Holiday Inn

The Holiday Inn brand is marking its 60th anniversary this month, which is reason enough to pause and thank its founder, the late Kemmons Wilson, for his bright idea.

That idea, in brief, was to provide comfortable, dependable, reasonably priced and family-friendly lodging for road-weary travelers. That might not sound like a tall order today, but for travelers in the America of 1952 it was a stretch.

Things we take for granted today -- things like free ice, a phone in the room, an on-site restaurant and swimming pool -- were not always "standard equipment" for roadside inns in those days, as Wilson himself had discovered through his own personal travels.

Within a very short time, Wilson's Holiday Inn did something that only great brands ever do: It raised the bar and set a new standard.

Today, the brand he founded in Memphis 60 years ago is represented by some 3,375 hotels on six continents. It's no idle boast when Holiday Inn claims it is one of the most widely recognized lodging brands in the world.

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