Phoenix hotel gains business from claimed ghosts

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Aside from its ghostly history, the Hotel San Carlos also draws visitors looking to see the room Marilyn Monroe stayed in while at the hotel. (Stephanie Snyder/DD)

It’s no surprise that the economy is a little less grim and jobs are easier to find during the holiday season.

With the rush of Christmas descending upon Americans even weeks before Thanksgiving, it is easy to see why businesses require a larger work force near the end of the year. However, for some businesses, this boost begins at the end of September in anticipation of a different holiday:  Halloween.

The Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix benefits from this seasonal increase in business because the establishment’s history has given it the reputation of being haunted. The hotel’s exposure and revenue peaks during this time of year thanks to Ghosts of Phoenix Tours, which allows tourists to experience firsthand some of the paranormal activity the hotel has to offer.

The tours are not hosted by the Hotel San Carlos, but the organization pays the hotel for exclusive rights of use according to Linda Lieberman, a Ghosts of Phoenix Tours hostess. The discounts given to guests who decide to stay at the hotel after taking the tour also attract even more clients.

Front Office Manager Marco Chavez said that the time of year undeniably contributes to the hotel’s business.

“We are an 82-year-old hotel with a lot of history, we have a lot to play on as far as bringing people in,” he said. “Right now things start picking up; we have costume parties and other things like that so it’s definitely noticeable how much business picks up.”

History is an aspect that stands out for the Hotel San Carlos. One of the more famous stories involves Leone Jensen, a woman who jumped off the roof of the building in 1928 after discovering her lover had a mistress in the hotel. This happened less than two months after the hotel opened.

Chavez said guests at the hotel have seen things that closely resemble what they believe to be Jensen’s ghost.

“People have said they’ve seen a woman crying who then disappears, or they’ll see a figure in white walk down the halls,” he said.

Another popular story dates back to the origins of the site. The Hotel San Carlos was built over a schoolhouse that had a well. When the well was renovated, the remains of three boys were found, Chavez said. On the Ghosts of Phoenix Tours website, visitors will notice white orbs in some of the pictures in the photographs section.

“You’ll notice most of the pictures have three orbs,” Chavez said. “Those are believed to be the ghosts of the three boys who died in the well.”

The paranormal activity doesn’t stop there. Chavez commented on unexplainable incidents that occur regularly in the hotel, including water faucets and televisions turning on and off, camera batteries rapidly draining and shaky cell phone reception.

Despite all the haunting, when business picks up in late September, it doesn’t let up until the end of December, which coincides with the end of the schedule for Ghosts of Phoenix Tours.

“We make a lot of adjustments during this time,” Chavez said. “We staff up a little better, we have multiple valets and multiple people working the front desk. Everybody brings their ‘A-game.’ For us, our priority is making sure everyone knows what needs to be done and is prepared to handle a little bit busier schedule.”

One would think the prospect of staying in a haunted hotel would scare people away, but as Oct. 31 approaches and the tours begin, the Hotel San Carlos attracts both locals and tourists alike to partake in an evening or two of good, old-fashioned Halloween fun, which is never bad for business.

Contact the reporter at gbourgue@asu.edu