THE GRAND HOTEL TRADITION STILL CONTINUES…
How much do you know about the Grands History? In 1847, a judicious gentleman named F.H. Chamberlain was inspired by the breathtaking beauty of Mobile Bay’s Point Clear Peninsula. It was said that his vision was to birth the Point Clear Hotel and make it the place for antebellum Southern Society.
PRESERVING THE GRAND TRADITION
Captain H.C. Baldwin, Steamboat Captain worked diligently to resurrect the hotel from the fire and ravages of war, by renaming the property The GRAND in 1875. Baldwin used the best wood from the previous hotels for the heartpine flooring and framing of the main building. Captain Baldwin was very strategic in showcasing his appreciation for all that the Grand stands for. Special Thanks in part to the special effort of the U.S. Army Air Force, who walked the halls facility in World War II, those pinewood floors have been carefully preserved. Recently, the hotel has been restored in order to enhance the charm of this undisputed Queen of Southern Resorts.
GRAND HOTEL HISTORY
- The Grand Hotel Point Clear Resort & Spa has been known throughout the South as The Queen of Southern Resorts for more than 160 years.
- Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Barbara Bush, Dolly Parton, Fannie Flagg, Patti LaBelle and a host of NFL greats have stayed at The Grand,
- F.H. Chamberlin built the hotel in 1847. It was a two-story building with 40 rooms. A separate building housed the dining room and kitchen. A third building housed a bar called “The Texas”.
- In 1864, a portion of the hotel became a confederate hospital during the Civil War. A cemetery for about 300 confederate soldiers in near 18th tee of the Grand’s Azalea course.
- In 1869, a fire destroyed the dining room, kitchen and guest rooms. There were no deaths.
- In 1871, “The Texas” bar was turned into an emergency hospital following the explosion of the steamboat “Ocean Wave”.
- Captain H.C. Baldwin brought the hotel in the 1870s for $75,000. It was 300 feet long with 60 suites.
- In 1893, a hurricane destroyed the dining room and “The Texas” bar. Both were rebuilt.
- In 1901, Major James K. Glennon of Mobile bought the hotel. In 1906 and 1916, the hotel was severely damaged. Major Glennon was ready to quit, but Mrs. Glennon intervened and supervised repairs that helped reopen it.
- In 1939, Mr. E. A. Roberts bought the hotel and 25 additional parcels of land. In 1940, the old buildings were renovated and the main building was constructed.
- The Army Air corps used the hotel as a training base during World War III. None of the soldiers wore combat boots in the hotel in order to protect the hardwood floor.
- After WWII, Robert’s company, the Waterman Steamship Company, built a marina, two tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course and a swimming pool. A garage and specialty shops were built.
- Ten cottages were added in the 1950’s.
- In 1955, Southern Industries brought the hotel and then sold it to James K. McLean in 1966.
- In 1981, the Marriott Corporation brought The Grand Hotel and added the North Bay House and Marina building, bringing total guest rooms to 306.
- Major renovations to the hotel were completed in 2003, including a new spa, pool and additional guest rooms.
- In the Fall of 2005 Hurricane Katrina submerged the hotel with over 12 feet of water.
- In April of 2006 the Spa and Marina guest rooms were reopened (it took over 7 months before reopening the entire hotel on November 1, 2006. Almost 70 million dollars was spent on the renovations
- Colony Club at the Grand Hotel opened in spring 2008. This features condominiums overlooking picturesque Point Clear and Mobile Bay.
- Daily patriotic military salute and cannon firing started in 2008.
- August 29, 2018 following a three-year renovation of the entire resort, Autograph Collection Hotels, part of Marriott International, Inc., together with the Resort Collection on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail announced the rebranding of the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, an iconic Southern resort in Point Clear, Alabama.
Now that we have our history session out-of-the-way let me describe the excitement that led up to the Grand’s daily Military Tribute. The family was all exhausted from the ride or perhaps they just wanted to head to the pool while I wandered off to explore the grounds and learn more about the Grand’s history. Once you leave the registration desk you can turn to your right and head up a few stairs and you will find the hotel’s Historian, Susan Stein in her quaint history corner office. It’s really easy to find and I’m sure upon passing by you will notice the amazing artifacts that she has preserved and her cheerful chatter with a guest as she educates them on the history. Get ready for a history lesson because Ms. Stein knows her stuff literally. I had an amazing time chatting with her after we returned from the daily Military Tribute begins at 3:45, culminating with a cannon firing demonstration shortly after 4 pm.
Can we pause for a second and talk about the Military Tribute. As a military wife I can appreciate the work that goes behind the scenes to ensure that every guest experiences a piece of our history. I watched as the two gentlemen marched from the main building to the shoreline and once there the guest are all entertained with a brief history lesson. Honestly I felt cheated. I have a BS in Criminal Justice and a Masters in Public Administration and why didn’t I learn all about this amazing history in all the years that I was in school? Needless to say that since we’ve been home my kids are in class learning a wealth of knowledge about our history. The gentlemen ended the ceremony with a cannon ball fire and it was amazing! This was my first time seeing on in action and although they did not fire it off with the full capacity like in the old days trust me it was an amazing experience. Keep in mind that the historian isn’t alway on property everyday (like the weekend I believe) so if you plan on visiting add this to your schedule.
The time that we spent was only a two days so there is so much more that I plan to go back and explore on our next visit. All in all this was one of the best weekends of 2018 because the wealth of knowledge that was implanted into me has become a gift that will keep on giving through my kids and their future kids.
THANK YOU GRAND!
Disclosure: The family and I was invited as part of the media to tour the newly renovated resort, all thoughts and opinions are my own.