Pan Am’s Layover Hotels

The Inn Place to Be

The Pink Palace of the Pacific, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Pink Palace of the Pacific, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

A manor house in Scotland overlooking a championship golf course.  A pink palace on Waikiki Beach. A guest house in the Caribbean and a cement-block, bug-infested motel on the edge of the runway in the African jungle.  A “Stalinist Skyscraper” in the heart of Moscow.  A five-star high-rise overlooking Beirut’s Mediterranean harbor and a Polynesian pyramid built into the side of a mountain in Tahiti. Staff quarters on tiny Wake Island where Pan Am founder Juan Trippe’s dream of trans-Pacific flight began.

Roberts Field
The Roberts Field Hotel was located 30 miles from Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. It had been conceived to accomodate business people catching very early morning flights, ( to / from Europe, to / from North and South America and the Middle East ) , delayed passengers, and crews from Pan Am, KLM, SAS and Air Liban. Photo reprinted with permission of

In helping to realize that vision, Pan Am crew’s soared, but their time on the ground was just as exciting.  Crews spent layovers in a wide variety of accommodations – usually as exotic as their locales. Some places were so remote and undeveloped that Pan Am had to build guest houses to accommodate passengers as well as crews.  In far-off places where sanitation was unreliable, Pan Am maintained kitchens 24/7 so that crews could safely dine.  A bout of food poisoning would seriously disrupt flight schedules.

After World War II, Pan Am rapidly expanded service to six continents.  To fill planes to more remote locations, Pan Am agreed to start a hotel subsidiary, so that passengers would have access to safe, comfortable accommodations, encouraging tourism and investment in the developing world.

Reprinted with permission from the Neal A. Prince Special Collection & Archives, New York School of Interior Design, New York, New York 10021.

From 1946 to 1981,  Pan Am developed over 80 luxury hotels in its global destinations, creating the InterContinental Hotels Corporation (IHC).  Crews were privileged to stay in these five-star properties that were often the only acceptable accommodations available in some locales.  But InterContinental Hotels were more than a place to stay – they were a part of Pan Am’s rich heritage and the global vision of Pan Am’s founder Juan Terry Trippe.

Juan Trippe. Photograph by Everett courtesy of No copyright infringement intended.

Click below to read more of the story!

InterContinental Hotels Corporation

Featured Page Photo:  Long before Donald Trump purchased this historic Scottish manor house, Turnberry Castle as it was known, was loved by Pan Am crews for its luxurious rooms and splendid golf course overlooking the sea. Photo reprinted with permission  of

6 thoughts on “

Pan Am’s Layover Hotels

  1. My favorite hotel was the Skyline Hotel in London. In a country that seems to have more dreary days than sunny ones, it was a pleasure to go there and sit in the center of the hotel where there was a pool and Calypso music being played on steel drums and surrounded by palm trees in a somewhat humid setting in the enclosed atrium. Wonderful place.

  2. My favorite place Robertsfield, as I met my future husband there in 1969. He was an airforse pilot and I flew for Pan Am. Fifty two years later and we are still together.

  3. I was lucky enough to have been a Pan Am stewardess from 1970-76, flying out of Chicago, and when that base closed, I transferred to Seattle. Flying all over world – it was the best job of my life! My favorite Intercontinental Hotel was the Tahara in Papeete, Tahiti. It was built into the hillside and overlooked the bay with a gorgeous view of Moorea in the distance. It was truly awesome!

  4. In the late eighties, BP provided airfield fuelling services at Robertsfield and I spent several nights in the old Pan Am crew hotel – a better option than the downtown hotels, which had succumbed to neglect and other problems. Despite the impoverished circumstances in Liberia at the time, it maintained a more than adequate level of service. Not sure what happened to it during the civil war, but I see the Farmington Hotel advertised in what seems to be the same location but with vastly improved facilities?

  5. Love the picture of the hotel at Roberts Field. I remember the little kids selling their wares right outside the hotel…they were waiting for the crews. I still cherish the roughly carved elephant I bought from one of them. It is proudly displayed in my house.

  6. Wonderfully written story’s and I can or wait to read more.
    I flew for Pan Am from 1965-1991, then Delta A/L 1991-2006

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