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When the Grand Hotel was really Grand

Portarlington’s Grand Hotel with 46 rooms was built to capitalise on the flourishing tourist trade of the 1880’s, its proximity to the Portarlington Pier brought tourists via the regular steamer service. The Sea Baths, beautiful beaches and beach activities were welcomed by the holiday makers who could enjoy the grand facilities of this beautiful hotel

The early history of the hotel is not clear. The original owner and licensee was a Mr Samuel J Davis who appeared to start construction in 1887 and it was completed in 1888. Mr Davis was an early tobacconist and cordial manufacturer in Portarlington. He appeared to dispose of these businesses and mortgaged his properties in order to buy the land and build the Grand Hotel. An early newspaper report on 24th April 1888 states that the hotel was open and hosted the NSW and Victorian rowing eights who enjoyed the experience

On the 16th June 1888 it was reported in the local newspapers that there was a land boom in Portarlington and that Mr Davis had been offered 15000 pounds for the hotel.

This article appeared at a time close to the peak of the land boom in Melbourne which Mr Davis appeared to be trying to take advantage of.

Mr Davis’s wife died on the 11th March 1889

On the 5th April 1889 Samuel Earle applied to be registered as licensee and the Victorian Brewing Malting and Distilling Company were registered as owners with Samuel Davis’s name struck from the register

Mr Davis filed for insolvency in June 1890 well ahead of the major crash in property values in Melbourne a few years later.

Despite changing hands a number of times and having numerous refurbishments the ‘Grand Hotel’ continues to be an iconic landmark of Portarlington notable for its height and central tower