How many of you have stayed in a luxurious 4 or 5 star hotel? Though pricey, these hotels offer the utmost in comfort and amenities to their guests. As I flip through Vacation Home Magazine, edited and partly written by my daughter Nikki (proud mama am I) I’m often amazed at the height of extravagance that the “other half” have at their fingertips.
Private suites, in-room saunas, terraces with private pools, huge flat screen TV’s, top of the line furnishings, astounding views, food prepared by top-class chefs, are all the norm. It’s expected. It’s expensive. It’s extravagant.
Since my Suite Secrets series begins this month with Five-Star Cowboy, I’ve been researching contemporary hotels and I got to wondering what was considered a top notch hotel in America during the 1800’s.
A LOOK BACK
The Crescent Hotel and Spa was known as the most distinctive and historic hotel in America in the late 1800’s. Set on 27 acres on the crest of West Mountain in Arkansas, the 78-room resort was built by Eureka Springs Improvement Company and the Frisco Railroad costing $294,000. As writers and readers and lovers of history know, that was an extraordinary amount of money in that day.
Chosen for its stunning location overlooking the valley, guests traveled far and wide hoping to cure their ailments and ease their pain from the “healing waters” of the Ozarks, at the spa.
When the hotel opened in 1886, Eureka Springs Times Echo, called it “America’s most luxurious resort hotel”. The grand opening included a gala ball, a full orchestra and a banquet dinner for 400 guests.
The hotel offered airy, spacious rooms, exquisite furnishings, a 500 capacity dining room as well as a swimming pool, tennis courts and croquet amid flower gardens and winding boardwalks. Guests could also enjoy the healing waters of the spa, afternoon teas, stables, and elaborate parties in the evening.
After the turn of the century, the hotel’s prosperity faded as people realized the healing waters of the area were disappointing at best. The waters didn’t have curing abilities as the hotel had vowed and guests stopped coming to the luxurious Crescent Hotel.
Crescent Hotel and Spa opened with grandeur.
The hotel became the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women.
After sitting abandoned for six years, the building opened as a junior college.
The hotel became the Baker Hospital known as a cancer hospital and health resort advertising miracle cures. Baker was later arrested for fraud, practicing medicine without a license, selling his miracle cures for more than $500,000 yearly through a mail service in Eureka Springs.
The hotel was purchased by a businessman, who had hoped to restore the place to its original elegance. The hotel changed hands for many years.
A fire swept through the hotel and destroyed much of the fourth floor and west wing.
The Roenigks began a 5 million dollar restoration, including a New Moon Spa with Vichy showers, a hydrotherapy tub and sauna, tanning beds and exercise equipment. The furnishings were all updated, the rooms renovated the landscaping, plumbing and electricity all redone.
AN ADDED AMENITY
Staff and guests alike tell stories of a number of ghosts who still inhabit the old hotel, from the original stonemason who fell to his death during the building of the hotel, to the butler who’d been spotted carrying a tray of butter down the hall, to a nurse pushing a patient in a gurney, from the old hospital days of the hotel’s history.
Today many visitors stay at the hotel hoping to see one of these apparitions who some claim still walk the halls.
So what’s the most extravagant hotel you’ve stayed at? Did you have Flat Screen TV in your bathroom? A pool just outside your door? Any hauntings to reveal?
Starting today, I’m running a fun hotel story
Blog Contest on my personal site. If you get a chance check it out and tell me your story!
And don’t forget to enter our Sizzling Summer Stampede of Prizes Contest here at Petticoats!
Happy Trails and Suite Dreams!
Click if you’d like to purchase.