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The Breakers Resort: Where Myrtle Beach History Meets Fun

Different accountings of Myrtle Beach history disagree on exactly when The Breakers first opened its doors to visitors to Myrtle Beach. Some documents say the original building was built in 1927, but a March 1974 copy of Along the Coast Vacationer’s Guide includes quotes from the original proprietor, Mrs. T.S. Means, who said The Breakers was first opened as a guesthouse in 1931.

“I had 13 bedrooms, Lucky 13,” she said. “And served some of the finest food around. My dining room made my reputation.” At the time, the guest house was a two-story building, but Mrs. Means eventually added a third story and then bought the property next door. “Back then, people who came here liked the beach and water. They came for the natural life that Myrtle Beach had to offer.” According to Along the Coast, Mrs. Means “was considered very avant-garde when she installed the first connecting baths in Myrtle Beach.” Prior to her ground-breaking move, guests on common floors shared common bathrooms.

Mrs. Means also established a pre-dinner social hour for her guests, a tradition that continued after Mr. and Mrs. Yost Cunningham bought The Breakers in 1957. During this period, The Breakers continued to expand, acquiring its first property across the street from the main hotel. The resort was purchased again in 1970 by Vernon Brake and several of his partners, who continued expanding the offerings while also continuing to offer the southern hospitality that it had long been known for.

Mr. Brake (whose nearly eponymous name is a pure coincidence) later told The Sun news that when he first began managing the hotel in the early 1970s, it was a much different time. “Telephones, for instance … back then we had one telephone.” Mr. Brake also said that most people would make their reservations by letter, and that since the process could be tedious, many guests would simply make the next year’s reservation before they left—which helped encourage repeat guests.

“It used to be, people came to the beach for the beach and the breeze,” Mr. Brake said. “Then in the ‘50s, you had to put in a swimming pool. That was the hot item. Then you had to get air conditioning when it became easily available.”

It wasn’t until 1972 that the original wooden building—which had no air conditioning—was torn down to make way for a four-story tower, which was taller than most other buildings along the beach at the time. In the 1970s, Mr. Brake and his partners also began to see the potential in golf packages, and were groundbreaking in offering them.

In 1999, The Breakers merged with Myrtle Beach National Corp., which is now better known as the group that manages MyrtleBeachHotels.com. The partnership allowed it to partner with many of the best hotels in Myrtle Beach.

Today, the decades-long tradition of centrally located fun for the whole family continues at The Breakers Resort, even as it’s grown to include more than 19 pools, seven buildings, several restaurants and even our own Starbucks. But on thing that’s never changed? Southern hospitality is served up daily. 

(posted 3/12/14)

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