The year was 1957 when Jay Pritzker bought a Los Angeles airport hotel from Dutch businessman Hyatt von Dehn, famously using a nearby napkin as the official contract. What became known as Hyatt House-Los Angeles, Hyatt's very first hotel, was the start of something big and by 1960, there were Hyatt Houses near airports in Seattle, San Francisco and the San Fernando Valley. Described as "the world's first fly-in hotels," the hotels quickly expanded throughout California to eight properties, which soon included Hyatt Lodges and Hyatt Chalets. Waving goodbye to the West coast, the first Hyatt House came to the Midwest, opening in Lincolnwood, Ill.
With five more Hyatt Lodges open by 1966, Hyatt branched out by opening standalone Hyatt Coffee Shoppes throughout California, which offered 24-hour restaurant and bar service to guests.
Then in 1967, Hyatt made its mark in the hospitality industry.
With the purchase of the unusual 23-story Regency Hyatt House in Atlanta (now Hyatt Regency Atlanta), Hyatt established what would become a signature design element, the John Portman-designed atrium hotel. With a glass elevator through the center of the hotel and green vines growing from each floor's balcony, the atrium hotel was a beautiful, breathtaking sight and the first of its kind. By 1969, with 16 Hyatt House hotels, including the company's first overseas property in Hong Kong, 41 Hyatt Lodges and 35 Hyatt Coffee Shoppes, Hyatt was making a statement throughout the world.
Hyatt's business boomed throughout the 70s, and over the next decade, the world was introduced to the Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt brand names. Hawaii also saw its first Hyatt resort property in the 70s, with the opening of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, which continues to be a vacation favorite and a Travel + Leisure's 'World's Best' winner.
Over the past 53 years, Hyatt has grown to 445 properties in 45 countries and now includes the Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt, Hyatt Place, and Hyatt Summerfield Suites brands. Not bad for a company that started on a napkin.