Haunted Halloween Getaways
Jekyll Island Club Hotel
As Halloween approaches, it seems young and old alike get into the spirit of ghosts and spooky, supernatural happenings. At a number of historic hotels and resorts throughout the country, guests can enjoy not only a chance to get away from the daily grind, but possibly a brush with the unknown.
Built in 1913 out of granite boulders hewn from the surrounding countryside, the historic Grove Park Inn enjoys a panorama that takes in Asheville, N.C., the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. During her recent visit to this AAA four-diamond resort and spa, television news producer Amy Burkholder experienced something quite out of the ordinary. "I was staying in the historic section in a room with a beautiful view of the mountains. I didn't know anything about the ghost at the time. On the last day of my stay, it was about 7 a.m. and I was lying in bed talking on the phone. I had the 'Today Show' on the TV and the channels started to change. The remote control wasn't stuck or anything like that. Then, the volume went way up, and the channels started to change again. I turned the TV off and went into the shower -- and the TV came back on again." Shaken, but not frightened, Burkholder said later, "There was no sense of negative energy, it was just very persistent."
Photo by Sharon Pearce, a guest at Grove Park Inn
If you'd like to meet the nice lady in the pink dress, perhaps she will oblige; the Fall Splendor package at Grove Park Inn starts at $298 a night.
The Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. also has a resident ghost in a pink dress, an elderly woman who haunts the fourth floor. The Hotel Andaluz has collected a number of resident spirits since it was built by Conrad Hilton in 1939, and they have lingered on throughout the hotel's recent $30 million renovation. They mostly wander the fourth and seventh floors, but occasionally stop by the main ballroom on the second floor. The ghost most frequently encountered is a young woman dressed in 1940s party clothes, wandering in search of her room on the hotel's seventh floor. Overnight rates at the Hotel Andaluz start at $249.
Dramatization; Hotel Monteleone
Phyllis Paulsen, a financial planner from California, described a surprise visitor to her suite on the 14th floor (which is actually the 13th floor). "I was just relaxing in bed one morning when I looked up to see a young boy about three years old walk by the foot of my bed," she recalled. "Since he had come from the sitting room, I immediately got up to see if the door was open and to check if a parent may have followed him into the room. My husband had just left for a meeting, and I thought he may not have closed the door all the way."
The door was securely closed. "It didn't take me long to realize that I had seen a ghost," she continued. "He was a friendly little fellow wearing a striped shirt. One moment he was there and the next he was gone."
For Paulsen, the experience was not at all unpleasant; in fact, she requests the same room whenever she returns to New Orleans. "I've been back twice since I first saw the child and he hasn't reappeared, but I am always thinking that maybe he will next time."
The story of the young boy has been repeated many times by other guests, and legend has it that he was the son of Josephine and Jacques Begere who stayed at the Monteleone in the late 19th century. The boy, Maurice, was left with his nanny while the couple went to the famous French Opera House on Bourbon Street. On the way back from the opera, Jacques was killed when he was thrown from a horse-drawn buggy. Josephine died within a year of a broken heart, and the ghost of young Maurice sometimes roams the halls searching for his parents -- who were staying on the 14th floor. Fall rates the Hotel Monteleone start at just $159 a night.
Originally built in 1886 as a hunting retreat for the Rockefellers, Astors, Goulds and the like, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel enjoys a unique setting on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. The Southern Hospitality here is so memorable that a number of the hotel's elite clientele don't seem to want to leave. Samuel Spencer was a railroad magnate who died mysteriously in 1906 -- in a train crash. Spencer is said to haunt his favorite suite on the second floor of the hotel's Annex, the "airiest and brightest of all." Appearing in the early morning hours, Spencer enjoys sipping coffee and reading the news of the day.
Staff, too, seem to linger on at Jekyll Island; a bellman in a 1920s cap and suit is especially diligent about delivering freshly pressed suits to new bridegrooms on the second floor of the Club building. He has been seen by present-day bellmen and has baffled guests who had not requested this service.
With this sort of dedication to service, it's no wonder that a member like JP Morgan would be reluctant to give up his splendid apartment on the third floor of the Sans Souci building. A rabid cigar smoker, Morgan would rise every morning at 5:00 a.m. to savor a large, black cigar on his porch overlooking the Jekyll River, leaving a cloud of smoke in his wake. A number of early-rising guests who occupy this third floor accommodation have detected the odor of a cigar -- when no one else is awake.
Fall Getaway packages start at $169 per night, but a special Halloween Package called A Spirited Weekend at Your Favorite Haunt, Oct. 29-31 is $795 per couple and includes readings from a Dominican clairvoyant named Veronica, and a Tarot reader and karmic counselor named Jean, both of Psychic Solutions.
With a history that dates back to 1607, Colonial Williamsburg has had its share of strange sightings, some dating back hundreds of years. Employees have seen people dressed in colonial attire, and assumed they were fellow workers -- until they vanished into thin air.
Among the original structures in this restored 18th century town is the George Wythe House, named for its first inhabitant, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who taught law to Thomas Jefferson. This two-story brick home dates to the 1750s and served as George Washington's headquarters just before the British siege of Yorktown. Legend has it that the house is visited by a frequent houseguest of the Wythes, Lady Ann Skipwith. Lady Ann died mysteriously -- some say she was murdered by her sister -- who then married her husband Sir Peyton.
The George Wythe House is an important stop on one of the evening walking tours of Colonial Williamsburg called Ghosts Among Us. Considered unsuitable for young children, this tour takes visitors into the haunted buildings to meet ghostly inhabitants and those who have lived to tell of their supernatural experiences. More appropriate for children is the Tavern Ghost Walk, in which guests learn of the ghosts that still haunt the taverns and historic buildings of Colonial Williamsburg -- from the outside.
One of the stops on the Tavern Ghost Walk is the Peyton Randolph House, a large wooden home that dates back to 1715, and once welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette. One of the specters spotted here is the Lady in the Pink Gown, who was seen on Valentine's Day of 2008. Dressed in a pink, 18th-century gown, the lady believed to be Elizabeth Harrison, niece of Elizabeth Randolph, was seen reading in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
With or without ghosts, the Spirit of the American Revolution certainly lives on at Colonial Williamsburg, offering an educational experience for parents and children alike.
For $449 per couple, the 3-day/2-night Autumn Stories package includes accommodations at the Williamsburg Lodge, breakfast, Historic Area passes, $100 activities card, and Tavern Ghost Walk tickets.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast; dbking, flickr
It doesn't take much imagination to believe that an evil spirit lingers in this house, though no one has yet reported seeing a vision of an axe-wielding Lizzie. One paranormal investigator has reported encounters with Andrew Borden, and others claim two young children said to have drowned on the Borden property some years ago still haunt the place.
Unexplained noises, voices, shadows, a rocking chair that rocks on its own, and assorted things that go bump in the night are enough to give thrill-seekers what they came for. Plan ahead if you want to stay in the very guest room where Abby Borden was butchered -- it tends to be booked up to a year in advance. Nightly rates are $150-$250.