Posts tagged “Resort Communities

Hotel Veranda as Celebrity Stage

Posted on June 13, 2012

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the sweeping verandas of America’s foremost resort hotels served as veritable stages across which the nation’s well-to-do promenaded. As historian Jon Sterngass observed in his book First Resorts, such spaces offered perfect places “to see and be seen,” even as resorts like Saratoga attracted a broader and broader swath of American society. In Saratoga, the “celebrities” of the day literally strode high above passersby on the Broadway sidewalk below as if enacting a tableau. The United States Hotel, along with Congress Hall and the Grand Union Hotel, was one of the great elite resort hotels of the Western Hemisphere in the 19th century. Originally built in 1824, the United States Hotel (like many wooden hotels) went up…

Mackinac’s West Bluff, Then and Now

Posted on June 7, 2012

When it opened 125 years ago, Grand Hotel raised the profile of Mackinac Island. Already noted as a place of refined respite from the sooty industrial cities of the Great Lakes region, this small, scenic island in Lake Huron soon drew industrialists from around the Midwest. They built fine “cottages” (really large mansions) on the high bluffs adjacent to the hotel to be near the social whirl it afforded. The cottages on West Bluff in the old photo above are finely maintained as summer homes to this day (see below).

Building the Best Seaside Towns

Posted on May 17, 2012

Coastal Living recently revealed its list of the top 15 “Happiest Seaside Towns” in America. It is perhaps no surprise that the two communities atop the list – #1 Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and #2 Naples, Florida – reflect many years of careful planning as tourist destinations. In both places, a series of development companies with stringent regulations created and sustained compelling visions for these seaside communities. On Kiawah, following years in the hands of lumber interests in the middle years of the twentieth century, the still well-forested barrier island entered the hands of a Saudi Arabian oil company in the 1970s as an almost blank slate. The company drew on the talents of Charles Fraser, who as American Tourism contributor James Tuten details, carefully…

From Grand to Grand

Posted on May 14, 2012

Today I had an exciting opportunity to present alongside Dan Musser III, owner of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan, who was in town for a power networking workshop at Berea High School in Berea, Ohio, followed by “From Grand to Grand,” a tea luncheon at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Olmsted Falls. Following my presentation on Mackinac Island tourism, Mr. Musser told the story of Grand Hotel and how his family has been associated with the summer resort since 1919. Grand Hotel, which opened in 1887, elevated the stature of Mackinac Island, making it the preeminent Great Lakes summer resort. Built in an astounding 93 days by crews working three shifts around the clock, the white-pine hotel became distinguished for its 626-foot-long…

5th Ave. to Worth Ave. to 5th Ave. South

Posted on May 13, 2012

This 1946 scene of Palm Beach, Florida, shows the resort town’s main retail street, Worth Avenue. Sometimes called the “Fifth Avenue of the South,” the street became home to many upscale retailers. Worth Avenue in turn offered a fitting model for a later Mediterranean-themed makeover of Naples, Florida’s Fifth Avenue South, where a similarly affluent northern tourist clientele wintered.

Little Aspen of the Blue Ridge

Posted on May 3, 2012

As leaders in tony Highlands, North Carolina, look around the southern Appalachians, they find examples aplenty of tourist destinations that have struggled to define an image to match their beautiful surroundings. As the Smoky Mountain News reported yesterday, several towns in western North Carolina have labored to find slogans to brand themselves to appeal to a wide range of potential visitors without becoming so imprecise as to lose a coherent message. Some have had to rebrand themselves as their offerings have evolved. In Cherokee on the eastern fringe of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, casino gambling as eclipsed even the town’s cultivated reputation as a place to encounter Native Americans. Highlands’ slogan “Above It All” refers to its especially lofty elevation of 4,118 feet…

An Annual Contribution of Adoring Camera Work for Hilton Head

Posted on April 16, 2012

This weekend the PGA Tour made its annual post-Masters stop on Hilton Head Island for the RBC Heritage Tournament. Nothing has done more to market the resort island than the Heritage, which began Thanksgiving weekend 1969 with a fortuitous win by Arnold Palmer. At that time Hilton Head had barely begun its career as a resort after a first career as sea island cotton plantations and a hundred years as a residential island for former slaves and their descendants. The 2012 coverage of the RBC Heritage on the Golf Channel and CBS Sports offers up a full-color advertisement of what Hilton Head has to offer. During voiceovers going into and out of commercials, the producers deliver corporate blimp aerial shots of Calibogue Sound and…

Controlled Charm in Aspen

Posted on April 10, 2012

Much as old canneries connote Monterey and colonial townhouses bespeak Charleston style, a Victorian-era Main Street set against a stunning Rocky Mountain backdrop defines a sense of place in Aspen, Colorado. With the growing popularity of tourist destinations comes an uneasy tension between developing and preserving. Aspen’s current battle revolves around the town’s effort to preserve its small-town scale by returning to tougher regulation of building heights. As the Aspen Times reported today, however, the city council’s recent move to tighten its building code seemingly prompted a flurry of developers filing permits to beat the planned change, which in turn forced the council to reconsider. The mayor, nonetheless, followed up the decision with a telling remark crediting the “vitality” of downtown Aspen to regulatory…