Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions
The Sweet's Hotel opened in downtown Grand Rapids in the early 1900s and was soon purchased by J. Boyd Pantlind. After a renovation by the designers of Grand Central Station and the Biltmore Hotel, it was reopened as the Pantlind Hotel in 1916. By 1925, it consistently ranked as one of the top ten finest hotels in the country.
In 1979, the Amway Corporation bought the hotel and embarked on another major renovation. The newly-christened Amway Grand Plaza Hotel reopened in 1981 with President Gerald Ford and wife Betty hosting the black tie event. Since then, many major public figures have stayed here including Margaret Thatcher, Queen Noor of Jordan, James Earl Jones, Jerry Seinfeld, and Cher.
The hotel lobby still evokes the grace and grandeur of the early 1900s. Three Austrian crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, each weighing over 4,000 pounds. More than 7,000 square feet of gold leaf covers the ceiling, making it the largest installation of its kind in the U.S. A fountain capped by a welcoming pineapple shimmers in the middle of it all.
The lobby also features a large wooden sunburst, formerly owned by a wealthy merchant of Venice that was displayed in his palazzo's ballroom for more than 150 years. The antique railings, brass moldings, and converted gaslight torchieres all add to the ambiance of bygone era. So get your Gatsby best on and start taking some great retro-style photos in the lobby of the opulent Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
Cover photo credit: windycityrachel via Instagram.