Many people have fond memories of this hotel. Please contact us if you have any stories or info to share.
The Ambassador Resort Motor Hotel was located on 4.5 acres at 5225 Wayzata Blvd., between Highway 100 and Park Place Blvd. The site was said to be that of a Sioux Indian encampment called Birch Island. The Indians had moved west by 1877.
The hotel was owned by brothers Joseph and Oscar J. Husby, who were involved with the design and building of the hotel and management, and oversaw the facilities daily. The hotel’s first manager was Gilbert Swenberger. The grand opening was April 3, 1961.
Restaurants included the Camino Grill and the Kashmiri Lounge. Some personnel at the Camino Grill had worked there for the entire 30-year run. In the beginning, the waitresses wore short, see-through costumes to go with the motif of the coffee shop and the Kashmiri Lounge. Joseph Husby’s daughter sewed all of the costumes/uniforms, and several of his grandchildren worked in the hotel in various capacities.
Tony Hill remembers:
The hotel wasn’t originally domed. Neither was it fully enclosed. The photos at the MN Historical Society show that there is no dome, and the walkway that gets you to the rooms is open.
Apparently in the mid-1960s, they built the wing at the back of the hotel (making it a rectangle completely surrounding the swimming pool with rooms), fully enclosed the building, and built the distinctive dome over the pool.
At that time, a second story was also added to the front building, which contained the offices and restaurants and the lower-level conference center. There were a number of guest rooms up there which weren’t as nice as those in the main building, and it was inconvenient to walk from there to the pool. (There was a fully enclosed skyway between the two buildings which must have been added later.) Two of the rooms in the front building had Murphy beds. We stayed in one of those rooms when I was but a wee tot, and my mother had to watch me closely to make sure I didn’t cause trouble with the bed.
The last time I visited the Ambassador (not as a room guest), they had not only removed the diving board over the 9-foot deep end, but they had also placed forbidding metal bars surrounding the entire deep end, making it impossible for someone to dive there. The drain of the pool was in the deep end, and we kids used to throw stuff down there and then dive down and retrieve it. I thought about that foolish activity more than once when the Abigail Taylor tragedy happened at the Minneapolis Golf Club a few years ago.
This is a picture of the hotel and pool before the dome went up. Caption reads: “Ambassador Resort Motor Hotel, crossroads Wayzata Blvd. and Hwy. 100, is 5 minutes from downtown – has free courtesy bus – resort facilities, cocktail lounge, nightly entertainment and 171 luxurious rooms and suites. Excellent accommodations for up to 500 at banquets, meetings and conventions.” Courtesy Tony Hill.
Here is another view, from 1965. Caption: The elegant Ambassador Resort Motor Hotel, located just 5 minutes from Minneapolis at Highways 12 and 100, is Minnesota’s “Island in the Sun where we control the weather.” For fun and relaxation, the King’s Courtyard with its national prizewinning pool, Finnish saunas, sun lamp solarium, shuffleboard, putting green and ping pong. For your dining pleasure, the richly decorated Kashmir Room, Shalimar Cocktail Lounge, Mandalay Piano Bar, and Camino Coffee House. For complete rest: 200 Italian Provincial guest rooms and suites. For banquets and conventions : The Hall of Kings. Courtesy limousine to downtown. Courtesy Tony Hill.
1968. Is that the Honeywell plant in the back? Park National Bank in front.
The hotel was famous for its various amusements. In fact, a piece of stationery newly discovered had a montage of bikini-clad beauties demonstrating various fun things to do:
Two postcards of the hotel, courtesy of Tony Hill:
1987 Photo courtesy Danny Amis
An undated review in the Minneapolis Star by Joanna Connors describes her experience on a getaway weekend at the Ambassador. Her review starts, “This is my vision of hell.” Several hilarious comments follow; some excerpts are:
Swarms of children churned through the pool, cannonballing great spashes of warm yellow water over patio furniture and clumps of jungle.
In the whirlpool bath, pale adults floated like moribund whales, belly-side up the warm water poaching them bright pink. They hung on to cans of beer like they were buoys, oblivious to the overflowing ashtrays, spilled bags of Doritos and crying babies surrounding them.
By 8 o’clock, we were primed for our “gourmet dining experience” in the Kashmiri Room. We requested the no-smoking section and discovered when seated that our table, smack in the entrance, was the no-smoking section.
After three minutes of side-stroking through the chilly water, we watch a chubby 6-year-old squat in the shallow end for her morning pee.
We beat a hasty retreat to the women’s saunas (they’re segregated, but by this point we’re ready to break a few rules). “It smells like pork gone bad in here,” Chris says.
In 1984 the hotel was purchased by David Otto. By 1990 it was owned by a partnership that had defaulted on the bank loan.
The hotel checked out its last guest on March 25, 1991. Manager John Kahler blamed road construction and the two-year delay between the closing of the Minneapolis Auditorium and the opening of the Convention Center. He also blamed the media for routing traffic around the area.
The bank sold the tract to MEPC in 1991. It is now the site of the Olive Garden Restaurant.