When hotels are tour destinations in and of themselves, you know you’ve stumbled upon a historic place, and the West is full of them.
The following six properties mix the old with the new, and do so in style. From National Historic Landmarks to venues that have welcomed decades of U.S. Presidents, historic properties sparkle with West Coast tradition and glam.
HOTEL DEL CORONADO
For a hotel that is over 120 years old, the Hotel del Coronado (619.435.6611)—outside of San Diego—has a surprisingly active Facebook page. A quick scan of the posts and comments about the hotel, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark, reflects the huge number of people who feel tied to the iconic hotel and have cherished memories of stays there.
“Our page is full of charming stories,” says Barry Brown, the Del’s director of sales and marketing. “People are connected to the property and that is what brings the resort to life.”
Social media allows guests and their families to extend their trip and share it with others, enhancing their memories and experience, and planners can do the same thing with groups.
“There is a great amount of charm that goes with meeting in a historical destination,” Brown says. “It is a big draw and groups often see high attendance.
“We arm planners with the public relations stories to help them promote and set the tone of the meeting,” he adds. “They can leverage the history a great deal.”
The Hotel Del’s historian can lead historic tours for groups, from 15 minutes to three hours long, depending on interest and schedules.
Brown says despite the hotel’s number of years in business, it features state-of-the-art technology and AV equipment.
“We have worked diligently to modernize,” he says.
In fact, The Hotel Del recently unveiled a new way-finding system and digital signage package to help guests navigate its 679 guest rooms and 65,000 square feet of meeting space.
THE BROWN PALACE
The Denver hotel market is saturated with modern properties, giving the 114-year-old Brown Palace (303.297.3111) the unique value proposition of allowing visitors to step back in time.
The 241-room hotel opened in 1892 and has never stopped operation—though it has continuously been upgraded and refurbished. It offers groups modern accommodations combined with unique meeting spaces that boast ornate decorations, big windows and even fireplaces.
“Part of the challenge of a historic hotel is doing different things and appealing to different generations,” says Mark Shine, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.
But The Brown Palace has met that challenge creatively with six dining outlets and special touches ranging from a martini cart and rooftop honeybee hives—four colonies produce honey used in afternoon tea—to spa treatments and locally brewed specialty beers at nearby Wynkoop Brewery, an original small-batch brewery.
Still, hotel officials realize that attendees want to get out and experience the city, so excursion packages that incorporate the local Denver area are available to groups staying at the property.
This spring, a new package will be available for meetings booked between May and September that will allow groups to get out and experience the city. Called Denver Experiences, the package includes Introduction to Cigars in Churchills—the hotel’s high-profile cigar bar—a scavenger hunt around 16th street and a visit to Wynkoop Brewing Company.
CAVALLO POINT: THE LODGE AT GOLDEN GATE
Looking out towards expansive views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay, Cavallo Point (415.339.4700) sits atop Fort Baker, which formerly housed army regiments. The hotel offers some accommodations in restored officers’ quarters.
Construction began on the Fort in 1901, well before the Golden Gate was even built, and the lodge has seamlessly integrated the area’s history with modern environmental practices and architecture. Cavallo Point’s location in Sausalito, on the northern side of the San Francisco Bay, lends it a serene, retreat-like environment.
“Groups appreciate the fact that all the meeting spaces have windows, gazing out at the Golden Gate or the Marin Headlands, lending the property a real sense of place,” says Zeena Fakoury, director of sales. “Our motto is ‘close to everything but away from it all.’”
After an extensive $110 million renovation, that transformed the former barracks, the lodge opened in 2008.
“For groups that have already travelled to San Francisco extensively, it’s something new,” Fakoury says.
The renovation stayed true to historic details, down to the banisters and punched-in ceiling patterns. The restaurant and function space are in historic buildings, and the entire property has a warm, intimate feel.
After old photos of the fort revealed two of the main buildings formerly had balconies, they were replaced, allowing the meeting space to extend outwards onto wide, covered balconies that can host outdoor events.
The meeting spaces, totaling 14,000 square feet, are named after endangered species indigenous to the area. Groups can arrange for cooking classes or historic tours with national park rangers.
THE MISSION INN
The Mission Inn (951.784.0300) opened in 1876 as a 12-room adobe boarding house that sprung up around the profitable citrus industry of inland Southern California. The first wing opened in 1903 and it was completed in 1931 following the addition of three more wings.
Now featuring 238 rooms and suites, the Mission Inn has retained its distinctive architectural features, including flying buttresses, wood-beamed ceilings, stained-glass windows, a bell tower, interior courtyards, fountains, private patios and an open-air rotunda staircase. Meeting spaces are designed in the same turn-of-the-century style.
“The Mission Inn has over a century of history; it’s very inspiring,” says General Manager Diana Rosure. “My favorite part of the property is that everywhere I turn, I still find new art and pieces I haven’t already looked at before.”
Located in downtown Riverside, the Mission Inn was closed due to financial constraints from 1985 to 1992; this year it is celebrating 20 years since the re-opening. Its downtown location allows groups to go antiquing right across the street.
On property, The Spanish Art Gallery houses more than 100 paintings and other priceless artifacts while the Tuscan-inspired spa includes a eucalyptus steam room.
Groups are very important to the property, and from conventions to corporations they are welcomed with 20,000 square feet of meeting space and four on-property restaurants.
Built in 1929 and set on 39 acres of luxury and grandeur, the Arizona Biltmore (602.955.6600) is one of the only hotels in the world to have been influenced by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who consulted on the project.
“Phoenix and Scottsdale have some very distinctive venues, and while some hotel brands are in every city in the entire world, there is only one Arizona Biltmore,” says Alex Moro, director of sales.
Even the hotel’s ballrooms are unique, boasting gold leaf ceilings, custom tapestries inspired by the city of Phoenix and custom-designed furniture.
“You won’t see [these features] elsewhere,” Moro says.
The resort offers 740 guest rooms, 78 villas, eight swimming pools, seven tennis courts, five dining options and 100,000 square feet of meeting space. A nearby outdoor mall provides high-end shopping and dining.
The Biltmore has weathered both the Great Depression and Prohibition; events which now serve as inspiration for themed events at the property.