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A lesson from Las Vegas

January 10, 2011

I discovered that right after New Year’s Eve (NYE) is a great time to travel because most people have gone home after the holidays.  In Las Vegas the period between NYE and the Consumer Electronics Show has hotel rates similar to Arizona summer resort prices.  This trip was focused mostly on vintage Vegas, although the vintage shopping was akin to hitting Fashion Square in terms of prices.  It made me glad we have Zinnia’s and all those other places along 7th Ave.  There was  a tour of the Neon Museum, but I’ll write more about that after Thursday’s Marshall Shore: Retro Spectacular featuring Glen Guyett, sign designer extraordinaire.

Kon Tiki from Modern Phoenix

The Kon Tiki Hotel is one of Glen’s iconic signs.  The Kon Tiki was designed by Ralph Haver (check out Modern Phoenix for more about Haver) and forever immortalized in Morrissey’s 90’s video My Love Life, although by this time it was a liitle down on its luck and well worn.

So I’m announcing the theme for Marshall’s Monday: Tiki… Tiki… Tiki!

Did you know there was a national Tiki Trend?  Check out the Los Angeles Times.  Las Vegas has Frankie’s Tiki Room, which is very much a throwback to the Tiki of the ’50s right down to the custom-made tiki glasses filled with sweet libations.  The decor began with something that looked like Phoenix’s own original Bikini Lounge, but then filled with stuff combed from the beach, like the original “Don The Beachcomber.”

Tiki used to have a much stronger foothold in the Valley of the Sun.  The Bikini is the only original Tiki bar in the Valley, opening in 1947.  For a modern take on Tiki in Scottsdale, there’s Drift Lounge and relocated Trader Vic’s at the Valley Ho.  Phoenix has Hula’s right on light rail.  Grand Avenue had the Bali Hi Resort.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to run across the street and take a dip in that pool.

Back in the day while driving down Van Buren, you would have encountered the Samoan Village, Tahiti Inn, and Tropics.  There was the Islands Restaurant, a Polynesian-themed restaurant that stood at 4839 N. 7th where drinks in Easter Island statue shaped glasses were served.  I raise my Mai Tai to you and hope you have enjoyed this small tour through the Valley’s Tiki culture.  Please share your Tiki-filled memories of Arizona!

Tahiti Inn, Phoenix

Tropics Motor Hotel

Bali Hi (Phoenix Modern)

Samoan Village, Van Buren St., Phoenix

The Islands, Phoenix

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 6, 2011 4:06 am

    Sadly, Trader Vic’s at the Valley Ho closed a few weeks ago. The Tiki count is down by one in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.

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