A history of the founders of the hotel industry provides an opportunity to reflect upon our heritage. Learning about the founding giants such as Statler, Hilton, Marriott, Wilson, and Schultz, to name a few, allows a student of the hotel industry to discover the interesting lineage of hoteliers. The insights afforded by the efforts of these innovators who carved out the modern hotel industry may help future professionals with their own career planning.
E. M. Statler
To begin to understand the history of the modern hotel industry, let’s look at some of the fore runners in the industry who were entrepreneurs motivated by wealth and fame on a grand scale. 1 Ellsworth M. Statler (1863 – 1928) developed the chain of hotels that were known as Statlers. He built and operated a hotel in Buffalo, New York, at the Pan - American Exposition of 1901. Among his hotels were ones located in Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, New York City, and St. Louis. In 1954, he sold the Statler chain of hotels to
Conrad Hilton. Statler devised a scheme to open an incredible two - story, rectangular wood structure that would contain 2,084 rooms and accommodate 5,000 guests. It was to be a temporary structure, covered with a thin layer of plaster to make it appear substantial, although simple to tear down after the fair closed.
Conrad Hilton (1887 – 1979) became a successful hotelier after World War I, when he purchased several properties in Texas during its oil boom. In 1919, he bought the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas. In 1925, he built the Hilton Hotel in Dallas, Texas. His acquisitions during and after World War II included the 3,000 - room Stevens Hotel (now the Chicago Hilton) and the Palmer House in Chicago and the Plaza and Waldorf - Astoriain New York City. In 1946, he formed the Hilton Hotels Corporation, and in 1948, he formed the Hilton International Company, which came to number more than 125 hotels.
With the purchase of the Statler chain in 1954, Hilton created the first major chain of modern American hotels, that is, a group of hotels all of which follow standard operating procedures such as marketing, reservations, quality of service, food and beverage operations, housekeeping, and accounting. Hilton Hotels have expanded their entrepreneur ship to include Hilton Garden Inns, Double tree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns, Harrison Conference Centers, Home wood Suites by Hilton, Red Lion Hotels and Inns, and Conrad International.
Cesar Ritz was a hotelier at the Grand National Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland. Because of his management abilities, “the hotel became one of the most popular in Europe and Cesar Ritz became one of the most respected hoteliers in Europe.”
William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV
In 1893, William Waldorf Astor launched the 13 - story Waldorf Hotel at Fifth Avenue near Thirty - fourth Street in New York City. The Waldorf was the embodiment of Astor’s vision of a New York hostelry that would appeal to his wealthy friends by combining the opulence of a European mansion with the warmth and homey qualities of a private residence.
Four years later, the Waldorf was joined by the 17 - story Astoria Hotel, erected on an adjacent site by William Waldorf Astor’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV. The cousins built a corridor that connected the two hotels, which became known by a single hyphenated name, the Waldorf - Astoria.
In 1929, after decades of hosting distinguished visitors from around the world, the Waldorf - Astoria closed its doors to make room for the Empire State Building. The 2,200 - room, 42 - floor Waldorf - Astoria Hotel was rebuilt on its current site at Park and Lexington avenues between Forty - ninth and Fiftieth streets.
Upon the hotel’s opening, President Herbert Hoover delivered a message of congratulations. It is interesting to note that President Hoover became a permanent resident of the Waldorf Towers, the luxurious “hotel within a hotel” that occupies the twenty - eighth through the forty second floors. The hotel was purchased in 1949 by Conrad N. Hilton, who then purchased the land it stood on in 1977. In 1988, the hotel under went a $150 million restoration. It was designated a New York City landmark in January 1993.
Kemmons Wilson started the Holiday Inn chain in the early 1950s, opening his first Holiday Inn in Memphis, Tennessee. He wanted to build a chain of hotels for the traveling family and later expanded his marketing plan to include business travelers. His accomplishments in real estate development coupled with his hotel management skills proved to be a very successful combination for Wilson.
Wilson blazed a formidable path, innovating all along the way with amenities and high - rise architecture, including a highly successful round building concept featuring highly functional pie - shaped rooms.Wilson also introduced the unique in - house Holidex central - reservation system that set the standard for the industry for both the volume of business it produced and the important by product data it generated (allowing it, for example, to determine feasibility for new locations with cunning accuracy).
J. W. Marriott and J. W. Marriott Jr.
J. W. Marriott (1900 – 1985) founded his hotel empire in 1957 with the Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Hotel in Virginia (Washington, D.C., area). Marriott Hotels and Resorts had grown to include Courtyard by Marriott and American Resorts Group at the time of J. W. Marriott’s death in 1985, at which time J. W. Marriott Jr. acquired Howard Johnson Company; he sold the hotels to Prime Motor Inns and kept 350 restaurants and 68 turn pike units.
In 1987, Marriott completed expansion of its Worldwide Reservation Center in Omaha, Nebraska, making it the largest single - site reservations operation in U.S. hotel history. Also in 1987, Marriott acquired the Residence Inn Company, an all suite hotel chain targeted toward extended - stay travelers. With the introduction of limited - service hotels - hotels built with guest room accommodations and limited food service and meeting space - Marriott entered the economy lodging segment, opening the first Fair field Inn in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1987.
Ernest Henderson and Robert Moore
Ernest Henderson and Robert Moore started the Sheraton chain in 1937, when they acquired their first hotel - the Stone haven - in Spring field, Massachusetts. Within two years, they purchased three hotels in Boston and, before long, expanded their holdings to include properties from Maine to Florida. At the end of its first decade, Sheraton was the first hotel chain to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1968, Sheraton was acquired by ITT Corporation as a wholly owned subsidiary, and ambitious development plans were put into place to create a truly global network of properties. In the 1980s, under the leadership of John Kapiolt as, Sheraton’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer, the company received international recognition as an industry innovator. The Sheraton chain is currently owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
In the early 1980s, Ray Schultz founded the Hampton Inn hotels, which was a company in the Holiday Inn Corporation. This type of hotel was tagged as limited - service, meeting the needs of cost - conscious business travelers and pleasure travelers alike. His pioneering efforts in developing a product and service for these market segments have proved to be a remarkable contribution to the history of the hotel industry.