Ain't They Grand!

Once exclusive domains of the privileged, America's grande-dame resort hotels are refreshed and reopen to a broader clientele

When they began to open at the beginning of the past century, America's grande-dame resort hotels, with their hundreds of stately rooms, huge, attentive staffs and sumptuous dining, catered to wealthy families who often traveled with servants, arrived in their own train cars and stayed for months at a time. Times changed. The grande dames began to fall out of favor--and some into disrepair.

Now they are coming back. Andy Pesky, president of the premium travel agency ProTravel-The Zenith Group, calls them "the hottest thing out there." While many mid-20th century middle-class folk might have felt uncomfortable in such swanky settings,...

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