EDIT: It was pointed out to me that the third floor and a few important tiles on the second floor (toilets are pretty important, right? ) were inaccessible because of a frustrating glitch with the way the game handles roofs. Ugh. I'm still working on finding an elegant solution to this issue, but in the meantime, I don't want you guys to be stuck downloading a lot that doesn't work right, so I edited the file to include a workaround. (If you're curious, the square hipped roof over the center of the hotel was too high to cancel out pieces of lower roofs that stuck into the building, so it blocked a few areas.) I've included another roof below the dummy level that addressed this problem, so the lot SHOULD work fine now, even if the exterior doesn't have quite the right look this way. I certainly am still working on a solution that won't mess up the visual though, and any other glitches you guys notice, please let me know so I can correct them too! Thanks!
OK, here's my first foray into the realm of making copies of real-world buildings. (Some of my skyscrapers were inspired by real buildings, but that mostly means I copied the parts of the exterior that captured my interest, and then did whatever struck my fancy with the rest. On the other hand, this lot is, as near as I can make it, an exact copy of the El Tovar Hotel, both inside and out) If you want to see the real building (or make a reservation for your next visit to Grand Canyon National Park!) here's the hotel's website: http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/el-tovar/
This hotel is one of my favorite buildings in the world, so I know and want to share more about its history than many people might care to read. Plus, I worked as a Park Ranger for 4 summers, and the human history of the region in general was one of my favorite things to share with park visitors. That being said, if this section gets boring for you, just skip it. It's a fun story though, I promise!
In the late 19th century, tourism at Grand Canyon was starting to replace mining as the dominant industry, as settlers realized that it just wasn't practical to haul hundreds of tons of copper ore out of a mile-deep gorge and send them hundreds of miles by rail to be refined. As you might expect in the era of the "wild west," this wasn't a particularly elegant or organized process- many of the miners-turned-hoteliers simply built ramshackle inns on their mining claims, barely providing any services or amenities to the people who made the 90-mile journey from the nearest real town. Some entrepreneurs provided slightly higher standards to their guests, but there really wasn't much of a town to speak of- just a group of feuding people each trying to provide just enough to attract the money of the few visitors who trekked all the way north to the canyon.
The thing that really began to change this situation was the arrival of a spur line from the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in 1901. Since up until then the main method of access to the canyon was a bumpy, jarring, and thoroughly unpleasant 2-day stagecoach ride, the possibility of fast and comfortable rail service to the rim dramatically increased the number of people visiting the Grand Canyon on their vacations. It also meant that many visitors started demanding more from their lodgings than was available at the time.
During this era, the preeminent railroad hospitality company was the Fred Harvey company, which maintained a series of railside dining rooms and hotels, commonly known as Harvey Houses (and staffed by the famous Harvey Girls, yes, like the Judy Garland musical of the same name. If you haven't seen it, don't. ) Seeing the successes of other railroad hotels in various western National Parks, Fred Harvey Co. began to draw up plans for a modest hotel at the end of the rail line, but the plans kept being amended and expanded, and eventually the original designs were scrapped altogether and new professional architects were called in to design the new hotel.
The exterior of the hotel building was designed by American-born architect Charles Frederick Whittlesey, who was the Chief Architect for the railway at the time, having designed the late great Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque NM. His design was for a European-style hunting lodge with Mission-style influences throughout it. The lodge was designed to take advantage of local resources, using native stone extensively in its lower levels. Unusual for a construction in the region at that time, the El Tovar was originally designed to be wired for electricity, giving it one more leg up on the other hotels in the community.
The interior of the hotel was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who would go on to design many other Harvey Houses and hotels for the ATSF railway across the Southwester USA, as well as many smaller hotels, gift shops, and rest houses throughout Grand Canyon, over the course of her career, establishing architecture as a profession in which women could compete against a largely male establishment, and emerge successful. For the El Tovar, she used a combination of Craftsman, Arts-And-Crafts, Mission, and Native American styles, resulting in an eclectic and distinctive feel throughout the hotel. Interestingly, with the exception of a few of the suites on the northern tip of the hotel (the righthand wing on this lot), none of the rooms provide guests with a direct view of the canyon, despite being only a few feet from the edge. The reasoning behind this was that, aside from hotels, the Fred Harvey Company made a great deal of its revenue by providing "detours," basically guided tours to places of interest in the region. By denying guests to the hotel a sweeping canyon vista from their rooms, Colter encouraged them to take advantage of these tours, since they couldn't just sit around the hotel to see everything they had come to see.
After the El Tovar was constructed, it quickly replaced the existing hotels to become the lodging establishment of choice for visitors to Grand Canyon. In its shadow, many of the ramshackle inns that had previously commanded the attention of visitors began to wither and die, eventually being replaced by other grand hotels built by Fred Harvey Company and its successors. The El Tovar hotel remained the most luxurious and the grandest though, and it became a center of community life for Grand Canyon Village. This tradition of serving the interests of both visitors and community residents continues to this day, with the hotel providing tens of thousands of visitors with a restful place to return to each night and strike out into the canyon again early the next morning, and providing an elegant venue for community events like holiday dances or graduation ceremonies for the local high school (I myself graduated on the north porch of the El Tovar, the deck shown in the next picture, along with my 17 fellow classmates. Go Phantoms! ). The building's aesthetic also helped inspire the architectural style known formally as "National Park Service Rustic," or more informally referred to as "Parkitecture," which went on to feature in the design of countless hotels, shops, cabins, picnic areas, ranger stations, and rest houses throughout the National Parks system.
Today, the lodge is operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts. In 1974 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1987 the hotel was declared as a National Historic Landmark, ensuring it receives protected status and securing its landmark position in Grand Canyon National Park's historic district for years to come. It has played host to presidents, kings, movie stars, and many other celebrities over its more than 100-year history. It provides a direct link to the heady days of early explorers and pioneers in the Southwest, while still being welcoming and respectable in the modern age. Perhaps the most striking building in Grand Canyon Village, the El Tovar Hotel has certainly earned its place in the history of Grand Canyon.
OK, I'm done with my long-winded history of the building! (unless people have questions! )
Returning now to the world of the Sims, this lot differs from the actual hotel in a few notable ways, as you can see in some of the attached pictures I've included, with comparisons to the real hotel. The two wings that house the guest rooms are each only about 1/3 as long as they are in actuality, and due to the limitations of Sim architecture, they do not bend out towards the road at about a 20-degree angle like the wings of the actual hotel do. The real building is also on a somewhat steep hill, but to keep the edges of this lot level, I modified the southern (lefthand) wing, eliminating the basement and lower level of rooms. The dining hall is also considerably smaller than its real-world counterpart, due to the fact that the lot does not extend far enough to expand it to its full size and still have room for the kitchen and other employee areas.
The rooms themselves are also a notable deviation. As with many old hotels, the rooms of the real El Tovar are small by modern standards, and would not be big enough to include some of the necessities of the game (dressers, tables, and the like) so I expanded them considerably. I don't include CC with my lots, so they are also not as close a copy as other parts of the hotel, but they do capture the feel of the normal rooms. "But Z!" you might say, "These rooms are boring!" To that I say, "Yes. They are." Aside from the suites, which I have included in some fashion or another (even if they're even less accurate than the standard rooms), the rooms of the El Tovar hotel are pretty unremarkable, and they look much more like a normal hotel than the public areas of the lodge.
The public areas of the El Tovar are much larger than those found in many hotels, which allows them to be used by both hotel guests as well as visitors staying elsewhere who just happen to be passing by. (Hint- the restaurant and gift shops of this hotel are just as good for vacationing Sims staying elsewhere as they are for hotel guests). During the hot, busy summer months in northern Arizona, the cool shade and relaxing couches of the El Tovar Lobby (shown above) are a welcome sight to tired visitors, fresh from a long canyon hike, while in the winter, the blazing fire and strong hot coffee offer a much-needed respite from the cold snowy canyon. (Hint- put this hotel in a mountain vacation neighborhood that has all 4 seasons if you want to get the most realistic placement you can).
The El Tovar also appears on many lists of "Haunted Houses of the Southwest," as there is supposedly the ghost of a Harvey Girl who haunts the upper floors of the hotel and disturbs the sleep of some of the guests... If you feel like your Sims might enjoy this aspect of the building, just kill off a female Sim wearing the basegame maid's uniform, and move her grave to this lot. The ghost is said to be most active on the upper floors, so hiding the urn in one of the upper level public spaces is your best bet. I myself have never felt any kind of supernatural or otherworldly presence when I've been in the hotel, but to each their own... some people are adamant that they've been awakened from their hotel beds in the middle of the night by the ghost of one of the Harvey Girls who tended to the guests of this hotel in its early days.
As a destination hotel, the prices of these rooms are fairly high even for the basic rooms, and if your Sims choose to stay in some of the larger, more opulent suites, prices can soar to well above $2000 a night- not for the faint-hearted traveler!
Now to the technical aspects- this is a huge lot! 5x6 and more than $1M worth of building and furniture means that it will probably lag on some machines, so just be aware of that. The 5th and 7th floors are also dummy levels, which you may need to address if you choose to change the hotel too dramatically. At the rear of the lot are "employee spaces," which I've tried to design so that your visiting Sims won't have a reason to go there. If you're running into too many lag issues, you can empty out these spaces, or if you want to use them, it should be easy enough to transform them into a spa or rec area or something along those lines. The rotunda area at the front should obviously connect to the street, driveway-like, but the game is fond of erasing the tiles anywhere beyond the sidewalk, so you'll probably want to use moveobjects to put down asphalt connecting the road to the rotunda area. Also, please forgive me for photoshopping the thumbnail picture- I've spent a long time at this building, and it was bothering me not to see the canyon behind it in any of my shots! An unedited version is included with the rest of the screenshots for this lot.
I've playtested the lot a fair amount, and haven't run into any major issues, but if you see any in your downloads, please let me know and I'll do my best to address them- I love this building, and I want this lot to do it justice!
Lot Size: 5x6 Lot Price: $1,002,746
This is a real-world building, so while I made the TS2 version, I didn't design any of it! The building's exterior was designed by Charles Whittlesey, and the interior originally designed by Mary Jane Colter, both in the earliest years of the 20th Century. Thanks also to the Xanterra South Rim employees who allowed me to take reference photos of otherwise non-public parts of the building (even if I did get some odd looks taking pictures of the employee parking lot and the tile outside the bathrooms!).
Thanks also to the members of the MTS community who wrote the various tutorials on dummy levels and other tricks I used in making this lot as close to reality as possible.
Don't forget to Thank the creator after downloading! Use the Thanks button located above the screenshots above.
Basic Download and Install Instructions:
1. Download: Click the download link to save the .rar or .zip file(s) to your computer.
2. Extract: Use WinRAR (Windows) or Stuffit (Mac) to extract the .sims2pack file(s) from the .rar or .zip file(s).
3. Install: Double-click on the .sims2pack file to install its contents to your game. The files will automatically be installed to the proper location(s).
You may want to use the Sims2Pack Clean Installer instead of the game's installer, which will let you install sims and pets which may otherwise give errors about needing expansion packs. It also lets you choose what included content to install. Do NOT use Clean Installer to get around this error with lots and houses as that can cause your game to crash when attempting to use that lot. Get S2PCI here: Clean Installer Official Site.