Historic Hotel Bethlehem and Bethlehem Steel were intertwined since the inception of the hotel in 1921 until Bethlehem Steel’s waning days in 1999 as the number two steelmaker in the US. Hotel Bethlehem was the vision of Charles M. Schwab, the founder and CEO of Bethlehem Steel, as a grand and glorious hotel to replace the Eagle hotel to accommodate customers visiting the massive southside steel plant. Bethlehem Steel did not own the hotel but since the hotel issued shares to the public to build the facility, many Bethlehem Steel executives individually held shares of its stock.
In the late 1960s Bethlehem Steel acquired all of the shares to purchase the hotel in order to upgrade the property which had declined in the face of new competition from motels such as Holiday Inns and Howard Johnson. Under the direction of Bethlehem Steel, the hotel recaptured its former glory and achieved four-diamond status by 1980. During that period the hotel adopted a concept of hospitality girls who escorted customers to executive offices at the Steel headquarters. At the hotel, these hospitality girls acted as bellhops and elevator operators.
Bethlehem Steel sold the hotel in mid 1980s during a period that the company sold off non-core assets. The third floor of the hotel remained as “suite 300” offices for retired Steel executives. The last retired executive moved out of suite 300 when the hotel changed ownership in 1999 during the hotel restoration – thus ending the 78 year relationship of these two iconic Bethlehem businesses.