Bronner keeps it all on track

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The state of Alabama has many wonderful sites and attractions.

None is more beautiful to me than the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, which is just south of Fairhope in Baldwin County.

As a young boy in the 50’s, I remember going with my parents on business trips to Baldwin County and my father loved to drive over to the Grand Hotel just to observe the grounds.

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He particularly liked the old trees and brick walkways.

This past week I had an opportunity to stay at the Grand Hotel during the annual conference of the Economic Development Association of Alabama.

I was the guest of the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce.

We had a delightful trip and learned a lot about current activities in the field of economic development.

It was such a pleasant surprise to see the significant changes which have been made at the Grand Hotel in recent years.

Although the resort is operated by Marriott Corporation, it is my understanding that Dr. David Bronner and the Retirement Systems of Alabama presently own the property.

It is easy to see Dr. Bronner’s hand in the improvements which have been made to the Grand Hotel.

A completely new building has been erected which has ultra modern hotel rooms and a full service spa.

The building contains an indoor swimming pool and a large physical fitness room.

Outside, the marina has been modernized and a large swimming pool has been constructed.

None of this has been done at the expense of the grandeur of the old property.

I am delighted for this because the Grand Hotel represents a long resort tradition on that site.

In 1847 the first Grand Hotel was constructed and soon became famous for its warm hospitality.

During the Civil War, the hotel served as a confederate hospital for the southern wounded and three hundred of the soldiers were laid to rest in the Confederate cemetery on the hotel grounds.

After the war, the hotel burned and was rebuild in 1875.

Disaster struck again when the steamer &uot;Ocean Wave&uot; exploded at the hotel pier.

By 1937, the hotel had deteriorated badly, and in 1939, the present structure was put in place.

During World War II, the hotel served as a training base for the United States Army Air Force for the training of amphibious landings.

Continually since World War II periodic additions and improvements have been made to the property.

This was interrupted briefly in 1979 when Hurricane Frederick caused significant damage to the hotel and it was closed for about a year.

I think it is fair to say that today the Grand Hotel is one of the great resorts in America, and I, for one, am proud that it is located in Alabama.

Dr. Bronner’s &uot;business touch&uot; is evident in a positive way in so many things in Alabama, and I know you share my gratitude for his significant contribution to the beauty and vitality of our state.

I simply say to Dr. Bronner, &uot;keep up the good work and know that you are appreciated.&uot;

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.