News for the Hospitality Executive
Nobody Asked me, But… No. 76
Empire State Building's 80th Anniversary and the Waldorf-Astoria;
By Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC
May 16, 2011
1. The Empire State Building’s 80th Anniversary and the Waldorf-Astoria
Did you ever wonder why there is a hyphen in the Waldorf-Astoria name? Believe it or not, the answer provides a connection between the hotel and the Empire State Building. On March 14, 1893, William Waldorf Astor opened the Hotel Waldorf, the world’s most luxurious hotel on 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue with 450 guestrooms and 350 bathrooms, each one of these with an outer window- a feature which apparently made a tremendous impression upon the traveling public of the nineties. In 1895, John Jacob Astor IV (a cousin of William Waldorf Astor) demolished his mother’s mansion on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue and built the Astoria Hotel with 550 guestrooms. Ultimately, the two hotels were joined together with the connecting corridor called “Peacock Alley” by the society editor of the New York Tribune. Almost from the opening, Peacock Alley was a popular promenade for ladies of fashion to display their gowns, jewels and gaudiest plumage. It was reported that it was not unusual for twenty-five thousand people to stroll the length of Peacock Alley on a single day. Both hotels were designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh, who later was the architect for the Plaza Hotel.
The original Waldorf-Astoria lasted until 1929 when it was demolished to make way for the Empire State Building. Two years later, the new Waldorf-Astoria opened at Park Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets.
2. “Defying Time: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York”
On May 4, 2011, I lectured at the Harvard Club of New York to introduce my new book (which will be published by the end of 2011). For this one-hour presentation, I spoke about eight century-old hotels on West 44th Street: Algonquin, Iroquois, Royalton, Penn Club of New York, Mansfield, City Club, Harvard Club of New York and Chatwal New York. My book will contain chapters on 24 additional hotels in New York.
For your information: I am available to speak on this subject at your company and/or organization. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Impertinent Question Seeking a Pertinent Answer
Question: How is it possible that Hewlett Packard can price its replacement ink cartridges so high that four of them costs more than the printer? This is the same as pricing gasoline so high that four tankfuls cost more than your car. When will HP rectify this outrageous rip-off?
4. Wyndham Hotel Group Reports
These results reflect strong management of a large hotel company. As of March 31, the company’s hotel system consisted of approximately 7,190 properties and 609,600 guestrooms. The development pipeline included approximately 830 hotels and 102,000 guestrooms, of which 57% were new construction and 57% were international.
It is, therefore, hard to reconcile President Eric Danziger’s recent report to the AAHOA Board of Directors which fails to describe Wyndham’s lack of compliance with AAHOAs 12 Points of Fair Franchising. Instead, President Danziger focuses on 13 other issues:
After all this time, it is distressing to realize that Wyndham is still failing to implement even the modest goals in AAHOAs manifesto.
5. Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel
The legendary Belleview Biltmore, Bellair, Florida is once again in danger of destruction. The current owner, Raphael Ades, wants to demolish the 114 year-old resort hotel saying “It’s an ugly structure. It’s taking value from the neighbors.” It was this kind of myopic attitude in New York City in 1963 that allowed the iconic Pennsylvania Station to be demolished.
The Belleview Biltmore Hotel was constructed in 1897 by Henry B. Plant, the prominent railroad, steamboat express mail and hotel developer (the “FedEx/UPS” man of his time). The Belleview Hotel at Bellair opened with 145 rooms, Georgia-pine construction, swiss-style design, golf course and race track. The Belleview became a retreat for the wealthy whose private railroad cars were often parked at the railroad siding built to the south of the hotel. Guests at the Belleview enjoyed the amenities of regal rustic living; yachting and sailing on Clearwater Bay; horseback riding, golfing, tennis, skeet shooting and bicycling.
In 1920, the hotel was acquired by John McEntee Bowman, international sportsman and owner of the Biltmore chain of hotels (Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Delaware, Santa Barbara, Havana, Providence).
Since the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it would be a tragedy if the owners are permitted to ignore its one-of-a-kind history and demolish this historic hotel.
6. Quote of the Month
Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise, they won’t come to yours.
Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC recently published his new book, Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry. It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters. It also has a foreword (by Stephen Rushmore), preface, introduction, bibliography and index.
Ed Watkins, Editor of Lodging Hospitality wrote, “The lodging industry typically doesn’t spend a lot of time considering its past. Some may find that odd since compared to many other businesses (computers, automobiles aircraft), the hotel business is one of oldest if not the oldest, in the history of man. That changed recently with the publication of.... Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry, a fascinating and entertaining series of profiles of 16 men who author Stanley Turkel argues were the builders of the modern American hotel industry. That’s significant because due to the efforts of these titans (and others, of course), the American style of hotelkeeping long surpassed the European tradition that reigned for centuries.
Some of the profiles contain cover names (Hilton, Marriott, Johnson, Wilson) familiar to even casual students of hotel or U.S. history. Sadly, just one of the pioneers covered the book (John Q. Hammons) is still alive and active in the industry. To me, the more interesting tales cover hoteliers about whom I knew little before reading his book but now have a greater appreciation for their contributions.
The most compelling story focuses on Kanjibhai Manchhubhai Patel who Turkel identifies as the first Indian-American hotelier. K.M. Patel arrived in San Francisco in 1923 and soon began operating a small residential hotel in the city. The rest, as they say, is history; Today, Indian-American hoteliers dominate the industry with their trade association, AAHOA, recently surpassing 10,000 members. As Turkel says, this community represents a true American success story.To order the book, go to www.greatamericanhoteliers.com. I heartily recommend it.”
Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
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