Tag: Reborn

Braniff Airways reborn as a themed hotel in an age when defunct airlines are hip again

Braniff International Airways may have died in 1982 when the Dallas carrier went out of business, but its image is getting a second life on purses, pillows, an office building and soon on a boutique hotel at the site of its former flight attendant dormitory.

Centurion American, which developed downtown Dallas’ swanky hotspot Statler Hotel, bought the former Braniff “hostess college” in 2019 and has worked a deal to put the Braniff name on a new boutique hotel, along with other nods to the defunct company and aviation history.

Braniff, the Texas airline that grew into an international competitor in the wild early days of commercial aviation before a pilot strike pushed it into bankruptcy, is getting a second life as travel enthusiasts look to recapture the yesteryears of flying and marketers turn to bygone brands.

Developers decided to keep the name on the old Braniff Centre building at Dallas Love Field for a new retail, office and restaurant development that reopened earlier this year. Braniff joined a list of former airlines enjoying a recent revival.

Ben Cass, president of Braniff Airways, has been working with developer Centurion American on a deal to put the Braniff name on a new boutique hotel, along with other nods to the defunct company and aviation history. Braniff's former hostess college will be converted into a hotel.
Ben Cass, president of Braniff Airways, has been working with developer Centurion American on a deal to put the Braniff name on a new boutique hotel, along with other nods to the defunct company and aviation history. Braniff’s former hostess college will be converted into a hotel.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

A TWA Hotel at JFK International Airport in New York opened last year in the former airlines’ retro-futuristic headquarters building.

At a shop at SeaTac International Airport south of Seattle, the Pan Am Airlines logo is featured on T-shirts and purses for sale to travelers looking to show their love for airline history. A short-lived drama series on ABC called Pan Am showed there was popular interest in the aviation era, even if the program only survived 14 episodes.

“Airlines like Braniff and Pan Am had a very important connection to people,” said David Banmiller, who was CEO of Pan Am for a short time during an attempted reincarnation of the brand that originally ceased operations in 1991. “Pan Am connected the world. People had images of seeing their grandparents for the first time coming off a Pan Am flight or seeing their parents after years apart.”

Along with mega-carriers American Airlines and Southwest Airlines based in North Texas, Braniff was a major contributor to the aviation world during the early deregulated era when there were dozens of competitors. In time, many of those airlines went out of business or merged with larger competitors to make way for the consolidated handful of carriers available to flyers today.

For the most part, the new group of airlines is a vast improvement for flyers. Today’s airlines are more reliable, cheaper and much safer than older carriers and planes, not to mention smoother to ride on.

Braniff was started in 1928 and grew from a Texas-centric carrier to an airline with worldwide reach, including flights to Europe and South America on one of the

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The Storied Site Of Willie Nelson’s Austin Opry House Is Reborn Into Hotel Magdalena

Considering Austin’s rich cultural history, Hotel Magdalena sits on a sacred site. It was home to the hugely popular Terrace Motor Hotel in the Fifties; in the Seventies, the Austin Opry House (after Willie Nelson purchased the property), hosting the likes of Muddy Waters, Ike & Tina Turner, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, The Eagles, and more. Now, the South Congress property lives to see a new day.

“The story of the hotel is the story of Austin–of live music, of Willie and his friends,” says Bunkhouse Group chief executive officer, Amar Lalvani, “Of the late 1960s through the 1970s that created the character of Austin we all fell in love with. The free love counterculture mixed with Texan sensibility. The outdoors, the relishing of hot summers by finding refuge in the natural swimming holes, rivers, and creeks.”

Located on Music Lane, the 89-room hotel taps this Seventies Texan lakeside ethos in its design. Constructed from prefabricated timber panels, the architects, from San Antonio-based firm Lake Flato, created four treehouse-like structures connected by several walkways and courtyards. Hotel Magdalena also highlights sustainability in its construction—it’s the first hotel in North America made from mass timber, which is praised for such qualities.

“The big difference from the immediately neighboring new buildings such as the Soho House on South Congress is that the Magdalena is not a monolithic block. It’s organic. A collection of mass timber buildings that surround a private outdoor oasis that is informed by rather than fighting the topography and natural elements,” says Lalvani, “We focused a lot on the indoor and outdoor flow using landscaping and shading to manage the heat. Of course the fact you can always be barefoot on property and take a dip helps too.”

The rooms themselves are bright and airy with splashes of colorful Spanish tiles. Outfitted in Fifties-esque walnut furniture similar to that from designers like Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto, the guest rooms also make subtle nods to the Seventies with accents like record players, vintage vinyls, and imagery from music photographer Scott Newton.

The property also offers a full-service restaurant, Summer House on Music Lane—headed by chef Jeffrey Hundelt, formerly of Austin’s Launderette and Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon—and event space. “We found a great picture from the opening year of the Terrace Motor Hotel that shows a great ceiling lattice detail,” says Bunkhouse design director Tenaya Hills, “which we replicated into Douglas Fir in the event space and the restaurant.”

In the midst of it all sits a swimming pool inspired by the nearby Barton Springs, a recreational watering hole filled only with water from natural springs—perhaps one of the more obvious takeaways from the property’s historical footprint.

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