Hotel history: The art of hospitality
Fanciful prediction; “turnpike;” pineapple as hospitality; Hokusai, the Japanese printmaker – examples of ways hospitality plays into hotels.
What is the art of hospitality? Fanciful prediction; definition of “turnpike;” the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality; Hokusai, the great Japanese printmaker – these are all examples of the myriad ways hospitality plays into hotels. Let’s take a look at each one.
In the September 1912 issue of American Homes & Gardens, futurist Harold D. Eberlein presented his predictions of the impact of air travel on American cities. Eberlein foresaw a proliferation of roof gardens on top of large hotels to provide pleasing views for guests. He also predicted that travelers could expect to find “clerks and bellboys posted on the top floor ready to attend to the immediate wants of tourists who have just arrived by airplane. Aerial taxicabs will circle like vultures over the hotel waiting for a doorman to signal one of them to alight and pick up a departing guest.” The creation of drones and self-driven vehicles shows just how close we are to fulfilling Eberlein’s fanciful prediction of the future. Google’s efforts to build delivery drones and internet-beaming balloons are no longer just science projects.
Definition of “Turnpike”
It came from the practice of placing a pike or staff across a toll road. One side of the pike was imbedded with spikes. When the toll was paid, the pike was turned spikes down so the traveler could pass. The first turnpike was built between Philadelphia and Lancaster in 1792.
The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality
In order to understand how the pineapple became the symbol for hospitality, we must return to Newport, Rhode Island in the 17th century. It was founded in 1639 by settlers seeking religious freedom. Newport’s majestic schooners participated in the infamous Triangle trade: ships would sail to western Africa to pick up slaves, continue to the Caribbean to trade the slaves for sugar, molasses and sugar and then back to New England. Along with these commodities, captains would bring home pineapples whose exotic shape and sweetness made them a rare delicacy in the colonies. Before emails or cellphones, sea captains would place the pineapples on their gate posts or over their doorways to inform neighbors that they had returned. Colonial hostesses would set a fresh pineapple as a centerpiece of their dining table when visitors joined their families in their homes. Later, carved wooden pineapples were placed over the doorways of inns and hotels to represent hospitality. The practice has continued to the present and frequently one sees the pineapple icon in hotels, restaurants and homes to signal an atmosphere of hospitality and welcome.
Hokusai, the great Japanese master print master, once wrote:
“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings. Yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking into account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvelous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.”
The author, Stanley Turkel, is a recognized authority and consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel, hospitality and consulting practice specializing in asset management, operational audits and the effectiveness of hotel franchising agreements and litigation support assignments. Clients are hotel owners, investors and lending institutions. His books include: Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009), Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011), Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013), Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf (2014), Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016), and his newest book, Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017) – available in hardback, paperback, and Ebook format – in which Ian Schrager wrote in the foreword: “This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”
All of the author’s books may be ordered from AuthorHouse by clicking here.