The six-story Art Deco resort where Hollywood elites went in the '30s and '40s to honeymoon, enjoy the natural hot springs, and frolic in a wavy-edged pool is poised for a long-awaited revival in glorious San Bernardino, says the LA Times. The Arrowhead Springs Hotel, designed by the all-star team of Paul R. Williams and Gordon B. Kaufmann, opened in 1939 thanks to a bankroll from studio execs and stars like Claudette Colbert. Its Hollywood connections made it immediately hot; Elizabeth Taylor and Conrad "Nicky" Hilton honeymooned at the resort. Unfortunately, it didn't stay hot for long. As the rich and famous took to traveling by air for their vacations, San Bernardino didn't seem so exotic anymore. Hilton bought the hotel in 1952 and tried to spice things up by redecorating it "in a Western motif," but that didn't work out. Hilton sold to an equally famous hotelier, the owner of the Fairmont Hotel Corp., who gave up in 1956, when the hotel was bleeding as much as $1,500 a day.
The property was scooped up in 1962 by the Campus Crusade for Christ and used until 1999 as a conference center. Now they're selling for $57 million, a price that includes not just the hotel but land on which 1,350 residences, an additional 800,000 square feet of commercial space and conference facilities, and an 18-hole golf course could be built. The hotel would have to have some serious structural work done, as the rooms, "built for a different time," are puny compared to today's modern ideas of luxury.
The strongest thing working against the hotel is, ironically, the thing that once made it so popular: location. San Bernardino is bankrupt, and is known for having a high crime rate. Still, with the enormous size of the parcel and all that geothermal power working in its favor, "[i]nterest in the property is high," a broker familiar with the property says of the site.