Recommended Reading : Hotel Mavens – A solid rating on the founders and history of one of old New York’s great hotels, and more…

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With the change in ownership and the re-purposing of one of America’s best known hotels, I am re-posting a review of a very different book than the others I have read by Stanley Turkel.   While it follows much of his same incredible attention to detail on the history of hotels (including a continuing commitment to accuracy) , this book focuses almost entirely on a very focused period of time, on a few people who made a difference in American hotel keeping and on one very famous hotel in the largest city in America.

1st of all, Turkel defines what a “maven” is, which is an expert who passes on knowledge to others. Turkel identifies three people he describes as mavens. While these are not household names to most people (even in the hospitality business), they played an important role in certain development of styles and protocols in American hotels
  1.  Lucius Boomer was chairman of the Waldorf-Astoria Corporation. Turkel explains in great detail about his noted career of managing or overseeing a number of major hotels in the northeast part of the USA from the early part of the 20th century through the 1940s.
  2. George Boldt is a lesser known, but important player in American hospitality and Turkel highlights the emphasis on service, grooming, standards and systems that Boldt introduced and maintained in his time (through 1916).
  3. Oscar Tschirky, or Oscar of the Waldorf as he was mainly known, is perhaps the best known of the three to the consumer or non-hotelier, as his tenure and flair at the famous hotel for a half century was well chronicled at the time and later via several food dishes named in his honor.

Turkel is an acknowledged authority on the history of New York City hotels, including both those that remain in existence today and those that have been converted or demolished. I considered it a sincere privilege to read and review Turkel’s earlier book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York , which was a fascinating read for anyone interested in history, building design and hospitality. The collection of historic properties that Turkel chose for that book featured 32 distinctively different properties. Some of them are well known such as the Plaza and the St Regis hotels, but most of them are less well known but just as interesting as they evolved from their original design and market positioning.Author Turkel was designated as the 2014 Historian of the Year National Trust for Historic Preservation and Historic Hotels of America in October, 2014 at their Awards Conference at the Hotel Hershey, Hershey, Pa. , for his zealous devotion to communicating the role of hotels in American business and life.

Hotel Mavens continues Turkel’s thorough sharing of this information through documented details about many well known American hotels – the Lenox in Boston, the Bellevue Stratford in Philadelphia, the Willard in Washington DC and many in New York City including the Claridge, the Sherry Netherland, the Plaza (briefly) and more. He explains how the Intercontinental Hotel Corporation came to be and how so many famous people and hotels came and went over a 50 year period.

In some places, this book is not always easy to read, and that is due to the evolution of language used 100 years ago that is included in this book.

There are diagrams and communications from the early Waldorf-Astoria days and a good number of black and white photos that bring the stories to life. He shares anecdotes and real-life stories that became standards in the industry, while others became dated and did not have staying power.

The section on “Staff News” about the original Waldorf-Astoria in February 1928 was written by hotel employees. Facts about the construction of the current Waldorf-Astoria were written by Lucius Boomer’s office in 1935 (three years after opening)

The Epilogue section of the book comes directly from the Waldorf-Astoria archives. As far as author Turkel knows, it has never been publicly reported before. Historically, it reveals unique material about the operation of the original and current Waldorf-Astoria hotels. For anyone interested in hotel operations from 85 years ago, it is chock full of revealing and fascinating material.

Hotel Mavens includes a good amount of material that is presented as and when it was written, which was sometimes a century ago. It refers to the attention given to foreign royalty and celebrities of the day at the Waldorf-Astoria and other hotels to the point of almost “drooling” over their importance. The condensed chronology from 1890-1929 includes information regarding the guests, famous and infamous who attended various functions at the hotel. One might think this dated, yet the social media and paparazzi of today do the same things with the names and faces in the news today.

The stories of how hotels were built, leased, sold, changed in function and more show how many of today’s business practices evolved.

I should also add an observation that in some places, the time line sequences do not flow easily to even a reader such as myself who is aware of at least some of the hotels’ histories or people. To someone who does not have a background in the industry, it might appear unintentionally vague or a bit confusing in places. Story lines and communication taken from the early days of the Waldorf-Astoria sometimes do not translate clearly in meaning as the language used today, which may cause a reader to be a bit puzzled at times.

Hotel Mavens is definitely worth reading and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the history of old New York, of how the hotel industry in America was influenced by big city hoteliers and investors and to anyone just interested in how life in New York City might have been before air travel, interstate highways, conventions, casinos and during Prohibition.

Good reading!

John J. Hogan CHA CHMS CHE CHO
Hospitality Educators
Hogan Hospitality

A solid rating on the founders & history of one of old New York’s great hotels, and how the hotel industry in America was influenced by big city hoteliers and investors
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About John J. Hogan

John J. Hogan, CHA CMHS CHE CHO[1] is a career hotelier, author and educator who has held senior leadership with responsibility in several organizations involving operational, academic and entrepreneurial enterprise. He has been affiliated in management roles with Sheraton, Hilton, Dunfey (now Omni), Park Suite (now Embassy Suites), Med Center Inns of America, Best Western world headquarters and independent properties. He taught as an adjunct professor for more than 20 years at 3 different colleges and conducted more than 5,000 classes and workshops in his career as of 2016.

He is Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of HospitalityEducators.com, which was founded in 2010 as a solutions center for hotel owners and managers.  HospitalityEducators.com   completely updated and has been facilitating the Certified Hotel Owners program for AAHOA since 2012, with a participant approval rating of over 97% and more than 1400 certifications to date.

As the principal of Hogan Hospitality, he has provided litigation support, hotel expert witness services and hotel owner support services. He holds a number of industry certifications and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands. He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations and as an elected Chair of a major brand Hotel Owners Council.

Specific new services, workshops and keynote topics can be found at johnjhogan.com, including

  • WHAT THEY DON’T TEACH YOU AT HOTEL SCHOOL
  • IT’S THE SIZE OF YOUR IDEA, NOT THE SIZE OF YOUR BUDGET
  • 2017 HOT TOPICS ON SAFETY, SECURITY AND LEGAL ISSUES FACING HOTEL OWNERS AND MANAGERS THIS YEAR
  • 15 TIMELESS STRATEGIES FOR TODAY’S LEADERS

 

He is currently working with his partner Kathleen Hogan and others on several new projects including the HOTELIERMASTERMIND series, an eBook series with Howard Feiertag on hotel sales, two new web sites and a fresh set of Keynote and Workshop programs, hospitality services and columns.

He writes regular columns for a number of global online services, has published 500 columns and 225 blogs for industry publications. He co-authored (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES as well co-authoring the Supervisory Skill Builders from the Educational Institute. Hogan’s professional experience includes over 43 years in operations, service, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis.

He has supported numerous industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity for more than 15 years. He served on the AH&LA Certification Commission of the Educational Institute and as brand liaison to the NAACP and AAHOA with his long term involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.

Contact: John Hogan John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.com                 602-799-5375

https://www.linkedin.com/in/drjohnhoganchache/

[1] Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), Certified Master Hotel Supplier (CMHS), Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE), Certified Hotel Owner (CHO)

 

Recommended Reading from HospitalityEducators.com| Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels In New York

“Over the past four years, I have reviewed roughly 100 books that have dealt substantially with business, hospitality, and professional development. ‘I must say here that is has been a sincere privilege to review Built to Last: 100 +plus Year-Old Hotels in New York by Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC. I found it a fascinating read and it should be for anyone interested in history, building design and hospitality.

100+ Year Old Hotels in New YorkWhile there are historic hotels in a number of states (Boston has its Parker House, Providence has its Biltmore, Charleston has its Francis Marion among others), there is a greater concentration of historic hotels in New York City that have made dramatic impacts on America than in likely any other single center.

The collection of historic properties that Turkel has chosen for this book features 32 distinctively different properties. Some of them are well known such as the Plaza and the St Regis hotels, but most of them are less well known but just as interesting as they evolved from their original design and market positioning.

In this review, I can mention only a few of the hotels that are featured, but the author has substantially researched all of them and has included original promotional material, detailed descriptions on the design and a reasonable number of photographs and/or drawings of some outstanding buildings.

Manhattan has the tendency to intimidate visitors, especially if they are from small cities and towns. I used to feel that way and books like this one can assist travelers in appreciating the uniqueness of Americas largest city.

In his introduction, Turkel indicated that these properties were built to last and many of them were pioneers in their own right and time. For example, a 2012 trend is womens only floors in hotels. In 1903, the Martha Washington Hotel (now the Thirty Thirty) became New York’s first women only hotel and the Aberdeen hotel followed in 1904 as the first transient hotel to admit unaccompanied women travelers.

The Algonquin Hotel lists a political, literary and entertainment Who Who list in the years since 1902 and has evolved to become part of the Autograph collection of Marriott.

Today we tend to think of mega hotels as being located in Orlando, Hawaii or Las Vegas. This book shows in great detail on how the Ansonia was designed to be the world’s largest resort hotel in 1904 and the hotel Saint George (built an 1885) became the nation’s largest in 1929 with 2623 rooms! These properties included every imaginable entertainment center option of the time.

Boutique hotels have become the range in the last 15-20 years, but they were essentially preceded as individual centers of excellence three generations ago.

The Chelsea hotel was built in 1884 and has hosted a range of literary artists including Mark Twain and Eugene O’Neill , actors from Stanley Kubrick to Jane Fonda, musicians from the Grateful Dead to Madonna and artists including Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Dozens of films and musical performances have been shot at this hotel.

The former Breslin hotel (built in 1904) originally served as a corporate hotel and evolved into an artist’s hang- out in the 1920s. Today, one will find it on Trip Advisor’s highly ranked list of trendy hotels with its new name, the Ace Hotel. Turkel includes the Knickerbocker Hotel which was built by the Astor Family (of the Waldorf: Astoria fame) and the Harvard Club, which today serves 11,000+ members as a private club.

On a personal note, we used a recommendation that was in an article written by Turkel several years ago and selected the Wolcott. When we stayed there two years ago, we found the oversized rooms and junior suites to be a NY bargain. The gracious lobby that included memorabilia from former mayor LaGuardia’s second inauguration hosted visitors from around the world. This hotel is in a central location near the Empire State building, the Garment District and Norman Vincent Peale’s Marble Collegiate Church.

This review is longer than many I have written because of the precise details included. It is easy to see in the fine points of this book that the author is passionate about NYC, well designed hotels and the hospitality business. His biography includes some of those experiences in New York Hotels and his attention to research makes this an excellent book.

I would recommend it for anyone interested in New York or hotels of this time frame. I will also recommended this as a university level resource for a discussion book in analyzing trends, design and hotel management practices. (www.stanleyturkel.com)

I have not yet read the author’s earlier book on industry pioneers, but look forward to doing so.

As always, feedback is welcome.
Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS
HospitalityEducators
Hogan Hospitality

Success does not come by accident or chance.

Contact us for assistance.

John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.com or 602-799-5375

HospitalityEducators.com was created to help hospitality businesses address problems via a training and information resource site to help you increase your Hotel’s revenue, market share and profitability.  With more than 1,000 pages of tips, guides, best practices, strategies, plans, budgets, videos and resources, HospitalityEducators.com is the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers.  This site can help you solve your problems now!      Read More  

KEYS TO SUCCESS  is the umbrella title for my 2011-2012 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™ , THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™  and Principles for Success.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com   anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense,


 

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of www.HospitalityEducators.com , which delivers focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.
www.HospitalityEducators.com  is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.

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