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 The El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel Now a Franchise of the
Holiday Inn Brand; Opened in 1962, It Was the First Hotel
on San Antonio's Riverwalk
San Antonio, TX (February, 2007)– InterContinental Hotels Group announces that the 306-room El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel has become a franchise of the Holiday Inn Brand. 

“We are thrilled to welcome this property to the Holiday Inn family of hotels.  Holiday Inn hotels are specifically designed for business and family oriented leisure travelers in need of a full-service lodging experience, and this property fits well within that offering,” said Mark Snyder, senior vice president, Brand Management, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts. “Development in San Antonio, TX is key in expanding our Holiday Inn consumer base and growing a strong presence in one of America's most popular tourist destinations.”

Situated on the famous Riverwalk, the newly renovated hotel boasts a tropical paradise amid a Latin American décor throughout the lobby and guestrooms.  The property is just minutes from The Alamo. Sea World and Six Flags Fiesta Texas are also a 20-minute drive from the hotel. 

El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel-Holiday Inn offers a variety of amenities such as 37,000 square feet of meeting space with full catering services, poolside “dive-in” movies, STRIVE, a 3,000 square foot fitness club, live entertainment in the Tiki Bar on Friday and Saturday and much more.

The hotel’s dining facility Mangos features a made-to-order pasta buffet for lunch or a soup and salad bar and signature entrees for dinner. Room Service Right…On Time™, also a standard at all Holiday Inn hotels, ensures that guests’ room service orders are accurate and delivered on time, every time.  Guests can also enjoy the hotel’s lounge Tiki. Tiki lounge offers tropical signature drinks and live salsa and Mexican tropical music every Friday and Saturday. With more than 37,000-sq. ft. of function space, the hotel is available for business meetings and banquets. 

“San Antonio is a well-traveled market for tourism and business and a perfect fit for the Holiday Inn product,” said Shawn Kenworthy general manager

El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel-Holiday Inn is owned and managed by Fiesta Riverwalk, Ltd. and operated by Hammer/Lifshutz Hospitality under a license agreement with a company in the InterContinental Hotels Group located in Atlanta, GA. The El Tropicano Hotel Rivewalk is owned by Tracy Hammer, James Lifshutz and Doyle Walsh.

August 2005 Press Release

Iconic 60s Style Returns To Riverwalk With El Tropicano; 
New Owners Bring Back Original Name For Hotel

San Antonio, TX (August 2005) – They say nothing beats an original, unless it’s the return of an original. The only thing better? How about the reinvention of an original. That is what is happening now on the beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk. New owners of the first hotel built along the Paseo del Rio are bringing back a familiar name and face – El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel.

Developers, James Lifshutz, Tracy Hammer and Doyle Walsh purchased the 300- plus room property at 110 Lexington Avenue earlier this year. But the look, sounds and atmosphere will recall the salad days of the early ’60s, when the original El Tropicano was San Antonio’s beacon on the Riverwalk.

“When people come here, they will know they are in San Antonio,” Hammer said.

“They will experience the sights, sounds and scents that will make for an unforgettable experience.”

“We will have all the elements that tell the story of the rich culture and fun atmosphere that make this one of the greatest cities in North America.”

History On The River

On August 21, 1962, El Tropicano opened as the first hotel on the Riverwalk, a chic and ultramodern luxurious property that looked as if it belonged on the glitzy Las Vegas Strip during the heyday of the Rat Pack. It had a unique atmosphere -- part Caribbean with a San Antonio flavor – and a colorful, concave sign and standout logo with a tropical leaf to brand the property.

Advertisements for “El Tropicano Motor Hotel” touted the conveniences of the day, including radios in the TVs and air conditioning, a full-service barber shop and a VIP restaurant called the Fontana Club. Actor Rock Hudson and Lady Bird Johnson were among the first guests to stay here.

El Tropicano was also San Antonio’s party place. The Coronado Room, a 12,000 square-foot ballroom, is still one of the largest hotel meeting facilities in the city. Combined with the Junior Ballroom, which is being renovated to open to a sprawling staircase leading to the pool deck, the hotel has been the site of countless weddings, quinceañeras, proms and other memorable events.

In the 1990s, the El Tropicano name gave way as the first of many new owners took over the hotel, which a Holiday Inn, Sheraton 4 Points, an independent property and a Clarion. Each owner tried to update the hotel’s look in their own way, but the result left something to be desired, a mish-mash of bland modern design that took away from the
property’s original charm and unique flavor. 

Inventing The Look

Now, the owners are bringing back the El Tropicano name and reinventing its original look through a massive, well-planned renovation that is expected to be completed by the start of 2006.

“We are overcoming a problem that has plagued this hotel for the past 15 years as it lost its identity and vision,” Hammer said. “The community can expect this updated El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel will be a source of pride.”

The talents of Alamo Architects have been tapped to shape the look of the hotel so it harkens back to its origins while branding it with a style all its own.

“We wanted it to recall a Latin American beach resort, mixed with an upscale North American club, a place where you feel welcome, relaxed and special the moment you walk in,” Hammer said.

As a result, the inspiration for El Tropicano’s design comes from Acapulco beach resorts and trendy clubs like the Sky Bar in Los Angeles and the W in Mexico City, says Irby Hightower, the Alamo Architects partner leading El Tropicano’s renovation.

“We’re trying to bring back the character of the hotel without it being a sentimental reconstruction,” Hightower said. In other words, don’t expect shag carpeting or the tik ithemed lounge that were very much part of the hotel’s style in the ’60s.

“The new El Tropicano will be an international style modern building that has these touches of Mexico, the Tropics and things San Antonio,” Hightower said. “We bring it together in a way that San Antonio brings these kinds of things together.”

Expect an eclectic blend of cool and warm colors in the redesigned, more intimate lobby space. There will be Mexican folk art and funky grass bamboo frozen in clear acrylic tile in the bar, which will showcase fine tequilas and rums. In the restaurant, plans call for doubling the size of the skylight and pushing back the seating to create a
display cooking area. The still-developing menu will be casera cuisine, or “food of the house,” a mixture of Latin-inspired comfort dishes.

The hotel will lose some rooms, going from 324 to 306. But the payoff will be more dramatic and pleasing spaces throughout the property. A large winding stairway will lead from the lobby to the pool deck, which will be divided into different spaces, with the western part developed as a more intimate courtyard with a vista to the River Terrace. Palm trees and other tropical plants will create an “Oasis” effect in the central courtyard pool area.

The property also features some of the best banquet and meeting facilities in the city, offering 37,000 square feet right in the central business district of the Alamo City. El Tropicano also can accommodate gatherings for 10 to 1,000 in more than 25 unique meeting areas throughout the complex by utilizing the niches and pleasing spaces that the architectural redesign has provided.

Lainey Berkus 
The CE Group 
(210) 822-5001, ext. 1

About Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts

With nearly 1,400 hotels worldwide, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts is the most widely recognized lodging brand in the world.  In fact, Holiday Inn was one of the first international hotel brands to establish a presence in China in 1984.

InterContinental Hotels Group PLC of the United Kingdom [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is the world's largest hotel group by number of rooms.  InterContinental Hotels Group owns, manages, leases or franchises, through various subsidiaries, over 3,650 hotels and 543,775 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries and territories around the world. 


Mae Escobar-Community Relations Manager 
El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel


Also See: Morning Star Hospitality Services, Inc., Selected to Manage the El Tropicano Hotel, on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas / June 2006

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