Coastal Bend History


Wilbur Clark's Crest Hotel

Wilbur Clark's Crest Hotel
Posted at 12:11 PM, Sep 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-07 13:11:19-04

On October 3, 1965, Wilbur Clark's Crest Hotel opened on "Emerald Beach" just south of the seawall.

Wilbur Clark, of course, was one of the colorful and flamboyant characters who had made a name for himself in Las Vegas with the construction of the legendary "Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn" in 1950.

Wilbur Clark
Wilber Clark

Clark's Crest Hotel in Corpus Christi was identical to one that Clark had already built in Houston, near NASA. Construction was also underway on Congress Avenue in Austin for another of Clark's Crest Hotels.

Wilbur Clarks Desert Inn

Eventually, Clark hoped to construct over 200 luxury hotels in the Crest Hotel chain.

The hotel in Corpus Christi was the only downtown facility with its own marina and private beach....and I assume that it still remains so. The hotel was designed by Carroll Brodmax of Houston, and the contractor was Burnett Construction of Corpus Christi.

Crest Hotel

The six-story, 220-room hotel would cost $1.3 million. Construction began in August, 1964. The grand opening was tempered by the fact that Wilbur Clark had died of a massive heart attack on August 27, 1965 at age 56. He had already sold his interest in the Las Vegas Desert Inn (which was demolished in 2001). The grand vision that he had for a nationwide chain of Crest hotels never came about and the hotel in Corpus Christi was known as Wilbur Clark's Crest Hotel for a relatively short time.


Four months after opening, the hotel was sold to a group of Houston investors. The name was changed to the “Emerald Cove Hotel” in March of 1966, followed by the “Holiday Inn Emerald Beach” in October 1969. It remained a Holiday Inn until September of 2013 when owners of the hotel decided to leave the Holiday Inn franchise. The name was again changed to simply the “Emerald Beach Hotel” and has remained so since then.

Emerald Beach Hotel

The hotel is currently undergoing a new remodel and will once again have a name change in the near future.

Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.