Bring on the flappers, the swell fellas and the well-heeled hoofers doin’ the Charleston. With “The Great Gatsby” set to hit theaters on May 10, it seems Baz Luhrmann isn’t the only one hoping to recapture a bit of the Roaring '20s.
From New York to Portland, Ore., hotels are rolling out Jazz Age packages that even F. Scott and Zelda would consider the cat’s meow.
"Hotel branding is all about (capturing) mind share,” said John O’Neill, director of the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State. “Things like big summer blockbusters serve as great vehicles to do so. On top of that, ‘The Great Gatsby’ is set in the Roaring ‘20s — a time of opulence, elegance and style — an ideal setting for upscale hotels.”
Of course, no hotel is likely to put on a show as dazzling, star-studded and over-the-top as the man behind “Moulin Rouge” and “Romeo + Juliet,” but for fans of Daisy, Nick and mystery man himself, the following properties will likely fit the bill (sorry, Leonardo DiCaprio not included):
The legendary New York hotel is abso-tively, posi-lutely ga-ga over Gatsby. In addition to speakeasy-style cocktails, 1920s-themed brunches and a display of costumes from the new film, the hotel is debuting a new suite dedicated to its famous patron. Located on the 18th floor, the 700-square-foot Fitzgerald Suite will feature Art Deco décor, period-inspired furnishings and images of its namesake. Rates start at $2,795 per night.
Although Fitzgerald set his book among the mansions of Long Island, few places recall the Gilded Age like Newport, R.I. At Vanderbilt Grace, a 1909 mansion-turned-hotel, guests can savor the good life with the Grace Gatsby package, which includes two nights’ lodging, a vintage 5-course dinner, champagne breakfasts, a sailing excursion and free admission to five other local mansions. Rates start at $1,100 per couple.
As a winter retreat for the rich and famous, Aiken, S.C., comes by its Gatsby connection the old-fashioned way: Tommy Hitchcock, scion of a local family and a friend of Fitzgerald’s, was the inspiration for Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan. Today, visitors can still get hip to the jive at The Willcox hotel, where The Great Gatsby package includes lodging, a 3-course tasting menu, Jazz-Age cocktail at turndown and a copy of the novel. Nightly rates start at $165 per person.
Opened in 1925, this waterfront hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla., is putting on the ritz with a Roaring Twenties Experience package. Starting at $379 per night, the deal includes lodging, dinner for two from the restaurant’s 1925 dining menu and a carriage ride through downtown complete with Prohibition cocktails. For those who want to cut a rug, the package also includes a class where the uninhibited can learn that scandalous dance, the Charleston.
Think you have what it takes to write the next Great American Novel? If so, The Heathman in Portland, Ore., may inspire you. The hotel’s Great Gatsby package includes lodging in the stylish Literary Arts Suite, where you’ll find a small library, a DVD of the 1974 movie starring Mia Farrow and Robert Redford and a vintage typewriter where you can tap your way to literary immortality. Nightly rates, which also include Jazz Age cocktails and appetizers, start at $895.
Finally, those with serious scratch — you know, do-re-mi — may want to mark their calendars for April 7–14, 2014, when Minnesota Public Radio and The Fitzgerald Theater will host F. Scott’s Paris, an 8-day tour of the city where Fitz, Zelda and the rest of the Lost Generation experienced the bohemian lifestyle that so enthralled Gatsby and his pals. To get “borne back ceaselessly into the past,” as Fitzgerald wrote in the book, will run you $4,899.
Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him on Twitter.