Revitalizing the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan was no small undertaking. At nearly 90 years old, the hotel required a great deal of careful planning before the renovations could even begin, and even after the project launched, the team had to make some pretty major revisions to the plans.
Originally built in 1929, the Art Deco property on 8th Avenue and 34th Street has become one of New York City’s landmark structures thanks, in part, to an architectural style similar to that of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Across the street from Penn Station and steps away from extensive shopping, the Empire State Building, and other major attractions, the 912-room hotel is situated in a key Midtown location for tourists and business travelers alike. During its prime, the New Yorker was known across the globe as a glamorous, posh destination.
With the New Yorker losing its luster over time, Wyndham made a commitment to spearhead its renaissance, according to the hotel’s President and General Manager Ann Peterson. “By becoming a Wyndham property, we are able to work with the brand and reach its clientele, especially more business travelers—one of our target markets,” she says. “Since we are located in Manhattan and offer a variety of meeting spaces, we’re able to accommodate corporate functions.” The New Yorker’s management team plans for the property to become a sought-after destination for conferences, meetings, and large and small social functions in the near future.
To that end, Peterson has headed up the property’s renovation program since 2012, while overseeing the hotel’s day-to-day operations and the extended staff of more than 500 employees. The first renovation phase cost approximately $30 million, with additional phases scheduled each year over the next three to four years. Wyndham is looking to finish the project in 2019.
“We wanted to keep the hotel true to its roots, and that’s why we incorporated Art Deco touches throughout the renovated spaces, while changing color schemes to provide a more sophisticated and relaxed feel,” Peterson explains. “Additionally, we are upgrading and adding rooms to keep pace with the market—in 2015 there will be an additional 5,000 rooms available at surrounding New York City hotels.”
For this all-encompassing construction project, Peterson has been working with her team to modernize the property, including adding 114 rooms, enhancing the hotel’s exterior, revamping the ballroom facilities and all meeting spaces, and upgrading the various food and beverage offerings.
The hotel’s guestroom renovations include an array of distinctive upgrades: new bedding and carpeting and updated bathrooms accented with stylish color palettes. Upgraded technology, such as outlets built into the nightstands, desks, and other furniture and property-wide Internet access, is being added. The lobby features a communal business bar, allowing guests to recharge their devices. Also in the lobby, high-back chairs, the grand table in the foyer, and glass surrounding the balcony will be updated with a unified look matching the hotel’s Art Deco style.
Not surprisingly, like many major renovation jobs, the New Yorker project involved some unexpected construction and design challenges. “Due to the age of the building, we found surprises behind every wall,” Peterson says.
For example, while upgrading the bathrooms, the construction team was faced with replacing unexpectedly heavy, older cast-iron tubs. And the recent harsh winter caused some of the renovations to be delayed, but the team got back on track by finishing one floor at a time and creating a “lessons learned” list, she says. From there, the staff revised drawings, schedules, and furniture layouts.
Peterson added that although the property is in the midst of renovations, it’s still fully operational. “Guests will enjoy the grand lady as she makes her comeback as one of the largest hotels in New York City,” she says. “There will be more space in terms of hotel rooms, meeting rooms, and event areas—offering both leisure and business travelers a hotel that provides something for everyone while in a prime location. The renovations made are to update the property and introduce a fresh look, while keeping true to the hotel’s history.”