Sunday, January 22, 2017

Nittany Lion Inn - An Historic Hotel of America

Nittany Lion Inn at Christmas Credit: Bill Rockwell

As the bellman opened the door for me at the Nittany Lion Inn in State College, I glanced to my right and saw a plaque securely mounted to the wall. It identified the Inn as a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

Acquainted with the organization from previous stays at hostelries like the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach and the Omni Bedford Springs in Bedford, Pa., I looked forward to another enjoyable stay in State College.

One glance around my room and I found a copy of the 2016 directory, a little dog eared and worn by the time of my year-end stay, and vowed to get one of my own when I returned home.

My third visit to the Nittany Lion Inn took place between Christmas and New Year’s, when the hotel was pleasantly quiet, except for one night when the men’s basketball team from Northwestern came in for a game. Even then, the guys went to bed early trying to rest up for their game the following day, which they  won, unfortunately, 87-77.

The Nittany Lion Inn was built in 1931 and is owned and operated by Penn State University. Hence the name borrowed from the University mascot. (See below). Within walking distance to the relatively new Arboretum at Penn State, it’s also close to the Palmer Museum of Art and the Creamery, famous for its homemade ice creams.

Inn amenities include a spa tub and a fitness center,  complimentary wireless Internet access, gift shops/newsstands, and tour/ticket assistance. Guests canalso  catch a ride to nearby destinations on the complimentary area shuttle.

All of the 223 rooms and 13 deluxe suites are air-conditioned and include Pod docking stations and flat-screen televisions. Complimentary wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and cable programming is available for your entertainment.

Private bathrooms with showers feature complimentary toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include coffee/tea makers and complimentary bottled water, and housekeeping is provided daily.

The Inn sports two dining rooms - The Dining Room, awarded the 2016 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence and Wine Spectator’s 2016 "Best of" Award of Excellence, and Whiskers, a more casual restaurant and bar. I summer, I especially enjoy dining out doors on the patio.

The Inn offers a number of packages that include golf, slam-dunk, trout fishing, couples escape, university events and outdoor adventures.

The Nittany Lion Inn is located at 200 West Park Avenue in State College, Pa 16803.
For reservations or more information, phone toll-free 800-233-7505.

How the Nittany Lion Got Its name

The Nittany Lion as Penn State’s mascot originated with Harrison D. "Joe" Mason ’07. At a baseball game against Princeton in 1904, Mason and other members of Penn State’s team were shown a statue of Princeton's famous Bengal tiger as an indication of the merciless treatment they could expect to encounter on the field. Since Penn State lacked a mascot, Mason replied with an instant fabrication of the Nittany Lion, "fiercest beast of them all," who could overcome even the tiger.

Penn State went on to defeat Princeton that day. Over the next few years, Mason's "Nittany Lion" won such widespread support among students, alumni, and fans that there was never any official vote on its adoption.

The Nittany Lion is essentially an ordinary mountain lion (also known as a cougar, puma, or panther), a creature that roamed central Pennsylvania until the 1880s (although unconfirmed sightings continued long after that time). By attaching the prefix "Nittany" to this beast, Mason gave Penn State a unique symbol that no other college or university could claim.

About Historic Hotels of America

Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America was founded in 1989 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation with 32 charter members.

Today, Historic Hotels of America has more than 295 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 46 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated historic hotels. More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America.

To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance.

To receive a copy of the 319-page 2017 Directory of historic hotels, go to and click on the E book link.

On November 4, 2016, Historic Hotels of America® and Historic Hotels Worldwide® announced the winners of the 2016 Awards of Excellence. Recipients were honored at a special ceremony and gala at The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) in Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday, November 3.

Awards were presented before an audience of more than 290 invited media, industry leaders, Hawaii business leaders, local dignitaries, owners, senior management, and representatives of the finest historic hotels from across America and from around the world. Honors were given in multiple categories ranging from Hotelier of the Year and Hotel Historian of the Year to Best Historic Resort, Historic Hotelier of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, and others.

Each year, these Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence honor, encourage, and recognize the most exemplary historic hotels, hoteliers, and leadership practices. The Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence are presented to historic hotels and hoteliers demonstrating innovative leadership, stewardship, and contribution to furthering the recognition, preservation, and celebration of these preeminent historic hotels and their histories.

From more than 200 nominees, the following Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide hotels and hoteliers were honored with these prestigious annual awards for 2016:

Historic Hotels of America New Member of the Year
• White Stallion Ranch (1900) Tucson, Arizona
Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel
• The Jefferson, Washington, DC (1923) Washington, DC
Historic Hotels of America Sustainability Champion
• The Boar’s Head (1834) Charlottesville, Virginia

Best Small Historic Inn/Hotel (Under 75 Guestrooms)
• Inn at the Presidio (1903) San Francisco, California
Best Historic Hotel (76-200 Guestrooms)
• La Fonda on the Plaza™ (1922) Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Historic Hotel (201-400 Guestrooms)
• Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (1876) Riverside, California
Best Historic Hotel (Over 400 Guestrooms)
• Palace Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel (1875) San Francisco, California

Best City Center Historic Hotel
• The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection (1925) Washington, DC
Best Historic Resort
• The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia

2016 Historic Hotels of America Hotel Historian of the Year Award
• Lora Gallagher at the Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort (1955) Honolulu, Hawaii
Best Historic Restaurant in Conjunction with a Historic Hotel
• Circa 1886 at Wentworth Mansion (1886) Charleston, South Carolina

Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year
• The Genzlinger Family at The Settlers Inn at Bingham Park (1927) Hawley, Pennsylvania

Historic Hotels of America Ambassador of the Year (Quarter Century Service)
• Ken Price at the Palmer House®, A Hilton Hotel (1871) Chicago, Illinois
2016 Historian of the Year Award
• Jamie Ford, New York Times Best-Selling Author
Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotel in Europe
• Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern (1845) Lucerne, Switzerland

Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotel in Asia/Pacific
• Hotel New Grand (1927) Yokohama, Japan
Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotel in the Americas
• Hacienda XcanatĂșn (1789) Merida, Mexico
2016 Historic Hotelier of the Year
• Doug Browne at The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tennessee
2016 Lifetime Achievement Award
• Takamasa Osano and Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, LP

Award recipients are selected from nominees received from historic hotels, historic preservation supporters, prior award recipients, and leadership from Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide.

As official programs of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide provide the recognition to travelers, civic leaders, and the global cultural, heritage, and historic travel market that member hotels are among the finest historic hotels across America and around the world. The Historic Hotels Annual Awards of Excellence program recognizes the pinnacle of this distinct group of nominees in a range of categories.

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