Radisson Hotels is a subsidiary of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which is one of the world’s largest hotel companies. With headquarters in Brussels and Minneapolis, Radisson Hotels was founded in 1909. Operating the brands Radisson, Radisson Red, Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson, there are properties in more than 900 destinations on six continents.
In 1909, the US city of Minneapolis had just exceeded the 300,000-population mark and business was booming in all quarters. Increasing numbers of people were moving to the ‘Mill City’, so called because of the number of flour and lumber mills alongside the Mississippi River.
There were more motor cars, two vaudeville theatres and an abundance of retail stores and coffee houses. Seventh Street was fast becoming a major commercial area after George Draper Dayton built a six-storey retail building there in 1902 – later to become the famous department store, Dayton’s.
Minneapolis was an ideal place to build a luxury hotel – and the busiest and best location was next to Dayton’s emporium. Radisson was founded by Chicago teacher Edna Dickerson, whose wealthy relative, Albert Johnson, of Minneapolis, had left her a large inheritance in his will.
While in the city, she met George Dayton and other local business people who convinced her to invest in the construction of a new hotel. She agreed – and following a further cash injection of $1.5 million from magazine ‘The Chicagoan’, building work began.
The hotel was named after 17th century French explorer Pierre Esprit Radisson, who was believed to have explored Minnesota but was known as the ‘forgotten explorer’ because there were few records in those days. The luxury hotel, employing 250 staff, opened on 15th December 1909 and was heralded as ‘the finest hotel between Chicago and the West Coast’.
Over the years, it has attracted a host of famous guests including US presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, singer Al Jolson and actors Henry Fonda, Debbie Reynolds, Katharine Hepburn, Gloria Swanson, Alan Ladd and Bob Hope, to name but a few.
Under private ownership, the luxury Radisson Hotel continued to operate in Minneapolis with great success, until 1960, when international hotel group Carlson Rezidor acquired a 50% stake, buying out the remaining 50% in 1962.
The company expanded the Radisson brand during the 1980s and ’90s, branching out into a number of separate hotel chains: Radisson, Radisson Red, Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson. The original Radisson was closed down in 1981 and demolished a year later.
A need for increased convention space, more parking facilities and larger guest rooms prompted the decision to build a new, 357-room Radisson hotel on the same site. The new hotel and office complex – now known as Plaza VII – opened on Seventh Street in 1987.
Acquired in 2002, Park Inn by Radisson is described as an “energetic and fresh, mid-market hotel brand” where friendly hospitality at competitive prices is guaranteed. The brand has more than 140 hotels across North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Launched in 2010, Radisson Blu global quickly spread into the Asia Pacific region and the Americas, promising “iconic, stylish and sophisticated” hotels. It’s now a leading hotel brand in Europe, with more than 380 locations open or under development around the world.
Radisson Red was launched in 2014 and pledged to dispense with “stuffy hotels and rigid rules” to provide a modern brand with an “ageless millennial mindset”. Offering keyless entry, free high-speed WiFi and a OuiBar & KTCHN food, drink and social hub, there’s even an app so guests can seamlessly request anything they need.
Today, the Radisson brand bases its services on its proud heritage of hospitality and its Extra Thoughtful Care philosophy that has been “re-invigorated and reinvented” for the 21st century.
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