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 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 account for the discreet residential vibe.
Taj Hotels took over in 2005 and just this year finished pumping $100 million into comprehensive renovations.
“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 with crystal chandeliers. At 8,500 sf and 4,050 sf, they accommodate up to 800 pax 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 meetings, they do big beautifully, thanks to a constant stream of charity galas and posh weddings. Shea says smaller executive meetings are also popular, especially in the 2,400-sf Wedgewood Room, which has a large fan club of banker, medical and global media groups. We were delighted by the three new 75-pax meeting spaces, falling into wildly comfy cream leather chairs with convenient built-in table microphones wired for meetings from Bonn to Beijing.
Latest trend? “One-on-one meeting rooms,” says Shea. “After, say, a morning meeting, a planner books single rooms for tete-a-tetes. We replace the beds with round tables and a luncheon, and their clients feel special.”
Out of the 46 luxe suites, 11 are part of the Grand category ranging up to 2,000 sf, which are 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.
For restaurant dining, Michelin-rated chef Stephane Becht oversees countless events in the bar Two E, and the famous London import, Le Caprice. The latter’s serious Art Moderne looks and deep coco brown leather banquettes boost the high voltage business vibe. Definitely check out the straightforward European menu proffering dishes such as: scallops, snail and mushroom bordelaise in green garlic.
When asked what meeting pros praise most (we were divided among the food, beds and chandeliers), Shea smiled. “The Pierre has always been hospitable…, and clients love the staff. That makes us so proud.”
Even uniformed elevator operators, some of whom have worked here over 30 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 private shopping events, ships cars to the Middle East for a client in the afternoon, and at 7:30 pm on a rainy, cab-less night, escorts groups of journalists 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.