Stanley Turkel, whose profession as a hotelier, hospitality advisor and historian required him to examine into extra hostelries than a million-mile frequent flier, died on Aug. 12 in his personal mattress in Alexandria, Va. He was 96.
His dying was confirmed by his son, Marc Turkel.
In 10 books and 270 weblog posts, Mr. Turkel (pronounced tur-KELL) explored the idiosyncrasies of lodgings in New York and world wide — from the historical past of the unique hyphen within the title of the Waldorf Astoria in New York to the revelation that the Lodge Monteleone’s Carousel Piano Bar in New Orleans revolves on 2,000 metal rollers.
He launched readers to César Ritz, the namesake of motels, a snack cracker and an adjective. He recalled the ever present windup determine of a harried government that the Sheraton chain featured in a marketing campaign with the slogan “Keyed-Up Executives Unwind at Sheraton.”
Mr. Turkel was greater than a resort maven; he was additionally a polymath. A civic activist, he was president from 1967 to 1978 of the Metropolis Membership of New York, a corporation whose affect over municipal authorities waned within the last many years of the twentieth century. He subsequently served as chairman and was a trustee of the membership for 30 years.
Starting in 1978 Mr. Turkel edited The Gadfly, the membership’s bulletin, and delighted in posing what he known as impertinent inquiries to public officers, each in print and in individual.
He was additionally energetic within the civil rights motion; he attended a six-lecture course with W.E.B. Du Bois in 1956, joined the March on Washington in 1963 and wrote his first guide, when he was 79, on Reconstruction.
Mr. Turkel was extremely opinionated and expressed his views on a variety of topics with out reservation. He was an inveterate correspondent to The New York Occasions: Some 40 of his Letters to the Editor had been printed between 1961 and 1989 — on topics from a suggestion that main companies undertake subway stations to a criticism that the offensive methods utilized by skilled soccer coaches had develop into “boring, hackneyed and wholly predictable.”
His skilled experience, nonetheless, was resort administration, a subject he entered after apprenticing in his father’s laundry enterprise in Manhattan.
In 1963, he was employed by the brothers Laurence and Preston Robert Tisch, who owned the Loews Company, to handle their 1,800-room Americana Lodge on Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan (now the Sheraton New York Occasions Sq.). He then ran the Drake Lodge, at Park Avenue and East 56th Road, and the Summit Lodge (now the DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan), on Lexington Avenue and East 51st Road.
His avocation was resort historical past, which he wrote about on his weblog and in books, amongst them “Nice American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Lodge Trade” (2009), “Constructed to Final: 100+ Yr-Previous Motels in New York” (2011), “Lodge Professionals” (2014) and “Nice American Lodge Architects” (2019).
He researched the origin of the American plan of eating (“low cost, limitless meals included within the room charge”) in contrast with the European plan (“the visitor paid just for his room”). He additionally investigated claims that the 74-room Metropolis Lodge, inbuilt 1794 on decrease Broadway, was the primary construction erected solely to be used as a resort, and that the Parker Home in Boston is the oldest repeatedly working resort in America.
Condo motels proliferated in New York within the late nineteenth century as a result of they had been exempt from the stricter development codes that utilized to tenements and different residential buildings. Of the 32 100-year-old New York hostelries in his guide, Mr. Turkel wrote, solely 20 started as full-service motels.
As for the Waldorf’s on-again, off-again hyphen (it’s off once more), it symbolized the truce between William Waldorf Astor, who opened the Waldorf on Fifth Avenue in 1893, and his cousin John Jacob Astor IV, who demolished his mom’s home subsequent door in 1895 and constructed the Astoria resort. Each motels stood on the location of what’s now the Empire State Constructing.
Stanley Howard Turkel was born on Sept. 2, 1925, within the Bronx. His father, Nathan, an immigrant from Poland, owned New York Moist Wash Laundry, which catered to motels and different industrial prospects. His mom, Molly (Kurtzman) Turkel, was a homemaker.
“As late as 1949, the so-called ‘residence routes’ (near East 91st Road) had been serviced by horse and wagon,” Mr. Turkel wrote in a letter to The Occasions in 2000. “After I typically labored as trip aid for the common routemen, I found that the horses knew the shoppers’ addresses and invariably stopped in entrance of the following constructing for a pickup of soiled laundry.”
After graduating from DeWitt Clinton Excessive Faculty when he was 15, he attended New York College’s Bronx campus. He enlisted within the Military Air Forces when he was 18 and returned to finish his training at N.Y.U. in what’s now the Stern Faculty of Enterprise, the place he earned a Bachelor of Science diploma.
He labored for his father’s laundry firm, enrolled in a one-year program on the Faculty of Laundry Administration on the American Institute of Laundering in Joliet, Ailing., and served as a laundry advisor with the Victor Kramer Firm for seven years earlier than becoming a member of Loews in 1962.
He left the Summit Lodge to handle the Sheraton resort model for the ITT Company from 1968 to 1975, the place in 1970 he launched what was stated to be the primary 1-800 phone quantity for reservations. (It was promoted by an promoting jingle carried out by the Boston Pops.) In 1976, he began his personal consulting agency.
His marriage to Barbara Bell led to divorce. Along with his son, he’s survived by a daughter, Allison Turkel, from that marriage; his stepchildren, Josh and Benay Forrest; one grandson; and two step-grandchildren. His second spouse, Rima (Sokoloff) Turkel, died in 2014.
He lived in Flushing, Queens, till he moved to Alexandria 4 years in the past.
Mr. Turkel was named Historian of the Yr in 2014, 2015 and 2020 by Historic Motels of America, a program of the Nationwide Belief for Historic Preservation. He was engaged on a memoir at his dying.
If he had a favourite resort, his son stated, it could have been the Drake, which he managed for 2 and a half years after the Tisch brothers purchased it in 1965. It boasted Shepheard’s, which billed itself as New York’s first disco. He additionally rehired a former fixture of the New York music scene, the cafe society pianist Cy Walter.
“The Drake was each basic and modern,” Marc Turkel stated in a cellphone interview. “Shepheard’s offered nightlife and leisure and was ‘sizzling’ when he managed it within the early to mid-Nineteen Sixties. But he introduced again after which championed the profession of Cy Walter, then an older man, and luminaries corresponding to Arthur Rubenstein, the classical pianist, who stayed there. My father beloved that dualism.”
Mr. Turkel did have a favourite administration maxim, which amounted to a model of congestion pricing: A decrease charge is best than nothing.
“Nothing,” he advised The Occasions in 1995, “is extra perishable than an unoccupied resort room.”