The Hotel Hershey®
Milton S. Hershey, having perfected his formula for milk chocolate nearly three decades earlier, faced the Depression with the prospect of either employing his town's construction workers or providing for their welfare. Over the objections of his close friends and associates, who urged him to conserve his resources, and his mother, who said the idea was hopelessly extravagant, Hershey announced in 1930 that he intended to build a hotel.
A hotel had been a dream of Hershey and his wife Catherine for many years, who had urged him to construct a building "like the great Heliopolis Hotel in Cairo, Egypt.” This model was further supplemented by notes that the couple kept while traveling and staying in various hotels. Architect D. Paul Witmer was charged with designing the 170-room hotel. During construction, as many as 800 steelworkers, masons, carpenters and other craftsmen and laborers were employed and the work proceeded at a breathtaking pace.
The project began in 1932, continued through a very mild winter and was completed on May 23, 1933. Hershey held a formal opening celebration on May 26, 1933, with dinner and dancing for 400 invited guests. The two million dollar hotel opened for business the next day. Hershey had realized his dream and created an elegant hotel designed in accordance with the 19th-century manner of the "grand hotel."
A nine-hole golf course was built on the hotel grounds in 1934. The grand ballroom, named the Castilian Room, opened in June of 1935 and that fall the wine cellar and the first service bar were opened. Air conditioning was installed during the 1950s and meeting rooms were added in 1957 to satisfy the growing demands of group business. The outdoor swimming pool was opened in 1961. A new, 100-room wing, the West Tower, opened in 1977. The Fountain Cafe was added in 1993, followed by The Cocoa Beanery in 1997. The newest addition to The Hotel Hershey is The Spa At The Hotel Hershey, which opened in 2001. Due to the popularity of The Spa and its unique chocolate spa services, it was expanded to nearly double its size in 2004, only three years after its opening. Since the expansion of the spa, guests have enjoyed even more chocolate treatments as well as Cuban-themed treatments, inspired by Milton Hershey’s love for Cuba and the sugar plantations he owned there until 1946.
Throughout 2009, The Hotel Hershey officially unveiled its $67 million building campaign known as “The Grand Expansion,” which launched as part of the Hotel's 75th anniversary celebration. Along with dramatic upgrades to the Hotel’s front entrance, the expansion featured 10 new luxury guest cottages; one meetings cottage; a multi-pool swimming complex with an infinity-edge pool; year-round ice-skating rink; new recreation area; 130-seat restaurant, Harvest; and seven new boutique shops known as The Shops At The Hotel Hershey.