We'll fess up. While staying at the grande dame of New York hotels, there is an undeniable thrill texting your friends: "I'm at The Pierre!" Status seekers of all stripes are dazzled by the iconic 41-story Georgian glory, with its French Chateau-style copper roof rising high above the southeast corner of Central Park. The 189-room Pierre was built in 1930 by the very rich for the very rich. Since J. Paul Getty brought part of the property coop in 1959, it also boasts 74 fabulous private apartments, which accounts for the discreet residential vibe.
Taj Hotels took over in 2005 and just this year finished pumping in $100 million for comprehensive renovations.
|The Pierre NYC
"Taj was the steward chosen to restore the hotel, keeping the integrity of the French manner here," says Kathleen Shea, VP of Sales. The rotunda's beloved trompe l'oeil murals were painstakingly preserved, as were two of Manhattan's grandest ballrooms, rich in ornate detail and crystal chandeliers. At 8,500 sf and 4,050 sf, they accommodate up to 800 for banquets.
In the opulent guestrooms, the marble bathrooms were enlarged with floor-to-ceiling glass showers. The new beds have tufted ivory leather headboards and impossibly soft bamboo sheets. Other stylish Taj touches include spunky contemporary art, handwoven carpets and Indian-made window treatments.
For events, they do big beautifully, thanks to a constant stream of charity galas and posh weddings. Yet smaller gatherings rule—and no large room blocks required, even for the 2,400-sf Wedgewood Room, with a fan club full of bankers and media titans. We were delighted by three new 75-pax meeting spaces, falling into wildly comfy cream leather chairs with built-in table mikes wired for communication with Bonn to Beijing.
Latest trend? "One-on-one meeting rooms," says Shea. "After, say, a morning meeting, a vistor books single rooms for tete-a-tetes. We replace the beds with round tables and luncheon, and their clients feel special."
Out of the 46 luxe suites, 11 are in the Grand category, ranging up to 2,000 sf that come loaded with imported furniture and Murano glass chandeliers. In one, featuring a garden terrace overlooking the Upper East Side, we sampled delectable hors d'oeuvres of sushi, miniature lamb chops and samosas.
Michelin-trained chef Stephane Becht oversees the F&B operations at The Pierre, including countless fetes in the Two E Bar, and the London import, Le Caprice. Its Art Deco looks boost the high-voltage Master of the Universe vibe—we suspected world-shifting deals over white omelets.
When asked what people praise most, Shea said past guests always fawn over the food, beds and chandeliers. But mostly, positive reviews focus on the service.
"The Pierre has always been hospitable, and Taj has a century-old philosophy of 'Guest is God,'" she says. "Clients love the staff, and that makes us so proud."
Even uniformed elevator operators, some of whom have been there over thirty years, were fun and welcoming. We fell for Maurice Dancer, just awarded New York's best chief concierge. The elegant Dancer finagles early openings at Barney's for privacy-seeking shoppers, ships cars to the Middle East for a client in the afternoon, and at 7:30 pm on a rainy, cab-less night, escorts guests to the theater via subway.
While packing us off for our Central Park picnic, he overheard our chat about the sold out Alexander McQueen show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He got us in that afternoon.
Reprinted with permission of Prevue/prevueonline.net (edited version). To read the original article visit http://www.prevueonline.net/blog/themes/culture/the-pierre-nyc-old-world-luxe-back-in-vogue-after-100-million-rehab