11 04 2012 1279

Ritz-Carlton: the beginning

The first Ritz-Carlton Hotel(s)

Ritz-Carlton‘s name is based on hotels bearing these names, all conceived and opened by César Ritz, the Swiss hotelier: The Carlton in London and the Ritz in Paris and London.

1911-ritz-carlton-new-yrok1911 The Illustrated London News (original picture in larger size)

The first Ritz-Carlton stood in New York. It was designed by Warren & Wetmore, architects of the new Grand Central Terminal. The Ritz-Carlton, on Madison Avenue and 46th Street, opened in 1911. Its ballrooms and lobbies, its service and general ambiance were outstanding.

The general manager of the Ritz-Carlton New York was Theo Kroell, the manager was a certain Albert Keller. The hotel obviously operated as a joint venture between Cesar Ritz’s company and an american management company. Here we find for the first time a so-called “Ritz-Carlton group of hotels”, including famous names like Carlton, Ritz, Hyde Park, The Ritz in Paris and in Madrid, the Esplanade in Hamburg, the National in Lucerne, the Excelsior in Rome and in Naples, the Plaza in Buenos Aires, and others (see 1911-advertisement above).

After Cesar Ritz died in 1918, his wife Marie continued the expansion of hotels bearing his name.
Now, in the United States, The Ritz-Carlton Investing Company was established. Albert Keller had bought and franchised the name. In 1927 The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, was the first property under the management of the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

Other hotels followed in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlantic City and Boca Raton. New York’s Ritz Carlton continued to operate. However, by 1940 none of the hotels were operating except The Ritz-Carlton, Boston. The hotel embodies the vision of Cesar Ritz, Yankee ingenuity and Boston social sensibilities. The former building of the New York Ritz-Carlton was razed in 1951 to provide a site for an office building.

The Ritz-Carlton hotels revolutionized hospitality in America by creating luxury in a hotel setting. They also introduced an European attitude to personal service:
Private bath in each guest room.
Lighter fabrics in the guest room to allow for more thorough washing.
White tie and apron uniforms for the waitstaff, black tie for the Maitre d’ and morning suits for all other staff, conducive to a formal, professional appearance.
Extensive fresh flowers throughout the public areas.
A la carte dining, providing choices for diners.
Gourmet cuisine, utilizing the genius and cooking methods of Auguste Escoffier.
Intimate, smaller lobbies for a more personalized guest experience.

to be continued ...

 

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