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  1. 1. Growth and Development of Resorts The first resorts in the United States were developed in the mid 17 th century. They were small, out of the way and very exclusive. Their focus was on service and relaxation and their market was made up of the wealthy. Access was by horse and carriage and they were generally located in the cool mountains or by warm or hot springs. Both offered a unique and "getaway" experience. NATURAL ATTRACTIONS AND GEOGRAPHY The early resorts were really guest inns that were located by warm or hot springs. The resorts took advantage of the perceived or real advantages of the medicinal possibilities of hot springs, mineral springs, and even mud springs. Guests would come to partake of these experiences in a relaxing atmosphere that included personal service and elaborate dining and social experiences. Some early resorts merely offered the cool, clean mountain air and sunshine. The objective was to getaway and indulge in something different and exclusive. Only the wealthy or socially connected could afford such luxury. With the advent of the railroad, many new resort locations became accessible. Resorts opened on the beaches at Atlantic City, in the mountains at Sun Valley and Colorado, and the deserts of the southwest. With the invention of air conditioning, railroads were expanded into Florida and Georgia opening warm weather beach locations. Resorts outside the United States developed as travelers wanted to experience other cultures and locations different from their own. Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean offered different resort experiences and when air transportation became affordable and convenient, these destinations grew in popularity. In the 21st century, the world is accessible and increasing numbers of travelers are looking for the way resort destinations that offer very different experiences than those close at hand. The combination of climate, natural attractions, and accessibility provided by new means of transportation were the keys to resort development. One could not happen without the other. TRANSPORTATION The early resorts were accessible by horse and carriage, a journey that could take several days. Very few people had the time and wealth to undertake such a journey and therefore very few resorts were in operation before the development of the railroad. The growth of railroads was a major event that enabled many new resorts to open. Railroads not only opened new destinations for resorts but also made travel more affordable. As a result, more people could travel to more resort locations. The invention of the automobile by itself had a limited impact on resort development. However when Henry Ford began mass production, more people could afford automobiles and therefore could have access to resorts at a significantly lower expense. As more people had cars, more and
  2. 2. better roads were built and this lead again to more resorts being developed. A resort only required a road and guests could now drive to a resort with flexibility of time and cost. The airplane was the last significant transportation development that had a major impact on resorts. As with the automobile, airplanes opened new locations and brought the time and cost required to take a resort vacation down. Air travel opened the world to both group and pleasure travelers. Resort travelers could now choose between driving to a weekend resort destination or traveling by air to a more exotic or attractive resort destination. Hawaii, the Caribbean and the South Pacific were no longer just dreams for many people. HISTORICAL EVENTS While the main factors in the development of resorts were location and transportation, several historical events slowed or changed the development of resorts. Most significant were wars and economic cycles. The Civil War altered the resort experience by opening resorts up to all races and ethnicities. This created an uncomfortable time frame for the North and the South as both the nature of service and people staying at resorts was challenged and changed. This was particularly challenging for resorts located in the South where slaves previously were part of providing the services at resorts. It was unthinkable to have "Blacks or African/ Americans" now be able to stay at these exclusive resorts. Also, many Northerners would no longer go to resorts that continued to treat their service employees as slaves or would not permit them to stay in their facilities. World Wars I and II had major impacts on resort travel. Countries that were ravaged by war were off limits to most travel including pleasure travel. It often took years before travel returned to normal levels and necessary repairs and restorations made to resort properties. Their could also be a stigma attached to that country that would reduce or hinder resort travelers from visiting that location. In addition, during times of war, people did not have the time or money to travel to resorts. During the world wars, all efforts in the United States were geared to a war time economy which totally changed business and pleasure travel. A resort experience was something that was not acceptable to most given the war time atmosphere. Economic cycles play a major role in resort development and activity. During recessions and depressions, people did not have the ability to vacation at a resort. Travel was infrequent and limited in cost and time. Conversely, during economic booms, wealth is created and more people feel they have the time and money to vacation at a resort. They also can have the time and money to take several resort vacations a year and visit new and exciting resort destinations. Because of the high cost of resorts, high income or wealth are often prerequisites for a resort vacation. INVENTIONS We have mentioned many of these inventions in the preceding material. While they have been primarily transportation oriented, there are several other inventions that have had a major impact on resort development or operations.
  3. 3. The role of transportation in resort development has been the most influential of any aspect or factor. Because most resorts in the early days or in modern times have been in distant or remote locations, accessibility along with wealth have been major determinants of who could visit resorts. Horse and carriages on dirt roads provided the start. Comfort was increased, time decreased and more locations accessible with the advent of the railroad. Low cost automobiles with paved roads provided the flexibility to drive to many more locations, again increasing comfort and flexibility and decreasing time and cost. Finally, the airplane conquered oceans and major distances while also reducing the time required to travel to these locations. As individual wealth and the variety of resorts available increased, cost and travel time decreased. The result was more resort destinations to choose from, more time to spend at the resorts, and less expense involved. This is also important because opened up new and different markets for resort travelers. Resort alternatives expanded to include shorter weekend trips that were taken more often to accommodate the work schedules of two income earners and the school schedules of children, longer, more extensive vacations to distant resort destinations, family vacations verses adult getaways, and the alternating between east and west coast, national and international, and even warm weather/cold weather resort destinations. One other major invention that should be mentioned is air conditioning. This invention had an everlasting impact on resort travel because it was available in automobiles, at work and at home. One of the major negatives of resort destinations was now minimized as high humidity and high temperatures were now offset in indoor and travel situations. Guest rooms, lobbies, restaurants and meeting spaces were now made comfortable year round. This enabled resorts to extend seasons and improve the guest experience. Other inventions have also helped resort travel but not to the degree of transportation or air conditioning which were needs rather than wants. However sun screen and lotions, medical aids, sports equipment, open air inventions or developments such as screens, portable windows and walls, portable heaters, portable decorations, indoor/outdoor pools, and the coordination of all travel needs including car rentals, lodging, transportation and recreation. We will close by considering what inventions will influence resort travel in the future. It is only a matter of time until a pleasure travel will be included in space ventures. What other resort developments will occur in the future is only limited by mans ingenuity, the ability to pay for and the availability of leisure time to pursue these resort activities.