History of The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa
Historical Time Line: 1958 – Present
• Sam Friedland, founder of Food Fair supermarket chain, opens the 750-room Diplomat hotel on South Ocean Drive
• Lawrence Welk filmed his first TV show in Florida.
• Saudi Arabian Sheik Mohammed Al-Fassi rented two floors at the Diplomat and was arrested after trying to skip out on a $1.4 million tab. He unsuccessfully sued the hotel for $1 trillion.
• Sen. Robert Kennedy, his wife Ethel, and his mother Rose Kennedy attended the John F. Kennedy Memorial Ball.
• Arthur Godfrey taped his popular CBS radio show from the Tack Room Lounge
• Judy Garland played the hotel’s Café Crystal.
• Sammy Davis, Jr. and Liza Minnelli did their first joint concert. A record 3,200 attended.
• The hotel is closed for the winter season after a series of arson fires leads to losses of $30 million in business and $20 million in recent renovations.
• The hotel reopens
• Former President Ronald Reagan addresses the International Longshoremen’s Association at the Diplomat.
• Bob Hope performs at the hotel’s 1984 New Year’s Eve Gala
• Financial difficulties resulted in entire floors of guestrooms and suites being closed. The hotel almost runs out of operating capital and cannot pay close to 200 creditors.
• Irving Cowan, son-in-law to Sam Friedland, gave up control of the hotel to a consortium of labor union pension funds, whose managers agree to bail out the hotel with a $44 million loan
• Harbaugh Hotels of Palm Springs, California, a management company hired by the lenders, began renovating the hotel
• Financial troubles persist forcing the hotel’s lenders to file a foreclosure suit only to later be dropped, creating the opportunity for new financing.
May 30, 1991
• The hotel is sold to one of its lenders, the Union Labor Life Insurance Co. The hotel was then closed for renovation, but never reopened
• The United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Industry of the US & Canada (UA) announced it had reached a tentative agreement to buy the hotel.
• The hotel is sold to the UA
• The Diplomat hires the Coral Gables-based architectural firm, Nichols Brosch Sandoval & Associates, to design a new 1,000-room hotel, convention center and retail complex
April 17, 1998
• Five hundred pounds of dynamite are used to implode the historic hotel, marking the beginning of a new era for the Diplomat
March 15, 2000
• The Country Club at The Diplomat opens to the public; Joe Lee-designed golf course, Pro Shops, Locker Rooms, 60-luxury guestrooms, 10-clay tennis courts, Grand Ballroom, The Royal Palm Room, The Links Grill and the Tack Room Lounge
• The Spa at The Diplomat opens to the public; 30,000-sq. ft. featuring 20-treatments rooms and complete fitness facility
• Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. appointed management company for the renamed The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, along with The Diplomat Country Club & Spa – members of Starwood’s Luxury Collection
• Scheduled opening of the main beachfront 1,000-room hotel, adjacent 209,000-sq. ft. Convention Center and The Diplomat Landing a connected retail center & marina