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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Bali Hai, Las Vegas, NV (motel)
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Bali Hai, Las Vegas, NV (motel)
Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4351
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-06-29 5:54 pm   Permalink

Name:Bali Hai
Type:motel
Street:336 Desert Inn Road
City:Las Vegas
State:NV
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
Here is one for Mr. Smiley who seems dedicated on finding all Tiki past and present in Vegas. The Bali Hai Motel located off the strip. I have a few promo business cards in my collection from this place.

Photo showing lava rock and some small Tikis.





Tikis on the back



Another card with a different Tiki rendering.



The amenities - it was a Howard Hughes resort.



I found some photos, brochures and postcards on flickr, here we go.

Nice big sign



An early brochure with a location map





Postcard





More modern brochure - the sign changed.




Ashtray



Matchbook clip






Not sure when it was torn down and what's there now.

DC







 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-06-29 6:13 pm   Permalink

HOLY CRAP !! I'm a big follower of Las Vegas history and I've NEVER heard of this place.

I'm floored. Any ideas when it opened and closed ??

You're not photo-shopping this stuff just to mess with my head, are you ??


 
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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5058
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2011-06-30 06:05 am   Permalink

Well, that's about a black 1957-8 Chrysler Imperial in that one photo. Look sbrand new!

 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-06-30 07:14 am   Permalink

It's the Howard Hughes angle which is the most interesting to me. That's the first I've heard of him having a footprint in Las Vegas prior to the late 1960's. In addition to Swanky's identification of the 1957 Chrysler, the Howard Hughes brochure reference is definitely pre-1958. I can tell because notably absent from that map is the Stardust Hotel which opened in 1958. (Update - And actually the Riviera, which was built in 1955 isn't on the map either, but it might have been a tad too far north.)

Hughes however was no stranger to Las Vegas as a visitor in the 1950's. Authors Sally Denton and Roger Morris wrote that a half-disguised Howard Hughes would prowl Las Vegas casinos and order his bodyguards or hotel employees to pick up women for him. When they find one he likes, they would require her to sign a legal disclaimer before joining him...

That in addition to Hughes' role as one of the country's largest military contractors in the 1950's, you kind of wonder how Hughes might have leveraged the Bali Hai for his own discrete dealings and encounters.

And initially I thought that address would have been absorbed by the Desert Inn golf course (now the Wynn Country Club), but it appears it borders it.

[ This Message was edited by: JOHN-O 2011-06-30 07:37 ]


 
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TikiTomD
Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 682
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2011-06-30 10:15 am   Permalink

This web site has quite a compilation of Las Vegas historic image material, and it also has a list of off-strip hotels, motels, clubs and casinos, with their opening and closing dates...

http://www.lasvegasmikey.com/a_off_strip_street.htm

It states that the Bali Hai (336 E. Desert Inn Road) opened in 1957 and closed in 1989.

I also came across this article in a local Space Coast newspaper archive. It mentions both the Bali Hai and Blair House (actually runs their names together), although the aforementioned web site shows the Blair House as a separate motel opening in 1957 and still open, with an address of 344 E. Desert Inn Road, apparently near to the now defunct Bali Hai...

Florida Today April 23, 1978





-Tom


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goldila
Member

Joined: Jul 22, 2011
Posts: 2
From: Los Angeles, CA
Posted: 2011-07-22 11:15 pm   Permalink

Dustycajun thanks so much for posting these pictures of the Bali Hai. I didn't think anyone would remember this place. I stayed at the Bali Hai with my parents back in 1959. I was a kid. I have pictures of myself in the swimming pool and the grounds surrounding the motel. We stayed there many, many times throughout the 60's. A lot of people who stayed there were starring in shows on the strip at the time. The rooms had a bedroom, living room and small dinette where you could cook if you wanted to. I remember we would always try and book the same room right across from the pool. We had many good times down there. Ah, Vegas back in the early 60's was just wonderful. When the Aladdin opened we started staying there and then the Riviera. You brought back many good memories.

[ This Message was edited by: goldila 2011-07-22 23:21 ]


 
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kenbo-jitsu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 27, 2011
Posts: 206
From: Southern CA
Posted: 2011-07-28 3:01 pm   Permalink

The Blair House Suites still exists at 344 E Desert Inn Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89109.

The land where the Bali Hai was is now part of the Guardian Angel (Roman Catholic) Cathedral, a nice bit of architecture itself. Here’s a picture from the cathedral web site.
http://www.lasvegas-diocese.org/parishes_guardian_angel.html


The structure that now stands where the Bali Hai was is not the cathedral itself but a newer outlying building. Here is a paragraph taken from the document “History of the Guardian Angel Cathedral” available as a PDF on the cathedral web site.



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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4351
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-07-29 12:13 pm   Permalink

So the Bali Hai became a Tiki Church! How befitting.

DC


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11195
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-07-30 01:11 am   Permalink

DC ol' pal, please allow me to throw some light on this subject matter:

The church did not replace the Bali Hai, since it was built in 1966. It is also not a "Tiki church", but perhaps the best example of mid-century modern architecture left in that godforsaken town - much more so than the comparatively bland Bali Hai ever was.



It seems kind of ironic that of all the classic modernist structures built in Las Vegas in the mid-century (the Mint, the Stardust, La Concha, etc.) the only one that survived is a church. It is not only a great example of A-frame architecture...



...but sports some of the finest modernist mosaic murals I have ever seen:


(front detail)


(interior side altar)

This also can be said for the stained glass work:


(front door detail)

..for on the interior, each side has 5 tall stained glass windows:



...of which this one is the most noteworthy...



...because of its contemporary detail:



...an obvious attempt by some local high rollers (sinners) to secure a place in heaven.



The only other mid-century modern church I like better is the one you showed me in your town, DC.

I beg forgiveness for this little excursion into ecclesiastical modernism, but it is a pet subject of mine that I only got to touch on briefly in Tiki Modern.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-07-30 07:20 ]


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4351
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-07-30 08:35 am   Permalink

Bigbro,

Thanks for the enlightenment. Great photos, you obviously had a chance to visit this magnificent cathedral.

DC


 
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aquarj
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1083
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2011-07-30 2:57 pm   Permalink

Interesting stuff!

About that donated stained glass in the cathedral, that's probably not from just a penitent high roller. Wilbur Clark was a big name in the early Vegas casino history. I read that he owned the El Rancho from 1944-46. His big project was the Desert Inn, which was originally going to be called Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn, until he ran out of money and had to get other backers to take a stake. I guess we'd have to assume it's the same Wilbur Clark - note the presence of the Desert Inn with the landmarks in the stained glass.

The only thing that doesn't quite line up is the 1966 date. The cathedral was supposedly built in 1963, and also Wilbur Clark died in 1965.

The Desert Inn opened in 1950. I kinda wonder if Clark was involved in the Bali Hai too, especially given its location behind the Desert Inn. Also Wilbur Clark lived in San Diego before moving to Las Vegas to buy the El Rancho in 1944. As we all know, there's a famous Bali Hai in San Diego... obviously it doesn't pre-date the Desert Inn, but it's conceivable that Clark kept some property and ties in San Diego. You could imagine him being aware of the Shelter Island Bali Hai, which may have inspired the Bali Hai on Desert Inn Road, in name only or even in other ways too.

-Randy

[ This Message was edited by: aquarj 2011-07-30 16:25 ]


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11195
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-07-30 5:40 pm   Permalink

Thanks Randy, I wasn't really serious when I called Wilbur Clark that, I was kinda assuming that my audience was aware of his name in Las Vegas history - and his mob ties. I was more aiming for a "Wow, they got them to put a bunch of casinos into a church window!" response

I judged the date the church was built by the date the outside mosaic has in its signature....but that could have taken a couple of years to finish!



Wilbur's wife probably made sure his name appeared, as a memorial to him:

"Toni Clark became emblematic of the glamour years of the early Las Vegas resorts with her attention to high fashion and her management of events for the wives of high rollers. In 1944, she came to Las Vegas with her husband Wilbur Clark who opened the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino in 1950. Over the years, Toni Clark became a fixture in Las Vegas society and an avid promoter of the Desert Inn specifically and Las Vegas in general."

The window seems to have been finished even later, after Wilbur's death, since the prominently featured Landmark Casino was not erected until 1969



 
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Bora Boris
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2005
Posts: 2588
From: Boogie Wonderland
Posted: 2011-07-30 6:56 pm   Permalink

After seeing the stained glass with the Landmark I was wondering when it closed? I don't remember seeing it on any of my early Las Vegas trips but since it's off the strip and over near the Las Vegas Hilton that helps to explain why. This website tells the story of the Landmark Hotel.

The last time I was in Las Vegas was July 2009 and the Landmark sign was still up on Paradise Road.


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aquarj
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1083
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2011-07-30 10:47 pm   Permalink

Hey Sven, good point about the Landmark, more interesting stuff!

Purely out of the fun of more speculation, I would guess that the "Howard Hughes" motel card is from 1967 or later, and not pre-1958...

First, the phone number is written in the modern 10-digit style. Contrast that with the blue brochure with the aerial. That one almost definitely has to be older, with the REgent 5-3224 phone number. Yet it shows the Stardust and Riviera, among others.

Note that every other property appearing on the "Hughes" motel card map was also owned at one time by Howard Hughes. He bought the Desert Inn in 67, then the Sands, Castaways, Silver Slipper and Frontier. Hughes tried to buy the Stardust, but was rebuffed by the SEC. I would guess that all those properties on the map were Hughes-owned, and anything else in the vicinity was intentionally excluded. Their absence doesn't mean they didn't exist when the map was drawn.

Last, the Frontier was called the New Frontier when Hughes bought it, and changed to the Frontier in 1967. Again, this would date the motel card at 1967 or later, since it shows "Frontier Hotel". And the blue one would be earlier because it shows the "Hotel New Frontier".

I'm still wondering if Wilbur Clark had a hand in the Bali Hai. And what was the "Polynesia" at 10 Desert Inn Road, operating from 1952-53, according to the same
link that TikiTomD posted?

-Randy


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howlinowl
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 20, 2008
Posts: 145
From: Port Saint Lucie, FL
Posted: 2011-07-31 04:13 am   Permalink

I seem to remember reading about the landmark being started earlier.....like in '61 or '62? They ran out of funds during building and or changed the plans to add floors to it because they wanted it to be the tallest structure in Vegas and something else started going up that was going to be taller? Didn't it sit dormant for a few years until they finally finished it up in '69? Been a while since I'd read up on it. That would kinda explain why it's in the window. Either that, or the Landmark was under construction at the time and they added it to the window to make sure the window stayed current after the Landmark was completed.

howlinowl


 
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