A Brief History of the San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association
By Barb Machado
San Antonio’s first hotel organization had its beginning in the early 1900s. First known as the Keepers Association, it officially became the San Antonio Hotel Men’s Association in 1914. This small group of hotel managers representing seven downtown properties played an active role in the creation/improvement of our annual Rodeo, Fiesta Week and the first stages of development on our now famous Riverwalk.
Pieces of our past currently being gathered from old newspaper articles identify numerous hoteliers who left their mark on our industry and our city. In the 1930s, Jack White, Plaza Hotel Manager, (now the Granada Apartments on Villita Street) led the first civic committee to plan and create the Riverwalk. He also served two terms as Mayor of San Antonio and has a street named in his honor!
San Antonio hoteliers served on high level federal commissions during both World Wars which helped strengthened the important role the industry played during these critical times.
San Antonio’s designation as a “Destination City” was the result of the 1968 World’s Fair: HemisFair. The resulting hotel development and construction of the first Convention Center set us on the path we travel today.
For more than 100 years, local hoteliers have played a critical role in developing our international status within the convention and travel industries and forging San Antonio’s reputation for hospitality!
Tourism and hospitality remains one of San Antonio’s most important industries. The size of the industry has quadrupled just since 1990 and has a $13.6 billion economic impact. The industry employs more than 130,000 individuals, that is one in every eight workers in San Antonio!
Barb Machado served as the Executive Director of the San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association from 1991-2003.