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Celebrating Centennials: A Look at Three Legendary Hotels Then and Now

The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris
and Gstaad Palace in the Swiss Alps Turn 100 in 2013

March 18, 2013 - Is 2013 a big year for 100th anniversaries or does it just seem that way? From Grand Central Terminal in New York to the Chelsea Flower Show in London, the Tour de France cycling race to the British luxury carmaker Aston Martin, some of the world's most revered icons are celebrating centennials this year. So are three of the most renowned hotel addresses on the planet. Enjoy a slideshow to view these hotel icons, both then and now:

The Grove Park Inn
Then: Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, The Grove Park Inn has always been a premier destination for travelers seeking solitude and serenity. Named for its founder, self-made millionaire E.W. Grove - a.k.a., "Father of Modern Asheville" - the hotel employed 400 men for 10-hour shifts, six days a week at the best wages in the area: $1 a day. It went up on schedule, just one day short of a year.  Grove and his son-in-law, Fred Seely, opened the inn on July 12, 1913, with Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan delivering the keynote address proclaiming that the resort was "was built for the ages." Many celebrated individuals have stayed at the historic hotel since including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt and President Barack Obama. William Howard Taft resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court in the Great Hall Lobby, and F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed at the inn for two years to write while his wife, Zelda, was checked into an insane asylum nearby. If only those walls could talk.

Now: One hundred years since opening, the preserved richness of The Grove Park Inn can be seen in its expansive collection of Arts & Crafts interior furnishings. As the resort celebrates its centennial, the future looks brighter than ever with a $25 million renovation of public areas, guest rooms and new dining outlets to enhance the guest experience and honor the historic style of the resort.  To mark the occasion, The Grove Park Inn is throwing a very special Centennial Celebration over Independence Day with a "party of the century" featuring a festive dinner, fireworks and legendary bluesman B.B. King. Guests will also be invited to preserve memories in The Grove Park Inn Time Capsule. For reservations and information visit

Hotel Plaza Athénée
Then: April 20, 1913 was quite a day on Avenue Montaigne in the heart of Paris. Hôtel Plaza Athénée, now part of Dorchester Collection, opened its doors along with the local Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and quickly became the place to be for the most dazzling personalities of the day. Maurice Chevalier, Josephine Baker and Rudolph Valentino made the crimson-trimmed palace their Parisian hot spot of choice. So did the fashion icon Christian Dior, who became so infatuated with the hotel he opened his new boutique on the same street. All at once, Avenue Montaigne was the "avenue of haute couture" with the hotel the focus for fashion and the arts. Luminaries kept coming: Grace Kelly, Gary Cooper, Jackie Kennedy, the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Fords and more. What more appropriate address, then, for Carrie Bradshaw and Big to have their famous Paris reunion in the series finale of Sex and the City? Today Hôtel Plaza Athénée continues as a world-renowned symbol of traditional French hospitality, fine dining and Parisian glamour - at once timeless and contemporary.

Now: In honor of its 100th anniversary,  Hôtel Plaza Athénée is debuting exclusive partnerships, thematic offerings, fashionable cocktails and amazing cuisine throughout the year, offering guests exceptional opportunities to celebrate along with the hotel in style. Guests can toast the hotel's centennial throughout the year with a fabulous Cocktail Harcourt Baccarat by legendary Bar Manager Thierry Hernandez. On April 20th, 2013, the hotel will hold a special anniversary party at the restaurant Alain Ducasse and the Cour Jardin. Chief Operating Officer of the Dorchester Collection, François Delahaye, will "create" and bury a time capsule in Versailles to honor the hotel's first 100 years, followed by additional celebrations. For reservations and information, call 800-650-1842 or visit

Gstaad Palace
Then: Gstaad Palace debuted in 1913 with 150 rooms wrapped in the beauty of the Bernese Alps of Switzerland. One year later, World War I broke out and the hotel suffered with the rest of the travel industry. But, like the war, the downturn didn't last. In the Golden Twenties, travelers embraced the opportunity to experience sophistication at the hilltop address. Then, in 1938, Mr. and Mrs. Scherz-Bezzola arrived as the hotel's new managers. Ernst Scherz bought Gstaad Palace following World War II and undertook improvements with modest means but outsized inspiration. Renowned entertainers such as Maurice Chevalier, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald began to perform at gala evenings, bringing attention to Gstaad Palace and the village around it. Over the years the hotel was refurbished and became a celebrated home away from home for celebrities. In 1968, after managing Gstaad Palace for three decades, Mr. and Mrs. Scherz-Bezzola asked their son, Ernst Andrea, to take over. The hotel continued to undergo renovations from 1970-1990, with additions including a unique indoor pool, GreenGo nightclub, a luxurious fitness center with saunas and massage rooms, La Grande Terrasse restaurant and new meeting rooms. Gstaad Palace also got a brand new entrance, as well as a new ski room and sports shop, boutiques and Grand Ballroom. Ernst Andrea's son, Andrea, joined management soon after and is currently the hotel's General Manager. One hundred years later, Gstaad Palace is still the ultimate Swiss escape with impressive additions of new suites, fine cuisine, special programs and an impressive spa.

Now: Gstaad Palace continues to shine as one of the quintessential winter sports destinations in Europe. With packages including Rent a Palace, the Walig Hut experience and the Chopard Luxury Journey, guests can create their own paradise in the Bernese Alps. In honor of its 100th Anniversary, Gstaad Palace will celebrate with a number of events including a special Gstaad Palace history book. Guests visiting the Palace can relax or party like the myriad celebrities who have visited over the years including Audrey Hepburn, Marc Chagall, Bob Hope, Madonna, Olivia Newton-John, Jim Henson and Jimmy Carter.  For reservations and information visit

Catherine Colford  
Hawkins International PR
 (212) 255-6541

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Also See: Dorchester Collection UK Properties, The Dorchester, 45 Park Lane and Coworth Park, Add New Talent in Culinary, Housekeeping and Sales with Five Executive Appointments / September 2012

Dorchester Collection Launches Enhancement Projects for Several of its Properties; Upgrades in the Works for Hotels in London, Paris, Switzerland and Beverly Hills, California / June 2012

Dorchester Collection Appoints Rachel Angell as Performance Improvement Manager; New Role Created to Analyze Guest Data to Identify Opportunities for Service Improvement for Each Hotel / June 2012

Dorchester Collection Appoints Janice Snowden as Area Director of Sales and Marketing for The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in California / June 2012

Dorchester Collection Appoints Klaus Kabelitz as General Manager of the 109-room Le Richemond in Geneva, Switzerland / May 2012

Dorchester Collection Names Arabella El Barkouki as Director of Sales and Marketing of the 109-room Le Richemond in Geneva, Switzerland / April 2012

Dorchester Collection Appoints Denise Flanders as General Manager of Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, California / April 2012

Dorchester Collection Appoints John Scanlon as Hotel Manager for The Dorchester in London, England / February 2012

Dorchester Collection Appoints Eugenio Pirri as Vice President, People and Organizational Development / December 2011

Dorchester Collection Unveils More Plans for 2011 with News from Several Properties; Highlights include the Opening of 45 Park Lane in London and the Newly Renovated Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles / August 2011

Dorchester Collection's Culinary Partners, Chefs, Restaurateurs and Food & Beverage Management Teams Plan for the Future of Hospitality Business at Recent Conference / July 2011

Dorchester Collection Appoints Edward A. Mady General Manager of The Beverly Hills Hotel and West Coast Regional Director, USA; Current GM of The New York Palace to Oversee West Coast Operations of the Luxury Hotel Collection / July 2011

The Dorchester Collection Selected to Manage 109-room Le Richemond in Geneva, Switzerland with the Group's First Third-Party Management Agreement / July 2011

The Dorchester Collection to Open 45 Park Lane in London, England / May 2011

The Dorchester Collection Names New Staff Appointments Through its Collection Including Christophe Saintagne as Head Chef for Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in Paris and Sally Pedder as Manager for The Dorchester Spa / December 2010

The Dorchester Collection Opens the 70-room Coworth Park Located in Ascot, UK; Hotel Has Several Unique Eco-Initiatives / September 2010

Dorchester Collection Appoints Marie-Laure Akdag as Hotel Manager at the 45 Park Lane, London / June 2010

Dorchester Collection Appoints Zoe Jenkins as General Manager at New Country House Hotel, Coworth Park near Ascot, UK / November 2009

Michelin-Starred Chef John Campbell Named as Food and Beverage Director for Dorchester Collection's New Country House Estate and Spa, Coworth Park, UK / July 2009

The Dorchester Collection Building Coworth Park a New 69 room Country House Hotel near Ascot, Surrey / January 2009

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