Bernard Burt reveals a new landmark in the Big Apple
Living the Legend
Manhattan’s The Plaza Hotel
Once upon a time, a little girl named Eloise lived in a chateau on New York’s Fifth Avenue called The Plaza Hotel. Feared by staff members, mischievous Eloise knew how to enjoy the good life. But there was no spa at The Plaza back then. Now, steps from Central Park, a new tradition has been born.
“The Plaza is reinventing tradition for the 21st century,” says Gary E. Schweikert, Managing Director, and Fairmont Hotels Regional Vice President. From restaurants to guest rooms, cutting-edge technology blends with old-fashioned comfort.
Creating an oasis of beauty in Manhattan was an innovation by Fairmont management, a company with gilt-edge credentials among luxury hotels. Their spas grace renowned resorts, from Canada’s Banff Springs Hotel to the Southampton Princess in Bermuda. Since its opening in January 2000, The Plaza Spa has offered a wide range of services meeting the needs of its international clientele.
The combination of classic grand hotel and 21st century comfort attracts travelers from around the world as well as devoted New Yorkers who relish traditions like afternoon tea in The Palm Court and Sunday brunch. The after-theater crowd creates a buzz in the Oak Room, a tradition begun by Broadway showman George M. Cohan who entertained friends in a corner banquette, dubbed “The Cohan Corner” where some of his famous tunes were written. During the “Jazz Age,” literary lights F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway held court amid the Oak Room’s hand-carved pilasters. And the Oak Bar, quite simply splendid, offers perfect views of Central Park graced by original Everett Shinn murals.This is quintessential New York.
Arriving in style, you stroll through The Plaza’s gilded Fifth Avenue entrance to a world of luxury. Amid the opulence of a French chateau, crystal chandeliers, marble floors, gold leaf, mahogany, and oak, The Plaza dazzles with original splendor. Ever since The Plaza first opened its doors in 1907, celebrities and luminaries from all over the globe have gathered and stayed here.
In the 805 guest rooms and suites, elegant touches include custom Frette bed and bath linens, and classic furniture complemented by original marble fireplaces.
Completing its new look, The Plaza converted the historic Edwardian Room into an American brasserie named ONE c.p.s. for its address—One Central Park South. Featuring cutting-edge food and old-fashioned atmosphere, this dramatic dining room combines talents of The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group and Executive Chef/Partner David Burke with interior design by trendsetting Adam Tihany.
At the heart of The Plaza lobby is the pillared Palm Court. Long recognized as one of the premier meeting places in New York, this lively indoor cafe hums with activity from early breakfast to late-evening dining. Serenaded by a harpist, you can enjoy Sunday Brunch featuring tables laden with all-you-can-eat favorites displayed among the palms.
Designed to complement The Plaza’s posh ambiance, the plaza spa features an extensive treatment menu and spacious spa suites. Signature treatments use Naturopathica’s skin and body care botanical product line. And the exercise equipment is state-of-the-art by Cybex. You can also take a virtual workout in Central Park in the fitness center, facing a 185-foot photomural of Manhattan landmarks.
Ideal for romantic couples and pre-wedding parties, The Plaza Spa serves both hotel guests and New Yorkers alike. Stepping off the elevator, you are welcomed with amenities that go beyond newspapers, magazines, and bottled water. Complimentary workout clothing and shoes are available. Clothing can be pressed, shoes shined. Room service delivers meals. Privacy and personal service assure precisely the experience you desire.
Adding to the pleasure for savvy spa-goers, the spa is staffed with therapists who are certified specialists in some of the hottest new skincare treatments. Choose from a full range of massage techniques, including hot stone bodywork, facials with milk and honey, wraps enhanced by herbs, seaweed, and aloe.
Couples can also gain new skills in the art of massage. Learn correct strokes with one of the spas’s licensed massage therapists, and practice your new skills at home with the book and massage oil that are included in your treatment. Afterwards, relax in the spa’s whirlpool for two, or indulge in a duet massage.
Esthetic services at The Plaza are in the hands of some of New York’s most skilled facialists. Personally selected by the spa director, estheticians use Naturopathica products. These aromatherapy and botanical skincare products are formulated without preservatives, shipped to the hotel regularly, thus assuring freshness. Try the Pumpkin Enzyme Peel, an alphahydroxy acid exfoliating mask containing super-concentrated pumpkin extracts to smooth the skin’s surface. For tired leg muscles, try the Cooling Yarrow Circulation Gel, a topical treatment that soothes and reduces swelling.
The Gentleman’s Facial is a new combination of skincare and massage. Converting rough to refined, this treatment purifies and cleans your face, while eliminating dead-skin cells. Weekend warriors also enjoy reflexology, a foot treatment using thumb pressure along reflex zones, and sports massage that combines Swedish and deep-tissue techniques to release chronic tension.
Withing this bastion of elegance, luxury, and style, taking time to rejuvenate is the ultimate indulgence.
Complete wellness and fitness programs are personalized for guests by the Plaza Spa management company, Plus One Fitness. Offerings include one-on-one personal training delivered by experienced, certified trainers. For busy executives, “Business Express” is a workout with massage package that combines exercise and relaxation. With more than fifteen years of spa management experience, Plus One employs certified professionals who deliver five-star service.
Secluded yet easily accessible for both hotel guests and New Yorkers alike, The Plaza Spa evokes the elegance of a bygone era. As Eloise said: “Ooooooo, I absolutely love The Plaza.”
Experience New York at its Best
Since the beginning, The Plaza has hosted world-famous personalities, including the fictional and mischievous Eloise, whose portrait hangs prominently near the Palm Court. Enrico Caruso stayed here when performing at The Metropolitan Opera but disliked the ticking of a newfangled electric clock in his suite, so he broke it and caused all the clocks in the hotel to stop. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were frequent guests, mentioning their residence here in the novel, The Great Gatsby. The Plaza starred in movies and theatrical hits, notably Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite and Crocodile Dundee.
Staying in a celebrity suite is one of The Plaza’s special pleasures. Named for some of the hotel’s most famous guests, sixteen specialty suites offer twelve-foot-high ceilings, carved marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, and lush drapery. You can live like the Vanderbilts in their luxuriously appointed three-bedroom suite, often occupied by heads of state and discerning corporate executives. For a taste of British tradition, choose The Plaza Suites, replicating stately homes in England with the aura of true English design. Even standard rooms come with exclusive Plaza bath amenities.
New Yorkers have a saying: “Nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza.” With its glamorous Fifth Avenue address across from Central Park, and new Plaza Spa, the tradition lives up to the reputation.
Designated a New York City Landmark in 1969, The Plaza has been listed on the Register of Historic Places since 1986. It is the only New York city hotel honored as a National Historic Landmark.