Thursday, March 17, 2011
The Belmar Hotel
The Belmar Hotel, located on Olas Altas in Mazatlan's Centro Historico was reportedly built by an American mining entrepreneur, Louis Leonard Bradbury, in the 1800's. The hotel was originally used as a home, office and guest house but has evolved over the years, and through several different owners, into a hotel. By the 1920's the Belmar was the hotel of choice for many celebrities and was frequently the temporary home of John Wayne and Tyrone Power, who came to Mazatlan to enjoy the thrill of deep sea fishing. The Belmar was also the hub of Carnaval activities during these years and the rooms were filled to capacity and the ballrooms glistened with the gowns and jewels worn by the female guests.
During the 1960's an addition was built onto the existing hotel, adding a bar, restaurant, pool, lights and air conditioning. The addition added 110 rooms to the existing 86 rooms in the 'old' section.
Times have changed however, and over the years tourists have abandoned the Belmar to move on to the newer, more modern hotels of the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) The Belmar has become a somewhat shabby 'ghost' of it's former self.
Notice how I slipped in the 'ghost' reference there?
The Hotel has always fascinated us, and we were amazed to learn that, as well as the occasional back-packer, or tourists on a very tight budget, there is a thriving community of expats who call the Belmar Hotel their home. We have discovered that, tucked way in the back of the Hotel, there are charming little apartments filled with equally charming residents. We have been to dinner there, and a birthday party. We have met one fascinating gentleman who has called the Belmar his home for close to 20 years!
This was, as legend has it, John Wayne's room.
The door was locked, but judging from the rooms around it the interior would look somewhat like these.
It doesn't look like much now, but some of the furnishings have been moved to the apartments, and they are lovely.
Now we get to the ghosts. Word is that our friends are not the only people who are calling the Belmar 'home'. There have been many stories of the ghosts who frequent the hotel, ghosts who set the chairs in the lobby rocking in the evenings, who party by the pool late at night, and who have been seen standing on the hotel balconies enjoying the view. A dashing gentleman dressed in a cape and hat, and carrying a riding crop has been sighted on the stairs. A lovely lady in white, dressed in a flowing white gown and sporting long black hair, has been viewed several times. She appears coming from the bar and carries her room keys. The bartender, however, has never seen her, although the front desk clerk does, on frequent occasions. Where does she come from and where is she going? The ghost stories are endless and all equally enthralling.
The Bar holds many memories, apparently especially for the Lovely Lady in White.
After finishing dinner with our friends, she and I headed out with a flashlight to cruise the hallways and see what we could find. No ghosts, alas, but it was a fascinating wander through a lovely old building, now slowing crumbling into oblivion.
The Belmar has passed through the hands of many owners, none apparently with the means or will to restore the Hotel to it's former glory. This is understandable, it would be a massive undertaking. The front of the Belmar collapsed last year (it happened at 5am and amazingly no one was injured) but the facade has been restored. Perhaps there is hope!
By the way, there are also stories of "the Belmar Snake". True? I'm not sure. Let's just say I didn't spend a lot of time searching for snakes! And the staff? If asked, they deny any belief in ghosts. However, many refuse to venture far from the front desk after dark!!