The history of Orange Lake Resorts begins 30 years before its actual founding, in the early 1950s. The working-class family man Kemmons Wilson was traveling with his wife and four young children on vacation. Anticipating a week of relaxation on the road, he instead met with cramped hotel rooms, no air conditioning, few basic amenities and poor service. What’s more, he was charged an extra fee for each of his children. This was repeated at each stop he made.
A self-made entrepreneur since his youngest days, Kemmons decided to do something about it. So in 1952, on the outskirts of Memphis, Tennessee, he opened his first Holiday Inn® hotel. Guests enjoyed clean rooms and unheard-of perks such as air conditioning, free parking and ice, swimming pools, restaurants, rates by the room and warm, genuine service.
It was a simple idea that quickly transformed the entire hospitality industry. By 1970, Kemmons’ vision had grown into a billion-dollar corporation and was soon crowned by Time magazine as “the world’s innkeeper.”