“The rooms have been reopened on June 1, but the food and beverage (F&B) options will be fully available only around September,” said a top IHCL official. When the hotel was shut down completely at end of December 2007, the Tata group-run company said The Pierre would remain shut for renovation for a year. A Taj spokesperson said that the hotel will fully
reopen in September;
almost 21 months after it first closed.
IHMS, which manages the three hotel properties of the Taj group in the US, partially reopened The Pierre earlier this month. When the Taj took over the Pierre, it had a capacity of 201 rooms and 52 suites. Post renovation however, the hotel will have just 140 rooms (that is almost 30 per cent less) and 49 suites. “The suites, along with the new fine dining restaurant, Le Caprice and 2 East, and a new lobby lounge bar will be formally launched in September. The rooms are at present open following the soft launch but not the suites and the new restaurant and lounge bar,” an IHCL spokesperson said.
The Taj also has two other hotels in USA— the Taj Boston, which has 273 guestrooms and the Taj Campton Palace with 110 guestrooms. However as compared to the Boston and San Francisco properties, The Pierre enjoys a room rate that’s almost double that of its US sisters. The focus on luxury at The Pierre is so high that staff outnumbers guests three to one despite the exceptionally high labour costs in New York City.
The Tatas have spent almost $100 million just to do up the hotel.
IHCL’s vice-chairman RK Krishna Kumar estimates that the company had a revenue loss of $12-13 million in financial year 2009 because of the hotel closure. It’s not known whether the initial $100 million (Rs 489 crore) cost estimate for the renovation will be exceeded because of the nine-month delay in opening the hotel fully. “If expenditure on The Pierre’s renovation will increase or be within what has been shared, will only be clear after the hotel is fully ready late September,” the spokesperson said.
Analysts however say that with New York experiencing the severest recession since the Great Depression of 1929, the extent of contribution The Pierre can make to the IHCL bottom line in the near future, may be limited. Before closing for renovation, Pierre was charging almost $700 per night. But now the rooms are available for under $550 per night too, reflecting the impact of slowdown in the US on the hotel industry.
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