Audra was a lovely 25 year old girl, like any other. She was excited about her upcoming wedding to her mariner fiancée, who often sailed in and out of the Port of Galveston. When he was out to sea, Audra would check into Room 501 at the Hotel Galvez and wait for him to return. One night, a huge storm hit and her fiancée’s ship didn’t return as scheduled. Audra received word that his ship went down and everyone in it was lost at sea. Overcome by grief she went up to the 8th floor and hung herself on the west turret of the hotel. That isn’t the saddest part of the story however, because a few days after she hung herself – her fiancée returned looking for his bride-to-be.
Audra is the famous “Ghost Bride” of Hotel Galvez who many say still resides in the hotel along with a menagerie of other spooks and spirits. I went looking for Audra and her phantom friends during the Hotel Galvez Ghost Tour. I arrived at the hotel, which was built in 1911 and is a National Trust Historic Hotel of America and entered into the grand lobby. I was greeted by Melissa, the cheerful concierge who was going to give the tour and was handed my “equipment”.
Yes, I got an EMF Ghost Meter. The ghost meters sense subtle electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions and fluctuations like those found in haunted locations. The ghost meter lets you know if it senses anything by lighting up and beeping. Imagine holding a lit up car alarm in your hand and you would be pretty close to what the ghost meter sounded like. I felt officially armed with my ghost meter and was ready to find some spirits.
Melissa led us through the hotel telling stories about the apparitions, sightings, and trouble the ghosts have caused. She showed us historic pictures where you can definitely see things that appear to be other-worldly. It is not uncommon for hotel staff to deal with ghosts and their mischief on a daily basis. However don’t worry; the ghosts of the Hotel Galvez are not mean or harmful, but more naughty and disobedient. They have broken cabinets full of wine glasses, wreaked havoc with AV equipment, and even scared some guests so badly that they had to check out.
The tour ended and it was time for dinner. I was a bit relieved to be talking about spirits of a different kind – I chose white wine to start off with. My fellow tour companions and I sat around a large table and enjoyed talking about the tour, rehashing ghost stories and looking at a collection of historic pictures from the hotel. Everything about my dinner was delicious from the wine and bread to my Spicy Pasta and dessert.
The tour was fun, interesting and yes, a bit spooky. My ghost meter went off a lot throughout the tour, but I never saw or felt any ghosts around me. If you are interested in ghosts and history this is definitely the tour for you. You can book the tour and dinner package Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings throughout October for $45 per person. The “Dinner with the Ghosts” overnight package is available Tuesday through Thursday, starting at $259, and includes a deluxe guest room, dinner, and a copy of Haunted Galveston by Amy Matsumoto. On Fridays, the hotel’s “Dinner with the Ghosts” event is exclusively available as an overnight package, starting at $289.
San Antonio’s Sheraton Gunter Hotel offers Ghost Tours from October 27-31, for $40 per person. The tours are led by Guillermo Fuentes, creator of San Antonio Paranormal Investigations, and a veteran ghost hunter of more than 15 years. You will utilize high-tech ghost hunting equipment, see and hear haunted areas of the hotel, and learn about true stories that happened in the hotel including the story about Room 636. The tour will conclude with a Q&A session in the hotel’s lobby Bar414.
You can also visit Scream Hollow, 35 miles east of Austin, which includes three main attractions — Mansion of Terror, Zombie City, and Slaughter Circus spread across 14 buildings on almost 20 acres of dense forest. The Mansion of Terror was rated as one of the Top 8 Haunted Houses in the US and #1 Haunted House in the country by Lions Gate Films. The grounds also include a family friendly area with a stage for live music, movie screen, fall harvest and carnival foods, a beer and wine bar, and retail shops. Scream Hollow is open now through November 1st with tickets ranging in price from $5 to $75.
Of course, our state is home to hundreds of haunted locations – stay tuned for more info on that coming next week!
By Gabi De La Rosa