Stay with the lucky ducks.
By Hope S. Philbrick
There’s one protein you’ll never find on the menu at The Peabody Memphis: Duck.
Five resident mallard ducks swim in the lobby fountain all day and then march to the elevator, escorted by the official red-coated Duckmaster, to their rooftop penthouse each evening at 5 p.m. They march back to the fountain at 11 a.m. The twice daily duck marches are well-attended affairs; arrive early to get a seat with a decent view of their ceremonial parade through the Grand Lobby.
The mallards are the hotel mascots, one of Memphis’ most celebrated tourist attractions, and arguably the luckiest ducks on earth. Thus the chef has been advised to keep all duck off the menu; it hasn’t been served since 1981, “quite possibly making Chez Philippe the only French restaurant in the world that doesn’t serve duck,” boasts Anthony Petrina, current Duckmaster (the fifth person to hold that title).
Ducks are referenced and pictured nearly everywhere else, from the sugar cookies in the sweet shop to the soaps next to sinks in every guestroom, from the gold oval stickers sealing each new roll of toilet paper to the tile pattern in the elevator floors, from to the stationery to the cocktail coasters, from the embroidered pillow shams to the vast array of trinkets available in the gift shop. Stay at The Peabody and you may never again see a duck without remembering the hotel.
It will be a pleasant memory.
The Peabody Memphis is a Forbes 4-star, AAA 4-diamond rated hotel in the heart of downtown Memphis. From the hotel you can walk to many Memphis attractions, including Beale Street, the Memphis Rock N Soul Museum, Gibson Guitar Factory, National Civil Rights Museum, Sun Studio, Orpheum Theatre, and more.
Open since 1869, The Peabody Memphis is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But its 464 guestrooms and suites are thoroughly modern: The “South’s Grand Hotel” was treated to a multi-million dollar renovation in late 2013. You’ll find functional yet stylish décor in a pleasing color palate that conveys “Memphis” via lavender, pale blue, soft orange, light green, and peacock.
Peabody Rooftop Parties
After the east side of the hotel’s roof was enclosed in 1939 and opened as the Skyway, the hotel began a series of summertime parties on the roof. Then called Sunset Serenades, the soirees were a popular place for the Big Bands and dancers and one of only three CBS Radio broadcast sites. The parties continue today as Peabody Rooftop Parties, and although the fashions, dancing and music have changed greatly, the spirit of the events remains the same. In 2014, Peabody Rooftop Parties ran April 17 through August 14. Look for the 76th season to begin in spring 2015. The rooftop parties start after the evening duck march; once you’re on the roof, you can spy on the ducks in their nighttime habitat.
Fly or waddle to The Peabody Memphis for a luxurious stay that is all it’s quacked up to be.
- Complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access
- Free calls to local and 800 numbers
- Hairdryer and bathrobes
- In-room safes
- Four different types of suites are available: Junior, Romeo & Juliet, Celebrity and Presidential
- Guestrooms with bathtubs are available
- Choice of local newspaper, USA Today or Wall Street Journal
- 80,000 square feet of space for events can accommodate groups from 10 to 2,100
- Pet-friendly rooms are available; $75 fee. Leashed dogs up to 75 pounds are permitted. Other restrictions apply
- Heated indoor pool, whirlpool and fitness center on site
- Day spa, shops, and award-winning dining are available on site
- In-room dining is available 24 hours a day
- Laundry and dry-cleaning services available
- Valet or self-parking in an adjacent covered garage
- Turn-down service available
- The Peabody Ducks march to and from the Grand Lobby daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in a time-honored tradition dating back to 1933
- The Duckmaster hosts Peabody Hotel history tours daily at 11:30 a.m., $5 for hotel guests and $10 for other guests
- Odds of Encountering Children: Extremely high. At the daily duck marches, children get exclusive opportunities to sit next to the red carpet for the best views. (Yes, the ducks get to stroll a red carpet between the fountain and the elevator. We suspect this helps protect the floors as much as it glams up the affair.) For the best odds, visit when school is in session and stick to adult haunts like the bar, the spa, etc.
The Peabody Memphis
149 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
– Photos courtesy The Peabody Memphis / Historic Hotels of America
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