By Kristy McCaffrey
This holiday season, how about a visit to a historic hotel in the Western United States, built during the glory days of leisure travel.
Located in Phoenix and opened in 1929, the Arizona Biltmore was built by Albert Chase McArthur with famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s collaboration. It was constructed with pre-cast blocks made from desert sand that was found at the construction site. Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. once owned the resort, which has hosted many famous celebrities: Marilyn Monroe, the Reagans (they spent their honeymoon here), and Irving Berlin (who penned White Christmas during a stay). Also, a bartender created the famous tequila sunrise cocktail for a guest at the resort. Of note is The Mystery Room, a Prohibition-era speakeasy that once had a light to warn partiers of approaching federal agents.
|Arizona Biltmore, circa 1931.|
|Arizona Biltmore today.|
Opened in 1936, this resort was the dream of a young hotel manager who convinced investors to help him build a resort in the desert outside of Phoenix, Arizona. When it opened, visitors endured a 12-mile bumpy ride along a dirt road from the train station to the secluded property. Early guests included Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, and Bette Davis. In 1967, frequent guest Willard Marriott, Sr., purchased the Inn and made it the company’s first resort. Camelback Inn is the only Arizona resort with its own chapel, built in 1959.
|Camelback Inn, circa 1936.|
Hotel del Coronado
In 1888, the Hotel del Coronado opened on Coronado Island in San Diego, California—a seaside resort that would become “the talk of the Western world.” The all-wooden structure was a technological marvel—it had its own ice machine, electrical generator, and a steam-powered hydraulic elevator. It has been the backdrop for dozens of movies, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz developed their “Ricky and Lucy” personas here. The Crown Room’s expansive ceiling is paneled in Oregon sugar pine, and some reports say Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum designed the massive chandeliers. The author spent his winters at the hotel from 1904 to 1910, during which he wrote four books.
The Brown Palace Hotel
Opened in 1892 in downtown Denver, Colorado, the Brown Palace Hotel was made with Colorado red granite and Arizona sandstone, and cost $1.6 million, an astronomical sum at that time. Dwight Eisenhower used the hotel as his presidential campaign headquarters in 1952, and The Beatles stayed here on their U.S. tour. Tunnels beneath the hotel reportedly once led to a brothel across the street.
|The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, an example|
of Italian renaissance architecture.
|The Brown Palace Hotel today.|
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