MEMPHIS, Tenn. - May 21, 2002 - At age 76, one of America`s most recognized icons will receive some tender care to help maintain it for future travelers to enjoy. In one of the most aggressive Route 66 preservation efforts to date, Hampton hotels—backed by its own funding and employee volunteers and with the support of thousands of nostalgic fans—is arranging for portions of the 2,448-mile “Mother Road” to receive some much needed cosmetic surgery, in the form of nearly 200 new roadway signs and freshly refurbished landmarks.
According to a Hampton Road Trip Travel Survey, nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) believe Route 66 should be declared a national landmark, although only two out of 10 (22 percent) have ever driven cross-country.
Hampton is purchasing and donating 100 Route 66 highway signs to replace those that have been damaged or stolen throughout the years. The hotel brand also is designing, developing and posting 66 retro-styled “Point of Interest” signs at designated spots along the corridor`s eight-state stretch, featuring the stories behind many of Route 66`s funky landmarks and nostalgic sites.
This year, the “Explore The Highway with Hampton Save-A-Landmar?” effort will team up with Route 66 Associations across the nation, as well as each state`s Department of Transportation, to raise awareness for the famous “Main Street of America” and help it to become recognized as a national landmark.
“A grassroots effort to preserve the icons and culture of the ‘Mother Road` is taking hold in communities across the nation,” said Jim Conkle, executive director, California Route 66 Preservation Foundation. “But with limited national funding, the future of Route 66 also depends on the volunteer support and hard-dollar donations from corporate America to create the added awareness and fresh ideas that keeps our preservations efforts alive.”
According to Judy Christa-Cathey, vice president of marketing for Hampton, what started two years ago as a program to save endangered landmarks has expanded into a community-based initiative involving volunteers from every state who are committed to preserving arguably the largest and most recognized landmark in the country, Route 66.
“As part of our ongoing ‘Save-A-Landmark` program, we have been restoring everything from the famous 30-foot Big Duck in Long Island to the Bell Markers of the historic California missions because these landmarks are important to the traveling public,” said Christa-Cathey. “During the restoration of our first Route 66 landmark last spring - a 70-year-old Standard Oil Gas Station - we fell in love with the culture and nostalgia surrounding Route 66 and realized there was much more we could do to help these associations preserve one of America`s most important historical treasures.”
This week, the first “Point of Interest” Route 66 signs will be unveiled at the 79-year old Lou Mitchell`s Restaurant in Chicago, Ill. Lou Mitchell`s is considered one of the first stops on the Route 66 road trip heading from East to West. Additional signs will be posted across the eight states and restorations along the Route, such as the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Okla., will continue throughout the year. “Having these signs placed along Route 66 is an important step in its preservation,” added Conkle. “Many young travelers today may not even know they are on Route 66, so identification markers help make exploring the Route even more fun - for the young and old!”
In addition to the restorations and signage, Hampton`s website, www.hamptoninn.com, will promote a national electronic letter writing campaign to provide browsers and Route 66 fans the information and tools necessary to contact their local government representatives. This effort is intended to protect the famous corridor by having it declared a national landmark: a status that would open up federal funding for the roadway.
Hampton continues to research additional preservation prospects from submissions for landmark restorations made by the general public for its program. Those interested in nominating landmarks in need of restoration can do so online at www.hamptoninn.com or by writing to Explore the Highway with Hampton, P.O. Box 15422, Beverly Hills, CA 90209-1422.
The Hampton Road Trip survey was conducted by phone with a cross section of 800 Americans nationwide in May 2002. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
Introduced in 1984, the Hampton brand has received numerous awards, including the “Highest Guest Satisfaction Among Mid-Priced Hotel Chains with Limited Food Service” from J.D. Power and Associates` Domestic Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study?, three years in a row. The brand was the first to back its quality and consistency with an unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, which states that if guests are not completely satisfied with their stay, they are not expected to pay for that night`s stay.
Hampton, the national brand of mid-priced hotels, with more than 1,100 Hampton Inn® and Hampton Inn & Suites® properties, is part of Hilton Hotels Corporation, recognized internationally as a preeminent hospitality company. The company develops, owns, manages or franchises 2,000 hotels, resorts and vacation ownership properties. Its portfolio includes many of the world`s best known and most highly regarded hotel brands, including Hilton®, Conrad?, Doubletree®, Embassy Suites Hotels‰®, Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Harrison Conference Centers®, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hilton Grand Vacations Company®, and Homewood Suites® by Hilton.