Mandarin Group takes Manhattan

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NEW YORK -- This city will be the site of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group's flagship property in the U.S. when the Mandarin Oriental New York opens this fall at Columbus Circle.

The $260 million, 251-room hotel is part of the AOL Time Warner Center, a 2.1 million-square-foot mixed-use development featuring two towers housing the corporate offices of AOL Time Warner, office space, upscale shops, restaurants and 191 luxury apartments.

The complex also will be the new home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, enabling guests to take an elevator ride down to the Frederick P. Rose Hall to listen to jazz or tour the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame.

Scheduled to open in fall 2004, the $115 million, 100,000-square-foot facility will be the world's first performing arts center designed specifically for jazz.

The hotel, meanwhile, will occupy floors 38 through 54 of the building's north tower, with rooms affording views of Central Park, the Hudson River and midtown Manhattan.

Rudolf Tauscher, the hotel's general manager, said the Mandarin Oriental New York will be the company's flagship hotel in the U.S., where Mandarin Oriental has its sights set on a major expansion.

"To be recognized as one of the top luxury hotel groups, Mandarin Oriental knows it is crucial to operate hotels in major business centers and key leisure destinations worldwide," he said.

"New York is one of the most strategically important cities from a financial, cultural and social standpoint. Therefore, Mandarin Oriental's presence in New York is crucial to our ongoing brand development."

In addition to the New York hotel, Mandarin Oriental opened a property in Miami in 2001 and next year plans to open a 400-room hotel in Washington.

Rates at the New York hotel are set to start at approximately $600 a night, but Tauscher said the hotel will have to be flexible with its prices depending on market demand.

"The ripple effects on the hospitality industry will continue to be felt until the present uncertainty clears," he said.

"But business and leisure travelers who are making trips remain loyal to our brand in general, and we do anticipate they will frequent the New York property."

Tauscher said the hotel's clientele will consist of "high-net-worth" business and leisure travelers; international celebrities; entertainment and media executives; and meetings and incentives groups.

Regular rooms will feature two different floor plans and two color schemes. The room plans differ in the layout of the bathrooms, with one room type featuring two separate entrances to the bath.

The rooms' color scheme will be either in pale gold and black or in "Chinese red" and dark silver.

The furniture selection in both room types will be inspired by furniture from the 1940s.

The hotel's art collection is described as "eclectic." One artist who will be featured is Paul Ching-Bor, a Taiwanese who created a series of paintings for the hotel featuring New York City bridges.

Rooms will be equipped with the latest conveniences for business travelers, including dual-line phones with voice mail; data ports; a work area with a desk, task lighting and an ergonomic chair; and safes big enough to hold laptops.

Suites, meanwhile, are being designed to resemble Manhattan apartments, and each will be individually designed.

The Tai-Pan Suite, for example, will feature a living room, dining room, study and small kitchen with Italian granite countertops and flooring; a large master bedroom and bath; and a separate walk-in closet.

Asiate, the hotel's 90-seat restaurant, will have an Asian influence. It will be located off the lobby on the 35th floor.

Guests will be able to work off their meals at the 14,500-square-foot spa and fitness center, which will feature separate spa facilities for men and women.

The fitness center will have a 75-foot-long lap pool.

For information or reservations, call (800) 526-6566 or visit the Web at www.mandarinoriental.com.

News update: Fire does not affect hotel site

NEW YORK - A four-alarm fire April 8 that damaged the new headquarters building under construction for media giant AOL Time Warner did not affect the site of the future Mandarin Oriental New York hotel, which will occupy floors 38 through 54 of the building's north tower, Mandarin Oriental said.

The $260 million, 251-room hotel is part of the AOL Time Warner Center, a 2.1 million-square-foot mixed-use development on Columbus Circle featuring two towers housing the corporate offices of AOL Time Warner, office space, upscale shops, restaurants and 191 luxury apartments.

The blaze spread through the building's fourth through seventh floors, which are to house Lincoln Center's jazz programs. -- J.S.

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