Colony Hotel

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It’s still a favorite place for spirits of owners, employees and those who like to party!



The Colony Hotel of Delray Beach really stands out on East Atlantic Avenue and is a beautiful structure to behold. A prominent example of Florida Mediterranean architecture, it is a three storied, bright yellow building, with two domed towers, which all matches the hotel’s striped yellow and red awnings on the windows.


Because The Colony Hotel has stayed in the Bowden family who originally built and owned it, this classy resort hotel never suffered the fate of other hotels; never slipped into disrepair, but has always been kept in tip top shape, making it very appealing to those who seek a high class hotel. It was historically renovated in 2001, giving this old gal of a hotel a fresh look with all its 1920s charm and original architecture left intact!

Walking into the front patio and lobby, is like stepping back to the 1920s. Much of the original furnishings have been restored on the first floor as well as the guest rooms. Such relics as the original wicker furniture, the original elevator, iron chandeliers and candelabras, as well as the arched french doors, the fire places and the beautiful skylight in the lobby sure reminds one of the 1920s and ’30s. Hardwood floors are found throughout the hotel.

All 70 guest rooms have wooden shutters, Dade County pine floors, their original furniture; decorated with tropical fabrics and colors and original art work from Florida artists.

Built in 1926 by the father and son team, Charles and George Bowden, The Colony Hotel has been from its conception a family-run business, and is the sister hotel to the Bowden’s other 5 star Colony Hotel, built in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1914 by another group. While the 1914 Colony Hotel in Maine offered all the bells and whistles for the well-to-do during the May through October season, The Colony Hotel in Delray Beach was open from Sept /Oct. through April/May, becoming a great winter retreat area for those wishing to escape the cold, snowy winters of the north, and mid-west. In 1999, The Colony Hotel began to stay open to guests all year long.

Florida’s warm, mild weather, the hotel’s private beach and saltwater pool, must have been a huge draw for the folks who could afford a winter holiday away from the unpleasantness of the winter season. Other amenities also were popular as well! Artistic decor, the fine food served in the main dining room, events hosted in the dining room area, turned ballroom, lovely rooms, some with beautiful views, and the friendly, personal service offered by the family members and trusted staff are some of the amenities offered at The Colony Hotel.

Besides tired-of-cold, wealthy people looking for a holiday in a warmer climate, The Colony Hotel had other sorts of guests as well. During the 1920s, Delray Beach was a thriving city, and had an established love for the arts, which attracted a new group of people to this resort town, wanting to create and be inspired. Artists, writers and cartoonists also liked to stay at The Colony Hotel, not only because of the amenities offered but also because it was in the very heart of the arts district. This art district is thriving today!

Another element of society also came to Florida, sometimes two steps ahead of the law, for a needed rest from their illegal, sometimes murderous activities. Gangsters like Al Capone and friends stayed at The Colony Hotel, as well as other popular resort hotels, like the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.



Former owners/residents of hotels and homes, especially those individuals who built and loved the property, sometimes can’t resist staying around, spending their after-life there. Or, sometimes they choose to just visit their former business and home, to keep an eye on the living, and supervise the staff and current owners, to be sure things are run properly!

As the family owners moved their faithful employees back and forth between hotels for years, perhaps one or two of these faithful souls want to keep working, not letting the fact that they are dead get in the way! This has happened in several other stories found on

Sometimes entities who so enjoyed a hotel or home during the time they were alive, decide to stay or visit periodically, trying to enjoy their memories, and perhaps get some chuckles from teasing the staff.



Throughout the years when The Colony Hotel was closed during the summer season, people saw from the street odd activity happening inside the dark, empty hotel, especially after 12 midnight. The police were called on many occasions. No one living was ever found inside the hotel.

Justina Boughton, the third generation owner of The Colony Hotel, has been aware of unseen presences, since she was a child. She used to play at the Colony Hotel when it was closed for the summer. She felt that she wasn’t alone, especially on the first floor. As the owner of The Colony Hotel, she continues to experience paranormal events.

Some unnamed staff members of the Colony Hotel, though they generally have long denied any paranormal activity, have talked to persuasive writers, and told their spooky, yet benign experiences.

Some have heard women’s disembodied voices engaged in conversation in the dining room when it is empty, at various times throughout the day and night. The voices stop when the living enter the area to investigate.

Some have heard the sound of pots and pans being thrown around the hotel’s kitchen, or the dining room. Rushing to see what was occurring, expecting a huge mess, these witnesses were surprised to see everything in its place!

Shadow people had been seen walking/running through the dining room, hotel hallways.

Dark figures had been seen moving around the rooms by the windows, especially on the second floor.

Other people saw weird lights floating inside the hotel, especially in the lobby, the stairways and the second floor. Pulsating lights by the guest room windows when no one was there on the second floor were also reported.

The melodies of 1920s and 30s jazz music had/has been heard floating out of the hotel on moonless nights around 2:00 AM. Some thought it came from the dining room, but others couldn’t tell where it was coming from inside the hotel.

The entities of Charles and George Bowden —

Their shadowy apparitions have been seen walking the halls, and other areas of the hotel, checking on guests, and perhaps keeping an eye on the staff. Charles is bolder about appearing in front of the living, especially in the manager’s office.

Justina Boughton began to see out of the corner of her eye her grandfather Charles, dressed in a suit walking past her or in a reflection of a picture frame or glass. In the back office and the kitchen, she has heard a muffled argument taking place, when no one alive is in these areas.


A strong PROBABLY SO is in order. According to the personal experiences of the people who have witnessed activity, it seems to be the home of several low key entities, who haven’t been as active as they were before the hotel became a year round endeavor. Though some of it may be due to residual energy, a few intelligent spirits may still be enjoying the place, going about their eternal vacation or supervision of the staff in a low key manner.

Not much proof is published on internet sites, though author Greg Jenkins in his wonderful book, FLORIDA’S GHOSTLY LEGENDS AND HAUNTED FOLKLORE, VOLUME 1 REPORTS that amateur ghost hunters have caught whispering voices in EVPs and had witnessed electromagnetic spikes during their after midnight investigations.



525 East Atlantic Avenue
Delray Beach, Florida 33483
(561) 276-4123

The Colony Hotel and Cabana Club can be found right in the middle of the fun part of town; the restaurant/boutique/music and art galleries section in Delray Beach, on East Atlantic Avenue. This classic 1926 hotel is also just 2 miles from the beach, and near Festival and Historic Centers. Atlantic Avenue runs west-east through town.



  • Florida’s Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore: South and Central Florida
    By Greg Jenkins
    Pineapple Press, Inc.

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr


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