Businessweek Interviews Owner of The Guest House at Graceland, DreamCatcher's Newest Development
To Replace the Tattered Heartbreak Hotel, Ask One Question: What Would Elvis Do?
August 14, 2014
It’s Elvis Week, a time when diehards make a pilgrimage to Graceland, the king’s home-turned-tourist attraction in Memphis. For decades the annual event has filled the rooms at the nearby Heartbreak Hotel. The Elvis fanatics who rarely quibble about the faded charms of Graceland—recently updated with iPad-guided tours narrated by the actor John Stamos—have mixed feelings about the old Heartbreak. The hotel garners praise for its location and campiness alongside barbs for its outdated air conditioning and well-worn décor.
“It was built under the concept of how inexpensively you could build a hotel,” says Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of Graceland Holdings, which is developing the new hotel. Heartbreak was originally built in 1985 as a branch of the Wilson World hotel chain, developed by Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson. Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business arm of the musician’s estate, purchased the hotel in 1999 and rebranded it as an official Elvis destination.
Now Heartbreak will be “going away,” Weinshanker says, to be replaced by a $70 million, 450-room hotel designed to modern standards. The new facility will echo the Grecian-style portico found at Graceland, which is about a quarter mile away and draws about 600,000 visitors a year.