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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
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. Join the celebration with the Once in a Lifetime Centennial package including a limited-edition resort book and inclusion in the centennial time capsule. Rates from $199 per night, based on double occupancy. For reservations and information visit www.groveparkinn.com.
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. Patrons can attend the already sold-out choreographic interpretation of the original production of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, with a special package including: one night in a junior suite deluxe or superior suite with VIP welcome; American breakfasts; two box tickets with a cocktail in a private lounge during intermission; and supper for two at Le Relais Plaza. In the meantime, toast the hotel's centennial throughout the year with a fabulous Cocktail Harcourt Baccarat by legendary Bar Manager Thierry Hernandez. A centenary package priced at €2,013 (a nod to the year 2013) for a superior suite is also available from March 15 - May 23 which includes dinner at Le Relais Plaza, massage and treatments at the Dior Institut and a bottle of celebratory champagne. 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. Regular rates from €695 (approximately $942 USD). For reservations and information, call 800-650-1842 or visit www.plaza-athenee-paris.com.
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. Reservations in honor of the 100th anniversary of Gstaad Palace are now available, with rates from 720 CHF (approximately $772 USD). For reservations and information visit www.palace.ch.
Source: Hawkins International PR
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