By Roland Leiser
From boutique 118-room lodgings to a super-sized hotel in mid-Manhattan, the Big Apple, recession or not, is inviting guests to stay in grand style in renovated and refurbished hotels.
Developers and owners have sunk anywhere from $7.5 million to $150 million on hotel make-overs to upgrade decor and furnishings in guest rooms and public spaces. The changes can be as simple as re-glazing bathroom tiles to their original luster or as costly as installing wrap-around terraces. Projects are underway or have been completed at the Hotel Beacon, The New Yorker and Portland Square Hotel on the west side and The Mark, The Pierre and Hotel New York 57 Renaissance on the east side.
Whatever the visitor’s budget for a New York vacation, there’s a lodging to fit the pocketbook, mid-market to high end. According to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism office (www.nycvisit.com), there are at least a half dozen hotels that have been renovated or are undergoing refurbishment. For a splurge, a one room-night on New York’s elegant east side might cost half of your monthly home mortgage, but, hey, you only live once.
Once a decision is made to visit New York, the tourist needs to decide whether to stay on the west side of Manhattan or on the east side and how much they can afford. Subways and buses abound and taxis continually cruise for business.
On the West Side
An independent, non-branded property, this one will please guests who relish the hustle and bustle of the 70s along Broadway. The Beacon has 260 rooms with about half facing Broadway, a quarter facing 75th Street and a quarter facing Amsterdam Avenue, according to Gerry Traino, director of sales and marketing.
The owners have completed a $12 million upgrade in the former apartment building including sound-proof windows, new black lacquer furniture, dark green, vinyl wallpaper with a muted print design. New carpet has been installed in the rooms and public corridors.
Of the room count, there are 130 guest rooms and 130 suites.
The largest of the renovated properties with 912 rooms including 64 suites, this hotel is ideally located at 8th Avenue and 34th Street with access to Amtrak, the subway and bus lines. During the year and a half of the $70 million project, the hotel remained open to guests.
Each room is equipped with individual heating and air conditioning controls. If the bathrooms in standard rooms seem small, they are up to date with pedestal sinks and other features. Bath tiles have been re-glazed but the fixtures are original in keeping with the 1920s design, says Thomas McCaffrey, director of sales and marketing. The art deco style runs throughout the hotel with geometric patterns in the carpet and the light fixtures.
In the lobby, the formerly carpeted floor now glows with the original marble and an art-deco-inspired mural faces guests at the check-in counter. An 8,000 square foot ballroom will be restored in two years with its original terrazzo floor, says McCaffrey. This is a mixed-use, 43-story building with the first 18 floors set aside for commercial tenants.
Portland Square Hotel
This property sits a few blocks off of Times Square and will change from a two-star to a four-star lodging when $7.5 million of renovations are finished next January. It’s currently open for business with 147 rooms but will shrink to 115, post-renovation. Under phase one, slated for the fall of 2009, guest rooms in the Tower Wing will be turned into studios with upgraded entertainment options. In one design detail, orange leather will border each entry door and matched in the headboards. In phase two, the remaining rooms in the central tower will be upgraded. In phase three, lobby improvements will feature alcoves and fireplaces and once the project is completed, the independently-run property will be named the Sanctuary Hotel.
A member of the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), a marketing organization of luxury properties, managed by the renowned Taj Group, The Mark plans to reopen July 20 this year after a $150 million make-over, says spokesman Suraj Kapoor. Located on the Upper East Side, it includes 100 rooms and 18 suites with windows that overlook 77th Street, Madison Avenue or a courtyard. As hotel rooms go, these are large, up to 500 square feet. The bathrooms include soaking tubs that are separate from showers. In the art deco-themed lobby and public spaces with interior design features unique pieces of art. And all the rooms have wool carpet. One design theme is black and white marble in the lobby floor and in the bathrooms, he says.
Likewise a LHW property and Taj-managed, the property partially re-opened for business on June 1 and plans a full opening in September, according to spokeswoman Babs Harrison. There are 140 rooms, 38 suites and 11 grand suites on classy 61st Street at Fifth Avenue and average rates begin at $895. Location, location, location as the real estate agents say. Under a $100 million face-lift, the work initially reworked the banquet space, the Grand Ballroom, the Cotillion Room and foyer. The guest rooms and public areas came next with a revamped first floor to include a restaurant and lobby lounge. There are two lobbies with black and white marble floors.
The new guestroom interiors at The Pierre feature an inviting residential-style décor with a feeling of quiet luxury enhanced by high ceilings and abundant natural light.
In the rooms, the upholstery, pillows and drapes are made of silk and brocade; the colors of ivory and taupe in upholstery materials contrast with the furniture’s dark wood and leather headboards. Much of the renovation reflects updated bathrooms that have been enlarged with glass wall showers and soaking tubs and walls built with marble.
The new living room interiors in The Pierre’s gracious suites feature decorative fireplaces trimmed with original architectural details that have been restored to match the original crown ceiling moldings and window frames, and fitted with romantic pillar candles.
Renaissance New York Hotel 57
Marriott International took over as manager of this high end property 15 months ago as Hotel 57 at 57th Street and Lexington Avenue, then branded it as a Renaissance last April. The owners have sunk $20 million into guest room make-over, then another $24 million for the public spaces, which will be finished in about a month, says spokeswoman Kathleen Duffy. Each room in this 200 room hotel includes birch wood paneling and large marble-tiled bathrooms. Of the room inventory, there are junior suites, one bedroom suites and two sky loft rooms with lofty rates to match, which include hardwood floors and wrap-around terraces. The lobby, restaurant and club lounge features a hearth of blown glass.
New York, NY 10025
The New Yorker
481 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10001
Portland Square/Sanctuary Hotel
132 W. 47th St.
New York, NY 10036
25 E. 77th St.
2 E. 61st St.
New York, NY 10065
130 E. 57th St.
New York, NY 10022