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Polynesian Room, Fort Lauderdale, FL (restaurant)

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Name:Polynesian Room
Street:1140 Seabreeze Avenue
City:Fort Lauderdale
Phone:(800) 325-3535

The Polynesian Room is long gone, but was located in the Yankee Clipper Hotel. The Polynesian Room seated 300 and was the first to house a floor show in a Florida hotel.


I have a few paper items from the Polynesian Room.



A dinner and cocktail menu from Arkiva Tropika

Swanky posted on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 9:18 AM

We looked at having Hukilau there in 2003, but we had already outgrown the room. They also have dropped the ceiling in that room so much that you could never do a show. I could palm the ceiling from the stage!

Nice stuff.
I spent my teens at the Yankee Clipper.
My father, George Hines, had the Polynesian Review there.
That's him in the center of the top postcard. I joined him when I was in Jr. College.
We both went on to play at the Mai Kai.
The second postcard is really earlier.
That's Lundy Nelson on the right. He also went on to the Mai Kai.
My fathers' show followed them in.
That's Nani Maki on the right in the top postcard.


Thanks for all of your posts about your musical tours and history at the Florida restaurants.

Do you have any old photos you could share?

Here is another postcard from the Luau buffet at the Polynesian Room.


Hey DC,

Yes I do, I have to go through my stuff.
But first I'm going to the Mai Kai Tuesday for a Barrel.
I played there for ten+ years.

By the way the gentleman at the bottom of the buffet was the manager( Joe Arnest - I think that's spelled correctly )
Stay well

[ Edited by: nibblegribitz 2010-06-06 15:43 ]

On 2009-11-01 07:14, Tiki-Kate wrote:
I have a few paper items from the Polynesian Room.



Taafili, Tuai, my father George Hines, center, Nani Maka, star of '60s movie 'Pagan Island' and Pasefika, right. - Nibblegribitz

That's Lundy Nelson on the right. He went on to have the show at the Mai Kai. - Nibblegribitz

A dinner and cocktail menu from Arkiva Tropika


While researching the story behind a giclee print I acquired of Roger McVicker’s Polynesian Fire Dance, I came across various articles and graphics that collectively sketched a history of the Yankee Clipper. There are other relevant graphics and narrative fragments scattered all over Tiki Central on the same subject, but this thread of Tiki-Kate’s seemed the most logical place to append the information. The Yankee Clipper, after all, was the host hotel for the now extinct Polynesian Room.

The Yankee Clipper Hotel is now known as the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel. It first opened for business on July 13, 1956...

Miami Sunday News June 24, 1956 (page 21)

M. Tony Sherman (born 1910 – died 1999) was the master architect of the project. He is probably best known as the architect of the original Tropicana resort in Las Vegas. It was built in the same timeframe as the Yankee Clipper and opened on April 4, 1957. Sherman was one of a small group of South Florida architects who forged a distinctive mid-century tropical architectural style known as Miami Modern (MiMo). Charles McKirahan, the architect of the Mai-Kai, also belonged to that elite group. Tony Sherman designed the Jolly Roger Hotel in Fort Lauderdale (1952) and the Castaways Hotel (1958) in North Miami Beach, as well as many other hotels, restaurants and private residences in the area.

The Jolly Roger Hotel circa 1956

Here’s some publicity following the Yankee Clipper Hotel opening...

Miami Sunday News July 22, 1956 (page 16 & 17)

In the same Sunday edition of the Miami News was this...

Regrettably, one must assume that the Miami News offer has expired on requesting recipes for Chef Don Carlos Briton’s Polynesian Room specialties.

Here are portion scans from a 1950’s or early 1960’s Yankee Clipper brochure. Sabu The Coconut Boy must have this same brochure, as he previously posted the Polynesian Lounge photo with that colorful mural in the “Polynesian Murals and Dioramas - Vintage & Other” thread of TC’s General Tiki forum...

Experiencing the Yankee Clipper for the first time, this newspaper columnist wrote of her 1959 stay there...

Lakeland Ledger April 19, 1959 (page 15)

By 1960, business was so good for Yankee Clipper architect Tony Sherman that he had to build himself a new office...

The Miami News January 10, 1960 (page 112)

In June of 1960, Tony Sherman’s new office was ready for move in...

The Miami News June 05, 1960 (page 80)

Here’s a background article on Bob Gill, the developer-owner of Gill Hotels and various other enterprises. Due to his effective promotion of the Fort Lauderdale beaches as a tourist destination and playground, he was known alternately as the “Father of Fort Lauderdale Spring Break” or "The Father of Hospitality"...

The Miami News June 19, 1960 (page 56)

In this article we learn that Juan Tolentino, an aspiring chemical engineer (I’m actually one of those), came to Florida in 1956 to support the original opening of the Yankee Clipper Polynesian Room as a chef...

The Milwaukee Journal May 14, 1969 (page 42)

To be continued...



Here’s a vintage Yankee Clipper Hotel postcard postmarked 1964; I’ll intersperse images of others in my collection as the story is continued...

In the 1960s, Bob Gill became a Sheraton franchisee, making the Yankee Clipper part of the Sheraton brand. This allowed him to take advantage of Sheraton’s worldwide reservations system. He later joined the Sheraton’s board of directors...

South Florida Sun-Sentinel July 24, 1996

Another vintage postcard of the Yankee Clipper at night, postmarked 1963...

In 1986, Lundy Nelson passed away. He was one of the original Yankee Clipper Polynesian Room performers who subsequently moved on to the Mai-Kai, according to an earlier post to this thread by nibblegribitz...

***South Florida Sun-Sentinel *** January 25, 1986

For Swanky, there’s a connection between Bob Gill, the Yankee Clipper Hotel, the Mai-Kai and Johnny Carson: Jack Drury...

***South Florida Sun-Sentinel *** April 7, 2008

Here’s a 2004 University of Florida article on the management role that Linda Gill assumed in her father’s hotels as the years advanced...

One more vintage Yankee Clipper postcard, postmarked 1961...

To be continued...



I had the Jolly Roger incorrectly as a McKirahan design in my presentation at Hukilau, and that picture of Jayne Mansfield at the hotel. Jack Drury was who brought her there to stay and promote the place and other Gill properties. I also had the image of the Mai-Kai girls playing softball against the "Gill Gals". I had hoped Jack would be there, but he could not make it at the last minute.

I have a Yankee Clipper tie in to share, but I am waiting to see if by some miracle you have it already!

I just like the name "Buffy Lockette".


Swanky, I have another connection between the Yankee Clipper and the Mai-Kai, but it doesn’t have the “wow” factor of yours. I’ll leave it to you to pick the time and place to share it.

Sven, Buffy Lockette is indeed one hell of a byline.

Okay, this may elicit the mild interest of the truly hard-core history geeks among you, so here’s one more tie-in between the Yankee Clipper and Mai-Kai: Richard Charles Reilly, Architect. Another WWII Pacific veteran, Reilly did detailed design work under the master architects of the Yankee Clipper (M. Tony Sherman) and Mai-Kai (Charles McKirahan). According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) biographic data, he actually joined the architectural firm of Charles McKirahan in 1956, remaining with him as an Associate Architect until striking out on his own in 1961. Innovative and large projects such as the Yankee Clipper and Mai-Kai undoubtedly employed a number of designers, engineers and project managers. Reilly went on to distinguish himself as the master architect of other South Florida landmarks, as summarized in his obituary...

South Florida Sun-Sentinel July 21, 2000

Here’s a vintage Yankee Clipper postcard with an aerial view of the complex...

Marina is enchanting at the Wreck Bar (Marina is, in fact, enchanting anywhere she goes)...

The Palm Beach Post June 15, 2008

In the article below, the popular history of the Yankee Clipper is recapped, we learn that $4 million in upgrades have been accomplished and that more is planned, but the promise is that the Wreck Bar will remain intact through it all...

The Palm Beach Post July 20, 2008

So, where did the money for the renovation come from? This article reveals that the Starwood Capital Group acquired the majority interest in the Sheraton Yankee Clipper back in 2005 and provided the renovation funds. They will figure prominently in a subsequent controversial renovation...

eHotelier.com June 20, 2005

Here’s another article about the Starwood Capital Group acquisition, from the Gill family perspective...

Hotel Online April 25, 2005

A vintage menu cover from the Yankee Clipper’s Galley Coffee Shop...

In the early part of 2009, Bob Gill, founder of the Gill Hotels of which the Yankee Clipper was the flagship, passed away at the age of 93...

South Florida Sun-Sentinel February 26, 2009

Spring break at Fort Lauderdale beach circa 1962...

To be continued...



The photo for this vintage Yankee Clipper postcard was also used as an image in the previously posted brochure...

That promised extensive renovation of the Yankee Clipper commenced in 2009 after temporarily closing on June 1 of that year. There was a lot of angst among the TC Ohana as to what that meant, especially to the future of cherished Wreck Bar, and tiki_kiliki started this thread back in May of 2008 as a call for action to save it. Here’s another thread on the same subject.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel May 14, 2009

In January of 2010, the renovated, modernized Sheraton Yankee Clipper reopened under its new name, the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel...

South Florida Sun-Sentinel January 15, 2010

As word got out that the Wreck Bar survived, there were exclamations of joy among the TC Ohana, captured in this January 2010 thread...

On 2010-01-23 08:40, Marina the Fire Eating Mermaid! wrote:

I'll be swimming along with my MeduSirena Pod at the Wreck Bar January 29th at 6:30 PM for the first time after the Yankee Clipper's renovation-
(The name of the Hotel has also been renovated to the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, but it will always be the Yankee Clipper to me~ giggle.)
Swims will continue from then on Fridays at 6:30 PM.

Again, thank you for all your support and encouragement these past years and especially in 2009-
I am extremely grateful that this little treasure survived such an extreme renovation.

One very lucky Mermaid,


There were those in the local media who felt the same way...

Broward-Palm Beach New Times March 11, 2010

And the lovely Marina still is a mermaid at the Wreck Bar. If you haven’t seen her there, here is a video sample of what you’re missing.

A few more vintage Yankee Clipper postcards from my collection -- the one of the Polynesian Room is postmarked 1959...



My Flagler Beach neighbor, Janet Powell, found this vintage photo in her personal files. It was taken at the Yankee Clipper on New Year's Eve of 1958...

New Year's Eve at the Yankee Clipper in 1958 -- Janet Powell and her husband, M.E., on the left

Janet recalls that they were in the Clipper Room when this photo was taken, though the table style is also consistent with the Polynesian Dining Room.

Janet was a good friend of Roger McVicker in the last years of his life. Roger was the talented architectural rendering artist who did a Polynesian Fire Dance promotional graphic for the Yankee Clipper. The connection is discussed in this TC post.


Aloha and great thread! We just spent the weekend in Fort Lauderdale and were once again invited back to the Clipper (which I will always call it) to tour after renovations and excited they want The Hukilau to return as one of their groups. We were treated so well and the team there really made certain we were comfortable and were very knowledgeable about the history of the hotel, which is a huge change from the past in dealing with them.

Looks like we should know something within the next week but I do believe in 2013, The Hukilau will once again return to the Clipper, where we have belonged all along. Just wait as see what we have planned....

A meeting with Marina too - some historic moments will take place with this aquatic performer next year too!

Love all these graphics! The Clipper (I, like Kiliki, will ALWAYS call it that) is going to be a great home for us again :)


What a great thread. I have one of Mo-Eye's prints of the blue matchbook art, so I googled Polynesian Room, and of course ended up here. Thanks to all who posted the pics and articles, wonderful stuff.

Great research as usual Tiki Tom D.

I picked up a new postcard from the Polynesian Room. A double oversized card that shared the billing with the Cabaret Caprice at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Hotel.

Here is a close up of the Polynesian Room photo. A nice mural in the background, good looking Hawaiian style band, but what's up with the Balinesian style dancers?

I also spotted this menu from the Polynesian Room that has a full view of the Tiki shown on the matchbook first posted by Tiki-Kate (Viva!).


Hey...I was hoping for a blow up of "Cabaret Caprice", also! :D

Here you go Bigbro. A whip man and four wild skating Kitty Cats on Ice! The night-time entertainment scene was obviously very competitive back in the day in Fort Lauderdale.

I picked up one of the brochures that Tiki Tom D posted and it had two 1957-58 rate sheets inside.

Can we get those prices for 2013 Hukilau?

The rate sheet had some nice info and graphics on the facilities:


picked this up recently.....


Tipsy, that's a great find!

The photo is in the Polynesian Room dining area. The wahine serving the drink is Tuai, who also performed in the show with Nani Maka, Pasefika and Taafili, with music provided by George Hines and his band. This was likely in the 1960s, but certainly no later than the very early 1970s.

DC and bigbrotiki, Cabaret Caprice was an ice show in the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Hotel on the Ocean, also built by Bob Gill, who subsequently renamed it to the Yankee Trader as sort of a sibling with the flagship Yankee Clipper Hotel.

Really nice contributions to the thread...


Good morning all you Tiki lovers,
Just want to let you know there are two really good facebook pages for you.
"Friends of the Mai-Kai" and "Friends of the Yankee Clipper Polynesian Room".
The Mai-Kai pages is ongoing info since it is still in operation, while the Yankee Clipper Polynesian Room page pays homage to its golden past.

This photo has Taafili, Nani Maka, George Hines, Tuai and Pasefika.

[ Edited by: nibblegribitz 2017-01-27 04:54 ]

[ Edited by: nibblegribitz 2017-01-27 07:50 ]

[ Edited by: nibblegribitz 2017-01-27 07:52 ]

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