Gone, but hardly forgotten

Of particular interest to me is that the Intourist Hotel is where my parents stayed when they came to visit. Its where my brother was suppose to stay—
Its the hotel where Sue Kaiser, wife of industrialist Edgar Kaiser, died.
Its where scads of reporters and lower level government officials stayed during the two Nixon visits to the USSR.
Countless corporate big wigs, authors, entertainers stayed in the Intourist Hotel if they were unable to book into the National Hotel next door or into the Metropole a few blocks away.
Billy Joel and Christy Brinkley knocked back drinks at the bar.
Seiji Ozawa and most of the San Francisco Symphony orchestra stayed at the Intourist before performing.
In the hundreds of times I was in the hotel I never saw a hooker or anyone daring to attempt any illegal business. Under the Soviet regime all hotels had police monitors at the doors allowing in only those approved to be in the hotel. Nothing took place without prior approval. It was easy for reporters to imagine, and write, all sorts of things that may have gone on in hotels as state officials never commented.
Those of us who know-knew.
Sadly, the Ritz Carlton is fending off stories that Donald Trump carried on in room 1101 in a less than stellar fashion.



Soviet Hotel In Moscow To Be Razed

“A hulking glass, stone and concrete 1970 eyesore in the heart of Moscow, the Intourist Hotel, shut its doors for good today and awaits demolition, as the city prepares to remove a major Soviet-era wart from its skyline for the first time since the fall of Communism.

The hotel, owned by the Moscow city government and situated half a block from the Kremlin at 3 Tverskaya Street, is 22 stories if you include the karaoke Chinese restaurant in the basement. The city says it wants a more glamorous, smaller building — 12 stories are planned — to better fit the otherwise elegant block, which includes a theater and another hotel, built in 1903.

The demolition is purely cosmetic, authorities say, and not related to security concerns raised worldwide after the terrorist attacks on the United States in September. Moscow is in talks with Hilton, the international hotel chain, over the management of the new hotel.

As Russia’s economy expands and state-owned stores and restaurants are gradually replaced by private enterprises, hotels like the Intourist have become relics of the past.

Built for foreign visitors, who by Soviet rules were required to stay in special locations under supervision, the hotel was a strange combination of East meets West as guests rubbed up against traders looking to make an illegal buck.

The 434-room hotel was erected in 1970, at the end of an unfortunate building streak that led to the bulldozing of sections of this city’s historic downtown district.

The hotel served many noted — and notorious — guests over the last three decades, including French and Russian astronauts. Aristotle Onassis, according to the Russian daily Izvestiya, was rebuffed by the Soviet government in an attempt to build his own hotel on the spot.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, one of the most powerful crime figures in Moscow, Otari Kvantrishvili, rented an office in the hotel before he was assassinated in 1994. Two years ago, a bomb ripped through the top two floors in what authorities believe was part of a business dispute. And in a moment fondly remembered by many of the hotel’s employees, a leading actress in a Mexican soap opera that was highly popular in the 1990’s, called ”The Rich Also Cry,” came for a brief stay.

Today, a white piano, locked up and benchless, was the only thing that remained in the hotel’s first-floor atrium, where guests used to sit and sip tea. Tables were stacked, chairs gone, and the central fountain no longer spouted. A woman worker removed lacquered Russian dolls from a glass cabinet nearby.

Up on the fourth floor, 64-year-old Zoya Timoshina, the hotel’s main cashier for all of its 31 years, was shuffling through papers in her small office, preparing for her departure. The hotel’s closing leaves approximately 450 employees without jobs, according to its management.

”It’s sad to leave, but it is time,” she said, looking wistfully around her small office. ”I came here as a young beauty, and now am going away as a grandmother. We earned good money. I had a driver, and a heater in my room. It’s a good building. They have these in America.”

The hotel’s management opposes the demolition, which so far does not have an official starting date and will be done piece by piece with cranes instead of explosives. They say the hotel was profitable and could have been upgraded for much less than the $130 million the city expects is needed to rebuild completely. And compared with prices in the hundreds of dollars at the prestigious five-star hotels nearby, the National and Metropole, the Intourist was a bargain.

”We charged $50 a night for a room in the center of Moscow — what do you want?” said Alexander Kolesnikov, deputy director of the hotel, responding to criticism that the building is unsightly. ”Tourists loved this place. We had almost a 100 percent occupancy rate. Every epoch has its buildings. Why do we need to destroy this one? What about the McDonald’s nearby — does that fit?”

JAN. 9, 2002 Sabrina Tavernise – NY Times

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