On the night of Sept. 17, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand to mark the rebirth of a New York landmark all its own — The New York Palace. In front of a crowd of hundreds, in the hotel’s famous outdoor courtyard enclosed by the historic Villard Mansion, Bloomberg, along with General Manager David Chase and John Kukral, president and CEO of Northwood Investors (the hotel’s owners), celebrated the near-completion of the hotel’s $140-million renovation.
In 2011, Kukral’s Northwood Investors purchased the New York Palace for an estimated $400 million and, since then, the investment firm has spent millions to reinvent the 822-room and 87-suite hotel with a thoroughly New York history. The hotel’s previous owners have included New York socialite Leona Helmsley and The Sultan of Brunei. Northwood’s $140-million investment included a to-to-bottom renovation of The Towers, a hotel-within-the-hotel, as well as brand-new lobbies, specialty suites, and six new bars and restaurants — two of which will be helmed by famed French chef Michel Richard.
The two-year-long renovation process was extensive, and, in some cases, it is still ongoing. A little more than half of the guest rooms in the hotel’s main building (the Villard Mansion) have been renovated; the rest will be finished by the first quarter of 2014. However, the majority of the hotel’s renovations have been completed. Prior to Northwood’s purchase, the hotel’s last renovations took place in 2006 solely with soft goods. The results today are stunning—accommodations are luxurious, state-of-the-art, and contemporary — and it’s clear that the management is making every effort to increase its group business from meetings and incentives.
Some of the first spaces in the hotel to be renovated were the meeting and event spaces spread across the second, third, fourth and fifth floors of the Villard Mansion. The 10,500 square feet spread across the fourth- and fifth-floors, in particular, were completely redesigned in keeping with The New York Palace’s history and to maximize access to natural light. State-of-the-art technology was also added to all of the meeting spaces; the hotel has partnered with PSAV to provide on-site meeting tech services, and is in the process of increasing its bandwidth dramatically.
The largest meeting space on the property, the Villard Ballroom, located on the second floor measures 3,456 square feet, while the iconic outside courtyard can host groups of up to 375 guests. A wide variety of smaller rooms is also available for smaller meetings.
David Chase, the hotel’s general manager, says that the hotel often hosts a number of financial conferences, some up to 800 or 900 attendees. “Group business is a big focus,” he says. “Our banquet, catering, and convention services managers have been at the hotel for many, many years,” Chase adds.
One of the first structures in the hotel to be completely renovated was The Towers, which offers different specialty suites suitable for events and meetings, and expansive suites for executives. Occupying floors 41-54 of the tower that is adjacent to the main building (the Villard Mansion), The Towers operates as thought it were its own hotel with a separate, intimate lobby and check-in space, and 176 of the most spacious rooms and suites to be found in all of New York, some with panoramic views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Standard rooms at The Towers measure 465 square feet in size and feel more like a residence than a hotel room. All rooms at The Towers have complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, nightly turndown service, complimentary shoeshine service, and in-room safe, and Molton Brown bath products. Planners will appreciate the individual Crestron control panels located next to the bed in each room, giving them the ability to adjust nearly everything in the room, from the lighting and drapes to the temperature and do-not-disturb notification. Executive suites measure 655 square feet in size, and include a welcome amenity and separate living space.
Corner Suites are even larger, at 1,210 square feet, with a kitchen/dining area for six, a 400-square-foot guest bedroom with full bath, a guest bathroom, and two plasma TVs. Having stayed overnight in one of these Corner Suites, I can tell you that they are extremely spacious and accommodating, whether guests are staying for business or an incentive. Simply stated, a stay at The Towers is akin to staying in a private residence instead of a hotel, but with all the added benefits of exceptional hotel service.
For hosting events like cocktail receptions or even intimate board meetings, there are three specialty suites: The Metropolitan, the Champagne, and the Jewel Suite by Martin Katz. The two-bedroom, 2.5-bath Metropolitan Suite, resembles a modern New York art gallery, and has its own kitchen, a dining area for six, and a true walk-in closet. The Champagne Suite ups the ante with three floors of space (4,320 square feet), eight rooms, six bathrooms, and rooftop terrace with its private Jacuzzi tub. A stay at the 5,000-square-foot Jewel Suite by Martin Katz includes a complimentary original Martin Katz Diamond Microband Ring valued at $2,500, a private consultation with famed jeweler Martin Katz or one of his associates, and much more.
Dining & Bar Venues
As part of its renovation, The New York Palace is also welcoming a brand-new restaurant and a new patisserie from acclaimed French chef Michel Richard. The restaurant, Villard Michel Richard, will occupy the space that housed the original Le Cirque restaurant, and is slated to open soon. It will consist of two different restaurant concepts—the Gallery, which offers tasting menus for 40, and another concept that is less formal and more like a bistro, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The patisserie, Pomme Palais, just opened on Sept. 18, and offers coffee, handmade chocolates, and pastries. Chase says that dining venues such as The Gallery are also available for groups to use in the daytime.
The hotel also added new bar spaces—Trouble’s Trust (named after Leona Helmsley’s dog who inherited her fortunes), Tavern on 51, Rarities, and the Lobby Lounge.
While banquet and catering services will not be overseen by chef Michel Richard, Chase assures that the cuisine offered will reflect Richard’s style of cooking.
Special Group Experiences
Chase says that the hotel is willing and able to work with individual meeting and incentive planners to craft a variety of unique experiences for groups. Meeting and incentive attendees who stay at the hotel also have access to its 7,000-square foot spa and fitness center, and are within close proximity of major New York landmarks that include Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art, and Central Park.