexperience. African experience. The hotel’s The concierge hotel’s concierge can organise can aorganise sunset cruise a sunset cruise on the Zambezi on the Zambezi River, where River, hippos whereand hippos crocodiles and crocodiles play, or a play, tour or of athe tour national of the park national withpark a professional with a professional ranger, who ranger, can point who can out point the well-camouflaged out the well-camouflaged animals. animals.

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The Taj Mahal Palace A City Palace in Mumbai Whether Whether they they are are trading trading in in diamonds, diamonds, hobnobbing hobnobbing with with Bollywood Bollywood stars, stars, travelling travelling for for spiritual spiritual reasons reasons or or simply simply sightseeing, sightseeing, most most visitors visitors enter enter India India through through Mumbai. Mumbai. Established Established by by Portuguese Portuguese traders, traders, Bombay Bombay (as (as it it was was then then called) called) became became the the headquarters headquarters for for the the powerful powerful British British East East India India Company, Company, and and more more than than 300 300 years years later later it it is is still still the the economic economic capital capital of of India. India.


he he Gateway Gateway of of India India at at Nariman Nariman Point Point was was built built at at the the height height of of the the British British Empire, Empire, aa triumphal triumphal Western Western arch arch dominating dominating an an Eastern Eastern port. port. On On the the edge edge of of the the Arabian Arabian Sea, Sea, aa milling milling press press of of people people compete compete for for space space in in the the shadow shadow of of the the heavy heavy arch arch to to enjoy enjoy the the refreshing refreshing breeze breeze from from the the water, water, to to sell sell postcards postcards and and snacks, snacks, or or to to beg beg for for their their evening evening meal. meal. Across Across the the street street from from the the Gateway Gateway isis the the Taj Taj Mahal Mahal Palace Palace hotel, hotel, opened opened in in 1903 1903 to to house house the the travellers travellers of of India India in in luxury. luxury. Mumbai Mumbai isis India’s India’s most most glamorous glamorous city, city, and and after after aa century century of of service service to to heads heads of of state, state, film film stars, stars, rock rock stars stars and and business business tycoons, tycoons, the the Taj Taj remains remains the the city’s city’s grandest grandest hotel. hotel. purposepurpose-B BuilT uilT luxury luxury

Unlike Unlike so so many many great great Indian Indian hotels, hotels, the the Taj Taj Mahal Mahal Palace Palace was was specifically specifically built built as as aa hotel hotel by by business business magnate, magnate, philanthropist philanthropist and and nationalist nationalist Jamsetji Jamsetji Tata. Tata. Innovative Innovative in in construction, construction, design design and and services, services, ideas ideas for for the the hotel hotel were were culled culled by by Jamsetji Jamsetji Tata Tata from from all all over over the the world. world. Ten Ten spun spun iron iron pillars pillars were were ordered ordered after after he he saw saw one one at at the the Paris Paris Exhibition Exhibition in in 1900, 1900, and and they they still still support support the the Taj’s Taj’s ballroom. ballroom. No No expense expense was was spared spared in in creating creating the the most most modern modern hotel hotel in in India, India, which which originally originally featured featured 30 30 suites suites and and 350 350 rooms. rooms. When When itit opened, opened, the the Taj Taj had had the the first first electric electric light light in in the the city, city, passenger passenger lifts, lifts, aa power power plant plant and and an an ice ice machine. machine. There There was was aa chemist chemist shop, shop, aa post post office, office, aa resident resident doctor, doctor, aa steam steam laundry laundry and and aa Turkish Turkish bath. bath. Thirty Thirty years years later, later, the the first first airconditioned airconditioned restaurant restaurant and and ballroom ballroom in in Bombay Bombay opened opened at at the the Taj, Taj, as as well well as as the the city’s city’s first first licensed licensed bar. bar. In In 1973, 1973, the the Taj Taj Mahal Mahal Tower Tower was was built built next next door, door, on on the the site site of of the the former former Green’s Green’s Hotel. Hotel.The The contemporary contemporary high-rise high-rise building building expanded expanded the the number number of of guestrooms guestrooms and and reception reception rooms, rooms, and and its its modern modern design design highlights highlights the the charm charm of of the the original original hotel. hotel.

The The elaborate elaborate staircase staircase of of the the Taj Taj Mahal Mahal Palace. Palace.

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a am mixT ixT ure ure of of sT sTyles yles

The The elaborate elaborate and and imposing imposing façade façade of of the the original original Taj Taj Mahal Mahal Palace Palace hotel hotel still still dominates dominates Mumbai Mumbai harbour. harbour. From From one one angle angle Moorish, Moorish, from from another another convincingly convincingly Florentine, Florentine, itit isis undoubtedly undoubtedly Indian Indian when when viewed viewed as as aa whole. whole. The The hotel hotel was was designed designed by by Indian Indian architects architects Sitaram Sitaram Khanderao Khanderao Vaidya Vaidya and and DN DN Mirza, Mirza, and and completed completed by by English English engineer engineer WA WA Chambers. Chambers. The The foundations foundations were were laid laid in in 1898, 1898, sunk sunk to to 12 12 m m (40 (40 ft). ft). Two Two arms arms of of guestrooms, guestrooms, each each finished finished with with aa turret turret capped capped by by an an onion onion dome, dome, reach reach out out from from aa central central Florentine Florentine dome. dome. Indo-Saracenic Indo-Saracenic in in style, style, itit incorporates incorporates Hindu Hindu and and Islamic Islamic features features in in an an essentially essentially Gothic-revival Gothic-revival building. building. Six Six storeys storeys high, high, itit isis constructed constructed in in red red and and white white brick brick and and stone. stone. Under Under the the central central dome, dome, aa grand grand staircase staircase rises rises past past all all the the floors, floors, edged edged with with elaborate elaborate ironwork ironwork banisters, banisters, and and supported supported by by stepped stepped stone stone stringers. stringers. The The ebb ebb and and flow flow of of elegant elegant guests guests and and purposeful purposeful staff staff makes makes itit the the heart heart of of the the hotel. hotel. John John Major Major stayed stayed at at the the Taj Taj when when he he was was British British Prime Prime Minister. Minister. One One morning morning as as he he waited waited for for the the lift lift with with aa team team of of security security personnel, personnel, he he sighted sighted the the fabulous fabulous staircase. staircase. Exclaiming Exclaiming ‘What ‘What aa staircase!’, staircase!’, he he started started down down the the stairs, stairs, with with his his entire entire entourage entourage in in pursuit. pursuit. Other Other celebrities celebrities to to stay stay at at the the Taj Taj include include Cindy Cindy Crawford Crawford and and Jacques Jacques Chirac, Chirac, who who were were guests guests at at the the same same time, time, whereupon whereupon the the staff staff went went to to great great lengths lengths to to ensure ensure that that neither neither would would be be given given more more attention attention or or prominence prominence than than the the other. other. When When itit was was built, built, the the hotel hotel entrance entrance was was located located on on the the opposite opposite side side of of the the hotel hotel to to the the harbour, harbour, and and the the Taj Taj stood stood with with her her back back to to the the Gateway Gateway of of India India and and the the water. water. The The modern modern entrance entrance to to the the hotel hotel isis on on the the harbour harbour side, side, and and aa swimming swimming pool pool has has replaced replaced the the old old entrance. entrance. Cycles Cycles of of extensive extensive renovation renovation and and renewal renewal have have ensured ensured that that the the Taj Taj Group Group flagship flagship establishment establishment has has remained remained at at the the

vanguard vanguard of of luxury luxury hotels. hotels. Recent Recent major major renovations renovations were were completed completed in in 1987 1987 and and again again in in 2003. 2003. The The hotel hotel closed closed in in November November 2008 2008 following following aa series series of of terrorist terrorist attacks attacks that that destroyed destroyed much much of of the the interior interior and and badly badly damaged damaged parts parts of of the the exterior, exterior, including including the the roof. roof. After After aa US$40 US$40 million million restoration, restoration, the the Taj Taj Mahal Mahal Palace Palace officially officially reopened reopened in in August August 2010. 2010. Just Just aa few few months months later, later, US US President President Barack Barack Obama Obama visited visited the the Taj. Taj. During During aa speech speech made made on on the the hotel’s hotel’s terrace, terrace, he he said: said: ‘The ‘The Taj Taj has has been been the the symbol symbol of of the the strength strength and and the the resilience resilience of of the the Indian Indian people.’ people.’

The The Rajput Rajput Suite Suite isis steeped steeped inin Rajasthani Rajasthani opulence. opulence. InIn the the study, study, there there isis aa striking striking contrast contrast between between the the working working table table and and the the pleasurable pleasurable swing. swing. The The maharajas maharajas were were fond fond of of the the Taj Taj Mahal Mahal Palace, Palace, as as itit was was aa palatial palatial home home away away from from home home for for them. them.

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Lake Palace Hotel Udaipur’s Jewel Shimmering Shimmering as as if if it it is is aa mirage mirage –– an an intriguing intriguing trick trick of of the the eye eye –– the the white white marble marble Lake Lake Palace Palace Hotel Hotel seems seems to to float float on on its its own own reflection reflection in in the the still still blue blue waters waters of of Lake Lake Pichola, Pichola, framed framed by by the the distant distant Aravalli Aravalli Range. Range. It It appears appears ethereal ethereal and and unattainable, unattainable, distant distant and and beautiful. beautiful.


wo wo small small islands islands were were created created when when Lake Lake Pichola Pichola was was constructed constructed in in the the fourteenth fourteenth century. century. One One of of the the islands islands was was occupied occupied in in 1626 1626 by by Muslim Muslim exile exile Sultan Sultan Khurram, Khurram, who who was was escaping escaping the the intrigue intrigue surrounding surrounding the the accession accession to to the the Mogul Mogul throne. throne. He He survived survived the the intrigue intrigue to to win win the the throne throne as as Shah Shah Jahan, Jahan, and and later later built built the the Taj Taj Mahal. Mahal. a a vision v ision in in wh whiiTe Te mar m arBle Ble

Maharana Maharana Jagat Jagat Singh Singh II, II, who who was was the the ruler ruler of of the the House House of of Mewar Mewar as as well well as as the the leader leader of of aa number number of of Rajput Rajput clans, clans, finished finished building building aa series series of of white white marble marble pavilions pavilions set set within within beautiful beautiful gardens gardens on on aa nearby nearby island, island, Jag Jag Niwas, Niwas, in in 1746. 1746. The The gardens gardens were were opened opened with with great great ceremony, ceremony, and and were were then then used used by by the the Indian Indian royal royal family family for for short short visits, visits, entertainment entertainment and and elaborate elaborate picnics. picnics. Over Over the the centuries centuries the the marble marble pavilions pavilions on on the the island island were were expanded, expanded, and and the the gardens gardens enhanced enhanced with with lily lily ponds ponds and and courtyards. courtyards. Marble Marble balconies balconies and and walls walls were were decorated decorated with with paintings paintings and and reliefs reliefs of of historical historical triumphs, triumphs, and and coloured coloured glass glass inlays. inlays. The The rooms rooms were were furnished furnished with with elaborate elaborate local local furniture. furniture. Udaipur Udaipur did did not not manage manage its its affairs affairs or or its its alliances alliances as as carefully carefully as as some some of of its its neighbouring neighbouring states, states, and and did did not not share share their their prosperity. prosperity. By By the the mid-nineteenth mid-nineteenth century century the the island’s island’s marble marble buildings buildings were were in in decline, decline, and and although although additions additions were were made made to to the the complex, complex, aa century century later later itit was was mouldering mouldering and and mostly mostly deserted. deserted. Maharana Maharana Bhagwat Bhagwat Singh Singh became became head head of of the the ruling ruling family family in in 1955, 1955, and and realised realised that that as as Udaipur Udaipur had had no no industry, industry, he he needed needed to to create create business business for for the the region. region. He He bravely bravely converted converted Jag Jag Niwas Niwas Palace Palace into into aa luxury luxury hotel, hotel, hoping hoping to to attract attract tourists tourists to to his his remote remote city. city.The The palace palace isis still still owned owned by by the the Maharana’s Maharana’s second second son, son, Arvind Arvind Singh Singh Mewar. Mewar. The The Lake Lake Palace Palace Hotel Hotel opened opened in in 1963, 1963, and and despite despite its its relative relative isolation isolation itit made made Udaipur Udaipur the the popular popular tourist tourist destination destination itit isis today. today. The The Taj Taj Group Group took took over over management management of of the the hotel hotel in in 1971. 1971. Now Now the the Taj Taj Lake Lake Palace, Palace, itit was was extensively extensively restored restored in in 2000. 2000. Cupolas Cupolas and and Colonnades Colonnades

Remote, Remote, mysterious mysterious and and enchanting, enchanting, the the white white marble marble and and mosaic mosaic structure structure of of the the Lake Lake Palace Palace Hotel Hotel isis built built along along the the shoreline shoreline of of aa 1.6-hectare 1.6-hectare (4-acre) (4-acre) island. island. Occasional Occasional cupolas cupolas and and colonnades colonnades break break its its low low bulk, bulk, and and tantalising tantalising hints hints of of hidden hidden green green gardens gardens creep creep to to the the water’s water’s edge. edge. A A wing wing of of modern modern guestrooms guestrooms was was added added when when the the palace palace was was converted converted to to aa hotel, hotel, and and during during later later renovations renovations many many of of the the once-open once-open areas areas were were enclosed. enclosed. The The reality reality of of the the old old palace palace certainly certainly lived lived up up to to its its mysterious mysterious aura. aura. A A design design consultant consultant for for the the initial initial renovation renovation commented commented that that the the original original palace palace was was riddled riddled with with peepholes, peepholes, secret secret passages passages and and hidden hidden

rooms, rooms, including including one one room room that that could could only only be be entered entered from from aa trap trap door door located located in in the the ceiling. ceiling. Although Although some some of of the the renovations renovations have have been been widely widely criticised criticised as as compromising compromising the the integrity integrity of of the the original original structure, structure, its its development development has has ensured ensured the the survival survival of of the the Lake Lake Palace, Palace, and and itit remains remains as as alluring alluring to to modern modern visitors visitors as as itit was was to to the the rulers rulers of of the the House House of of Mewar Mewar who who relaxed relaxed there there 250 250 years years ago. ago. One One particularly particularly interesting interesting selling selling point point isis the the claim claim that that the the Royal Royal Butlers Butlers –– descendants descendants of of the the original original palace palace retainers retainers –– look look after after all all contemporary contemporary comforts comforts and and ensure ensure that that all all guests guests are are treated treated like like royalty. royalty. The The reflected reflected romantic romantic beauty beauty of of the the Lake Lake Palace Palace floating floating in in the the still, still, shallow shallow waters waters of of Lake Lake Pichola Pichola has has attracted attracted rock rock stars stars and and royalty, royalty, as as well well as as film-makers film-makers and and photographers photographers seeking seeking out out the the place place that, that, of of all all the the Indian Indian palaces, palaces, epitomises epitomises the the fantasy fantasy of of living living as as the the maharajas maharajas once once did. did.

The The decadent decadent reputation reputation of of the the Lake Lake Palace Palace Hotel Hotel drew drew the the makers makers of of the the James James Bond Bond film film Octopussy Octopussy (1983), (1983), who who used used the the hotel hotel as as aa prime prime location location inin the the movie. movie. Top Top

The The Chandra Chandra Prakash Prakash

Suite Suite boasts boasts decorative decorative gilt gilt mouldings mouldings and and marvellously marvellously sculpted sculpted marble. marble. Maharana Maharana Bhopal Bhopal Singh Singh held held court court inin this this suite suite inin the the 1930s. 1930s. Opposite Opposite page page

The The hotel hotel

features features many many terraces terraces that that make make the the most most of of the the stunning stunning lake lake setting. setting.

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South-East Asia: Colonial Indulgence South-East Asia: Colonial Indulgence

Raff les Hotel Singapore’s Grand Grand Old Old Lady Lady Singapore’s British colonial administrator Sir Stamford Raffles identified Singapore as British colonial administrator Sir Stamford Raffles identified Singapore as a perfect trading port in 1819. A sleepy fishing village with few inhabitants, it a perfect trading port in 1819. A sleepy fishing village with few inhabitants, it nonetheless had a deep natural harbour and Raffles understood its potential nonetheless had a deep natural harbour and Raffles understood its potential to support the East India Company’s to support the East India Company’s lucrative operations in China. lucrative operations in China. The Bar & Billiard Room at The Bar & Billiard Room at Raffles, a raised structure, Raffles, a raised structure, is famous for the ‘tiger is famous for the ‘tiger incident’, during which a incident’, during which a tiger that had escaped from tiger that had escaped from a show was chased under a show was chased under the room and killed in 1902. the room and killed in 1902.

urthermore, a British stronghold in Singapore urthermore, a British stronghold in Singapore could also protect the company against the could also protect the company against the ambitions in the region of the Dutch in ambitions in the region of the Dutch in nearby Malacca. ‘What Malta is to the West,’ Raffles nearby Malacca. ‘What Malta is to the West,’ Raffles once wrote, ‘may Singapore become in the East.’ The once wrote, ‘may Singapore become in the East.’ The British bought the entire island, and all islands within British bought the entire island, and all islands within a 16-km (10-mile) radius. Singapore soon attracted a 16-km (10-mile) radius. Singapore soon attracted fortune-seekers from all over the world, as it became fortune-seekers from all over the world, as it became a major British trading post and port. The opening a major British trading post and port. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 significantly shortened of the Suez Canal in 1869 significantly shortened the travelling time from Europe, and tourists began the travelling time from Europe, and tourists began arriving in droves. Hotels began to cater to the needs arriving in droves. Hotels began to cater to the needs of these intrepid adventurers. of these intrepid adventurers.

The Raffles The Raffles lobby is an open and airy lobby is an open and airy central space within the central space within the historic hotel. historic hotel.

thE plaCE to b E sEEn thE plaCE to b E sEEn

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Many notable authors have Many notable authors have visited Raffles Hotel, and visited Raffles Hotel, and the legendary establishment the legendary establishment was immortalised in the was immortalised in the writings of Rudyard Kipling writings of Rudyard Kipling and W Somerset Maugham. and W Somerset Maugham.

Raffles Hotel is arguably the most well-known hotel Raffles Hotel is arguably the most well-known hotel in all of Asia. Starting life as a leased ten-room beach in all of Asia. Starting life as a leased ten-room beach bungalow, it was the visionary Sarkies brothers who bungalow, it was the visionary Sarkies brothers who

recognised its potential as a hotel site. In 1887, they recognised its potential as a hotel site. In 1887, they opened the hotel and cleverly named it after Sir opened the hotel and cleverly named it after Sir Stamford Raffles. The advertisements of the time Stamford Raffles. The advertisements of the time promised ‘great care and attention to the comfort promised ‘great care and attention to the comfort of boarders and visitors’. It was the first hotel in of boarders and visitors’. It was the first hotel in Singapore to have electric lights and fans (subsequent Singapore to have electric lights and fans (subsequent to the famous ‘punkah wallahs’), a French chef and to the famous ‘punkah wallahs’), a French chef and ‘cuisine of the highest order served at separate tables’. ‘cuisine of the highest order served at separate tables’. More importantly, it had position, position, position: More importantly, it had position, position, position: uninterrupted views of the sea and proximity to the uninterrupted views of the sea and proximity to the commercial centre of town. commercial centre of town. Raffles quickly became the only place for visitors Raffles quickly became the only place for visitors to Singapore. One had to be seen at Raffles, either in to Singapore. One had to be seen at Raffles, either in the Palm Court, the Bar & Billiard Room, the Long the Palm Court, the Bar & Billiard Room, the Long Bar, on the verandah sipping the signature Singapore Bar, on the verandah sipping the signature Singapore Sling, or taking afternoon tea in the Tiffin Room. Sling, or taking afternoon tea in the Tiffin Room. Rudyard Kipling’s famous endorsement to ‘Feed at Rudyard Kipling’s famous endorsement to ‘Feed at Raffles’ was apparently penned after a particularly Raffles’ was apparently penned after a particularly stunning meal in the Tiffin Room. However, Kipling stunning meal in the Tiffin Room. However, Kipling also advised visitors to ‘stay elsewhere’. also advised visitors to ‘stay elsewhere’. The 1920s and 1930s were probably the most The 1920s and 1930s were probably the most glamorous of the hotel’s history, with all the debonair glamorous of the hotel’s history, with all the debonair and darling citizens of the world swanning in and out and darling citizens of the world swanning in and out of the lobby. The Raffles ballroom was also the only of the lobby. The Raffles ballroom was also the only stylish place in town for elegant soirees, and it was stylish place in town for elegant soirees, and it was described as ‘the largest ballroom in the East’. described as ‘the largest ballroom in the East’. This iconic hotel has had to reinvent itself a This iconic hotel has had to reinvent itself a number of times over the years and has more than number of times over the years and has more than once languished while funds were sought to keep it once languished while funds were sought to keep it afloat. Raffles’s sophisticated history has also been afloat. Raffles’s sophisticated history has also been accompanied by legal disputes, bankruptcies, the accompanied by legal disputes, bankruptcies, the Great Depression and a slump in the lucrative Great Depression and a slump in the lucrative Malayan rubber industry. Malayan rubber industry.


C h i na a n d Ja pa n : C e n t u r i e s of Tra d i t i on

The Peninsula The Heart of Kowloon Known affectionately as the Pen, the Peninsula opened in Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) in 1928 in one of the prime catchment areas for international visitors. Passengers arriving in Hong Kong by ocean liner disembarked onto the quays of Kowloon, and it was also the last stop for European travellers on the Trans-Siberian and Chinese railways.


side from a brief hiccup in its history in 1941 when Japanese forces occupied the hotel and renamed it the Matsumoto Hotel, the Pen has been a constant part of daily life in Hong Kong. Today, this beloved icon is a favourite with business travellers, families and honeymooners, as it allows visitors to immerse themselves in the glamour of a bygone era before they head out to explore the wonders of Hong Kong via the nearby Star Ferry and MTR (Mass Transit Railway). the Kad o orie family

Sir Michael Kadoorie at the Peninsula in 2006, on the day the hotel took delivery of 14 new RollsRoyce Phantoms. At that

The Kadoories have been involved in businesses in the Far East since the nineteenth century. Like the Sassoons, they were originally Iraqi Jews from Baghdad who moved to India. Elly Kadoorie, founder of the Peninsula, had a burning desire to create ‘the finest hotel east of Suez’. He first arrived in Shanghai from Bombay (Mumbai) in 1880 (ironically as an employee of the Sassoons), but his business acumen was such that he soon acquired companies in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the Kadoories lost some of their Shanghai businesses when the city was liberated in 1949, but they swiftly moved their focus to Hong Kong and built up the diversified conglomerates CLP Holdings and Hong Kong & Shanghai Holdings, owners of the Peninsula. The Pen has remained in the family’s ownership since opening, and Sir Michael Kadoorie is the current Non-Executive Chairman of the Peninsula Hotels group.

time it was the largestever single order of this

a h istory of Go od manaGemen t

luxury motor vehicle.

The first General Manager of the Peninsula was Leo Gaddi, who was instrumental in restoring the hotel to its former glory after the end of World War II. The French restaurant Gaddi’s, which was opened in 1953, is named in his honour. A new 30-storey tower block addition in 1994 transformed the building. The hotel now has an uninterrupted view of Hong Kong Island and Victoria


Locals and visitors

alike enjoy the experience of taking afternoon tea in the neoclassical lobby of the Peninsula Hotel.


Harbour to the south, and the city and mountain ranges of Kowloon to the north. Philippe Starck refurbished the new Felix rooftop restaurant, and Orlando Diaz-Azcuy designed the swimming pool and spa on the roof of the new tower. A unique helipad completes the addition.

Long considered a Hong Kong landmark, the Peninsula is the city’s only historical five-star hotel. Left

The stately Peninsula

Suite offers lucky guests unparalleled panoramas of Victoria Harbour.



C h i na a n d Ja pa n : C e n t u r i e s of Tra d i t i on

A 100-m (328-ft) Christmas tree is illuminated on the exterior of a Tokyo hotel to celebrate Christmas 2007.


Hoshi, a traditional

Japanese ryokan (inn) located in the Ishikawa Prefecture, has been operating for almost 1,300 years, making it one of the oldest hotels in the world.

Japan and the ‘New Manners’ Embracing the West Japan’s name in the kanji writing system is translated as ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. This descriptive appellation stems from the country’s location on the east coast of Asia.


rom the twelfth century to the mid-1800s, Japan was a feudal country led by clans of warriors. After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan adopted many European and American practices and institutions. Many Chinese customs were also incorporated over the years, and Japanese culture is a mixture of these influences and its own ancient traditions.


embraCinG the w es t

Japan started slowly opening up to the West during the nineteenth century, when it began to modernise and industrialise. Increased trade between Japan and both Europe and the United States resulted in an influx of Westerners who were not satisfied with the accommodation options available in Japan at that time. Emperor Meiji was savvy enough to understand the profit-making potential in ensuring that Westerners feel as comfortable as possible, and is understood to have initiated reforms whereby ‘new manners’ reminiscent of European and American ways were encouraged. He also knew that a great Western-style hotel in the centre of Tokyo would be a major drawcard for these new travellers, so he ordered the government to organise the construction of such a space – resulting in the magnificent Imperial Hotel (1890).

Exotic Discoveries

Tokyo Love Hotels

A brightly coloured sign for a love hotel

Discreet Space Solutions

in Shibuya, Tokyo, is

Japan is an island nation of some 130 million people, and both space and privacy are at a premium. This has resulted in the development of a special type of hotel.

eye of young women.


ove hotels first started to emerge as a trend in the 1950s, but really began flourishing in the 1970s. They provided a practical solution to the age-old dilemma for the Japanese of where to go to escape either the traditions of the family or the constrictions of society. Many an intoxicated businessman has been saved from public embarrassment by these conveniently placed establishments. These boutique hotels are found right across Japan, and are often located in clusters near major transport junctions. Small rooms can be rented for a daytime rest, or later for an overnight stay. Love hotels were initially simple rooms with few accoutrements. Now they are often

‘themed’, from the kinky to the romantic, the funky to the erotic, and the bizarre to the kitsch. The macho themes of previous years – which were suitable for the maledominated clientele – have given way to more female-orientated decor, as Japanese women have become more financially and socially liberated in recent years.


designed to attract the

there are panels displaying the various room options and a selection is made with the push of a button. Room service is also fully automated (including the purchase of sex toys or pornographic paraphernalia) through in-room credit card facilities. Love hotels may not appeal to everyone, but they do provide a cheap alternative to the more expensive hotel options in Japan.

Covert op erat ion

Discretion is the order of the day. Hotel managements go to extraordinary lengths to ensure privacy for their customers. Curtains or screens are provided so that even car number plates can be camouflaged. Unlike traditional hotels, there is no smiling receptionist to greet the customer. Instead,

Below left

A Japanese couple enjoys the Space

Shuttle-themed room at the Super Fashion Hotel, a love hotel in Osaka that charges hourly rates. Below

A couple lies on a round bed in a modern-

looking room at the Super Fashion Hotel.


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