The Crown Jewel of the National Park Hotels

Stephen T. Mather was the first Director of National Parks in the United States. He accepted the position in 1915 when there were only 16 national parks – today there are 58. Mr. Mather used the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley to propel the success of the entire National Park System. This is how it happened.

The Ahwahnee Hotel

Mather built the Ahwahnee Hotel in his favorite park in Yosemite, California in 1927. It was to be the Crown Jewel of National Park Hotels, and for a very good reason.

Interest the rich and benefit the masses

Stephen Mather wanted his Yosemite hotel to be a wilderness destination for the rich. Not because he wanted to cater only to the wealthy, but because he knew that if he could interest influential people in the National Park System, he could build better parks for everyone. His plan worked beautifully.

The Ahwahnee was built with the best of everything, from newly invented electricity to bathrooms in each guestroom, and an elaborate kitchen that would provide extraordinary dining to the hotel’s privileged guests.

Two electric elevators were installed and manned by staff operators.

Noise reducing plaster was applied to interior walls to assure that guests were not disturbed by the roar of nearby Yosemite falls.

The dining room

Dining was important to the wealthy, and in the Ahwahnee Hotel, the master architect Gilbert Underwood provided Mather with one of the most memorable grand dining rooms in the world.

The dining room stretches 130 feet from the elevator lobby toward Yosemite Falls and spans 51 feet from side to side. Its vaulted ceiling crowned with stripped pine rafters and trusses is 34 feet high.

Imagine the difficulty of trucking the dining room’s 11 plate glass windows that are 24 feet high on early California furrowed roads up to the building site of the Ahwahnee. One can only imagine how many windows were broken along the way. Consider also that once the windows arrived on site they had to be positioned without the aid of modern moving equipment – fascinating.

The great dining room timbers are huge bare pine columns that support a weighty truss ceiling. Unknown to the observer is that the pine columns are actually hollow concrete encased steel pillars. Once again, the genius of the architect is displayed. The rustic appearance of the dining room echoes the overall woodsy splendor of the plan. The immensity of this magnificent room dwarfs the 350 guests it can seat.

The dining room alcove – a magical place

Located at the far end of the dining room, the alcove appears as an add-on to the vast main room before it. It has one of the 24-foot high glass windows, and in this instance, the window provides a showcase for the Upper Yosemite Falls and makes for an unforgettable setting.

The alcove has hosted many historic events including a round table dinner with Queen Elizabeth and Price Phillip during their visit in 1983. The Queen and Prince hosted a small dinner in the alcove after attending services in the park’s historic little wooden chapel.

When not arranged for special events, there are a number of tables for two set up in the alcove. The window center table is often reserved by newlyweds. Your authors had the distinction and privilege of having dinner at that special honeymoon table on their wedding night many years ago.

As we did on that night, we have often thought about the destinies of the hundreds – perhaps thousands of newly married couples that toasted and celebrated their future at that very spot over the last 85 years.

The beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel is host to about 200 weddings per year. If you are planning a wedding – it is an incredible venue.

The Ahwahnee Hotel design theme

The Ahwahnee has a Native American theme, and the chosen decorators did a superb job of blending the furnishings with the overall character of the property. Much of the furniture at the Ahwahnee is original with only subtle changes in fabric and design made to please contemporary tastes.

The Ansel Adam years

When the stock market crashed in 1929, the number of visitors to the national parks dwindled, and the Ahwahnee fell on hard times.

The president of the Yosemite and Curry Company (YP&CC) decided that publicity would boost the Ahwahnee occupancy rate and he hired a young aspiring concert pianist, who was also a part-time photographer, to photograph and promote the hotel and the Yosemite experience. The young man’s name was Ansel Adams. The rest is history. His work, like that of John Muir will live as long as there is a Yosemite Valley.

Adams was in love with the beauty of Yosemite from an early age. He finally moved from San Francisco to Yosemite in 1937, and although he created visual masterpieces in other parts of the west, he remained intimately connected with the valley and the Ahwahnee Hotel for over 40 years. He retired in 1972 and died in 1982. He left behind a treasure trove of photographs of natural wonders.

The war years

The US Navy appropriated the Ahwahnee Hotel to be a convalescent hospital for sailors in June 1943. Before it was returned to the YP&CC in December of 1945, more than 6,700 patients had been treated at the Ahwahnee.

When the Navy vacated they left behind many buildings including a bowling alley, gymnasium, machine shop, pool hall, and foundry. The buildings were quickly dismantled and the salvage was put to good use in the valley.

Other changes through the years

The guest elevator was automated in 1963. A small swimming pool was added in 1964 in a non-obtrusive space next to the bar. Air conditioning was added, and all the windows in the guestrooms were replaced in 1976.

There was a golf course, but it was removed before 1980 in order to preserve the primordial nature of the surroundings. TVs made their first appearance in the guestrooms in 1989.

The Ahwahnee Hotel was put on the National Register of Historic Landmarks in 1977.

If you go

There are several entrances to Yosemite and you can choose your route to the park by looking at the Ahwahnee Hotel website.

As you drive through the park watch for signs to the Ahwahnee Hotel. A magnificent stone gateway at the entrance to the hotel lets you know you have arrived. Valet parking is always available, or you can self-park anywhere along the Sequoia lined parking area.

Happy travels.

Attention wine aficionados! The Ahwahnee is now taking reservations for the Vintner’s Holiday 2012. There will be eight sessions this year, the first one starts on November 4. Check the Ahwahnee Hotel website for more information about this exciting event.

A special thanks to Lisa Cesaro, of the DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, and Tami von Isakovics of Ellipses Public Relations for assisting us with information about the Ahwahnee Hotel and Yosemite Valley.

If you would like to read more detail about the Ahwahnee Hotel there are two short, but excellent books on the subject.. The Ahwahnee – Yosemite’s Grand Hotel, by Keith Walklet and The Ahwahnee – Yosemite’s Classic Hotel, by Shirley Sargent. Both books are available from Amazon.com.

Canada, Montreal – Motel and Hotel Packages

Montreal is a major center of the Canadian culture and the center of Quebec culture.It has numerous specialized museums including the MMFA or Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the MAC or Musee d’art contemporia, the Stewart Museum, the Redpath Museum, the Canadian Center for Architecture and the McCord Museum of Canadian History.

The Place des Arts cultural complex is home to the MAC and numerous theaters and the seat of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Montreal Opera.The Museum Quarter’s architectural and historical richness spilling over into the surrounding streets and creates special ambiance which leaves lasting impression on the visitors.

Montreal Hotel and Motel Packages

Le Westin Montreal is a 4-star hotel situated at 270 St.Antoine West in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.The hotel is just steps away from the cobblestone streets of the Old Montreal and the largest convention facility called the Palais des Congres.The Victoria Square, Christ Church Cathedral, Molson Stadium, Mont Royal Park, Centuar Theater and Bonsecour Market are also close by.

The property provides a restaurant, a full-service health spa, an indoor swimming pool and a spa tub.In addition to an indoor swimming pool and a pool, the hotel also provides a health club, a steam room and a sauna.It has conference and meeting facilities measuring about 4,000 square feet including meeting rooms and conference rooms for small groups.Other amenities include a business center, a fitness facility, a 24-hour front desk, express check-in and checkout, dry cleaning or laundry service and high-speed Internet connectivity.

It offers 454 spacious and well-appointed guestrooms in its 22-storey property.All guestrooms feature a Bose Wave music system, executive club lounge access, 32-inch LCD high-definition televisions, cordless speakerphones, executive working desk and wireless Internet access.For additional information, call them at 514-380-3333 or fax them at 514-380-3332.

Hotel Le Crystal is an all-suite luxury hotel situated within a kilometer away from the Old Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Bell Center.Other tourist sites near the hotel include the Molson Stadium, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Mont Royal Park, Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Center Eaton and Les Cours Mont-Royal.In addition to the 2 restaurants and 24-hour room service, the hotel features a 9,000-square-foot spa as well as a saltwater indoor swimming pool.The property also features a 24-hour front desk, business center, business services, dry cleaning or laundry service, multilingual staff, conference rooms and Internet connectivity in public areas.

All 311 suites at this hotel feature beds with satin duvets and pillow top mattresses as well as kitchenettes with espresso machines and microwaves.Other suite amenities include mini bar, LCD television, climate control, complimentary newspapers, multi-line phone with voice mail, desk, clock radio and high-speed Internet access.Pets are considered with a fee.

Park Hotel Orchard – Committed Towards Excellence

Singapore is one of the favorite tourist hubs. Travelers from all parts of the world come to Singapore either on a business or on a holiday trip. To ensure you a hassle- free stay in the city, there are many hotels in Singapore. Of these the Park Hotel Orchard is a good option for all types of guests. Park Hotel Orchard belongs to the Park group of hotels which is presently recognized as a brand in hospitality industry. You can experience quality service and traditional hospitality in the Park Hotel Orchard.

Travelers can choose from the wide range of rooms that are elegantly designed. If you are spending your honeymoon you can book a deluxe room for two of you. For business travelers there are special executive rooms and suites. All the rooms of the hotel have beautiful interiors. Every single room of the hotel offers a wide range of facilities like telephone, television, well equipped bathrooms and others. You can also pamper yourself by availing the in-room services that are offered round the clock.

Park Hotel Orchard stands at a very convenient point of Singapore. The well connectivity and the easy accessibility of the hotel make it one of the most popular hotels of the region. The main business and the entertainment center of Singapore are only a few minutes away from the hotel. During their leisure, guests can easily visit the nearby attractions. The prime location of the hotel is one of the main reasons for its popularity.

Park Hotel Orchard offers excellent dining facilities. The Dining Room which serves American Buffet Breakfast is a good place to celebrate any special occasions. Guests also love to try out the dishes served in the Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant. The Swensen’s American Restaurant is a good place to relish continental, American and Asian dishes. You can also sit with a glass of wine and indulge in a conversation with your friends and colleagues in the Rose Piano and Wine Bar.

Conducting a meeting in Singapore Park Hotel Orchard is a pleasure for all. The hotel offers excellent banquet facilities to all its guests. There are persons to tailor all types of big and small business meetings. The business center of the Park Hotel Orchard in Singapore offers innumerable range of services like secretarial services, courier services and others.

After an exhausted day of meeting, guests can take a refreshing bath in the swimming pool of the hotel. You can also work out in the gymnasium which houses a wide range of fitness equipments. There is also a corporate lounge where you can sit and relax.

Valencia Is a City With a Bright and Colourful Future

Valencia is Spain´s third biggest city after its rivals Barcelona and Madrid. Valencia city offers the same as its counterparts in terms of great restaurants and tapas bars, excellent transport systems and quality hotels but at a much cheaper price.

Valencia tends to get overlooked, although it’s a definite contender in comparison to its rivals, Barcelona and Madrid. There are 800,000 people living in the historical centre, 1.5 million living within the city itself and 2.5 million living within its metropolitan area.

In our opinion it is better than Madrid or Barcelona as it has more to offer than you would ever believe, scratch the surface and you´ll find out. After living in this beautiful place for over thirteen years we know the secret to its growing success.

To start with, Valencia has a wonderful climate and with over 22,000 hours of sun on average every year, it is easy to see why so many Europeans come to live here. The sunshine makes such a difference to your day, although many of us take the sun for granted, it has a positive impact on your wellbeing.

With three beaches within walking distance of the city centre: Las Arenas, Malvarrosa and El Cabañal. The restaurants and tapas bars along the promenades offer the best rice dishes like paellas, all cooked in the traditional way over a fire. There is a huge choice of seafood and a variety of trendy cocktail bars and restaurants to sit, relax and take in all the sights.

If your prefer to eat in the city centre, you can take the 45 minute walk or the 20 minute metro ride into the city. The centre is steeped in history starting with the cathedral that dates back to 1262. If you wish to climb the 207 steps up to the top of the Micalet, your reward for doing so is the best panoramic views of the city.

Valencia’s rich history is evident everywhere, you just have to know where to look. The Torres de Serranos in the north of the city are still standing today although they were built between 1392 and 1398 and restored between 1893 and 1914. They are evidence of Valencia’s huge castle wall that was constructed 1,000 years ago to deter the armies of other invaders.

Despite it’s rich and colourful history, Valencia has many modern areas, just take a look at the City of Arts and Sciences, home to a host of amazing buildings including Europe’s biggest aquarium: The Oceanografic, the Science Museum, the 3D IMAX cinema: the Hemisferic, the concert hall that houses Valencia’s orchestra: The Palau de les Artes. Scratch the surface and there´s a lot more to discover!

Valencia is a city of growth and expansion and here’s to its bright and colourful future. Valencia community has so much to offer, it really is a beautiful place to live with a beautiful culture to match, so we hope to see you here house hunting very soon.