There is something great about a brand that does not stick to its brand. Particularly industrial companies that go into the business of resorts. Modern management theory HATES this sort of thing, but they are wrong.
Brands that do not stick to their brands are MORE interesting. They have depth. And there is no more interesting spin off for a brand than a luxury hotel. It makes boring, commodity things interesting. Commodity things like toilets, railroads and such.
The old days, when the United Fruit Company owned great resorts in Guatemala, were at least interesting (though not so much fun if you were choppin’ those bananas with machetes). But back to the subject, this great category of American resorts, Industrial Company Trophy Hotels.
But perhaps “trophy” is the wrong word, as trophy implies that they only have worth for status. How about Great Industrial Company Flagship Hotels.
Some great “Industrial Company Trophy Hotels”
The Hershey Hotel: This is all very Willy Wonka, except that it is absolutely real. Visit the hotel in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Stop in the park. Play some golf. Sit on the porch. See a fake factory tour (do they still have it?) or you can just rest up at the hotel spa. It is the hotel’s 75th anniversary. The Hotel Hershey, 100 Hotel Road • Hershey, PA, 717- 533-2171
Hotel duPont: A chemical company? And a hotel? Very good brand chemistry. The hotel is the soul of that lovely city of Wilmington, Delaware. Hotel duPont, 11th and Market Streets, Wilmington, DE, 800-441-9019
The Kohler Hotel. Imagine an industrial company that makes toilets and bidets and engines running a resort. And why not? This Wisconsin resort is stylish, and helps keep Kohler in the minds of its customers, which are middle aged men who buy industrial supplies and plumbing parts. Plus, it makes some money. Kohler, Wisconsin, 800-344-2838.
The Greenbrier: That the CSX, the initials being Chessie Seaboard Combined, railroad still owns this West Virginia resort is nothing short of a miracle. The company tried to sell it in a fit of madness in the 1980s, but stockholders rightly threw a fit and the hotel, and its parent company CSX, are still one company. Other railroads ought to get back in the business. Note: CSX also runs club dining rooms, including Boca Bay in Boca Grande, Florida. The Greenbrier, 300 W. Main St., White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, 800-453-4858. (Note: all you have to do is click on the webshot of The Greenbrier in this post, make a reservation, stay at the hotel, and not only will you be renewed by a great vacation, your faith in American industry and hospitality will be restored completely.)
Castle & Cook: The Dole pineapple people of Hawaii are connected to great resorts like Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele and the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay. Castle & Cooke also own a self-storage facility. Way fun. While in Hawaii, visit the Dole Plantation, and learn all about pineapples and the history of this paradise state. One Manele Bay Road, P.O. Box 631380, Lana’i City, Hawaii, 808-565-2000.