The Plaza in the 21st Century
Designated National Historic Landmark of New York since 1969 (the only hotel in New York and one of two hotels in the country to carry the distinction), The Plaza has always been an iconic destination of New York since its opening in 1907 – an inspiration for movie makers, artists and a gathering place of the business and political elite of its time.
Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), Bride Wars (2009), Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald, a loyal patron of The Plaza, set several scenes of his 1921 novel, The Great Gatsby, at The Plaza) are just some of the many movies inspired and/or shot at The Plaza.
The Plaza underwent a delicate and thoughtfully curated three-year, lobby-to-roof renovation estimated at nearly half a billion dollars, which was undertaken by then owners Elad Properties – the hotel was closed for three years during this huge endeavor between 2005 and 2008. In 2012, the building was purchased by Indian based Sahara Group, pursuing the third party management agreement with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, signed in 2007. When first opened in 1907 The Plaza cost $12.5 million to build, while Sahara paid over $600 million for the property in 2012.
Under the management of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, The Plaza has maintained an outstanding quality of service, even more remarkable considering the very intense competition among Manhattan luxury hotels, with four important new luxury hotel openings in two years alone. The magic has also transformed into a real estate dream in the process of establishing The Plaza as the ultimate luxury lifestyle destination that features lavish hotel rooms, private residences, destination restaurants, an exclusive retail collection, and state-of-the-art meeting and event spaces. While the room inventory of the hotel has decreased from the original size – the present room-count of the hotel including 282 keys of which 102 are suites – the size of each room has grown. A statement not made often in the New York luxury hotel market.
As part of the refurbishment, the reception and lobby area were relocated from Central Park South to Fifth Avenue, which allowed for a more comfortable and less congested arrival experience. The Palm Court has remained untouched and continues to serve afternoon tea daily.
The Plaza Food Hall on the concourse level of the building is also a new addition since 2005, and one that has been well received by New Yorkers. The European-inspired specialty Food Hall, the first of its kind within New York City, filled a void in the neighborhood for high-quality, take-away food. It also serves as a more accessible, as well as less formal dining option at The Plaza. The 13 shops of The Plaza Food Hall are a collection of proven, established brands that also represent some of New Yorkers’ favorites food, drink and sweet treats: Billy’s Bakery, Tartinery, FP Patisserie, Kusmi Tea, La Maison du Chocolate, Lady M Cakes, Luke’s Lobster, No. 7 Sub, Pain D’Avignon, Three Tarts, William Greenberg and Yo Art.
My accommodation, an Edwardian Suite, was flawless with a classic decor, exquisitely furnished and appointed in every single detail – the Baccarat chandelier, the huge mosaic bathroom (the size of a regular luxury room in Manhattan) – while Fairmont discreetly incorporated the latest amenities of a 21st century luxury hotel. The Plaza was the first hotel in the world to provide iPads in all guest rooms that provide guests easy, touch screen access to control their entire hotel experience, from the room lighting, temperature and shades to ordering in-room dining, communicating directly with the concierge and searching the web. Fairmont’s already famous ultra-comfortable bed and The Plaza’s amenities by Caudalie Vinotherapie® complete the luxury features of the suite. In fact, The Plaza is home to the only full-service Caudalie Vinotherapie® Spa in the U.S., providing unique grape-based treatments.