The famous New York Plaza hotel, which overlooks Central park, will reopen as a Fairmont Hotel on January 1, in a much-altered form and under new name “The Plaza”.
Regular business travellers to the US will no doubt remember the iconic building, which had over 800 rooms in its previous incarnation, as well as the beautiful grand ballroom. Owned by Donald Trump in the 1980s, and by Millennium and Copthorne in the 1990s, it was bought by Israeli developer Elad over three years ago, sparking fears it would be turned into condominiums. In fact, as a result of fierce campaigning by local pressure groups, a compromise was reached with Elad, which sold the hotel portion back to Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holdings, which will now run the hotel through its Fairmont Hotels chain.
If the result is a compromise in terms of quantity, no expense has been spared. A total of US$400 million has been spent on renovating and refurbishing the building. It now has 150 private apartments, 282 hotel rooms (including 102 suites), and various upmarket shops, as well as several restaurants. There’s also the grand ballroom (formerly the venue for the Business Traveller US awards), which can accommodate up to 600 people, and will now be run by specialist events management companies Great Performances and Delaware Companies (see eventsattheplaza.com for more information).
The Plaza will be the first hotel in the world to have 24-carat gold-plated sinks and accessories in every guest room and suite, with other décor including veined marble, exotic woods and mother-of-pearl. There is white-glove butler service on every floor, free high-speed wifi internet access and wall-mounted flatscreen TVs with an IP-based high-definition VOD system.
General manager Shane Krige told Business Traveller that the new guests would be high-spending individuals, and would most likely be visiting New York for leisure rather than business. (Rack rates start at US$735 per night.)
Mind you, that doesn’t mean you can’t pop in for a drink at the Oak Room and Oak Bar, or try the new Champagne Bar and Rose Club for diners, or check out the Palm Court, which has a 111sqm stained-glass ceiling. There is also the small matter of six levels of shops, including a Caudalie Vinothérapie spa, fitness centre by Radu and a Warren Tricomi salon, all of which can be signed to your room.
For more details go to fairmont.com.
Report by Tom Otley