The Pierre, on Fifth Avenue overlooking New York's Central Park, first opened in 1930. The iconic hotel with 189 guestrooms, including 49 suites, was acquired by Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces as the luxury chain's U.S. flagship in 2005. The Pierre, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, will re-open June 1, 2009, following a $100 million renovations program. Rates begin at $895.

Meet Pierre Charles Pierre Casalasco was born into the hospitality industry. His father, Jacques Pierre, was owner of the redoubtable Hotel Anglais in Monte Carlo, where Charles worked as a pageboy, rubbing shoulders with the Russian grand dukes and European royalty who patronized his father's hotel. When Pierre sailed into New York as a 25-year-old immigrant, he immediately made his mark as first assistant at the fashionable Sherry's. Here, he became acquainted with members of the influential Four Hundred set, including J.P. Morgan, the Astors and the Vanderbilts. Having served these powerful financial figures for nine years at Sherry's, Pierre then had the experience and connections to open Pierre's on the Park at 230 Park Avenue. Pierre's Park Avenue restaurant was the place to be seen during the 1920's. The creme de le creme went to Pierre's to host debutante balls, society wedding receptions and ladies' lunches. But at the height of his success, Pierre sold out and entered a joint venture with a group of Wall Street financiers, most notably Otto Kahn, E.F. Hutton and Walter P. Chrysler. The Construction Their vision, the opulent 714-room Pierre Hotel, went up on a prime site at the corner of Fifth Avenue at 61st Street, commanding unrestricted views of Central Park. It cost $15 million to build and opened to great fanfare in October 1930. This new hotel was Georgian in design, an imposing structure of granite and cream-coloured brick, capped with a tall tower of gleaming copper, inspired by a French chateau. Pierre promised his hotel would be characterized by simplicity and refinement. The restaurants and bathrooms will have the ultimate touch required by select gatherings. The Opening On October 1, 1930, the hotel opened for business with 700 rooms and "an aim to create the atmosphere of a private club or residence instead of the average hotel atmosphere." Two weeks later, a gala dinner given by president and managing director, Charles Pierre Casalasco himself, marked the official grand opening. New Yorkers were impressed, and the top tier of society turned out to taste a Bill of Fare prepared by 85 year-old August Escoffier. This "father of French cuisine" served as guest chef at The Pierre in its early years. The Pierre fast became the toast of New York, with a 1930s guide describing the hotel as "a monument of beauty and one of the most majestic structures in all New York. The Pierre caters to only those of refined tastes who can afford the best in the way of hotel luxury." The Depression Even lavish praise could not withstand the Great Depression of 1929, which caused Charles Pierre Casalasco to file for bankruptcy three years later. As a result of a foreclosure, The Pierre was sold at a public auction on January 12, 1933, to the hotel's bondholder's committee who enacted a reorganization plan and kept on Charles Pierre Casalasco as managing director. Shortly before his untimely death in 1934, Casalasco lamented the passing of an age: "It will take years to discover whether society will find itself again." The Getty Years A few years later, The Pierre took an upward turn.

In 1938, Standard Oil tycoon John Paul Getty purchased the hotel for $2.5 million and appointed Frank Paget the general manager. In the summer of 1940, The Cafe Pierre opened and became the new hot spot among the social elite. And in 1950, Paget became the first hotelier to install radio and television sets in all the guest rooms. In 1959, The Pierre became a cooperative, and 75 apartments were sold to individual private residents, including Elizabeth Taylor. The remaining guest rooms, restaurants, bars and reception rooms continued to be patronized by a devoted international clientele. The Pierre Service Corporation Real estate developer and civic leader Robert Dowling took an interest in the hotel, and in 1967, formed a new company with financiers Serge Semenko and David Baird to take over The Pierre from the Getty Oil Company. This new venture, called The Pierre Service Corporation, began a series of renovations including the refurbishment of guest rooms and public spaces, as well as the creation of murals in The Rotunda and Garden Foyer by artist Edward Melcarth. The Next 30 years Trust House Forte, an English company, assumed management of The Pierre from 1974-80. Afterwards, the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts took over in 1981 and began a $15-million refurbishment. The Pierre's rooms and bathrooms were renovated, the 61st Street lobby was expanded, and the Cafe Pierre was re-designed by Valerian Rybar. Ten years later, the lobby was redone in Italian marble, crown moldings and hand-woven carpets. The Garden Foyer was painted to look like Versailles. And the Regency Room was re-designed with panel walls, trompe l'oeil panels and gilded crown moldings. For its 65th anniversary on October 1st, 1995, The Pierre received a new copper roof. A few years later, The Pierre unveiled its reappointed Grand Ballroom designed by Hughes Design Associates of McLean, Virginia. To this day, the Grand Ballroom remains the city's premier setting for elegant gala events and weddings. Taj Hotels For the 75th anniversary of The Pierre in 2005, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was deemed the perfect choice to carry on the grand traditions of this New York landmark. The Pierre joins Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces distinguished properties throughout the world, including hotels from India to Mauritius to the UK and the Middle East. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has worked consistently to restore the property to its richly deserved iconic status. All 189 guest accommodations, including the 11 Grand Suites, have been upgraded, as well the corridors, public areas, restaurant and bar. The first phase of The Pierre renovation was completed in January 2007 by Alexandra Champalimaud & Associates, revealing a beautifully restored Grand Ballroom, Cotillion Room and Garden foyer. The Pierre stands today as a landmark hotel bestowing European grace and elegance - exactly what Charles Pierre had intended when he first created the hotel in the 1920s. Distinguished visitors from all over the world have wined and dined in the hotel's Grand Ballroom and Cotillion Room, among them Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President Francois Mitterrand, Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Russia's President Boris Yeltsin. Even celebrities such as Mary Tyler Moore and Barbara Walters have held their wedding receptions at the hotel. And literary icons that have called The Pierre their refuge include Dashiell Hammett, Lilian Hellman, John Grisham, Stephen King, Tom Wolfe and Terrence McNally.

206 Rooms
Cafe Pierre The Rotunda It has often been said that The Rotunda is the signature room of The Pierre. The Rotunda's famous tromp l'oeil murals generate lots of lively commentary. Created in 1967 by American artist Edward Melcarth (1914 -1973), it was Mr. Melcarth's intention to bring the style and spirit of the Renaissance paintings into the present. In the mural scenes, classic mythological figures like Neptune and Venus are intermingled with a woman with young children who resembles Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as well as a man in a Nehru jacket, a clothing style popular in the 1960s. Other mythological figures, such as the River Gods and Minerva, share space with a young Adam & Eve (Adam was posed for by actor Erik Estrada in his younger days) and the painter's cat, Sasha. Several of the figures were modeled on people from New York society and some of the artist's patrons and benefactors. Melcarth also sculpted the male and female heads above the entrances to The Rotunda and the restaurant.
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Our Select Member Hotel

Country: USA
City: New York
Opening date: 1930

Note from the Host

General Manager Hiko Kuanstle


Fifth Avenue at 61st Street
NY 10021 USA, New York

Tel: +1 212 838-8000
Fax: +1 212 940-8109

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