New York’s Four Seasons Hotel to reopen in spring, but fee spits looming

The Four Seasons Hotel in New York is looking to wake up from a two-year slumber due to COVID this spring – even as its management company and the building owner fight over the costs.

The union leader representing hotel workers told The Post preparations were underway to reopen after the virus was locked down and a subsequent renovation closed the iconic IM Pei-designed building on East 57th Street in March 2020 .

But the possible reopening comes up against a major stumbling block: The building’s owner, Beanie Babies founder Ty Warner, remains in a long-drawn-out struggle with the owner of the Four Seasons name, who manages the property.

Warner maintains that the fees it pays Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts should be adjusted based on the hotel’s profitability, sources told The Post. The Toronto-based company, which manages high-end properties around the world, disagrees.

Even if Warner and the hotel’s management company fail to resolve their differences, Warner could still be on track to reopen the hotel, a source familiar with the matter told The Post – especially because a long legal battle over fees could take. at two years, the source said.

The property housed medical staff free of charge from April to June 2020 and has remained closed ever since.
James messerschmidt
The lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel New York.
Former housekeepers and other hotel workers are helping to renovate the Four Seasons, which is slated to reopen in spring 2022.
Getty Images for Zero Halliburto

“Ultimately, if the owner can start making more money by reopening, they will continue down this path despite ongoing discussions between property and management,” the source said.

Rich Maroko, president of the New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, said the signs do indeed point to the hotel’s reopening, although he also concedes he is aware of the “conflict between ownership and management” .

Some members of the Trades Council have been recalled to participate in the renovation. He says the hotel management told him it would reopen this spring. The hotel’s website says the renovations will last “until 2022”.

The entrance to the Four Season hotel with barricades.
The hotel is one of the most expensive properties in New York.
Getty Images

Housekeeping attendants and others help move furniture and clean up after construction crews, Maroko said.

Another signal to reopen is underway: the union has struck a rich deal for hotel workers – weekly “bridging” payments of $ 350 starting Sept. 6 for some 225 workers who wish to return to the hotel when the next day. of its reopening. And in mid-October, those payments were increased to $ 500 per week when the city passed the hotel employee severance bill.

Ty Warner in a suit and tie, standing in front of a building.
Ty Warner owns the hotel building, which he bought 28 years ago.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Payments must continue for 30 weeks or until the property reopens, whichever occurs first, by law.

Another 100 employees who wanted to retire from the hotel received a lump sum severance package of $ 10 million, Maroko said.

With the exception of a three-month stay hosting free medical workers last year – the luxury property was encased in scaffolding for renovation as it was taken out of service during the pandemic.

The 52-story hotel opened 28 years ago as the city’s most expensive property, with room rates of $ 400 a night at the time. These rates have since climbed to over $ 1,000 per night.

Warner bought the famous hotel, which is said to be loved by Lionel Richie and Jennifer Aniston and is the fourth tallest hotel building in the United States, with the money earned from his Beanie Babies in 1999.

Warner did not immediately respond to a request from The Post for comment on a possible reopening. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts also did not immediately respond to comments.

Ty Warner holding a group of Beanie Babies in his arms.
Ty Warner made his fortune as the founder of Beanie Babies.
The LIFE / Getty image collection

The 4,300-square-foot Ty Warner Penthouse on the top floor offers 360-degree views of the city from its four glass balconies and is considered one of the most expensive in the world, with a rent of $ 50,000 a night.

The Four Seasons on 57th Street remains the only luxury hotel of its peers – including the St. Regis, Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, Lotte New York Palace, and Pierre – not to have reopened as the economy rebounded.


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