The Saunders family actually points to the year 1940 as the beginning of what has become a continuous involvement in the hospitality industry of well over sixty years duration. In that year, Irving Saunders, a very successful real estate entrepreneur, purchased a small hotel across from the former Metropolitan Theater (now The Wang Center). Irving Saunders was President of the Broadway Hotel for the next twenty-five years, until it was taken by eminent domain by the City of Boston to make way for Elliot Norton Park in Boston’s Theater District. From these beginnings, a family’s passion for hotels was born!
The success of the Broadway coupled with Irving Saunders’ flair for the hotel business led to the purchase of the Copley Square Hotel in 1948. In fact, the Copley Square Hotel was one of the first hotels in the nation to lease space to a restaurant operator – Café Budapest, a Boston institution. The Saunders family sold the property in 2006.
In 1963, the Saunders family expanded its hotel interests in Boston with the purchase of a minor interest in the Lenox Hotel, which was operated by the Saunders Hotel Group through 1996 at which time the family acquired full ownership of the property through a friendly buy-out. The Lenox continues to be the flagship property of the Saunders Hotel Group.
In 1976, in an event that would come to shape both SHG and the Boston lodging industry in significant ways, Roger Saunders and his family purchased the abandoned Statler Hilton Hotel and reopened it as The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, the first hotel ever to reopen in Boston after having once been shut down.
During the twenty-year period that followed the acquisition and re-opening of the Boston Park Plaza, Roger Saunders’ commitment has come to involve his entire family and has resulted in the emergence of one of the most respected independent hotel management companies in the country, competing in a city full of international hospitality conglomerates. When Roger Saunders stepped back in January of 1990 and passed the responsibilities of President of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel to his son, Gary, the day-to-day control of the company officially passed to the third generation. The Saunders family sold the property in 1996.