A Stroll Down Memory Lane

In honor of Humphreys Half Moon Inn turning 60 this year, we think it’s the perfect time to take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce on hotel happenings throughout the years.

Shelter Island was first recorded as a “mud bank” that was formed from deposits of soil and sand from the San Diego River. During World War II, the U.S. Navy needed this critical area to have a deeper harbor channel. Thus, the “mud bank” evolved into a 1.5-mile-long “island” with a narrow causeway that connects it to Point Loma.

In 1960, the media described Shelter Island as “Something from Nothing,” “a testimonial to human ingenuity,” and “a manmade wonderland of sub-tropical splendor,” which it is! Per special city zoning, after it was created, all buildings on the Island were limited to a two-story height and required to follow a “Polynesian” or “Tiki” theme*, which was very popular in the 1950s when the area was first developed.

* Bali Hai, Kona Kai, etc. all have the tiki theme.


Property Fun Facts:

  • Half Moon Inn was originally designed to be a hotel and a boatel, with two lobby entrances for check-in. This project ended up being too expensive to build at once
  • Our tiki-type inn was created in 1960, in full Polynesian décor, as required by the Harbor Department
  • The area was lacking in tourism during the first five years of being open. The public-relations manager at the time, Billy Riley, increased occupancy with innovative tactics. She had employees park in the main parking lot for the illusion of a packed hotel. She even left the hotel lights on at night to signify that guests were out partying
  • Half Moon Inn opened up its first restaurant, a French restaurant by the name of L’Escale, in 1965. The guest list for opening night was full of celebrities, including Lana Turner
  • Major artists performed at the property back in the day:
    • Fats Domino
    • The Beach Boys
    • Little Richard
    • Chuck Berry
    • The Temptations
    • Ray Charles
  • Entertainer Frankie Lane lived at the hotel in the late 70s
  • Our bellman, Bill, has worked at the property for 45 years. He has helped guests like John Wayne, Jerry Lewis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton

In 1980, after a few name changes, the hotel’s restaurant became Humphreys, named after Humphrey Bogart. General Partner Richard Bartell bought the island pair in 1984, which became Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites two years later.