Martha Jo Katz, a former hotel social director who worked with Whitney Houston and her ex-husband Bobby Brown recalled the late singer loved Atlanta, her home for many years.
“When she first started coming to the hotel, probably around 1992 or 1993, she was so beautiful,” said Martha Jo Katz, who served as director of social events for the Swissotel in Buckhead (now the Westin) from 1991 to 2004.
“I can remember her telling me how much she loved Atlanta. It was so green. People were nice and friendly here. She liked being in Atlanta. When I first met her she was fairly quiet and reserved. She was very cordial. You have to understand that a lot of high profile actors and singers are very high maintenance.”
Over time, Whitney Houston became something of a high-attention client, too.
“She always had very beautiful suites. There were things they had to have in their suite,” Martha Jo Katz said.
“They did some entertaining up there so there were certain foods and beverages that they requested.”
Whitney Houston often brought groups of friends to the hotel, and was frequently spotted with her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.
“She loved that child. That was the apple of her eye. That child was so important to her,” Martha Jo Katz said.
“One of the last times I saw her she was having dinner with her daughter and they were eating with Brandy. When I stopped to talk to her she said, do you know Brandy?”
Even after Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown bought a home at Country Club of the South they – especially Whitney – remained clients. She always enjoyed her time there.
“She ordered room service, she went shopping at Lenox and Phipps,” Martha Jo Katz said.
“She was fairly visible. A lot of times celebrities want to come in the back way. They want to take the service elevator with bodyguards. But she would come down the (guest) elevator. She’d be in the bar, at The Palm. It wasn’t like she hid.”
Over time, though, Whitney Houston became thinner and thinner and sometimes seemed distressed.
“Sometimes she would come through the lobby without makeup,” Martha Jo Katz said. “Towards the end of the time I was there – 2004 – sometimes she would be in the lobby or at the bar with no makeup, no sunglasses or hat, which I thought was unusual.”
Martha Jo Katz said she’ll remember Whitney Houston in her early prime.
“I want to remember that other way,” she said.
“It was sad that her demons had just gotten a hold of her and she couldn’t control it.”