Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Old Historical Hotels

Sometimes as we've toured around the country we have stayed in old historic hotels. I can think of three or four that were at one time elegant hotels and then got a bit rough around the edges. It was fun imagining the former glory and it was fun staying in them for relatively inexpensive prices. Some have closed, some have been restored (but of course now have to charge a lot more). One was in Hot Springs South Dakota, one was in Lexington Kentucky, one was the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado. The Stanley had some difficulty finding financing for needed renovations. I think that since we stayed there, it got its funding and is now a luxury destination.

Other historic hotels have been maintained all along. The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island comes to mind. We were recently in central Indiana and learned of (but did not have a chance to visit) the French Lick area and it's history as a destination then subsequent decline and more recent restoration. It seems one of the historic hotels there icludes a casino, which likely helped fund the restoration.

Out west, the old lodges at the national parks have remained popular destinations, despite the level of maintenance which can be spotty. Regardless of some deferred maintenance, they're still great places to stay. Old Faithful Lodge is a favorite or ours.

Maybe what makes some of these historic hotels special is that so many cool hotels burned in the old days when town fires were common (more open flames for lighting and heating, and less fire fighting prevention and fire fighting technology). Here in the Sault there was a large hotel with a classic extensive porch, but it burned to the ground. Too bad. Maybe it could now have been a great historically themed destination.

It must be tough to make a go of it as an old historic hotel. It's so much easier to be a national chain on the freeway interchange. I admit that I've stayed in more of them as we travel across the country, but if we have an opportunity, we'll look for an old hotel with more character and especially if it isn't a luxury hotel. Do the luxury hotels reflect the local scene or are they isolated enclaves?

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