With upgrade, the Iroquois Hotel steps into luxury class

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NEW YORK -- Stepping into the Iroquois Hotel on West 44th Street is like stepping into a little piece of Europe.

Outside is the frenetic activity of midtown; inside, the ambience of a small hotel in Bern, Switzerland, Paris or Italy's Tuscany region.

Such properties achieve their boutique-style effect by presenting themselves almost as private homes rather than as commercial enterprises. So it is with the Iroquois.

Its owners, the Horn family, one of whom, Shimmie Horn, manages the property, recently completed the first phase of a $13 million upgrade.

The first step was an extensive makeover -- worth $10 million -- of the 114 guest rooms and suites; the meeting facilities, suitable for small corporate groups, and the lobby and lounge area. Horn's intent was to raise the Iroquois from its position as a good, standard category hotel into the luxury class.

Apparently, the redo succeeded. Based on the results, and what is promised from the second phase, the Iroquois was accepted into Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an association of 246 properties in 50 countries.

The network accepts only individually owned and operated hotels and demands as a condition of membership that the properties be distinguished by their decor and service.

Currently under construction at the hotel is a $3 million gourmet restaurant, due to open later this year, whose chef will be Troy Dupuy, formerly of Manhattan's L'Espinasse.

"That will be the culmination of what we consider a very successful refurbishment," a spokesman for the hotel said. "Our aim was to create a product that offered all of the ambience and elegance of a private mansion."

The upgrade aside, location is one of the Iroquois' most appealing features. Situated between Fifth and Sixth avenues at 49 W. 44th St., it is within easy walking distance of some of New York's finest shopping and dining, and a short car ride from the Broadway theater district, the revitalized 42nd Street-area and the corporate offices of dozens of multinational businesses.

The Iroquois' guest profile, according to the spokesman, is likely to skew heavily toward the corporate traveler. "We attract high-level executives," he said, "though not necessarily the chairmen of Fortune 500 companies -- not yet."

At the rear of the limestone and granite lobby is one of the Iroquois' most appealing public rooms, The Library. This cozy, oak-paneled study is lined with an eclectic selection of books ranging from Dickens to Chekhov, Steinbeck to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Business people can relax over a coffee or glass of wine in The Library after a day in the harried streets and corporate halls of Manhattan.

Each of the guest rooms (102 of them designated for nonsmokers) is equipped with dual-line telephones, faxes and modem ports. Some of the suites feature original artwork, fireplaces, Jacuzzis and his-and-hers matching terry-cloth robes.

A small fitness center offers Cybex exercise equipment, weights, treadmills and spa treatment rooms.

The corporate rate at the hotel through December is $249 per room.

Iroquois Hotel New York
Phone: (800) 525-4800 or (212) 840-3080
Web: www.iroquoisny.com

Shopping, millennium packages

NEW YORK -- The Iroquois is offering a couple of opportunities for visitors to sample its upgraded wares this holiday season.

Between Dec. 14 and 27, a special shopper's rate is available at $199 per night, single or double, which includes discount coupons for some neighborhood stores and a complimentary bottle of wine.

New Year's revelers are offered a four-day Millennium package -- in Dec. 28 or 29, out Jan. 1 or 2 -- for $1,650 for a standard room, $2,250 for a deluxe room, $3,300 for a one-bedroom suite and $5,250 for a two-bedroom suite.

Millennium guests will receive a different amenity each night -- fresh fruit, chocolates and slippers the first night; a bottle of wine on the second night; a Molton Brown bath products kit on the third night, and a bottle of champagne and Frette bathrobes on the fourth night of the stay.

Each of these packages includes a light breakfast and afternoon snack.

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