In 2005, New York’s legendary Plaza Hotel closed down for a three-year renovation that left it with just 130 hotel rooms, and the rest of its space converted into condo hotel units and luxury condo apartments. And now the same thing might be happening to another iconic Manhattan property, the Waldorf-Astoria.
According to the Wall Street Journal (paywall), the new Chinese owner of the once-tony-now-shabby midtown hotel – Anbang Insurance, which lost out to Marriott in an unsuccessful takeover effort for Starwood Hotels – plans to shut the property down next spring and convert most of its space into apartments.
In recent years, the grand dame has fallen from grace with many business travelers– on TripAdvisor it now ranks #281 out of #475 New York City hotels. Nonetheless, a cursory check of rates for summer and fall find it still fetching close to $500 per night.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the newspaper reported that Anbang will repurpose up to 1,100 of the Waldorf’s 1,413 rooms into luxury condominiums to be sold to private owners. That would leave the property with 300 to 500 hotel rooms that would be upgraded to luxury standards. Hilton would continue to manage the hotel portion after the conversion, the article said.
There was no estimate as to how long the renovation project – expected to cost more than $1 billion — would keep the hotel, which spans a full city block in Manhattan, closed.
The Waldorf had long been used as a New York base for visiting U.S. presidents and for the country’s United Nations delegation, but the U.S. government had problems with continued use of the property after Anbang bought it, citing security concerns.
Have you ever stayed at the Waldorf? For me, the hotel conjures up memories of my very first trip to NYC with my parents at the tender age of 13. Even when I’m not staying there, I still like to duck into its popular, dark and clubby Sir Harry’s lobby bar for a manhattan and nibblies!
What do you think of when you hear about The Waldorf-Astoria?
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: How to get the BEST summer fare deals | One airline fee fading fast | Trip Report: Aer Lingus Economy Class | 5 top jobs for frequent travelers | First class phase out coming soon