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Mid-century fashion, vintage pop culture and retro cool... from Expo 67 and beyond.

20 October 2006

The Holiday Inn

The Holiday Inn was the idea of Kemmons Wilson in 1952. During a family road trip, he was frustrated at the poor quality of roadside motels and the lack of services geared towards families with babies and children.

North America was just entering a motor age. The automobile was king and brand-new highways were popping up everywhere. The time was right for a clean and modern motel chain.

The Holiday Inn was born.

Named after the 1942 Bing Crosby film of the same name, the Holiday Inn offered weary middle-class travelers the amenities they desired: in-room telephones, air-conditioning, wall-to-wall carpeting and kid-friendly pools. The chain grew rapidly and in 1965, a computerized reservation system called Holidex would revolutionize the way middle-class families booked their vacations.A big part of the Holiday Inn's pop culture mystique was it's Great Sign. Built to be visible from highways, the red and green marquees were an explosion of light and neon. With a blinking Las Vegas-style arrow pointing towards the front office and topped by a yellow star twinkling into the night, the Great Sign lured vacationers to the dependable family motels they knew and trusted.

On a family car trip to Florida as a kid, my mother recalls that I pointed out every single Holiday Inn sign along the way. Mezmerized by it's twinkling star, my 1-year old self would exclaim: "Look, Mommy, a star!"And speaking of pop culture neon signage, rumor has it that Héritage Montréal is interested in preserving the Five Roses Flour Sign. If true, this would be very good news for the Montreal landmark.

images: (top) myspace.com
(middle, bottom) motelamericana.com

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, you said: "Look, Mommy, a thtar"!! You were the cutest! Still are, Love, Mom.

5:06 pm  
Blogger modmom said...

we stayed at a holiday inn last weekend in redding, california + it was $132 (ouch) because we didn't book it online ahead of time. it was clean, but not cool/modern. it was faux colonial-yuck! i did not pick it. my husband checke us in while i was busy with friends. are there any retrofuturistic or mod style hotel chains?

1:05 am  
Blogger jason67 said...

As you have noticed, The Holiday Inn has changed a lot since the 60's/70's.

I don't know of any cool, mod hotel chains.

I see a business opportunity: How about opening up a *modmotel*?

;-)

6:23 am  

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