Has the local haunted house become passé? Parades of ghastly ghouls just not doing it for you? Afraid your Halloween mojo has left without you? Fear not – or maybe renew your fear: TravelLatte has some frightening destinations to put some howl back in your Halloween!
Surf, Sand & Spooks!
For many people, vacation means beach and Halloween means haunting. The two come together in Texas on Galveston Island, whose colorful history includes pirates, rebels, presidents, celebrities…and ghosts! Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca named it the “Isle of Doom” when his crew shipwrecked there in 1528, and the island earned that title when it was devastated by a hurricane in 1900. As many as 8000 people were killed and it still ranks as the most devastating natural disaster in American history. Among the dead was Sister Katherine and the children of her orphanage who are said to still roam the beach where their bodies were found, tied together so as not to be separated in the storm.
Nearby stands the Hotel Galvez, built in 1911 on the site of the Beach Hotel, which had been destroyed by fire just before the turn of the century. While there are no accounts of spirits from that fire, the Galvez does have a few ghosts in residence. Like the island, the hotel is named after Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid, the Count of Galvez, whose picture adorns the downstairs hallway. It is said that one cannot take a clear photo of the Count’s picture without first asking for his permission; a daunting task as many visitors feel a chill when approaching the painting. And, of course, there are reports of the painting’s eyes following guests as they walk through the hall, as any well haunted painting would do.
The smell of gardenias is often found in the downstairs ladies bathroom where guests have often reported hearing voices and rattling stalls when they’re certain they were in there alone. One story tells of a ball rolling across the floor, followed by a girl’s laughter and, yes, the smell of gardenias. While there are no reports of a child’s death at the Galvez, many believe the spirits of the orphans check in to play.
The Forlorn Lady
One woman who did die at the hotel is the Forlorn Lady of the fifth floor, the best known spirit at the Galvez. In the most common version of her tale, the woman had checked in to room 500, awaiting the arrival of her fiancé who was at sea. One day she received the unfortunate news that his ship had been lost and all aboard perished. The despondent woman ended her own life shortly thereafter. Some say she flung herself off the roof, others that she hung herself either in her room or from the rooftop turrets.
Despite the hauntings – or perhaps because of them – the Hotel Galvez has been a prominent feature in the island’s tourist trade. Known as the Palace of the Gulf and the Playground of the Southwest, the hotel has drawn celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Howard Hughes, as well as Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson. Today, the Hotel Galvez and Spa part of the Wyndham Grand Collection, and is Galveston’s only historic beachfront inn. The beautiful property is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the Historic Hotels of America. It has recently undergone an $11-million renovation, and features 224 luxury guestrooms, a luxury spa, and the famed Loggia restaurant. Galveston is about 65 miles south of Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. You can learn more about the Hotel Galvez at Historic Hotels of America and at Wyndham Hotels.
Looking for someplace even more spooky? Don’t miss our Haunted Halloween, Part 1!