These Tauck Luxury Hotels Have Everything – Including Ghosts!
Posted by Guest Blogger
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Hotels, USA, Europe, Canada
From Guest Blogger Tom Armstrong
With Halloween drawing near, we’ve surveyed our global team of Tauck Directors to get their suggestions for a list of the world’s “Top Haunted Luxury Hotels.” Each year we have over 200 Tauck Directors traveling in some 70 different countries worldwide, and they average over 10 years experience with our company, so they’re uniquely qualified to assemble this fun – and spooky! – list:
The Westin Excelsior Florence (Florence, Italy)
Politicians and celebrities from Bill Clinton to Tom Cruise have enjoyed stays at elegant The 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 is routinely assigned to Tauck Directors on our Italy tours - at least three Tauck Directors have reported “feeling watched” and having other unnerving experiences there.
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,” said Holmes-Binney. “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.”
The Fairmont Banff Springs (Alberta, Canada)
The Fairmont Banff Springs is a glorious castle in the Canadian Rockies and a popular stay on a number of our Canadian Rockies tours. Tauck Director Ed Gans shared a tragic tale of a young bride who, following her wedding ceremony at the hotel, was descending a marble staircase in her bridal gown to the ballroom below. A sudden gust of wind tangled the gown’s long train in the bride’s feet, causing her to fall to her death down the marble stairs. 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.
Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona)
Last year Tauck Director Cindy Walker had a strange experience while traveling on one of our journeys in the American Southwest. While staying in the guest cabins at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Cindy was awakened at 3:33 AM when the phone in her cabin (#328) rang. She answered, but no one was on the line. Imagine Cindy’s shock the following morning when she discovered that the phone was unplugged!
Cindy told the front desk about her experience, and their response was, “Yeah, it’s probably the ghost.” This year, while again staying at the North Rim cabins during a Tauck Grand Canyon tour, Cindy overheard a guest complaining about getting an anonymous phone call at 3:30 AM – and once again, it was in cabin #328.
Parador de Cardona (Cardona, Spain)
One of Tauck’s Europe tours explores northern Spain and Portugal, and includes lunch at the impressive Parador de Cardona in Cardona, Spain. Given the hotel’s reputation, perhaps it’s best that our guests are only there in the daytime! This massive, former fortress in the foothills of the Pyrenees dates back to the year 789, and it once helped secure territories reconquered from the Moors. Today this luxury property hosts discerning travelers, many of whom have reported seeing apparitions in medieval dress, including armor-clad soldiers.
The Ahwahnee® (Yosemite National Park, California)
Guests on our Yosemite tours enjoy a stay the park’s rustic yet luxurious The Ahwahnee®, but apparently other guests of the hotel 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, and it’s also the sixth floor that she later learned may be haunted by the ghost of Mary Curry Tressider. Tressider was instrumental in the hotel’s development, and she lived in an apartment on the sixth floor until her death in 1970. Shortly after her death, reports of an apparition moving about the sixth floor became common.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Housed within a 103-year-old historic landmark, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans 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 reported in the spa?
According to the hotel’s massage therapists, doors in the spa open on their own, even after being closed. Massage oils shift mysteriously on counter tops when no one is looking, and the hydrotherapy tub lights flicker. Perhaps the spa’s use of Marie Laveau’s name simply “rubs her the wrong way?”
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac (Quebec City, Canada)
Tauck Director Britta Svensson nominated the imposing castle-like Château Le Frontenac, a landmark hotel in Quebec City, for a spot on the list. Britta and several guests on one of her tours each saw 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 in a decorative box to his fiancé in Europe. However, his distraught fiancé 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.
Château dw Rochecotte (Loire Valley, France)
The stunning Château de Rochecotte was once owned by the Duchesse de Dino who resided there with her uncle, the renowned diplomat Talleyrand. Tauck Director Nicole Kreigenhofer relates a story that suggests that the Duchesse may actually still be in residence at Rochecotte. According to Kreigenhofer, a Tauck motorcoach driver named Michel awoke one night at the château to find a woman in white with long flowing hair floating above his bed. Michel was so paralyzed with fear that he was unable to move or scream.
“From that night on,” says Kreigenhofer, “Michel would either stay awake all night with the TV and lights on, or he'd sleep in the motorcoach – 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 the staff thereafter always tried to assign him another room. Still, Kreigenhofer suspects that the experience had a lasting effect on Michel. “He retired the next year,” says Kreigenhofer, “and I can’t help but wonder if that was what pushed him into retirement.”
Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa (Rome, Italy)
A playful spirit appears to inhabit room 523 of the five-star Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa in Rome, according to Tauck Director Andrea Orri. “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,” recalls Orri.
Like many Tauck Directors, Orri is frequently housed in the same room at a given hotel by the hotel’s management. These rooms may be smaller than standard rooms or offer a less scenic view – or perhaps they have issues of a more supernatural nature? For his part, Orri became so familiar with his “roommate” in room 523 at the Parco that he eventually nicknamed him “Jimmy.”
Keltic Lodge (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia)
Tauck Director Tom Olinyk was familiar with the story of the Keltic Lodge being haunted by the ghost of former owner Julia Corson, who allegedly died at the property in the 1930s and today still walks the hotel in a long, flowing white gown. Many of the hotel’s staff have felt Julia’s presence, but it took the experience of a Tauck guest to make Tom a believer.
Tom tells the story: “One morning years ago I had a lady on our tour who asked me if the lodge was haunted. When I asked her why, she told me the night before she’d had an experience where 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 slowly and gracefully crossed the room, hesitated for a moment, and then exited through the opposite wall. What made the whole thing so interesting to me,” recalls Tom, “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 the exact same thing that other people had reported seeing.”