Kings Castle
Country Club Drive & Lakeshore Blvd
1968 - 1974
Kings Castle
Photo from the Don Boyer Collection

Mark Englebretson
Grade 2

Bill Judge
Grade 2

Kings Castle-Hyatt Lake Tahoe

The Crystal Bay Development Company sold five hundred feet of Incline Village lakefront property (now Hugo's and owned by Hyatt Lake Tahoe) to Pacific Bridge Association owners Bill Swiegert, Jack Ferguson, and Sheryl Brody on November 13, 1963. Pacific Bridge constructed 99 rooms, a lakeside restaurant, now Hugo's, and a casino, and named it the Sierra Tahoe Hotel. The name was later changed to the Lake Tahoe Hotel because of conflict with the Sahara on the South Shore.

In March, 1964, the Teamsters Union, through Harold Reil, purchased the property, naming it the Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino. Two wings and 100 rooms were added in 1965, and the patio of the lakefront restaurant was covered and converted to a casino. Bill Shield was the first manager, followed by Margo Colby, and then long-time Renoite Jack Sommers.

After the casino was installed, Arthur L. Wood, president of the Crystal Bay Development Company, became the first licensee when he acquired an interest in the operation. Once again the name was changed, this time to Incline Village Hotel and Casino. Frank Mercer's widow, Carol, was credit-cashier.

King's Castle was begun after Nathan Jacobson acquired the property in 1968. Jacobson was a colorful, controversial figure at Lake Tahoe. Originally from Baltimore, he was graduated from the University from the University of Baltimore at the age of 22. Jacobson started his own insurance agency, operating it from 1931 to 1968. The firm is now operated by his sons, both Wharton Business School graduates. Jacobson is a life member of the Million Dollar Round Table, having earned a seat at the table for twenty consecutive years. He owned the Baltimore Bullets basketball team (now the Washington Bullets), served as a Baltimore city commissioner, and was on the National Basketball Association board of governors.

Jacobson went to Las Vegas, where in 1964, he was one of the founders of Caesar's Palace. From 1965-1968, he was president and chief executive officer of Desert Palace, Inc., the corporation that operated Caesar's Palace, and served as its chairman of the board from 1968-1969. Lum's, Inc. bought Caesar's Palace in 1969, and Jacobson became president of J.J. Enterprises, which owned and operated the Bonanza Hotel and Casino. From 1969-1973, he held a similar position with A.L.W., Inc. of King's Castle and Incline Village.

Search for pictures of Rose Kennedy that appeared in the local paper while taking her morning strolls along the shores of Lake Tahoe have been futile. However she was a guest there during the time of Kings Castle.

In 1968, construction across the highway was started on King's Castle. The grand opening was July 1, 1969, with an extravaganza in the magnificent Camelot Theater. Line Renaud, the famous French singer, was Jacobson's entertainment director.

Jacobson came into conflict with the Gaming Control Board in 1970. His vendetta with the locals, beginning with changing the name of Country Club Boulevard to King's Castle Way, bad publicity, and difficult dealings with people in general led to the loss of King's Castle in 1973.

Jacobson is once again involved in plans to build another castle, Camelot, in Atlantic City's marina area. The 24-story hotel tower will hold 1,000 rooms, several penthouse suites, and a top-floor personal suite he plans to call home (where he can be king of all he surveys). Two movie theaters, six restaurants, a small show lounge, tennis and racquetball courts, a shopping arcade, and a 1,6000-seat Crystal Theater are included in his dream, which will focus on the convention business. Nathan Jacobson, president of American Leisure Corporation, indeed has a vision. H. Klein in Gaming Business magazine, says, "Nobody who knows Nate Jacobson well is calling Camelot a sand castle any more."

Ray Plunkett became overseer of the closed King's Castle in April, 1973 until Judd McIntosh reopened it; King's Castle closed again in 1974. Jimmie Hume assumed management at that time and continued in that capacity until May, 1975, when Hyatt Hotels Corporation bought the facility.