The iconic red rooftop sign of the Jumeirah
Essex House on New York's Central Park South has served as a
landmark for tourists lost in Central Park since the hotel opened
Fast forward to
today and, while the sign remains, nearly everything else at the
515-room hotel, owned by Dubai-based luxury hotel group Jumeirah,
The hotel is just
finishing up a $90 million makeover that included a reduction in
room count of 100 units and the simultaneous hiring of 50
additional staff members, or, in Jumeirah parlance, "colleagues."
The final 17 guest rooms will be finished by the end of November,
said hotel officials.
"We've not only
restored Essex House to its former glory, but we've made
significant strides in service delivery," said Frank van der Post,
senior vice president, Americas for Jumeirah Group. "We're trying
to strike a balance and bring Dubai-type service to North
staff underwent rigorous retraining along with the new
"One of Jumeirah's
hallmarks is that colleagues should greet guests before guests
greet them," van der Post said. "It makes such an impact,
especially in New York."
There were, of
course, extensive changes to the hotel's physical plant, as well.
The lobby has retained its art deco bones, but its look is now
clean and contemporary, with white leather banquettes in a lounge
where guests can order lunch or afternoon tea.
Another addition to
the lobby is the Artists in Residence program, featuring works by
U.S. painter Mark Innerst and Korean photographer Atta Kim.
Pamphlets describing the artwork, assembled by hotel curator
Katherine Gass, are available for the taking.
The property joined
the National Trust Historic Hotels of America this spring, but it's
definitely not living in the past. Guest units offer an updated
21st century take on a sleek 1930s look and are crammed with
offer live views of the park and skyline on high-definition,
interactive TVs in all rooms and suites, which also boast wireless
Internet access and LCD touchscreen "electronic butler" systems to
control lighting and temperature.
restaurant, to reopen in December, is under renovation with the
help of designer Tony Chi, with an eye toward making the eatery a
stand-alone destination draw for guests and nonguests alike. The
redo also included the addition of a 2,500-square-foot spa and a
Van der Post said
upgrades have pushed Essex House into the "four-and-half-star-plus"
category, in the ranks of the Pierre and Plaza Athenee -- and
taking aim at the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental.
"The clientele has
changed because we're positioning the hotel in a new segment," he
said. "We've made tremendous increases in average rate because of
To reach Jumeirah's
U.S. sales team, call (212) 237-2640 or e-mail [email protected]. To book the Jumeirah Essex
House, call (888) 645-5697 or visit www.jumeirahessexhouse.com.
contact the reporters who wrote this article, send e-mail to
Felicity Long at [email protected] or Kenneth Kiesnoski at [email protected].