June 1 1990 by Amaid Josef Finkelthal
Hernando Courtright, former Beverly Wilshire owner and CEO, was renowned for the way he treated royalty in the suites of his hotel in
It used to take hoteliers years to build the classy reputation that inspires such legends, but today’s hotel mavericks are creating suites destined to be a legend from the moment the hotel opens its doors. Take the new Crystal Palace Resort & Casino in Nassau, the Bahamas, for example: The $1.3 million Galactic Fantasy Suite has a pair of Starship Enterprise-style doors that automatically slide open as people approach, and a resident robot named Ursula, who walks (well, glides), talks, and dispenses everything from towels to champagne glasses. The walls of the 2,350-squarefoot Barbarella-like suite are sheathed in stainless steel, Lucite and mirrors, and there are four neon columns that pulse in rhythm to your body heat-a beat that may quicken when you consider it costs $25,000 a night (no kidding) to stay there. But where else would you find a robot who coos in her artificial voice, “Won’t you please join me in the Great Room for a Dom PÃ©rignon?”
The high rollers who play Carnival’s casino may be willing to pay the steep price, but elsewhere, hotel owners are trying to keep suite costs down to avoid embarrassing situations like the one at New York’s Carlyle hotel, which had to evict King Peter of Yugoslavia when he ran out of money. The reclusive monarch apparently lost touch with reality while holed up in his suite. Complained former Carlyle president George Markham, “I wish the king had done something prudent, such as endorse a product.” Not all guests skip out on their bills. Howard Hughes spent 25 years in a
Khrushchev’s snacking turned into quite a nuisance for his security people. Intelligence reports (or perhaps just paranoia) led them to worry about cobalt poisoning. Their solution was “Operation Geiger Counter”-a radiological survey of all rooms in the Russians’ 80-room block, plus an analysis of all of Khrushchev’s food and beverages.
Hotels today avoid security breaches by putting CEOs in fortress-like “Presidential Suites,” often used by visiting heads of state. One such suite at
High style and high security go hand-in-hand at many European hotels such as the Villa Magna in
The adjoining Band Wagon Bedroom has a wider than king-size bed made from an old bandwagon, complete with wheels. But the piece de rÃ©sistance is the 4,860-square-foot Mini-Dome recreation room-a miniature replica of the Astrodome, complete with baseball diamond, working scoreboard, lounges and wet bar.
Some hotels spend millions on interior design trying to recreate an “original” suite or make the guest feel like they’re part of the environment.
Many hotels encourage guests to air their criticisms, so as to avoid incidents like the one in which radio personality Arthur Godfrey took a bite out of a peach from his fruit basket, discovered it wasn’t ripe, and threw it out the window of his suite at
When today’s hotel guests have a complaint, they can simply pick up a phone and call the concierge. But if you happen to be staying at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, you can complain to an even higher authority: the top suite has a hot-line to the White House.