Occupying a New York City block and with enough history to fill a museum the size of Manhattan, Waldorf Astoria New York is in the midst of a transformation Managing Director Ronen Nissenbaum says will keep the grandest dame of all luxury hotels among the most desired destinations in the world. The upgrades range from technological (streamlining the check-in process for iPhone and Android devices, and Wi-Fi retrofitting) to F&B (the alleged birthplace of eggs Benedict added an opulent brunch, and the reputed creators of red velvet cake have shrunk mammoth slices into cupcakes as an alternative to the classic they still serve).
The idea is to keep with the times without diverging from the service-orientated style that’s been attracting major national and international associations and organizations like the General Assembly of the United Nations for decades. Despite its luxurious reputation, Waldorf has a practical advantage planners in the Big Apple appreciate: “We have a capacity most hotels cannot achieve,” says Nissenbaum, noting many New York hotels trim meeting space in favor of more guest rooms. Waldorf’s facilities, which include 60,000 square feet of meeting space and 40 banquet rooms, can accommodate groups of up to 1,500 people. Personal concierge service and the ability to customize rooms to block out noise are among other niceties.
Yet Waldorf’s biggest asset may be its name. Most sitting presidents in modern times have stayed there, and world leaders and celebrities are spotted there nearly every day. The people watching is one draw, but so is the underlying factor that the hotel regularly meets the needs of some of the world’s most demanding individuals and groups. Associations marking a major anniversary may consider splurging on luxury with the payoff in numbers. “We know you get far better attendance producing an event here than at the same blandness of other hotels in the city,” says Nissenbaum.
Get your group in touch with nature by arranging a tour of Waldorf Astoria’s rooftop garden, full of fresh herbs the property’s chefs use daily. Tiny samples of honey also produced there serve as mementos.