As an integral part of all of its operations and guest services,
The seeds were planted for what was to become Western Hotels, Inc. when S.W. Thurston and Frank Dupar met by chance in the coffee shop of the Commercial Hotel in Yakima, Washington.
With a recorded date of August 27, 1930, Western Hotels, Inc. was established. It was agreed the officers would be:
|Peter Schmidt, Chairman
|S.W. Thurston, President
|Harold E. Maltby, Vice President
|Adolph Schmidt, Vice President
|Harold E. Dupar, Treasurer
|Frank M. Kenny, Secretary
|Harold Casson, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer
There were a total of 3,137 guestrooms among the heritage 18 hotels:
|Benjamin Franklin, Seattle
||Marcus Whitman, Walla Walla
|Boise, Boise, Idaho
|New Washington, Seattle
|President, Mount Vernon
||Lewis & Clark, Centralia
||Monte Cristo, Everett
|Edmond Meany, Seattle
In order to address the manager / owner relationship the Company developed the first management contracts for hotels in the U.S.
On January 31, the Georgia Hotel in Vancouver, B.C. became the first “International” hotel. All other properties at that time were in the State of Washington and in Boise, Idaho. The word “International” did not become a part of the Company’s name until 1963, though the Georgia Hotel was important in building the Company’s reputation as the most respected hotel Company in Canada and its earnings provided vital financial support to future hotel projects in Canada. The Georgia Hotel was sold on August 1, 1972.
In that same year the 500 room Multnomah Hotel in Portland was welcomed into the family. A former financial loser was transformed into a financial success story within 90 days. The Multnomah was managed by the Company until 1965.
The Company entered into a management agreement to provide services to the Bonneville Power Project. This activity lasted until the following year. As such, it was the first contract similar to what would become the Industrial Division with more than seventy service agreements between 1957 and 1967 for group feeding and housing. The Company sold its interest in that Division on December 24, 1968.
On March 31, The Baranof Hotel in Juneau was acquired, thus expanding the Company from Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia to the Territory of Alaska.
The question of “What is Western Hotels” was defined at a meeting held at the New Washington Hotel on January 17 and 18. Western Hotels, Inc., with its slogan of ‘affiliated for service,’ is unique in that it is a non-profit management Company supervising the policies and operation of fourteen hotels located in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska.
The Company assumed management of the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco in late 1941 with Messrs. Thurston and Dupar acquiring equity positions.
The Western Hotel Credit Card, the first issued by a hotel Company of group of hotels, was introduced. The credit card allowed guests to charge their room, meals and beverages. The first cards were printed on heavy paper. Before that time, several Western Hotels had issued a courtesy card that promised “preferential treatment” and some limited check cashing privileges.
The Company's first Management Committee was formed.
Edward Carlson returned from military service and joined the Company as Assistant to S.W. Thurston with an annual salary of $6,000, thus starting his most significant career.
The concept of the Management Committee was established. Following a summer fishing trip in Bellingham, Edward Carlson met with a small group of associates in a guestroom of the Leopold Hotel and made these committee assignments: Gordon Bass, sales; Lynn Himmelman, rehabilitation of the hotels; Williard Abel, personnel; Bill Shields, food / beverage – the start of team management in the Company.
In May, “Westy
” (a cartoon bellman) was introduced as the first corporate symbol to be used for identification on soap, letterhead, matches, advertising, etc., unifying all of Western hotels.
In January, Vol. 1, No. 1 issue of FRONT!, the employee magazine, was distributed. There was a predecessor employee publication called WHEM (Western Hotels Employee Magazine) but only a few issues were published between March 1941 and May 1942. FRONT! was published six times a year, and then monthly from 1966 to 1988. It was renamed Westin World in May 1989 and became a semi-annual magazine.
Hoteletype was initiated for exchanging reservations between hotels and from the Central Office in Seattle. It utilized a teletype machine located at each property. Guestroom availability was maintained manually on a series of monthly calendars. The first reservation request message was sent from the Multnomah Hotel to the Boise Hotel.
Cornell University had long been the premier school for Hotel Administration and several executives of the Company had attended. In June, James Durham graduated with a degree in Hotel Administration from Washington State College. He was the first graduate from that school to become a General Manager and Officer of the Company. Others followed and, through the years, many graduates from the various schools offering degrees in Hotel and Restaurant Administration became executives with the Company.
Edward Carlson was the leading industry activist to spearhead the campaign to win voter approval of Initiative 171, the measure that brought liquor by the drink to the State of Washington. Idaho passed similar legislation at the same time, joining other Western States.
The Outrigger Bar at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel opened, beginning a long and very successful relationship with Trader Vic and the restaurants and bars that carried his name. It was not the first association with Vic Bergeron, however, as he created the concept and had designed the Drakes’ Tavern at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel some years prior.
A gold star was added to the Western Hotel Credit Card after five years if there had been no credit problems. Of the 50,000 cards then in circulations, about 7,000 were entitled to a gold star. On May 29, 1953, there was an ‘official count’ of 62,341 credit cards in circulation. That number reached in excess of 110,000 in 1957.
An industry first, the Company introduced the Family Plan where children 14 years old and younger would stay without charge in the same room as their parent(s). Even if a crib or rollaway was needed, there was no charge. That age later increased to 18.
Chef Reinhold Keller was hired as Supervising Executive Chef for the Company, devoting much of his time to visiting the hotels and working with Chefs on training and improving the quality of food served.
This was the first year that employees with five or more years of continuous service in hotels operated by the Company or in a corporate position were recognized with the Annual Service Award activity. At five-year intervals, employees were given a new pin or button to identify their years of service.
On March 1, the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Denver became a Western Hotel, the most distant property from headquarters in Seattle at 1,405 highway miles. This was an important addition for identity with states to the east and other hotels in the Rocky Mountain Area.
The Company entered the business of managing commercial buildings with the Oasis Building in Palm Springs, California. Later, they managed the Fitzhugh Building in San Francisco and the Multnomah Building in Portland. This activity ended in 1967.
The very successful Outrigger Bar at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel was expanded and became the first Trader Vic’s Restaurant and Bar in a Western Hotels property, opening in March. The business relationship with Victor Bergeron was so successful that Trader Vic Restaurants were later included in WIH properties in Portland, Vancouver, Kansas City, New York, Denver and Toronto.
Western Hotel Credit Cards were popular and, this year, were changed to plastic, which were renewed after the first year to be valid for five years. Western Hotel Credit Cards were discontinued in 1982, having served a very useful purpose since 1946. The engraving machine just wore out and it was never replaced.
The St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco was officially identified and advertised as a Western Hotel. Prior to that time, there had been an opinion that identification with a ‘hotel chain’ might have a negative effect on the image of the St. Francis.
The T & D Company (Thurston and Dupar) was incorporated as the predecessor to Western Service and Supply Company the following year. This was the Company’s wholly owned design and purchasing subsidiary that was in operation until 1985, and then reorganized as FORMA until the early 1990s. Especially in the earlier years, Western Service maintained an arms length separation between wholesaler and consumer, a requirement of the federal Robinson Patman Act. Western Service and Supply Company, Ltd. Operated as a sister Company serving the hotels in Canada.
A lease was completed for the Olympic Hotel in Seattle on August 1 – then the city’s largest and most important hotel. It was the Company’s flagship property in Seattle until 1979.
In November, the corporate offices moved from the New Washington Hotel and the accounting department from the Waldorf Hotel to a part of the 12
floor of the Olympic Hotel. The space was adequate but not the most functional; it had been designed and occupied previously as a large townhouse apartment. For some years, the accounting staff worked in one large room known as the library. Additional space on the 12
floor was converted to offices in the early 1960s and this was the corporate headquarters of the Company until 1981.
At the Annual Managers’ Conference in January at the Davenport Hotel, the attendees urged the hiring of a Director of Personnel for the Company, a full-time professional leader. Personnel functions were everyone’s responsibility but no ones’ job. The request was taken under consideration and several years passed before that position was created.
In January, Cole and Weber was introduced as the new corporate advertising agency. Also based in Seattle, a more aggressive and coordinated advertising program was assured. Cole and Weber served in this capacity for more than thirty years, and was followed by HDM, Los Angeles; DDB Needham, Chicago; Ogilvy & Mather, New York City.
Henry Kaiser’s ambitious development was the Hawaiian Village Hotel in Honolulu. Western entered into a management agreement for this property on May 1. Aside from the Oasis Hotel in Palm Springs, it was the Company’s first experience in a major resort property – and a long ride on a prop airplane from other hotels in the Western States. Hawaii was not yet a state. It is accurate to say that lots of attention was devoted to this property by many people. Mr. Kaiser sold the hotel to Hilton Hotels in February 1961 for $21.5M, thus ending the Company’s association there.
In its publication of the purchase Hilton stated that "
under Western Hotels' magement the property has enjoyed an occupancy rate far above the industry average".
Management contracts for three hotels in Guatemala were made on August 1 for the Company’s first involvement south of the border. They were the Antigua Hotel in Antigua, the Pan American Hotel in Guatemala City and the Tzanjuyu Hotel in Lake Atitlan. When the Guatemala Biltmore Hotel opened in late 1959, it became a Western property also.
Centralized Billing was introduced – though shirt-lived! This was often referred to as a costly error and an example of the kind of mistake that should not be repeated.
The first management seminar for young and promising executives was held in Seattle February 1-4, involving a week of classroom instruction (and tests) on accounting, Company history and practices, management skills and other important topics. A second management seminar was held in July 1959 and then annually from 1961 through 1981. About twenty-five students participated in each seminar. Graduates from the Management Seminars were referred to as the “Hard Corps” and these members sponsored a scholarship program at schools offering Hotel and Restaurant Administration courses for a number of years.
Early in the year, Edward Carlson and Willard Abel were at the recently opened Guatemala Biltmore Hotel in Guatemala City when a severe earthquake took place. They left the country on the first available airplane to any destination. That happened to be Mexico City, which afforded an unexpected opportunity to meet with Jose Brockman and that led to the long and successful association with hotels in Mexico.
Eight Caravan Inn properties joined the WIH family in April, and all but two were terminated in January of 1960. The remaining two located in Bakersfield, California and Phoenix Arizona were terminated in 1977 and 1960, respectively.
The Thurston Dupar Award was created and the first winner was selected. Award criteria involved superior quality of service to guests, continued improvement to job performance and a positive relationship with fellow employees as well as notable civic and community service. The award was given to a deserving employee annually through 1989, providing a two-week all expense paid trip to an exciting destination for the winner and his or her spouse. The first recipient was Jud Doke, Purchasing Agent at the Multnomah Hotel. That award was announced at the management conference in Portland in January 1960.
The Company’s first Regional Sales Office was started from a mezzanine office at the Mayfair Hotel in Los Angeles. It was headed by Sherman Elliott. When the Mayfair Hotel was sold in late 1960, Carl Hudgens – then General Manager of the Mayfair Hotel – joined Sherm as co-director of Sales and the Regional Sales Office was relocated to Beverly Hills. The concept was successful and other regional offices were subsequently established domestically in Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The Company Pledge was introduced this year and was another industry first. It stated:
“When you have our reservation confirmation and arrive by the time stated, we will have a room for you. If, for any reason, that is not possible, we will secure a room for you at another hotel at our expense, provide your transportation there and, the next day, bring you back to our hotel where we both wanted you to be in the first place.”
Another industry first was initiated that year – 24 hour room service.
In February at the Olympic Hotel, direct dial telephones were installed in all guestrooms, so that guests could dial their own local and long distance calls without assistance from the hotel operator. The long distance charges were reported back to the hotel automatically rather than manually reporting time and charges. This was the first Western Hotel to have direct dial telephones; others followed soon thereafter.
Edward E. Carlson was elected president of Western Hotels.
The Company’s first involvement with hotels in the Far East occurred on April 1 with management contracts in Japan for the Kokusai Hotel in Tokyo, the Kowakien Hotel in Kowakien, the Chinzan-so Restaurant in Tokyo and the Taiko-en Restaurant in Tokyo. These contracts were in effect until December 31, 1965. Other significant business ventures followed in the Orient.
In April, the Golden Lion Restaurant opened at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle with much fanfare and provided extensive tableside food preparation. The featured Champagne Dinner had a menu price of $4.85. At the same time, the Golden Lion was considered one of the three best restaurants in Seattle – the other two were Trader Vic’s and Canlis.
The Company launched the VSP Program with advertising, promotions and signature identification that every guest (customer) at our hotels is a Very Special Person.
Late in the year, Larry Kingston, Executive Assistant Manager at the Bayshore Inn, was shot and killed by a hotel guest while being questioned about a stolen credit card. A scholarship was established in Larry Kingston’s memory to be awarded in Canada.
The Alameda Hotel in Mexico City was the Company’s first hotel in Mexico when it opened in December. In subsequent years, twenty-nine other hotels in Mexico were affiliated with the Company, including the world famous Camino Real in Mexico City.
The Company conducted its first formal Guest Attitude Survey this year by sending a six-page questionnaire to several thousand people to assess the hotels’ performance, determine hotel preferences in target cities, and evaluate reservation procedures and to obtain candid comments about the hotel operations - all from the guests’ perspective.
In April, the Space needle opened concurrent with the start of the Seattle World’s Fair. Edward Carlson received credit for the concept of the Space Needle and also was Chairman of the World’s Fair Corporation.
The Dominion Monarch was the floating hotel run by the Company, operated on the Seattle waterfront during the World’s Fair. Occupancy of the soon-to-be demolished cruise ship was substantially less than expected.
The “FRESH” Handbook (Front Office, Reservations, Engineering, Security and Housekeeping) was introduced as a training tool for employees.
For the hotels in Mexico, the name Western International Hotels de Mexico was established. This identification was late changed to Hoteles Camino Real, S.A. in February 1974. This affiliation created the first luxury hotel brand in the country, and the agreement lasted until 1993.
In June, Richard J. Ferris graduated from Cornell University with his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration. He progressed rapidly through the Company, acquiring greater responsibility until he became the top executive of UAL, Inc., then the parent Company of Westin Hotels & Resorts.
In July, GUEST MAGAZINE was first distributed as a Company-wide in-room publication.
At the management conference in January, Edward Carlson introduced the theme of the House of Friendship. “Let’s build that House of Friendship so strong in character, so rich in professional knowledge, so warm in respect for each other that the rewards to all of us will be worthwhile both financially and satisfying in professional achievement.”
In January, the name change to Western International Hotels was announced. Development of the logo representing “Western’s World” – or sometimes referred to as the orange peel design – followed.
A retirement plan for salaried employees was initiated. It required fifteen years employment from that time to be fully vested. For several years, employees participated in the cost of the program with a monthly payroll deduction. Later, those contributions were refunded and the benefit was fully Company sponsored. Unfortunately, the employees who were near the retirement age of 65 when the program started received little or no benefit.
The Savoy in New York City became the first east coast property; however, the contract was short-lived and terminated the following year.
The Academy of Master Chefs was organized for recognition of culinary excellence by Executive Chefs. Originated by Chef Reinhold Keller, the program was led for many years by Chef Walter Roth. Membership required a minimum of five years as an Executive Chef, provided special training, encouraged professionalism and longevity of service to the Company. The organization was disbanded some years later.
On November 1, the Company entered into a joint marketing agreement with Hotel Corporation of American, later known as Sonesta. That agreement ended in March 1970.
With several hotel representation agreements in Japan since 1960, the Company leaders were most anxious to seek other hotels in the Far East. In midyear, Edward Carlson attended a meeting of the Pacific area Travel Association in New Delhi, India, where Rudy Choy arranged a meeting with Mr. C.W. Young, President of Miramar Hotel Company in Hong Kong. A representation agreement followed that was in effect until 1975.
In September, Willard Abel was attending an International Hotel Association meeting in Tokyo where he met a representative of the Thailand Hotel Association. That meeting led to involvement with the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok. Word got around about the Company’s presence in the Far East and that resulted in meetings with Robert Kuok and contracts for the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore and, later, the Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong. The Philippine Plaza in Manila followed later
In June, the Century Plaza Hotel opened on the former Tom Mix Ranch at 20
Century Fox Studios in West Los Angeles. Designed as the world’s most beautiful hotel, it set the pace for the Company’s standards of quality for several years. A truly remarkable property, the Century Plaza included many modern design conveniences and features, except for any significant application of computers – recognized for their potential but unproven and still in the experimental stage.
Some impressive opening parties were held and the first convention booked at the hotel was the National Governors Conference. When the Century Plaza opened and for several weeks thereafter, the featured entertainers were Kaye Starr in the Westside Room and the Modernaires in the Hong Kong Bar.
The modern features at the Century Plaza included a color television set in each guestroom and suite, the first such installation in any hotel. The only previous significant installation of color televisions in a hotel had been 250 sets at the Palmer House Towers in Chicago earlier in the year.
On July 31, the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney, Australia became affiliated with Western International Hotels, the Company’s only association with a hotel on that continent.
The 525 room Dusit Thani Hotel opened in Bangkok, and was part of the WIH family until 1977.
The Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa opened October 1. It was the Company’s first venture in Africa, affording some different and unique cultural operating opportunities. WIH operated the Carlton until 1988.
The Camino Real Hotel, Mexico City opened and served as headquarters for the 1968 Summer Olympics.
In July, Lynn P. Himmelman was named President of Western International Hotels.
The Hoteletron system for handling reservations was developed. It was a computerized system custom-developed by a subsidiary of American Express.
In January, the first annual management conference to be held away from the continental United States was at the Ilikai Hotel in Honolulu. Dwight Call was the Chairman.
The Corporate Division of Personnel and Education was established. Gordon Schneider headed that division.
At the request of President Richard Nixon, a special celebration was held at the Century Plaza Hotel on August 13
to honor the Apollo 11 Astronauts Neal Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins who had completed the first landing on the moon on July 20
. This was the first-ever State dinner held outside the White House. About eight hundred people attended this most significant event that was covered live by all three major television networks.
In March, the Directors of UAL, Inc. and Western International Hotels approved in principle a merger between the two companies. The merger was finalized by the vote of the shareholders of UAL, Inc. and Western International Hotels. On December 21, Edward Carlson became President and CEO of UAL, Inc. and United Airlines.
On November 1
The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. carried the WIH banner marking the Company’s return to the east coast.
Gordon Bass was named President of Western International Hotels. Lynn Himmelman was designated Chief Executive Officer.
The Continental Plaza Hotel in Chicago advertised a room rate at one hundred dollars a night, the first hotel in the Company to post a rack rate in triple digits.
When the Hotel Scandinavia, Copenhagen opened on May 1, it was the Company’s first hotel venture in Europe.
Harry Mullikin was named President of the Company. Lynn Himmelman became Chairman, and Gordon Bass was elected to the new position of Vice Chairman.
The first significant in-hotel computer installation took place in May at the Crown Center Hotel with the back office application.
The Central Reservation Office in Omaha, Nebraska opened in June. With just one telephone call, it was now possible to make and confirm a reservation at any Western International Hotel worldwide.
The Corporate Salary Administration Program for salaried employees was introduced at the management conference at the Crown Center Hotel. It was implemented later in the year. This program was a major benefit in offering competitive and consistent compensation for the salaried employees in the United States and Canada.
In January, Western International Hotels took possession of The Plaza Hotel in New York City from Sonesta Hotels after concluding the purchase for twenty-five million dollars.
Remembered as “Black Sunday” (hard decisions made in response to difficult economic challenges), all Managers were called to Seattle on short notice for a Sunday meeting in October to implement immediate restraint of expenses and take aggressive action to improve earnings. The impression of importance was clearly communicated.
The Westron System for reservations was introduced. It was a part of the United Airlines computer system and provided immediate reservations at any Western International Hotel. The Company was the first hotel Company to offer a toll free “800” number for reservations. At times, the Central Reservation Office in Omaha handled up to 10,000 calls a day.
The Peachtree Plaza, the first of three mega hotels developed by John Portman, opened on January 5 in Atlanta, and was at that time the world’s tallest hotel. Joe Guilbault (GM) and Larry Dustin (Exec. Asst.) pioneered the development and installation of the Company’s first fully integrated “online” hotel system that included a comprehensive array of industry-leading software applications for both front and back office functions.
A formal mission statement for the Company was approved and made available to all employees:
“We shall manage quality hotels in key destination markets on a global basis.” With these few words, the Company’s commitment for the future was clearly identified and communicated.
The Carlson-Himmelman Achievement Award was introduced in recognition of Edward E. Carlson and Lynn P. Himmelman who led the second-generation leadership of the Company. The annual award was given to a hotel general manager or a Company officer for exemplary job performance, achievement and representation of the Company. Joe Mogush was the first recipient of this award.
Harry Mullikin was elected Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Bob Lindquist became President.
In October, the Company’s most successful, most profitable and longest lasting discotheque, OZ, opened on the top floor of the Hotel St. Francis’ Tower in San Francisco. Annabelle’s, another high energy and successful disco was in full swing at the Galleria Hotel in Houston.
In 1978 the Senior Management Committee of Westin Hotels endorsed the suggestion to institute a Westin Hotels Archives. They were established in several un-rentable rooms of the Washington Plaza/Benjamin Franklin hotel. Archival and memorabilia items were accumulated and collected from the corporate offices, the hotel properties, plus current and former employees.
The Company had been quite conservative in accepting the age of the computer. Systems were unproven, experimental and programs were often limited. The Company’s Development Division, this year, was the first corporate group to install computer terminals for their day-to-day functions.
Michael Sansbury moved from The Mayflower to the staff of the White House, assuming responsibility for establishing hospitality business practices in the daily operations of the people's house. Kristine Kranz, then The Mayflower Director of Housekeeping, also moved to the White House staff to head the housekeeping functions.
The Company purchased three hotels in South Korea from American Airlines. They were located in Seoul (pictured at right) , Pusan and Kyongju. The agreement was signed the day President Park was assassinated October 26th. Westin assumed management on November 1st. Lou Martinelli was appointed Managing Director for the three properties.
This year marked the Company’s Golden Anniversary! Harry Mullikin stated,
“This half-century milestone is not merely a celebration of years but, more importantly, a celebration of achievement in growth, hospitality, innovation, leadership and in an established international reputation for quality accommodations and guest service excellence…The best is yet to come.”
Larry Alexander, the first racial minority to serve as general manager, was assigned to the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco. He later served as General Manager of The Westin Hotel O’Hare, The Westin Hotel Cincinnati and the Westin Renaissance Center in Detroit.
At the annual management conference in January, the name change to Westin Hotels was announced and the new logo and corporate colors were introduced.
Until the summer of this year, the Company had always occupied several office locations concurrently in Seattle for its corporate functions. With the construction of The Westin Building – a thirty-four story office tower – at 2001 Sixth Avenue, all departments and functions of the corporate office came together in one building, occupying fourteen floors with close to four hundred employees.
A Company subsidiary called DISCOVERIES was established with two objectives: to operate the sundries shops in the hotels with a higher profile and quality of service and, second, to provide a mail order shopping service to hotel guests and airline passengers. The first sundries shop and newsstand to be opened and operated by DISCOVERIES was at the Copley Plaza in Boston in April. Other similar shops were opened as new hotels were acquired or as tenant leases expired. A mail order catalog was placed in all hotel rooms in early 1983 and a similar catalog was included in the seat pockets of United Airlines’ planes shortly thereafter. Business was profitable, but the disassociation with United Airlines later in the 1980s led to the end of this subsidiary. The sundries shops were sold to other operators and the mail order catalog rights were sold to Sky Mall, which has expanded that business and has its catalogs on the planes of most domestic airlines.
The Company implemented 800 calling service, a toll-free reservation system in seven European cities.
The largest travel agent sales promotion campaign ever undertaken provided 133,000 agents world-wide with $27 miilion of free room nights so they could experience themselves the value and quality of Westin's hotels.
In April, Dwight Call was elected President of the Company, only the seventh person to hold that position since 1930. He followed S.W. Thurston, Edward Carlson, Lynn Himmelman, Gordon Bass, Harry Mullikin and C.R. Lindquist, all career executives with the Company.
The Company established a regional office in Singapore which was relocated to Hong Kong in 1986.
To recognize the number and significance of resort properties managed, the Company’s name was changed once again to Westin Hotels & Resorts.
January saw the first Management Conference to be held in Mexico.
The mega hotel complex of the Westin Plaza and the Westin Stamford opened in Raffles City in Singapore with a total of 2,046 guestrooms and suites. It became the largest hotel ever in the Far East, and was the world’s tallest hotel for the balance of the century.
Westin Premier, the frequent guest / loyalty program was introduced.
Major changes took place in the relationship with UAL, Inc. and United Airlines at the ownership level and the affiliation with the “Partners in Travel” program.
In February, Allegis became the parent organization, replacing UAL, Inc. Allegis acquired Hilton International Hotels in March and, on June 25, the Allegis Board of Directors agreed to sell Westin Hotels & Resorts to the Robert M. Bass Group and the Aoki Corporation for $1.53 billion.
Harry Mullikin becomes Chairman Emeritus.
Early in the year, Allegis divested itself of holdings including Westin Hotels & Resorts and the sale of the Company to the Aoki Corporation of Japan was completed. In August Helmut Hoermann. president of Hilton International reported to Westin Chairman Chairman Harry Mullikin.
Within a month Hoermann was replaced by Larry Magnan and Mrs. Chieko Nakamura Aoki, who also headed Aoki owned Caesar Park Hotels, as well as the Algonquin in New York City, was elected CEO. Thirty days thereafter Mrs. Aoki resigned and Larry Magnan was elected CEO by the board, retaining the earlier title of president.
The Westin Hotel in Shanghai, China opened. It was the Company’s first venture with a hotel in a Communist country.
Patricia Swinton became the first woman to hold the position of General Manager. She held that title first at The Westin Hotel Edmonton and later at The Westin Hotel Cincinnati.
1988 also saw Westin’s first foray into Florida. In January of that year the 273-room Westin Cypress Creek opened. To be more competitive in preopening costs, the General Manager, and thus the entire team, was not brought on-board until seven months from opening. Westin was then able to return preopening funds to the owners providing more opportunities for new build projects. At the time of opening 40% of the hotel's associates were transfers from other Westin properties.
The Westin Cypress Creek Executive Chef was tapped by Chief Usher Gary Walters to become the first American born chef for the White House.
The last Westin Management Conference was held at the Walt Disney Swan Hotel in Orlando. It marked the first time that an owner had been invited to speak to the attendees, reflecting his experiences with working with the Company from the owner’s perspective. Ray Sylvester was the conference chairman. The annual management conferences began in 1950.
Westin became the operating Company for all the hotel assets of Aoki Corporation including Caesar Park Hotels, the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, Germany and The Algonquin Hotel in New York City.
Harry Mullikin retires as Chairman Emeritus.
The Company adopted the Total Quality management philosophy. This commitment to quality is reflected in the policy statement: “Westin is committed to doing business in a way that empowers all employees to work toward continuous product innovation and improvement, thereby ensuring maximum quality and service to all guests, employees and owners.”
In August, the relationship of more than thirty years with Hoteles Camino Real (HOCASA) ended for marketing, sales and reservations services to hotels in Mexico and El Salvador.
The Company announced an innovative concept called “Service Express.” This allowed guests to call just one number from the guestroom telephone for all guest service requests including room service, bellmen, messages, parking, maintenance, information, front desk and housekeeping.
The opening of the Blue Tree Resort in Orlando, Florida marked the Company’s entry into the timeshare market with the management of this vacation resort. An exploratory effort in the timeshare concept had taken place at the Yacht Harbor Building of the Ilikai Hotel in Honolulu in the mid 1980s.
In May, Westin North America introduced a children’s program called “Westin Kids Club” with services and amenities to make family travel easier and more enjoyable for both adults and children.
On May 12, Aoki Corporation sold Westin Hotel Company to the partnership of Starwood Capital Group, L.P., Goldman, Sachs & Co., the Edward Thomas Companies and Nomura Asset Capital Corporation.
Jeurgen Bartels, form President and Chief Executive Officer of the Carlson Companies’ Carlson Hospitality Group, was appointed Westin’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
The new ownership almost immediately started an aggressive program of growth and expansion that included the franchising of hotels. This was a different direction for the Company as all hotels had been managed. Franchising had not been an option up to this time.
In June, the Company made the first deposit of its papers in the Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections at Washington State University in Pullman, beginning with well over 400 boxes of corporate documents. The collection of materials, organizing and cataloging and coordination of the project was led by Bill Keithan, retired Senior Vice President.
The Company established an industry first-of-its-kind technical facility: The Westin Technology Center, at the University of Utah Research Park in Salt Lake City. This facility expanded the Company’s technical support capability by more than twelve times.
The Company announces its first venture into the cruise ship industry with a partnership to provide hotel and food service management for the 250,000 ton, 2,800-cabin America World City, A Westin Flagship. The cruise ship was expected to sail in the year 2002.
On January 2, Starwood Lodging Trust and Starwood Lodging Corporation (collectively the “Company”) purchased Westin Hotels & Resorts for a combination of securities, cash and assumed debt for a total of $1.571 billion.
The Company receives the first ever awarded J.D. Power recognition for customer satisfaction in its U.S. properties.
On January 5, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Trust, a real estate investment trust, announced the completion of the acquisition of Westin Hotels & Resorts. That acquisition brought Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ portfolio to more than two hundred and twenty hotels and resorts located in over twenty countries worldwide. Starwood Hotels & Resorts was at that time the largest hotel REIT in the United States.
Westin Hotels & Resorts had become a brand of a worldwide hotel organization with headquarters in White Plains, New York. On July 30, a farewell gathering took place to acknowledge this giant step for the Company that had called Seattle its home since 1930.
The Company arrived at the grand age of sixty-eight years. Our Company enjoyed great success and the pride for its achievement by thousands of employees is well deserved.
The significant accomplishments of the first generation are legendary. Few of us know firsthand about their tenacity and dedication to establish the solid foundation for the Company. However, we have heard the stories many times about business integrity and, indeed, the personal habits of turning off the lights to save electricity or walking down the side of a corridor so as not to wear out the carpet.
The pursuits and achievement of the second and third generations are closer to those of us who served in recent times. These special principles were particularly important in the success story we all shared.
Two events are considered worthy of milestone recognition, but the years they took place are uncertain. They are mentioned here as an addendum.
A “Guaranteed Confirmed Reservation.” It was an industry first that allowed guests to guarantee payment for a room that would be held and available for their arrival at any hour of the night. It is a guess that this program began in the early 1950s and was a predecessor to the Company Pledge that was introduced in 1959. This was years before the practice of a guarantee with a credit card and “no shows” were invoiced with some discretion. Charges were often challenged with the claim that the reservation had been changed or cancelled. An interest in future business usually prevailed and, more often than not, adjustments were made.
The Company ‘went public’ with its stock by listing on the American Stock Exchange and the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. According to some references, this probably took place after 1964 and before 1969. The Annual Report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1970 reported earnings before Extraordinary Items that year of $1.04, the second highest in the Company’s history. With the merger with UAL, Inc. later in 1970, the hotel Company was no longer identified.
And finally, we would be remiss not to include in the chronicle of significant milestones on another important and well-remembered event, the acquisition of the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco late in 1941. The documents had been completed and were ready to be signed on Monday, December 8. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December seventh and there was great concern that the enemy would land on the West Coast in a few days. The Company could have backed away from the deal, but S.W. Thurston and Frank Dupar decided to go ahead and they signed the papers on December eighth. Throughout World War II, San Francisco was the debarkation center for the Pacific and the Sir Francis Drake Hotel enjoyed extraordinary earnings. In addition to buying a profitable hotel that contributed significantly to the Company’s earnings, an important step was taken towards expanding from the confines of the Pacific Northwest to what was to become a successful international operation.
In 2000 the Westin Alumni Association published a booklet titled
authored by Chuck Comstock. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Chuck for having the vision and persistence to complete such a challenging undertaking.
Chuck reached out to a number of Westin associates to gather information for the the project of chronologically listing significant events involving the Company and its people during its sixty eight years.
Those contributors included: Sue Brush, Joe Callihan, Pat Carey, Bob Dupar, Larry Dustin, Sherm Elliott, Bill H. Ellis, Dick Ferris, Gabe Fonseca, Bob Graves, Lynn Himmelman, Bill Keithan, Duane Knapp, Lou Martinelli, Dan McClaskey, Don McCutcheon, Joe Mogush, Harry Mullikin, Dave Paulon, Fred Sarbach, Penny Scott, Bill Shields, Dorothy Stauffer, Ray Sylvester, Leif Wikan
In August 2016 Ray Sylvester reconciled a number of historic documents, and with consultation with several of the above amended the above Milestones.
With the assistance of Washington State University, Chuck also developed a searchable database of all managed and owned hotels over the 68 year history of the Company. A companion database includes the names of the Vice President, Managing Directors, General Managers, Resident Managers and Executive Assistant Managers who served in those capacities at the hotels.