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The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, luxurious hotels and resorts

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is an American multinational company which runs the luxury hotel chain known as the Ritz-Carlton. The company owns 108 luxury hotels and resorts in 30 countries and territories with reported 29,158 rooms. The company also reportedly has another 46 hotels with 8,755 rooms planned for the future. The company that currently runs the hotel chain was founded in 1983 when the previous owners sold the Ritz-Carlton brand and the Ritz-Carlton hotel Massachusetts. The brand was then expanded to other locations. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is a subsidiary of Marriott International.

The company has hotels in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia and Pacific and the Caribbean and Latin America. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel name is one of the most well known luxury hotel names in the world. Their rooms, facilities and activities are sure to leave every visitor with satisfaction, not to mention their customer service. The current company has been in the hospitality business for 38 years and there are still plans of expanding their already large number of rooms.

The company that preceded The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

The story of the Ritz-Carlton brand begins with Swiss hotelier César Ritz, who was well known in the hotel industry as the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings.” He redefined luxury accommodation in Europe with his management of The Ritz in Paris and the Carlton Hotel in London, among others. He and the renowned chef from his hotels, Auguste Escoffier, opened a la carte restaurants known as “Ritz-Carlton” on board the Hamburg-Amerika Line ocean liners SS Amerika in 1905 and SS Imperator in 1913. The restaurants on those ships ceased operating in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I. Although Ritz died in 1918, his wife Marie continued the tradition of opening hotels in his name.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

North American branches

The Ritz-Carlton Investing Company was established by Albert Keller, who bought and franchised the name in the United States. The first Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the U.S. opened in New York City in 1911. It was located at 46th Street and Madison Avenue. Louis Diat ran the kitchens and invented Vichyssoise there. In 1911, the Ritz company announced its intention to expand to Philadelphia and Atlantic City. The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia followed in 1913 at Broad & Walnut streets, designed by Horace Trumbauer and Warren & Wetmore.The Ritz-Carlton Montreal opened in 1912, not owned by Keller as it was located in Canada. Keller’s Ritz-Carlton Atlantic City opened in 1921.

Initial hotel locations

In the early 1920s, the Ritz-Carlton chain consisted of 15 hotels; In Argentina there initially was Plaza Hotel located in Buenos Aires, in France there were Imperial Hotel located in Menton, Royal Hotel located in Évian-les-Bains and Splendide Hotel located in Évian-les-Bains. In Italy there initially were Grand Hotel located in Excelsior, Rome Grand Hotel located in Rome (today The St. Regis Rome), Grand Hotel and New Casino located in Rapallo , Grand Hotel et des Iles Borromees located in Lake Maggiore and Excelsior Hotel located in Naples. In Switzerland there is Grand Hotel National located in Lucerne and lastly in the United States there are Ritz-Carlton Hotellocated in New York City and Ritz-Carlton Hotel located in Atlantic City.

n October 1926, 29-year-old Edward N. Wyner bought a third-acre parcel at the corner of Arlington and Newbury streets and formed a partnership called The Ritz-Arlington Trust with his father, George, and business associate, John S. Slater.The trust sold $5.8 million of bonds to finance the construction of an apartment building to be called the Mayflower. The 18-story, 201-foot (61 m) brick building, designed by Strickland, Blodget & Law Architects, was far taller than anything else along Newbury Street at the time. Construction had started on the second floor when Wyner was persuaded by then-Mayor James Michael Curley to make the Mayflower a world-class, 300-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which opened May 19, 1927.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

Room rates were $5 to $15 per night; $40 per night for suites.After a hugely successful opening, the stock market crash of 1929 and ensuing Depression brought financial difficulties. The Wyner family funded the hotel’s operating losses during the early 1930s, although the interest on the bonds went unpaid. Still in 1933, when only 30 guests were registered in the hotel, Wyner turned on the lights in every guest room to give the appearance that the hotel was full.

The Philadelphia location was converted to an office building after only a few years in operation. The Atlantic City hotel was sold to Schine Hotels in the late 1940s, and later Sheraton Hotels in 1959. The New York hotel was demolished in 1951, leaving only the Boston location. Edward Wyner died of a heart attack on December 5, 1961. His six sons tried to continue operation of the Boston hotel, but were unable to overcome difficulties, and decided to sell.

he unpaid interest on the bonds dissuaded many from trying to buy the hotel. But Cabot, Cabot & Forbes principal Gerald F. Blakeley Jr. was interested. After more than a year of legal work, Hale and Dorr succeeded at clearing the bond obligations, and in October 1964 Blakeley and associates Paul Hellmuth and Charles Spaulding acquired the Ritz-Carlton Boston for $5.8 million.

“Out of the 20 years I owned it, it made money three years. The other years it broke even, but from a public relations standpoint for CC&F, it was a tremendous asset,” said Blakeley, who constructed a 19-story addition to the hotel in 1981, which included more function space, 80 more guest rooms, and 52 condominiums. In the late 1960s Blakeley obtained the rights to the Ritz-Carlton name in North America (with the exception of Montreal and New York). In June 1978, Blakeley was awarded the rights and privileges of the Ritz-Carlton trademark in the United States and was given a US Service Mark Registration.

In the 1970s, the Ritz-Carlton name was licensed to the builders of a new hotel in Chicago. The Ritz-Carlton Chicago opened in 1975 in a tower atop Water Tower Place. It joined the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts chain in 1977, as there was no Ritz-Carlton chain at the time. Confusingly, it remained part of Four Seasons for decades, marketed as “The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel)”. It had no association with the modern Ritz-Carlton chain, though it used the name and the iconic logo. The property was sold in 2013 and left Four Seasons, joining the modern Ritz-Carlton chain as a franchise on August 1, 2015.

In 1982, Blakely licensed the name to hotelier John B. Coleman for two hotels he was renovating, The Fairfax in Washington, D.C. and the Navarro in New York City. Coleman renamed them The Ritz-Carlton Washington D.C. and The Ritz-Carlton New York in April 1982. Coleman paid Blakely a fee of 1.5 percent of each hotel’s annual gross revenue for use of the name. The two hotels eventually joined the modern chain that would be founded a few years later.

The current Ritz-Carlton Company

n August 1983, Blakeley sold The Ritz-Carlton Boston and the US trademark for $75.5 million to William B. Johnson, a major Waffle House franchisee who was once the largest owner. He assembled a four-person development team in Atlanta, headed by hotelier Horst Schulze, to create the Ritz-Carlton hotel brand and established The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in its current form.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

In 1988, Johnson subsequently obtained the exclusive rights to The Ritz-Carlton brand name throughout the world except for the Hôtel Ritz Paris, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, and the Ritz-Carlton Montreal. Unlike The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago and the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, Hôtel Ritz Paris is not associated with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, instead joining The Leading Hotels of the World.

From 1951 to 1975, The Ritz-Carlton Boston had been one of only two Ritz-Carlton hotels in the US. The other was the independently owned Ritz-Carlton Atlantic City which had since been converted to condominiums. Johnson’s company paid the Atlantic City establishment to abandon its name and rename itself The Ritz Condominiums.

The company grew under the leadership of President and COO Horst Schulze. Schulze instituted a company-wide concentration on both the personal and the data-driven sides of service: He coined the company’s well-known customer/employee-centered motto, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen” and the set of specific service values (standards) on which The Ritz-Carlton employees base service through the present day. Under his leadership the hotels earned an unprecedented two Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards and grew from four to forty U.S. locations.

During this time, The Ritz-Carlton also became known for its influence on service in a wide range of industries, through the creation of The Ritz-Carlton Learning Institute and The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, created by then-Ritz executive Leonardo Inghilleri, who was an architect of the Ritz’s second Baldrige award, where executives from other companies worldwide in many disciplines come to learn The Ritz-Carlton principles of service.

In 1995, Marriott International purchased a 49% stake in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and in 1998, they purchased an additional 50% stake in the company, giving it 99% ownership of the company. Schulze and other executives (including Leonardo Inghilleri, Robert A. Warman and Peter Schoch) left to form the West Paces Hotel Group, which took the name of its primary brand, Capella Hotels, in December 2011. In 2007, the partners also formed Solís Hotels. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is now headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, located in the Washington, D.C. MSA.

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