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My Latest Book Reviewed by the New York Times

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

1.  Hotel History: The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia*

The Homestead is a famous luxury resort that opened a decade before the American revolutionary war. Located in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains, the area has the largest hot springs in Virginia. Native Americans used the waters to rejuvenate themselves during their many excursions through the area.

Captain Thomas Bullett and Charles and Andrew Lewis were part of the militia and surveyors during the French and Indian War. They were told of the many healing qualities of the waters in the area. In 1764, at the end of the war, Capt. Bullett received Gold and Silver medals for his services and was awarded a colonial land grant of 300 acres.

Within two years, the land was cleared and an 18-room wooden hotel was built. In 1766, The Homestead was opened and named in honor of the Homesteaders who built the resort and bathhouses. From 1764 until 1778, Bullett operated the resort until he died during the American Revolutionary War. His family retained ownership of the resort until 1832.

In 1832, Dr. Thomas Goode purchased the resort from the Bullett family along with the Resort in Warm Springs and Healing Springs. He was a prominent physician who was responsible for the European style of many different spa therapies. One of the most famous treatments still in use is the Cure, which is a salt scrub followed by a Swiss shower. Dr. Goode passed away in 1858 and upon his death, the family took over the ownership until the early 1880s.

M.E. Ingalls, a prominent lawyer from Cincinnati, Ohio came to the area in 1881, while doing research for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company who was looking to extend their lines. After seven years, Ingalls, J.P. Morgan and other investors came to an agreement to purchase The Homestead and to build a spur into the Hot Springs area.  Within the first year of ownership, the investors raised over one million dollars to build a new hotel. On July 2, 1901, a fire which started in the pastry shop, burned the entire building. With the resort not being at full capacity, everyone escaped without any serious injury or loss of life. The staff was able to save the Spa, Casino, the cottages in Cottage Row and the Virginia Hotel which was immediately opened for the accommodation of the displaced guests. 

The day after the fire, Ingalls, who was President of the resort, and the many investors met to discuss the resort's future. With the smoke and embers still in the distance and insurance not available, they came to the conclusion to rebuild the resort. Within a year,  the Great Hall was completed and the Homestead was back in business. Former guests of the resort returned to the grand hotel they loved. Within two years, the  West Wing was added. In 1911, the Ingalls family acquired the resort. The East Wing was added in 1914, and M.E. Ingalls, Sr. passed away. In 1921, the Empire, Crystal, Garden rooms and Theatre were completed and in 1929, the tower was finished. The last major addition during the Ingalls family ownership was the Garden Wing in 1973.

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

The Homestead features two golf courses. The Old Course started as a six-hole layout in 1892, and the first tee is the oldest in continuous use in the United States. It was expanded to 18 holes by 1901, and Donald Ross redesigned it in 1913. The Cascades Course is the most famous of the three, and is usually ranked among the top 100 U.S. courses by both Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine. It was designed by William S. Flynn (who was also a main architect for Shinnecock Hills), and opened in 1923. Famed PGA Tour champion Sam Snead lived in or near Hot Springs all of his life, and served for decades as the Homestead's golf pro. One of the Homestead's restaurants, Sam Snead's Tavern, contains many memorabilia related to his career.

The Homestead offers a host of outdoor activities including skiing and snowboarding, horseback riding, carriage rides, shooting, tennis, swimming, fly fishing, falconry, and mountain biking.

The ski area at The Homestead was opened in 1959. It is the oldest ski resort in Virginia, and the second-oldest continuously operating alpine ski resort in the Southern United States. The resort's northwest-facing slope is serviced by five lifts, including a double chairlift which accesses the intermediate and advanced terrain at the top of the hill, and four surface lifts which serve the beginner terrain at the bottom. The resort offers a half-pipe and a terrain park for skiers and snowboarders, and a variety of other winter activities including snow tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowmobile tours.

In 1993, Club Resorts, a part of ClubCorp, acquired The Homestead and began a total restoration. In 2001, The Homestead unveiled a new Grand Ballroom and outdoor pool, along with state-of-the-art snowmaking for the ski area and a new Shooting Club House and Pavilion. In 2008, The Homestead built a 30’ x 20’ foot ice skating rink on the north slope of the property, next to the outdoor restaurant and gift shop.  

In 2006, KSL Resorts acquired management of The Homestead. Founded in 1992, KSL Resorts owns and operates iconic destination resorts. Like The Homestead, each of its sister resorts is a true American classic. In 2012, "The Next Chapter" was launched with the addition of Allegheny Springs– a new children's play zone, family pool, 400 ft. lazy river and water slides, in partnership with the Canyon Ranch Spa Club. 

The Homestead has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

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

2.  The New York Times book review (May 3, 2015):

 “Nostalgia for City’s caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel’s “Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf” (AuthorHouse). The fact-filled book by Mr. Turkel, an industry consultant, explains, among other things, the history of the hyphen (recently excised) in the name of the Waldorf Astoria, which inspired a mid-block street and even a song.”

To purchase a copy, visit my website (www.stanleyturkel.com) and click on the book title: softcover for $19.95, dust jacket hardcover for $28.95 or an E-Book for $3.99 directly from the publisher.

About Stanley Turkel, CMHS

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

Turkel is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases and providing asset management and hotel franchising consultation.

Prior to forming his hotel consulting firm, Turkel was the Product Line Manager for worldwide Hotel/Motel Operations at the International Telephone & Telegraph Co. overseeing the Sheraton Corporation of America. Before joining IT&T, he was the Resident Manager of the Americana Hotel (1842 Rooms), General Manager of the Drake Hotel (680 Rooms) and General Manager of the Summit Hotel (762 Rooms), all in New York City.

He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He served for eleven years as Chairman of the Board of the Trustees of the City Club of New York and is now the Honorary Chairman.

Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. More than 275 articles on various hotel subjects have been posted in hotel magazines and on the Hotel-Online, BlueMauMau, HotelNewsResource and eTurboNews websites. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (“Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry” and “Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi”). A third hotel book (“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York”) was called "passionate and informative" by the New York Times. All of these books can be ordered from the publisher by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com / 917-628-8549

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