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Luxury Hotels with Everything – Including Ghosts

Posted by Amy Clyde on 10/29/2014
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Hotels, USA, Europe, Canada

Luxury hotels offer many a worldly pleasure, but only a select few can be described as otherworldly. 
With Halloween on the horizon, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite haunted luxury hotels…
Read on, if you dare…

chateau de rochecotteThe Château de Rochecotte (Langeais, France)
On one of our Normandy tours – Normandy, Brittany, Paris & the Loire Valley – we spend two nights at The Château de Rochecotte, once owned by the Duchesse de Dino who resided there with her uncle, the renowned 18th- and 19th-century diplomat Talleyrand. Tauck Director Nicole Kreigenhofer suspects that the Duchesse may still be in residence.

Apparently, a Tauck driver named Michel awoke one night at the chateau to find a woman in white with long flowing hair floating above his bed. “From that night on, Michel would either stay awake all night with the TV and lights on, or he'd sleep in the motor coach,” says Nicole. “He was too proud or embarrassed to ask for a different room.” After several sleepless nights, Michel finally told his story to the front desk, and from then on the staff always tried to assign him another room.

Still, Nicole suspects that the experience had a lasting effect on him. “He retired last year,” says Kreigenhofer. “I can’t help but wonder if that was what pushed him into retirement.”

westin excelsior florenceWestin Excelsior Florence (Florence, Italy)
Politicians and celebrities like Tom Cruise have enjoyed stays at the elegant Westin Excelsior Florence, but then again, they’ve probably never tried to sleep in room 152.

One of the smaller rooms at the hotel, room 152 routinely houses Tauck Directors leading our Classic Italy and other Italy tours. At least three different Tauck Directors have all reported “feeling watched” and having other unnerving experiences in room 152, but perhaps the most deeply affected was Debi Holmes-Binney.

“I was so convinced that room 152 was haunted that I absolutely refused to stay on the first floor at all,” says Debi. “I actually went down to the concierge at midnight in my jammies because I was so scared. To this day, if they told me I had to stay in that room I’d go to another hotel.”

ahwahneeThe Ahwahnee®
(Yosemite National Park, California)

Guests on our Yosemite tour, Yosemite and Sequoia: John Muir’s California, spend just two nights in the park’s luxurious The Ahwahnee, but apparently other hotel guests refuse to check out – even after “checking out.” Tauck Director Cindy Walker adamantly refuses to stay on the sixth floor after having had strange experiences there – even before she found out that some believe it’s haunted by the ghost of Mary Curry Tressider. Tressider helped develop the hotel and lived in an apartment
on the sixth floor until her death in 1970 – after which reports of an apparition moving about the sixth floor became common.

Another unusual story involves The Ahwahnee’s third floor, where President John F. Kennedy stayed during a visit to Yosemite in 1962. A rocking chair had been placed in Kennedy’s room prior to his arrival because rocking helped alleviate his chronic back pain. After Kennedy’s death, housekeepers began reporting the presence of a rocking chair, rocking slowly in the room where the President had stayed – despite the fact that after his visit the room had never been furnished with a rocking chair again.

grand canyon lodge north rimGrand Canyon Lodge – North Rim 
(Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona)

Cindy Walker had another strange experience while travelling with a colleague, Jim Hahn, during the development phase of our Grand Canyon holiday Spirit of the Desert: The National Parks of the Southwest. While staying in the guest cabins at the Grand Canyon Lodge, Cindy was awakened at 3:33 AM when the phone in her room rang. She answered, but no one was on the line. The following morning, Jim called Cindy on her cell phone and mentioned he couldn’t get through to her by dialing her room number on the property’s phone system. Curious, Cindy checked her in-room telephone and was shocked to see that it was unplugged.

Cindy told the front desk about her experience, and their response was, “Yeah, it’s probably the ghost.” More recently, while again staying at the North Rim cabins with a Tauck group, Cindy overheard a guest complaining about getting a phone call in the cabin at 3:30 AM – and once again, it was the same cabin.  “Spirit of the Desert” indeed…

le chateau frontenacFairmont Le Château Frontenac
(Quebec City, Canada)

At the imposing castle-like Chateau Frontenac, where we stay on Canada’s Capital Cities plus Niagara Falls, one Tauck Director and several guests spotted a strange man sitting on a windowsill in the hotel, only to have him suddenly vanish. According to the hotel, it was likely the apparition of Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, for whom the property was named. De Buade was a 17th century governor general in Quebec. He’d left instructions that, upon his death, his heart was to be sent to his fiancée in Europe. However, his fiancée was too grief-stricken to accept the unique memento, and it was returned to Quebec. To this day, de Buade is said to wander the hotel, still seeking to be near his beloved.

banff springsFairmont Banff Springs Hotel (Alberta, Canada)
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a glorious castle in the
Canadian Rockies, built in 1886 in the Scottish baronial style. Today,
the hotel is a popular stay on a number of Tauck itineraries, including our Glacier National Park tour, Canadian Rockies & Glacier National Park.

There are two stories floating around about the ghosts at the Banff Springs. The first involves a helpful bellman named Sam who frequently assists guests on the hotel’s ninth floor. When guests try to engage Sam in conversation or offer him a tip, he quickly departs – “almost into thin air,” as one guest reported. Sam is a former hotel employee who passed away decades ago.

The second story is a tragic tale of a young bride who, following her wedding ceremony, was descending a marble staircase to the ballroom below. A sudden gust of wind tangled the train of her bridal gown in her feet, and she fell to her death. Today the hotel still reports mysterious chilling breezes on the marble staircase and strange sightings of a beautiful woman in a flowing white dress descending the stairs or dancing in the ballroom.

parco dei principiGrand Hotel Parco dei Principi (Rome, Italy)
A more playful spirit appears to inhabit the five-star Grand Hotel Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa in Rome, where we stay on our Tauck Bridges Italy family holiday The Sweet Life: Rome & Sorrento. The hotel and its décor call to mind the opulence of a noble 17th-century villa.

However, the charms of the Parco were sometimes lost on Tauck Director Andrea Orri when he led trips for the company in Italy, particularly when he stayed in room 523. “I’ve stayed at the Parco dei Principi about a million times, and each time I slept in room 523 the lights would go on in the heart of the night and the curtains – with the window closed – would start moving,” says Andrea. He became so familiar with the apparent poltergeist in room 523 that he eventually nicknamed the troublemaker “Jimmy.”

toftaholm herrgardToftaholm Herrgård (Toftaholm, Sweden)
A Leading Historic Hotel Of Sweden, the Toftaholm Herrgård, where we spend a night on our Scandinavia tour, dates back to the 14th century and enjoys a quiet setting by the eastern shore of Lake Vidöstern. By many accounts, room 324 is haunted by the ghost of young man named Mats.

In 1750 the hotel was the private manor house of a baron, and Mats was an illegitimate peasant who worked there as a stable boy. Mats and the baron’s daughter, Ebba, fell in love, but the baron forced Ebba into an arranged marriage against her will. On the morning of Ebba’s wedding, Mats hanged himself in room 324.

Today, says the hotel’s Torbjorn Colfach, Mats’ restless spirit continues to haunt room 324 – as well as other rooms occupied by attractive young women. “Mats is very friendly,” says Colfach. “On the other hand, our guests report funny things, such as strange sounds, the unexplained movement of various things, and doors or windows being closed in the morning that were left open the night before.”

ritz carlton new orleansRitz-Carlton New Orleans
(New Orleans, Louisiana)

The 103-year-old historic landmark, the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, where we stay on The Tauck Jazz Event and New Orleans: Bayous & The Big Easy, is just three blocks from the grave of New Orleans’ famous voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. As a tribute to this otherworldly icon, the Ritz-Carlton’s spa offers a Marie Laveau Voodoo Love Bath and Massage service. Could that be behind the strange happenings in the spa?

According to the hotel’s massage therapists, closed doors in the spa open on their own. Massage oils shift mysteriously on counter tops when no one is looking, and hydrotherapy tub lights flicker. Perhaps the spa’s use of Marie Laveau’s name simply “rubs her the wrong way?”

A trio of other ghosts also supposedly haunt the Ritz-Carlton, including two young girls who routinely run up and down the hallways, and an older gentlemen sometimes seen quietly reading in the Library area of The Club Level.

keltic lodgeKeltic Lodge (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia)
Tauck Director Tom Olinyk was familiar with the story of the haunting
of the Keltic Lodge by the ghost of former owner Julia Corson,
who died there in the 1930s and today allegedly walks the property in a long, flowing white gown. But it took the experience of a Tauck guest on our Nova Scotia cruise, Canadian Maritimes, to make
Tom a believer.

“I had a lady on the tour who, while we were leaving Keltic Lodge for Halifax, asked me if the lodge was haunted,” says Tom. “She told me the night before she felt a cold presence and saw a lady in a long white gown. The ‘lady’ entered the room from the area of the door, which of course was shut and locked, and my guest watched the apparition as it gracefully crossed the room, hesitated for awhile and then exited through the opposite wall. What made the whole thing so interesting was the fact that I hadn’t mentioned to any of the guests that the hotel was supposedly haunted, and I couldn’t believe that my guest had described exactly the same thing that other people had reported seeing.”

parador de cardonaParador de Cardona (Cardona, Spain)
The Parador de Cardona hosts our guests for lunch on one on our Spain tours, Paradors of Northern Spain, and perhaps it’s better that guests don’t spend the night. This massive, former fortress in the foothills of the Pyrenees dates back to the year 789; it once helped secure territories re-conquered from the Moors. Today this luxury hotel hosts discerning travellers, many of whom have reported seeing apparitions in medieval dress, including armor-clad soldiers…

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