Named for Interested Families or After Well-Known European Hostelries
ST. REGIS CALLED FOR LAKE
Suggested to the Late John Jacob Astor by Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson
So numerous are the hotels of New York becoming that naming them is beginning to furnish something of a problem. From twenty to forty years ago, when hotels were so much fewer by comparison, it was usually the easiest course to borrow a title from a European hostelry long known as a resort for fashionable folk. Often, however, the inspiration came from the surroundings of the building, from some historical source, of [sic] circumstances of ownership.
Most newspaper readers read some time last year that the old Waldorf-Astoria---built as two hotels---was called; the first part after the little village in Germany where the first John Jacob Astor was born, and the second after the town in Oregon which was one of his most important fur-trading posts. The Plaza was so named after an earlier hotel of that name, which itself was christened after the Plaza it fronted---though the name had been borne long before by hotels in European cities. The original Savoy, which stood on the site of the present Savoy-Plaza, was so designated after the hotel of that name in London, itself named from the neighborhood where it stands, where is the historic Savoy chapel.
The Ritz-Carlton owes its name to two London Hotels, one of which, the Ritz, got its name from the Ritz, in Paris, itself called after Sesar [sic] Ritz, the famous Swiss restaurateur and hotel-keeper; the other, the Carlton, which drew its name from Carlton House, long the official residence of the Prince of Wales, and whose name was long ago bestowed upon a fashionable London thoroughfare and taken by a fashionable club. The Biltmore was so called after an estate in North Carolina belonging to a member of the Vanderbilt family, who had coined it from the last syllable of his patronimic. [sic] The Astor was called after the family of that name by its builder, John Jacob Astor 3d.
Perhaps the origin of the name of the St. Regis, as applied to a hotel, has provoked more inquiries and evoked more misinformation than any other hotel designation. Its bestowal did not follow any of the regular rules in such cases. The name was suggested by a young girl, who happened to be the favorite niece of the late John Jacob Astor, the third of that name, who went down on the Titanic. She was Miss Helen Roosevelt, now Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson.
Astor, after building the Astoria annex to the Waldorf, had put up the Astor and the old Knickerbocker. At almost the same time he built what was intended to be the most luxurious hotel in the world. Just what to name his new hotel puzzled Astor. It must be something as distinctive as he intended the hotel itself to be. It must be impressive. He did not wish to employ his family name, already borne by three New York hotels, including the old Astor House. He did not want to borrow a name from any European hostelry.
He was fond of paying visits to the Adirondacks, where his brother-in-law, J. R. Roosevelt, had a camp on a beautiful lake. One day while they were admiring the views of mountain and water that were to be had from the camp, Mr. Astor told his niece about his perplexity.
"Why don't you call you hotel after this lake?" she exclaimed. "Would not 'Hotel St. Regis' make just such a name as you would like?"
Her uncle liked the sound of the name at once. Back in New York he had it looked up. The. St. Regis Lakes proved to have been named after a community on the St. Lawrence River that had been settled by a party of converted Iroquois from Quebec. Their priest had called the settlement in honor of an Alpine monk named Regis, who was attached to a hospice in the mountains, and whose hospitality to travelers had become so famous that after his death he was canonized by the Church. And Astor decided he could not have a better name for the new hotel. Hence the Hotel St. Rekis [sic] was so called.