Hotel Online  Special Report

Heiko Kuenstle Appointed General Manager
of The Pierre New York, a Taj Hotel


Former Pierre Manager Returns to Lead
Historic Hotel into its 75th Year

NEW YORK, July 1, 2005 -- Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has named Heiko Kuenstle general manager of The Pierre New York, a Taj Hotel. The Pierre is delighted to welcome back an old friend, as Kuenstle spent four years earlier in his hospitality career at the landmark hotel on New York's Fifth Avenue.

"We are pleased to welcome this famed hotelier to the Taj family," says Raymond Bickson, managing director, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd., which operates Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. "Mr. Kuenstle's familiarity with The Pierre and extensive hospitality background in New York and Europe will extend our success in this luxury market. As we move forward to restore The Pierre to its grande dame status, Mr. Kuenstle will provide a stable foundation for our welcoming staff."

Previously, Kuenstle was general manager at The Lowell Hotel, New York, since June 2001. Under his management, the hotel garnered many recognitions and awards. In 2003, Kuenstle was voted one the "50 Best Hoteliers in the World" by Leaders Magazine.

With nearly 20 years of hotel experience, Kuenstle began his career in Germany where he apprenticed at the three-star Michelin restaurant Schwarzwald Stube, oversaw the one-star Michelin restaurant at Moench's Posthotel, and served as manager of Hotel Domizil before coming to America. He began at The Pierre New York in 1994 as assistant manager housekeeping and rose to guest service manager and front office manager before leaving for the Plaza Athénée, New York where he served as Rooms Division Manager.

July 1, 2005 - Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces succeeds the Four Seasons as the new lessee and operator of The Pierre, the landmark hotel on New York's Fifth Avenue.

"The Pierre has all of the hallmarks of a great hotel -- a rich heritage, a superb location and grand, old-world architecture. Taj Hotels has been searching for such a property for some time. We're delighted to make this our entry into the world-class New York market and we look forward to restoring the property to its richly deserved grande dame status," said Raymond Bickson, managing director, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd. (IHCL), which operates Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.

The current mix of rooms, 201 hotel rooms and 80 residential apartments, is expected to remain the same under Taj management. In addition, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces plans to invest $35 million into revitalizing The Pierre to ensure it continues to rank as one of the top luxury hotel destinations in New York. Under Taj management, the hotel will honor all previous bookings of hotel rooms, restaurants, ballrooms and other common areas.

The Pierre, on Central Park at Fifth Avenue and 61st Street, was built in 1928 in the style of a French chateau by a group of prominent investors for bon vivant restaurateur turned hotelier Charles Pierre Casalasco. Designed by architects Schulze and Weaver, the 44-story Beaux Arts building features a striking octagonal copper mansard roof. Opened in 1930, the fashionable Pierre immediately joined other glamorous hotels of the day as a preferred locale of New York society. The Pierre was lauded for its grand suites, wood-paneled salons and the haute cuisine of August Escoffier. In 1938, J. Paul Getty acquired the hotel and subsequently sold some of the property's original 714 guestrooms as cooperative apartments. Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor are said to be among the storied past owners. Operations changed hands several more times until Trust House Forte acquired the hotel in 1973. In 1981, the lease was taken over by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, among Asia's largest and finest hotel groups, has become synonymous with Indian hospitality, having recently completed its 100th year. The company was incorporated by Mr. Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, and opened its flagship Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai (Bombay) in 1903.

Established in 1903, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is one of Asia's largest and finest groups of hotels, comprising 56 hotels in 39 locations across India with an additional 17 international hotels in the Maldives, Mauritius, Malaysia, Seychelles, UK, USA, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Middle East. From world-renowned landmarks to modern business hotels, idyllic beach resorts to authentic Rajput palaces, each Taj hotel offers an unrivalled fusion of warm Indian hospitality, world-class service and modern luxury. The Taj, a symbol of Indian hospitality, has recently completed the centenary of its landmark hotel, The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is part of the Tata Group, India's premier business house.


Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces

Also See: Raymond Bickson Aaccepts Position of Chief Operating Officer for Taj Luxury Hotels; Will Relocate to Bombay after 15 Years as GM of The Mark New York City / Nov 2002
Raffles Hotels and Resorts Creates Alliance with India-based Taj Luxury Hotels / August 2004
Taj Hotels, Preserving India's Heritage One Hotel at a Time / Nov 2002

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