NORTH HOLLYWOOD – This week, we got a press release from the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. It is proof that franchised chains like Holiday Inn can encourage diversity within their system, yet preserve their Holiday Inn-ness.
Now, you should know that I am a big Holiday Inn fan, and have been since I was a kid, when some of the restaurants had special kids menus printed on pirate hats. That’s why I’ve written here about things like the greatness of the Holidome, the stupidness of changing the font and such. I will put up with a very mediocre Holiday Inn, just for the experience of being in a Holiday Inn, though I have to admit the chain has tested me in recent years by its inconsistent service and frustrating ignorance of its largest asset, its brand. (They are opening a new Holiday Inn mega-resort in Lake Buena Vista, at Disney. Good news.)
There were once all sorts of special Holiday Inns with a sub-theme. One of the more interesting was the Holiday Inn 1776, which was in Williamsburg. Done with a Bicentennial spirit, it was built on a sprawling campus just outside of the restored area. While a fascinating concept, the dormers have an ill shape to them, which makes it look a bit off. It has changed franchises, now a Ramada, but still exists. The Holiday Inn Chattanooga Choo-Choo, now affiliated with Historic Hotels of America, was one of the wildest Holiday Inn experiments. It was built inside a train station.
Holiday Inn makes no mention of the vintage of their hotels. They try to hide the history of them, when they get old. But that is a bad idea. Hotel guests care only if their hotels are well maintained, if the paint is fresh, and the carpeting is new. If the interior is fresh, the staff is friendly and the food is good, it is a successful Holiday Inn. Age has little to do with the equation, as hotels need to get “scraped” down to new interiors every few years anyway. You can, however, find the vintage old style motels by seeing if they have exterior corridors. Sadly, few of the original great signs survive except in museums.
Thankfully, still, there are sub-themed Holiday Inns, ones that carve their own identity yet adhere to the brand.
- The Beverly Garland was built in 1972 by Fillmore Crank for his wife, well-known Hollywood actress Beverly Garland. The Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, designed to evoke Hollywood glamour, is nestled on seven lush acres that Beverly’s husband purchased from Gene Autry. The hotel is not the old Holiday Inn style (two-story building around pool” or the new one, which is a four-story interior corridor hotel, but its own design. It has a sort of California Mission and Spanish Hacienda style, and each guest room and executive suite includes private balconies overlooking Hollywood’s Santa Monica and Verdugo mountains. In addition to the pool and fitness center, amenities include tennis courts, a children’s playground, Tula’s California Café and Decoy Lounge. The Beverly Garland Holiday Inn is located at 4222 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, California, 91602. It is still family owned. Call 1-800-BEVERLY or visit beverlygarland.com.
- Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach: This Holiday Inn is special because the Apollo astronauts stayed there during the moon shots. Even Walter Cronkite and CBS producer Don Hewitt stayed there. It is a rather special place because it is next to I Dream of Jeannie Drive.
- Holiday Inn International Drive: This Orlando hotel had a part owner in John Glenn. It is massive, though the interior atrium makes me dizzy it is so big. It was developed by the legendary Henry Landwirth, who managed the Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach. Landwirth, a Holocaust survivor, is now known for the charity he helped start, Give Kids the World.
- Holiday Inn Midtown: This Holiday Inn in New York is on West 57th Street in Manhattan. It’s a bit off the main drag, but what is so wonderful about it is the rooftop pool, and the fact that you can drive a car inside it.
- Holiday Inn Sarajevo: This place is special, not only because it is so funky looking, but because it survived the siege. It was a relic of the 1984 Olympics, but was nearly destroyed during the Yugoslavian war. Thankfully, the brand saw fit to keep its association when the city was rebuilt.
- Holiday Inn University of Memphis: This hotel is owned by the children of Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn. It doesn’t look like the Holiday Inns of old, but it has the family spirit, and is worth a stay while in Memphis.