Tag: Vintage Hotels

Vintage Travel To Do List: Galveston,Texas

Vintage Travel to do list Galveston Texas

Recently I was watching HGTV and they had an episode on about a couple buying a home in Galveston, Texas. I instantly loved the city and knew I needed to add it to my ‘Vintage Travel to do list’.

For today’s post lets take a look at some of the reasons and interesting historic points on why you and I should visit Galveston.

galveston-texas-vintage-postcard
Source: Postcard Roundup

Galveston is less than 60 miles from Houston and is the fourth largest city in the United States. It is an island, has a sub tropical climate and was founded by a Pirate, named Jean Lafitte.

In 1900 the city was hit with a devastating hurricane. After the storm, the city decided to shore up its defenses against future storms by building a permanent concrete seawall along a large portion of the beach front (source). This wall is still standing today.

Galveston Texas vintage postcard
Source: Flickr

1920’s to the 1950’s the city re-emerged as a major tourist destination centered on casinos and other vice businesses. Featuring venues such as the famed Balinese Room the city became nationally known as the sin city of the Gulf.

The Balinese Room. Originally opened in 1923 as the Chop Suey, then the Sui Jen a few year later. It finally became the Balinese Room in 1942 with its famed south seas motif.

Balinese Room

In its heyday, The Balinese played host to high rollers from all over the country, including local legends Glenn McCarthy, Diamond Jim West, and Howard Hughes. The showroom featured headliners such as Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, Burns and Allen, Bob Hope, and Jack Benny. Long before Las Vegas attracted the big names to the desert, Maceo’s Balinese Room brought ‘em to Galveston (source).

Frank Sinatra at the Balinese room
Frank Sinatra with Maceo

Balinese was raided many many times over the years for gambling but was never able to be shut down, until May 30th, 1957. It remained closed until 2003 when a new owner brought it back to its former glory. It lasted till 2008 when another storm unfortunately destroyed it, but the owner seems to want to rebuild in a new location according to his website. I do hope this comes true for Galveston and for vintage lovers like me.

Balinese Room New

Galveston is also home to the glamorous and historic, ‘Hotel Galvez‘.

location-of-hotel-galvez-and-spa-galveston-top
Source: Hotel Galvez

About:

  • This hotel is the only historic beachfront hotel left on the Gulf Coast of Texas
  • Bears the name of Bernardo de Galvez, who surveyed the area in 1786
  • Built with $1million after the famous and devastating 1900 storm
  • Opened on June 10th, 1911, at 6pm
  • Rooms were $2 per night in 1911
  • The hotel boasted modern, time-saving tools such as a potato peeling machine, an ice-maker, a dishwasher and an ice cream maker
  • Headquarters for the International Pageants of Pulchritude, the beauty pageants that were predecessors to the Miss Universe Pageant (1920-1932)
  • Temporary White House for FDR
  • Served as WWII Coast Guard Facility
  • Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin Stayed Here (most likely to sleep off a night of partying at the Balinese Room)
  • Room 501 is Haunted-Legend has it a seaman’s fiancé was staying in room 501 when she heard his ship had sunk, and took her own life. Now she haunts the halls
  • (Source)
Galveston Beach, Sea Wall Boulevard and Hotel Galvez
Source: card cow

Inside Hotel Galvez

hotel-galvez-spa-a-wyndham-grand-hotel-photos-exterior

June 1928-Third International Pageant of Pulchritude held at the hotel.

international-pageants-of-pulchritude-1928-galveston-texas
Source: Shorpy Historic

One event I would love to attend is the Galveston Island Beach Revue which is a revival event of the first Bathing Girl Revue started in 1916 by the Galveston Beach Association (An organization formed early in the 20th century to promote tourism).

Want to see what the Bathing Revue was all about? Then check out the silent film below on the 1925 Revue (the swimsuit fashions are fantastic!).

Here is another video of Dorothy Weaver talking about her memories of the early days of the revue and the fun that was to be had on the beach.

Galveston is not just all beach there are also gorgeous Vintage Homes and even a East End Historical District.

galveston-texas-vintage-victorian-home
Source: guidrynews

The Bishop’s Palace-1892. WOW!

bishops_palace_galveston
Source:Wikipedia

The Grand Staircase of the Bishop Palace.

grand-staircase-bishop-palace
Source: Pinterest

Lastly, I must make note of the ‘Galveston World Famous Victorian Holiday Festival‘. This event looks like a lot of fun!

dickens-on-the-strand-galveston-texas
Source: Galveston Historical Foundation

 

Hope you enjoyed this brief tour of Galveston, now who wants to join me to discover what else this beautiful city has to offer? AND if you have been there, please share what one should see when visiting.

Liz

 

Vintage Travel To Do List: Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

I have started a collection of “Vintage Travel Destinations/Locations” that I would like to visit at some point in my life, over on Pinterest. This collection is slowly growing but one of those places is the ‘Grand Hotel’ on Mackinac Island, Michigan (US), seen above. It’s right out of something from the Great Gatsby and has a history that goes back to 1887.

For today’s post I’m just going to share some of the history with you, stunning images and a cool tidbit about a certain famous female swimmer from the 1940s.

Vintage Mid-Century Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Brochure
Source: Pinterest

Brief Overview of the History of the Hotel: The Grand Hotel has a marvelous page filled with a much more detailed history on the Hotel (then what I will supply you) which you can read HERE.

July 10th, 1887: Grand Hotel opens, billed as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrive by lake steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, Detroit, and by rail from across the continent. It took only 93 days to complete and rates are $3 to $5 a night.

1890’s: Grand Hotel’s Front Porch – longest in the world (880 feet in length)—becomes the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Grand Hotel Manager James “The Comet” Hayes invites an agent of Edison Phonograph to conduct regular demonstrations of the new invention.

Turn of the Century: The automobile finds its way onto the island. Grand Hotel supports an island-wide ban. A law is passed, but not strictly enforced until the 1930s (there are still no automobiles allowed to this day on the Island).

1919: Hotel rates are $6 per person.

1935: A radio salon where patrons can listen to Jack Benny and other popular programs is added.

1957: Michigan Historical Association selects Grand Hotel as a State Historical Building.

1980: Somewhere In Time, filmed at Grand Hotel and starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, is released (there are events at the hotel celebrating this very popular romantic movie. The next one is in October).

1989: The U.S. Department of Interior designates Grand Hotel a National Historic Landmark.

There are also 5 suites in the hotel named in honour of former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush.

Five U.S. Presidents — Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy, and Truman — have visited Grand Hotel.

Images of the Grand Hotel:

Grand Hotel and Golf Course, Mackinac Island, circa 1915.
Source: New York Social Diary

 

Grand Hotel Menu 1890 Mackinac Island
Source: Wikipedia

Postcard showcasing the famous porch from Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Vintage Postcard
Source: Pinterest
Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Historic Hotels

Interior of the Grand Hotel (it’s Fancy!):

The Dining Room

The dining room at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Source: Joeybls Photography

Sadies Ice Cream Parlor

Sadies Ice Cream Parlor Grand hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Grand Hotel

Woods Restaurant

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Historic Hotels

The Lobby

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Historic Hotels

Entrance to the grand ballroom…oh my…..

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Source: Joe Braun Photography

Some of the Hotel Rooms & Suites:

Grand Hotel Mackinac Islands Rooms
Source: Historic Hotels

Since the only vehicles allowed on the Island are emergency vehicles and in winter snowmobiles, the only way to reach the dock from the hotel is via horse-drawn Carriage.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island carriage
Source: Wikipedia

Now which famous swimmer from the 1940s & 50s has a tie to the hotel? That is…

Esther Williams in This Time For Keeps’, 1947:

On site there is a pool called the Esther Williams Swimming Pool (5000 gallons) . It was named this because she filmed the movie ‘This Time for Keeps’ with Jimmy Durante at this hotel.

Full image of the scale of this massive pool.

Esther Williams Swimming Pool Grand Hotel
Source: Style blue print

Visiting:

The hotel is only open between May & October, so if you would like to book just head to their website and begin the fun. And please take loads of photos!

Dear friends, would you visit the Grand Hotel? Or maybe you have? If so please tell me all about it.

Liz 🙂

P.S. Stay tuned for more “Vintage To-Do List” as this is a new series I’m starting.

Vintage Glamour-The Historic Royal York Hotel, Toronto Canada

This Sunday I am going for High Tea at the Beautiful and Historic Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

I have been to this hotel many times in my life (staying there a couple of times with my family before I moved to Toronto) and every time I’m blown away by its grandeur. It truly is a sight to see when visiting Toronto, a vintage lovers dream.

Royal York Hotel Vintage Toronto
Source: Wikipedia

History

The Royal York opened it’s doors on June 11, 1929. It was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth and quickly set the hospitality standard of the day. The magnificent hotel became known as a city within a city, rising in 28 floors of architectural splendor and replete with mechanical genius and opulence never before seen in Toronto.

It boasted 1,048 rooms – each with radios, private showers and bathtubs. The 1.5 acres of public rooms included a 12-bed hospital, 12,000-book library and ten ornate passenger elevators. The Concert Hall featured a full stage and mammoth pipe organ weighing 50 tons, which surpassed anything else in Canada with 300 miles of copper wire. There was a glass-enclosed roof garden, the largest hotel kitchen in Canada with a bakery that could produce over 15,000 French rolls a day, a 66-ft.long switchboard manned by 35 telephone operators, its own bank and golf course (now known as St. George Golf & Country) (Source).

1929 Royal York hotel Opening Ad
1929 Ad for the opening of the hotel. Source: AdClassix.com
1930s Royal York Hotel Toronto
The Hotel on Front Street, 1930s.   Source: Toronto Archives

Thank you to the Fairmont Royal York for finding this AMAZING sketch of the fashions wore during the opening Gala Ball on June 11, 1929.

I will take…all the outfits!

1929 vintage fashion images
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Vintage Image of the Lobby

Postcard Royal York Hotel Toronto

The Lobby Today..pretty similar.

Royal York Hotel-Toronto Lobby

Below is a sketch of the Royal York Hotel ballroom, clearly in the year that it opened from the outfits I see.

According to the Fairmont Royal York Pinterest Page:

When the Royal York hotel opened its doors on June 11, 1929, it brought about a new social era, attracting a true “who’s who” list of royalty, celebrities, dignitaries and leisure travellers to the city of Toronto. On opening night, the Royal York hosted four grand balls where guests dined and danced until the wee hours of the morning. It set a new standard in luxury, elegance and entertainment.

Royal York Hotel Toronto Ballroom Vintage Image
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The Ballroom looks exactly like it did when it first opened-Stunning!

Royal York Ballroom Toronto
Royal York Ballroom Toronto

The Hotel did everything top-notch. Look how stylish the Bartenders look in the 1940s?

I wonder what they are making, it looks delightful whatever it is.

Historic Royal york hotel 1940s Toronto
Source: Toronto Archives

What a Buffet! Can you see the Ice Sculpture Deer in the background? I love fun details like that.

1940s Royal York Hotel Toronto
Source: Toronto Archives

Image of the 66 foot long telephone switchboard that required 35 operators to run it.

Fairmont Royal York Telephone Switchboard Vintage Image
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Of course a hotel on this grand of scale also had to have amazing entertainment.

Quote from the Fairmont Royal York Pinterest Page:

The Imperial Room was once the most sought after show room in North America, when it opened in the hotel in 1929 it was the city’s newest and most elegant dining and dancing establishment. It defined the Toronto social scene as the meeting site of high society functions and big band shows. The stage of the Imperial Room has seen headlining acts such as Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Bob Hope.

Imperial Room Royal York Hotel toronto vintage image
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The early bands often were employed by hotels, and many bore their employers’ names, eg, in Montreal, the Windsor Hotel Orchestra and Andy Tipaldi and his Ritz-Carlton Orchestra. The largest hotels in Canada had successions of orchestras which, by the 1950s and 1960s, also came to be used as showbands to accompany individual performers. Leaders at the Royal York Hotel (Toronto) have included Charles Bodley, Fred Culley, Rex Battle, Don Romanelli, Billy Bissett, Horace Lapp, Stanley St. John,Moxie Whitney, and Howard Cable (Source).

The band below is clearly the house band of the Royal York as the signs say “RY”. What kind of music do you think they are playing if the first row is all Violins?

Royal York Hotel Toronto Vintage Images
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Guests from all walks of life stayed at the hotel, like Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly (swoon) and even….Queen Elizabeth II (seen below).

Queen Elizabeth the 2nd at the Royal York Hotel Toronto
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Here is an adorable image of an Ice Follies performer in the 1940s who was staying there. How cute is that outfit??

Royal York Hotel Toronto Canada Historic images
Source: Toronto Archives

Royal York also had various advertising campaigns over the years. Here are some great vintage ads.

I adore this cute early 1960s ad (I think) for their meeting rooms. Reminds me of a Mad Men episode.

vintage marketing ads for the royal york hotel toronto
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Looking to get married? The Royal York I will do the job nicely.

This ad is clearly from the same illustrator as above, love it.

Vintage Wedding at the Royal York Hotel Toronto
Source: The Fairmont Royal York

The Royal York has even hosted fun events like this Direct Broadcast party of the Grey Cup (superbowl of Canada) in November 1956.

royal york hotel Grey cup 1950s
Source: Toronto Archives

Complete with Marching Girls.

1956 Grey Cup in toronto Royal York Hotel
Source; Toronto Archives

Many clubs and companies hosted events at the Hotel over the years, like The Electric Club from the 1930s-50s. Who apparently liked their menus to have pretty girls in swimsuits on the front (and lassie).

vintage Electric Club Menu's for Fairmont Royal York - date ranging from 1937 - 1952
Source: Fairmont Royal York

After looking thru all these photos, reading stories on the Royal York I’m thrilled the Fairmont and Toronto has seen value in keeping it standing after all these years because this truly is a fantastic piece of Toronto History.

royal york hotel 1929 vintage image
Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

 

So Friends..have you been to the RY? Or do you have a favorite vintage hotel? Do Tell!

Liz 🙂