“Love furniture” has been a part of America’s design legacy since the 1950s. Beginning with the heart-shaped hot tub, and evolving into vibrating, velvet-lined beds, pink shag carpets and champagne glass whirlpools, this legacy was largely developed by the average mom-and-pop owners across America.
Forever tied to the popular imagination on motels throughout North America, these tacky, yet charming, designs did not age well into the millennial’s twenty-first century. Still, they bear an interesting story.
The history of “love furniture” begins, not in the Honeymoon Capital of the World, but in the Poccono Mountains in Northeast Pennsylvania. Born in 1925, Morris Benjamin Wilkins spent years in the U.S. Navy before purchasing Hotel Pocopaupack in 1958.
Riding the free-love wave of the 1960s and 70s, Wilkens rebranded the hotel as a couples-only resort, renaming the hotel Cove Haven.
This is important.
Before this, only the honeymoon offered couples a place to explore their sexuality. The couples-only resorts offered a place for lovers to go
In 1963, Wilkens developed the heart-shaped hot tub as a ruse to draw in more clientele while marketing his hotel as a “lovers’ resort”. Claiming it came to him in a dream, Wilkins created his first tubs himself by pouring concrete into the shape of a heart and covering it in red tiles.
Cove Haven marketed itself as a, “distinct indoor aquatic experience that promised a sensual bonus,” this unassuming resort began rivalling Niagara Falls as the world’s first class romantic getaway. Unable to get a patent, however, the love-tub was able to multiply with abandon.
This brings us to the infamous Lundy’s Lane, where today you can still rent rooms with red-tiled hot tubs. When I think about hotels and motels in Niagara Falls, visions of a faded, tarnished and long-lost Hollywood charm comes to mind. At the center of this, lays the heart shaped hot tub, a true symbol of romantic, sexy and erotic kitsch of a bygone era.
Today, Cove Haven and its sister hotels, owned now by Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace, boasts 437 heart-shaped hot tubs and 135 seven-foot-tall champagne-glass tubs and continues to draw in lovers from across North America.