Back in the late 80's I was introduced to a little game with big dimensions by Milton Bradley called Hotels. It would be the preeminent game that my brother and I would play with our friends and cousins. Every major holiday would see us playing with our cousins rolling the dice to see who'd end up purchasing land to build the ultimate hotel. Of course when we were younger we always played the game incorrectly. It wouldn't be until we were adults that we actually played by the rules, and come to find out the game was actually better by the rules than by our own silly we-think-we-know-what-we-are-doing rules from before.
It was the best game full of many fond memories. So let's check it out for today's Toy Chest!
Flipping the box over, we see a ton of things going on. First of all not since Las Vegas have more hotels been lined up in a row for your viewing pleasure. I mean as a kid I was just in awe of all these buildings and the fun possibilities that they possessed. Taking a cue from the greed that defined the decade, Hotels wanted children of the 80's everywhere to channel their inner hotel real-estate developer and bankrupt everyone in their path.
The fine print suggests the rules and that this was the kind of game suitable for family fun. Make no mistake, my parents never played this game with us. My brother and I could never quite explain the rules properly, plus, this game was very cutthroat. Our parents stayed away, because it truly got dangerous. I mean whoever purchased the President first and developed it to its fullest potential unleashed a world of real-estate hurt. There was one Christmas holiday where some cousins didn't speak to each other for a year.
The rules were on the inside of the box. I will try to make it all easy to understand. The goal of the game was to purchase land and develop it based on certain designated spaces that also coincided with a special dice. As players rolled and landed on certain spaces, they would owe the hotel owner money. But there were little caveats. First you had to roll the special dice to see if you could even be permitted to build a hotel. Access could be denied or the price could be doubled or halved for a building. Purchasing entrances (little red stair steps) became as calculating as getting out of a bad blind date, because the entrance was key to having other players pay you money and no two entrances could share the same space. Oh it all sounds convoluted, but it was really a great deal of cutthroat fun.
Hotels had big bank. Unlike measly Monopoly money, Hotels believed in playing with high dollar amounts like purple thousand dollar bills. I loved the colorful play money and the fact that they used an artist's rendition of Milton Bradley's face to go on the bills. It was all so high class.
The town hall was a special place. Entrances were the key to making sure you got your money from your victims, err, I mean other players. You had to wait until passing the "Buy Entrances" line before purchasing an entrance, and even then you could only purchase one entrance per piece of land owned. You would have to also already have a building on your land, so technically an opponent could purchase land you had already bought. It took awhile to really build up your hotel empire, but once you had everything in place it was on.
The player's pawn is what truly made this game glitzy. Unlike the random pawns from Monopoly or those tacky station wagons from Life, Hotels allowed you to play as a garishly colored limo. My brother and I thought that was simply the coolest. We had never been in a limo, so this was like our chance to really feel like we were something cool. (Because nothing says cool like driving in a primary colored limo, barring that poor complimentary green.)
Anyways, enough of all these logistics! They exhaust me. Let's get down to the bread and butter of the game, the actual Hotels! First up is:
The Boomerang Hotel
Each hotel, it should be noticed, had a certain global theme. We always imagined that the Boomerang hotel was supposed to either be in Australia or at the very least cater to an Australian crowd. Also each land featured a building (or more) and a cardboard facility piece that had pictures of pools and lush gardens.
The Boomerang hotel was actually shaped like a boomerang as was the facility piece. My brother always fought for this piece. I mean it was one of the cooler hotels. There was a huge pool out front as well as a sleek pool on the roof. There were also tennis courts on the roof, which just seems like a terrible idea. We also used to pretend that the round roof piece was a posh restaurant for the Boomerang guests to enjoy meals looking out over the Hotels landscape.
The title deed for each hotel featured the design on the front and the important details on back. The break down of cost for the land, entrances, hotel, and facilities were there as well as a chart for the rent. The stars represent the building and facility while the numbers are for how many entrances. So in other words, if a player had both hotel and facility piece, and six entrances, they could stand to make 3,600 dollars from an opponent.
Oh the fun Fujiyama. This was my favorite hotel for reasons that will be explained soon. I loved the graphic for the hotel because it seemed really girly. The Fujiyama, I am going to assume by the geisha girl, was supposed to be like a Japanese resort hotel.
So the Fujiyama was on pink ground. I could not get enough of that and while other players would hope to land on the more profitable lands, I always fought to purchase this property. I mean the ground was pink! The buildings were really cheap and there wasn't that much money to be had with collecting rent, but that pink ground won out over everything else. Plus the tallest building had a helicopter pad. I mean that makes a hotel really legit in my eyes.
See how lousy the amount of rent was? With all buildings and entrances, the owner of the Fujiyama could only earn about 1,500 dollars! That is just a travesty. First of all there are three buildings, a helicopter pad, and a really pretty pool/hot tub combo.
After taking a trip to Japan, why not step right over to France? Le Grand was the pretty French inspired resort hotel. It was also one of the properties that had an interesting layout in terms of collecting money. If you weren't able to capture the President, you could still bankrupt everyone else with Le Grand.
The layout for these hotels was pretty. There was a fountain in the center as hotels that looked like fancy town homes circled around. This hotel was one of the larger ones to build up with a total of six items to purchase. (5 buildings and a facility.)
Here is another shot of the hotel's grounds. The land was sprawling for sure and caused a double whammy for players who were wanting to avoid paying rent twice. The winding game path had many spots to land for Le Grand!
Massive amounts of money were ready to be had from the customers of Le Grand. (Up to 4,500!) However with a very high cost of getting everything built, most players weren't able to reap all the rewards.
The President Hotel
Oh goodness. The President Hotel. The highest and scariest part of the game. You could feel every one's heart sink whenever another player purchased this property. For most accounts, this was the property to own if you wanted to win the game. This hotel was also a stand in for the United States.
The buildings looked like skyscrapers from New York City or something. There was also a golf course on the facility piece. I mean this hotel just seemed like the perfect physical representation of the U.S. in the 80's. Ostentatious and ready to take over the world at all costs. Oh I kid.
So let's check out the President's stats. A whopping 7,200 dollars could be had if the owner had everything built up as well as all the entrances in place. 7,200! Do you see why this game became such a cutthroat piece of toy history? Everyone wanted this place to secure their financial future for fear of being wiped out by someone else.
Due to the image of the crown and the word 'royal' this resort hotel was supposed to be like England. If I couldn't get the chance to purchase the President or Le Grand, I would certainly take my chances with the Royal. The hotel was easy to build and there was certainly money to be had for the chance to win. Plus the hotel was pretty.
There was certainly some variation in height with the buildings. And one thing I always imagined about this hotel was walking in after a day of shopping. I just always pictured myself in a fur (maybe it was real and maybe it was faux) but I'd have all these shopping bags and I'd be dropped off by a Rolls Royce or something elegant. I also think of steak dinners when I see this hotel. Isn't it strange the things that go through a person's mind?
The layout was certainly interesting. Most hotels had the facilities in front, but the Royal had them in the back. I loved the colorful tiles and umbrellas at the tables. Of course now those umbrellas remind me of Resident Evil and the Umbrella Corp. So maybe my view will now change and when I look at the Royal I will think of a zombie outbreak or something.
Price wise the highest a person could earn from the Royal was 3,900 dollars. But since the hotel was on a bend on the game path, players had multiple chances of landing there. Plus the ground was purple, and we all know that the colors guide me much more than anything else.
The Waikiki Hotel
The Waikiki Hotel was a very interesting place. It had a Pacific tropical sort of theme, but it also seemed like it was a little piece of Hawaii, so it appeared like the U.S. got some more real-estate location in this game. I really loved this property even though I personally dislike being at the beach. (When you look like Casper the Ghost's ex-girlfriend, the beach is never your friend.) But the graphic for the hotel was fun. I loved the idea of placing a flower in my hair and dancing on the beach without a care in the world.
Anyways, the Waikiki had really cute and quaint hotels. They looked like fancy beach cabins where a beach bunny like me could find some prime real-estate on a chic lounge chair checking out dreamy surfers while my face is buried in the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men or something. I'd also be wearing one of those big floppy hats. This was also the only section of the game board that had colorful land as well as something natural looking, like the ocean. Check out the facilities though! I think this hotel had the nicest facilities in the whole game. There were pink and yellow poolside accessories and a deck. Decks always make everything nicer.
These little cabins are just so cute and cozy! They also tie with Le Grand for the most number of items. (5 buildings and 1 facility.)
And good Lawd those are some expensive beach cabins! All things in order, rent could be 6,000 dollars! Aside from the President, the Waikiki was the second highest hotel to stay at if everything was built up. (Those have really got to be some high class beach cabins.)
The Taj Mahal
In an obvious nod to India, the Taj Mahal was the ultimate hotel for my brother. He may have made sure to purchase the Boomerang to insure he had extra change, but his heart and soul was tied to the Taj Mahal. When we were younger, he would have a serious meltdown if anyone else dared purchase the Taj Mahal. I mean one time I even caught him sneaking the Taj Mahal buildings out of the box to play with his other toys. (He does not mind me at all calling him out for this.)
The buildings were really pretty. I also loved the color combination for the facilities. That lavender and teal really pop. The teal ground doesn't hurt either. Also from a strategic perspective, this was a fairly inexpensive place to build up and if the entrances could be bought and placed just right, it could prevent other players from trying to rule the game with the Royal and Le Grand.
Sadly the Taj Mahal was like the Fujiyama, there wasn't much money to be had. The highest a player could get here was 1,800 dollars. Of course, since this was the place my brother always wanted, it never really much mattered anyway.
The Safari Hotel
The Safari Hotel seemed to capture the nature and wide open spaces of the Serengeti in Africa. This only adds to the overall geographical confusion of Hotels. Some hotel properties took on a specific country essence while other hotels just opted for an entire continent. Anyways, the Safari was a unique part of the game. It was hard to land on. Only certain spaces could be used to purchase land. The Safari was a good place to build up revenue, but since it was towards the end of the game path, many players usually went through their money with other properties first.
I would try to go for the Safari. It was a nice spot because some players would be near bankrupt and then BAM, they'd owe the owner of the Safari a pretty penny. You just had to land there. The buildings were also really pretty. They had a cabin feel, but were more like really fancy ranch homes or something. The facility piece though always reminded me of this one small town hotel my family and I had stayed at for a weekend due to a family funeral. There was a Dairy Queen right next door and you could see it from the pool. So I do tend to think of yummy soft serve right next door to the Safari. On a side note, how good is soft serve? Oh my goodness that stuff is good.
From a monetary perspective, the highest one could make on the Safari was 3,000 dollars. Not bad at all. You just really needed to make sure you played your cards right or drove your primary colored limo correctly.
Anyways, Hotels was a very fun game. I can be at a family gathering and if Hotels is brought up everyone smiles and recalls a slew of memories attached to this board game. It took cues from other games, but it was truly one of a kind. I can only hope that one day that wise old Milton Bradley will be sitting there on his mattress made of money and say, "I know the perfect way to add even more bucks to my bank account, I will reissue Hotels!" And for a moment, the world will be a better place.
So thus concludes this very long Toy Chest Tuesday! I hope you all enjoyed, and if you remember this game, let me know! I appreciate and love all of your comments. It is always fun to have some toy talk. Also, if you are still wanting some more of my lovely trips down memory toy lanes, head on over to NERD Society. The 15th of every month marks the Vintage Toy of the Month over there, where yours truly writes a little something from the archival room. I hope you are all doing well, and make sure you check back! I will be unveiling some new things, like a brand new Woman of Wonderosity and I have a Clip 'n Save Reader File that is going to be a lot of fun! Enjoy!