The Pierre, the iconic US flagship of Taj hotels located on New York’s Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park, will re-open on June 1, 2009 following a meticulous $100-million renovation.
As The Pierre gears up to welcome guests, general manager Heiko Kuenstle, talks about the renovation and the new experiences that guests can now look forward to.
The Pierre occupies an established place on the New York hospitality map. Could you tell us the reason for the renovation?
In addition, what was the height of luxury in 1930 did not necessarily meet the expectations of 21st century travellers. Bathrooms had to be enlarged, freestanding stall showers added and separate commode facilities incorporated to bring The Pierre up to current standards.
What was the new vision for the hotel? Is there a new customer segment in mind as well?
Which were the areas that were remodelled?
The current renovation covers all of the guestrooms, corridors, lobbies and public areas including a new restaurant, Le Caprice, on the site of the old Cafe Pierre and a new bar, Two E, located off the main lobby.
Champalimaud was responsible for all designs in the public areas including the new bar. James Park Associates (JPA Design) oversaw the renovation of all guestrooms and suites, and Martin Brudnizki was engaged for the design of Le Caprice.
There were three prominent designers working in different areas. Was there a common brief or was each given a unique perspective to work on?
Aside from Le Caprice, which I will come back to later, all of the designers were given a similar brief. Guests entering The Pierre should recognise that a major refurbishment has taken place but that the essential character and style of the hotel has not been changed or compromised. The public areas were perhaps less difficult to envision as they had a distinctive style and architecture that Alexandra used as inspiration for her designs.
The guestrooms were somewhat a blank canvas and while we wanted the contemporary casual comfort of today's world, we also wanted the design to reflect The Pierre's history and our clients’ expectations of luxury.
Le Caprice was an easier brief to construct. We asked Martin Brudnizki, designer with Le Caprice Group, to give us a restaurant that will not necessarily be a line for line copy of London, but would still be evocative of the original for any guest coming in. Martin had designed Scott's and The Ivy Club for Le Caprice Group and both were highly acclaimed. His design for the New York restaurant is perhaps a new interpretation of the original Le Caprice, but guests will have no problem in recognising many similarities.
How long was The Pierre under renovation? Has the project achieved cost/time budgets and schedules?
What can guests experience now when they stay at The Pierre?
In addition, they will find every 21st century amenity from flat-screen televisions, wireless internet access, state of the art HVAC, marble-clad spacious bathrooms and service enhanced by every possible modern convenience.
Clients will experience a mix of both long-time Pierre employees who have dedicated their working lives to the service of Pierre guests along with youthful, eager, high-energy newcomers that are proud to become part of The Pierre legend.
What can guests look forward to when they dine at Le Caprice at The Pierre?
The management as well as the chef are all Le Caprice Group veterans who have come from London to establish their company's first outpost outside of the United Kingdom.
What are the synergies between the Pierre’s brand equity and the Taj brand umbrella?
Both The Pierre and Taj are fortunate to have made such a successful marriage. Taj brings to The Pierre a wealth of experience in operating premier luxury properties in Asia as well as the financial resources necessary to maintain a building such as The Pierre. Taj's experience with the operation of the Palace Hotels in India was an ideal training ground for the restoration and re-launch of The Pierre.
The Pierre provides Taj with an unsurpassed showcase for the western market to demonstrate the company's ability to manage a legendary deluxe hotel. The visibility of The Pierre, with its world-class location and devoted following, is the perfect vehicle for Taj in the United States.
Going forward, what targets / milestones will The Pierre be aiming for?
Most importantly, it is our goal to establish The Pierre as the foremost luxury hotel in the United States offering beautiful accommodation with unparalleled service that reflects the core values of Taj as well as the illustrious history of The Pierre, thereby offering its guests the ultimate hotel experience.