El Tovar Hotel - Grand Canyon Village

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A few nice vacation village resort images I found:

El Tovar Hotel - Grand Canyon Village
vacation village resort
Image by Al_HikesAZ
This is the El Tovar Resort Hotel in the Grand Canyon Village. I arrived at the South Rim the night before my hike down to meet the rafts and spent some time walking around. At this time of year, it is next to impossible to take a photo without tourists in the way.

Here's a view from the front in the winter when no tourists are around.

El Tovar opened its doors in January, 1905, as the luxury hotel at the Grand Canyon for the Santa Fe Railway. The building's style remained steeped in the late Victorian predeliction for the exotic with its roof turret and chalet-like balconies and terraces. Whittlesey's use of log-slab siding and log detailing on the first floor created that rustic frontier atmosphere that the railroad sought. The dark color of the building and the dark interiors contributed to the woodsy ambience. The dark exterior color gave added architectural importance to the building s silhouette--easily distinguishable by its turret and varied roof forms as the most important structure on the south rim by the way it was outlined in the sky.

Over the years El Tovar has housed such dignitaries as George Bernard Shaw, Ferdinand Foch, Gugliemo Marconi, Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, and even Arthur Fiedler. Once described as "the most expensively constructed and appointed log house in America" the hotel has retained most of its original character.

El Tovar's significance lies in its eclectic architecture--a combination of the Swiss chalet and Norway villa as the promotional brochures boasted--and the way in which that transitional architecture bridged the gap between the staid Victorian resort architecture of the late nineteenth century and the rustic architecture later deemed appropriate for the great scenic and natural wonders of the United States. Interlocked with that significance is the building's s importance as the Santa Fe Railway's key structure of its "destination resort" at Grand Canyon which dramatically increased tourism and in turn had an indirect bearing on the area's establishment as a national monument in 1908 and a national park 11 years later.

The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway was following the same course that other railroads were at the turn of the century. By increasing passenger traffic on main lines to the west coast the railroads increased revenues. The demand for rail service to the remote western locations like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon included a need for accommodating the passengers who had travelled so far. The usual length of stay for vacations at that time varied from several weeks to an entire season. The simple camps that often greeted the visitors before rail service were primitive in comparison with the excellent resorts in the east and on the west coasts. The railroads in promoting passenger traffic to these places also assumed the responsibility of building resorts that enhanced the scenic and natural wonders and provided levels of comfort and even luxury that made the trip particularly noteworthy. The stiff competition between the railroads for passenger traffic and the unique locations each served also created the perfect reasons for pursuing types of architecture synonymous with the image the railroad sought to create.

The concept of large luxury hotels was not new to the United States, but the concept of national parks was. The typical luxury hotel in a resort area in the country at the turn of the century was a large wood-frame building with a sprawling plan with applied Victorian ornament for distinction. The construction of Old Faithful in Yellowstone in 1903 altered that architectural concept. The architects and the railroads began using structural materials left in their natural state, similar to the rustic buildings of the Adirondacks. The image that those materials projected when used in that way was of a western, frontier, rustic character. Combined with that was the hold-over of romanticism from the nineteenth century that contributed to the way people perceived and experienced these natural and scenic wonders later set aside as national parks.

The Santa Fe Railway's extension of a spur to the south rim of the canyon and the knowledge that image, romanticism, and a taste of the western frontier were selling points, resulted in the need of a major hotel that fulfilled passengers ' dreams of the exotic west at that destination resort. The Railway chose one of its talented staff architects as designer of the building--Charles Whittlesey.

vacation village resort
Image by Marco Zanferrari
Our bedroom at Dickwella Village Resort.

Dikwella - Sri Lanka