30 CATALINA EXPRESS MAGAZINE 2019–2020 I n the early 1900s, rows of tents greeted travelers who wanted to spend the night in Avalon. But in 1918, the St. Catherine Hotel—built at a cost of $400,000—opened in Descanso Canyon, now home to Descanso Beach Club and the Zip Line Eco Tour. The Los Angeles Times called the new hotel “strictly first-class” and raved about the “magnificent dining room” and a “ventilating system that is absolutely the best that modern science can provide.” The city has come a long way since then. Sure, you still can find tent-site camping, but if you’re looking for luxury rooms with a chic seaside vibe, Avalon’s the place. The big news in town this year is about several major renovations. Hotel Atwater, which originally opened in 1920—just two years after the St. Catherine— is getting a facelift. When it reopens it will feature a fresh ambiance, modern amenities and one-bedroom suites in addition to standard rooms. A new restaurant, PKW Eatery + Bar, will be located on the ground floor of the hotel. The letters are the initials of Island developer Philip Knight Wrigley. Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel is reopening after a five-year closure. The 17-room hotel was originally built by Western author Grey as his personal home in the 1920s. It sits on the hillside overlooking Avalon Bay and is a unique compound patterned after the Hopi dwellings Grey saw in Arizona. Most rooms will be suites and a restaurant is planned. Glenmore Plaza Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in California, opened its doors at the turn of the 20th century. Its ongoing renovations include adding balconies to some rooms, updating bathrooms and adding flat screen televisions, air conditioning and complimentary continental breakfast, while retaining its original Victorian charm. The Holiday Inn Resort Catalina Island is also newly renovated. This rambling hotel in the hills behind the city has refurbished its rooms and public areas. It has a popular restaurant, Seaside Bistro, and a pool—a rare commodity in Avalon. It also allows Fido to stay, a plus for dog-owners. The only other pet-friendly hotel in Avalon is the Hermosa Hotel, centrally located near shops and restaurants and only a half a block from the water. Renovations are also ongoing at the Mt. Ada, onetime summer home of William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing gum tycoon who developed Catalina into a tourist destination. The six-room B&B is pricey, but has a panoramic view of Avalon and the bay and offers its guests breakfast, lunch and use of a golf cart. If you’d like to see the home without staying overnight, the inn is open to visitors for lunch. UPSCALE HOTELS Mt. Ada is among the Island’s special hotels, offering either great views or high-end rooms and amenities. The Pavilion Hotel also rates highly with guests, many of whom enjoy its ocean view lounge, hip open-air wine bar and fire pit. Lodging Under THE Covers Check out the Island’s major hotel renovations Hotel Catalina & Courtyard Garden Suites Glenmore Plaza Hotel La Paloma Las Flores Hotel Metropole