Hotel Online  Special Report


Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 61

The Plaza and the Pierre; La Quinta’s Backward Step

By Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
February 8,  2009

1. The Plaza and the Pierre

I recently visited two restored hotels at Grand Army Plaza in New York.  The contrast could not have been greater between the Plaza and the Pierre Hotels:

The Plaza Hotel, once labeled the greatest hotel in the U.S., no longer qualifies for that designation.  After a 2-year conversion to a condominium hotel with 50 private residences, 181 condo hotel rooms and 282 transient rooms, it reopened just after its 100th anniversary in 2007.

• Despite the reconstruction of a 1800 square-foot stained-glass laylight ceiling, the famous Palm Court is not in operation.  The Palm Court has been the setting for New York City’s social life and hotel guests since it first opened in 1907.  The Palm Court has always been the focal point and trademark of the Plaza.  The Tea Room, as the Palm Court was originally called, was created as a social gathering place for women to meet for tea in the afternoon.  In the 1930s, the room became the Palm Court because of the abundance of palm trees and flora.  A string ensemble played throughout the afternoon and evening.  In the 1940s, when the hotel was owned by Conrad Hilton, the “Palm Court After 8” became a late evening tradition with after-theater snacks, french pastries, wines and liquors.  On Sundays, the Palm Court served a bountiful three-course brunch with a spectacular buffet of  cold appetizers such as smoked fish and pate, a selection of made-to-order omelets, seafood entrees or filet mignon, a wide variety of fresh fruits and French pastries.  Live piano music accompanied the feast.  Sunday brunch was so popular that it often extended into the adjacent Terrace Room.

• The Edwardian Room, located on the prime northeast corner, is also closed.  It was once the Men’s Café with prized views of both Central park and Fifth Avenue.  In 1920, the Café admitted women and became the hotel’s principal dining room.  In the early forties it became the Plaza Restaurant until 1955 when it was named the Edwardian Room.   In 1971, a disastrous experiment transformed it into the Green Tulip which failed miserably and in 1974, it resumed its former name and ambiance.  Now it is closed and unused except for an occasional banquet function.

The Pierre Hotel, the “Palace in the Sky” reopened at the end of 2009 upon completion of a $100 million renovation by Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces.  The Pierre now has 189 redesigned transient guestrooms and bathrooms including 49 refurbished suites.  The lobby was reconfigured by removing two interior retail areas which enlarged the 61st Street entrance.  A new restaurant, Le Caprice, the first location outside of London for this celebrated UK favorite, opened with a fresh new design by Martin Brudnizki.  A new destination lounge and bar, Two E, opened in the lobby serving delicious light fare, afternoon tea and classic cocktails.  Two E was designed by Champalimaud in space previously occupied by the banquet and executive offices.

The 42-floor, 714-room hotel also contains 80 residential coop apartments, all of which are individually owned and occupied.  The Pierre has 24-hour operator- manned elevator service and a multilingual staff.  The hotel’s banquet rooms continue to host the most notable social, cultural and civic events in New York with excellent catering and service.

2.  La Quinta’s Backward Step 

Recently La Quinta created a Brand Council to represent its franchisees and their concerns.  This Council replaced the Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) which had consisted of seven franchisees and three executives from the La Quinta franchise department.  Stating that the FAC was not “as effective as it could be,” La Quinta arbitrarily eliminated the FAC and formed a Brand Council consisting of seven franchisees and eight officers from La Quinta (Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Development Officer, EVP of Eastern Corporate Operations, EVP of Western Corporate Operations, VP of Franchise Administration and VP of Franchise Operations).

La Quinta justifies this important change by stating “The Brand Council is comprised of all constituencies within La Quinta, and serves as a forum to encourage an open exchange of ideas which are equally voiced and vetted.”  But what happens when there is a difference of opinion regarding any important franchise issue?  Does La Quinta think that its franchisees can’t count?  Does La Quinta think that an “open exchange of ideas which are equally voiced and vetted” is the equivalent of a fair outcome?  The 8 to 7 majority guarantees that the La Quinta management viewpoint will always prevail.

3.  Review of “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry”
“Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry is a compilation of sixteen brief yet well-researched biographical portraits of American businessmen who ran successful hotel industries from the 1800s to modern times.  Also reflecting on how technological advances such as the proliferation of rail and air travel affected the growth of the hotel industry, Great American Hoteliers is a fascinating profile of the changes within an industry amid the life stories of the leaders who made that industry happen.  Some of the hoteliers are well-known; others are all but forgotten in the modern day. 

     The Midwest Book Review
     James A. Cox, Editor-In-Chief

To order your copy, visit (

4. Quote of the Month- 

“The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don’t have it.”
         George Bernard Shaw 

Please take note that Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC has just published the book “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry.” It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters devoted to each of the following pioneers: John McEntee Bowman, Carl Graham Fisher, Henry Morrison Flagler, John Q. Hammons, Frederick Henry Harvey.  Ernest Henderson, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Howard Dearing Johnson, J. Willard Marriott, Kanjibhai Patel, Henry Bradley Plant, George Mortimer Pullman, A.M. Sonnabend, Ellsworth Milton Statler, Juan Terry Trippe and Kemmons Wilson.  It also has a foreword by Stephen Rushmore, preface, introduction, bibliography and index. Visit to order the book.

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC

Also See: Nobody Asked Me, But No. 60 / Independence for Independents? Rebranding and Rescaling; Ascend by Choice; Autograph by Marriott; Magnuson Alternative to Franchising; Independent Collection by Hersha / Stanley Turkel / January 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But No.59 / Who’s Side is the FTC On?; Women Hotel Workers Suffer Higher Injury Rates; A Hole on Park Avenue; / Stanley Turkel / December 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.58 / Support the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009; Hi-tech Hotel Rooms in the 19th Century / Stanley Turkel / November 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.57 / 10 Bogus Reasons to Buy a Franchise / Stanley Turkel / October 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.56 / “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry”; The Stanley Hotel; Will Hotel Franchisees Remember? / Stanley Turkel / September 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.55 / Exterior-Corridor Hotel Properties; Blackstone Denies Hilton Breakup / Stanley Turkel / August 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.54 / Famous Japanese Capsule Hotel; Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchise Owners Association; Remember Magic Fingers? / Stanley Turkel / July 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.53 / Historic Hotel Theresa: the Waldorf of Harlem; Make Mandatory Arbitration Illegal / Stanley Turkel / June 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.52 / At Long Last; New York’s Essex House; Origin of Mother’s Day;  An Annual Feast for Number Crunchers; The End of the Hotel Bathtub?/ Stanley Turkel / May 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.51 / Transformation of the Shelton Towers Hotel; One Hotel’s Fate 119 Years Ago / Stanley Turkel / April 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No.50 / Do You Know About O8A? Do Hotel Franchisees Need Independent Associations?The Best Franchise Advisory Councils / Stanley Turkel / March 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 49 / Slave Trading at the Saint Charles Hotel in Washington DC, Why Are Some Hotel Franchise Companies Defranchising Exterior Corridor Hotels / Stanley Turkel / February 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 48 / New President of Wyndham Ignores the Real Issues; Hotel Franchises Compared to Auto Dealer Franchises / Stanley Turkel / January 2009
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 47 / New CEO of Choice Misses an Opportunity; Lost and Forgotten Hotels; Little Known Hotel Facilities in New York / Stanley Turkel / December 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 45/ Remembering John Curry; Hotel Owners Have The Power / Stanley Turkel / October 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 44 / Hotel Franchise Companies Performance Appraisal Report, a Down-to-earth Assessment of the Hotel Capital Markets / Stanley Turkel / September 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 43  / Hotel Franchisor Companies Ignoring Critical Franchising Issues,  Marriott Leads the Way with Aggressive Environmental Strategies / Stanley Turkel / August 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 42 / Remembering Jack Craver; World Record-Setting Hotels; At Last: A Major Gaming Facility in the Catskills / Stanley Turkel / July 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 41 / Landmark Belleview Biltmore Resort Saved; Hotel Developers Take Note - the Borough of Bronx in NYC Has 1.5 million Residents and Just One Hotel in the AAA Guide; Boutique Hotel Bandwagon / Stanley Turkel / June 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 39 / Say Goodbye To The UFOC; Dunfey Brothers To Be Honored; The Plaza Hotel Reopens After a $400 Million Renovation / Stanley Turkel / April 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 38 / Super 8 Owners Form an Independent Franchise Association; Why Is There a Bible in Every Hotel Room? / Stanley Turkel / March 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 37 / Remember the Savoy Plaza Hotel?; Is Economic Disaster Imminent; Cuba at the Crossroads / Stanley Turkel / February 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 36 / What the Advertisements for the Largest Hotel Franchise Companies Never Mention - Also Measuring Hotel Brand Value / Stanley Turkel / January 2008
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 35 / Casino Expansion Has Transformed America, Exercise Awareness / Stanley Turkel / December 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 34 / IHG’s Great Idea, Sound-Proofing Hotels, Best Western Enters the Upper Midscale Segment, How to Convert Confusion Into Order,  Sign at a Tarrytown, NY Inn, 1798 / November 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 33 / 1957 Murder at the Park Sheraton Hotel; How Much Does A Franchise Really Cost?A Marriage Made in Heaven?; A Good Night’s Sleep at the Benjamin Hotel / Stanley Turkel / October 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 31 - Rhode Island Improves Franchise Rules, What’s Up With Canada? Conversion of a Jail Into a Hotel, The Richest (and Poorest) Places in the U.S. / Stanley Turkel / September 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 31 - Blackstone's Acquisition of Hilton, The Art of Groveling, The Origin of Franchising / Stanley Turkel / August 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But…. No. 30 / Impertinent Questions In Search of Pertinent Answers: Carbon monoxide detectors, exterior-corridor properties / Stanley Turkel / July 2007
How American-Owned Can You Get?, ISHC's CapEx 2007 Report, The Bowery Hotel / Stanley Turkel / June 2007
Hotel Franchising and State Laws, Is Immigration Important? Save the Biltmore, The Good Old Days, Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / May 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 27 / Hotel Franchise Agreements: Mediation, Arbitration or Litigation? / Stanley Turkel / April 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 26 / Energy Usage and Potential Savings; Great Art in Hotels; Lifestyle Hotels; The Minimum Wage Issue; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / March 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 25 / Guestroom Design & Amenities, Get a Human, Best Luxury Hotels in the U.S., Turnpike, The Pineapple as Symbol of Hospitality, Fair Franchising / Stanley Turkel / February 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 24 / Loose Cannon, Fair Franchising, Manhattan Hotel Profits, Hotels of the Future, Interesting Miscellany, Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / January 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 23 / Biting The Hand That Feeds You?, By The Numbers, Shortage of Hotel Rooms, There is No Free Lunch, Iron Laws of Business Travel, Happy New Year / Stanley Turkel / January 2007
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 22 / Smart Elevators, Tony Marshall’s Memorial, Women in the Hospitality Industry / Stanley Turkel / December 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 21 / The Drake Hotel in New York, Fair Franchising is Not an Oxymoron, By the Numbers, Another Secret Underground Shelter, Passing of Anthony G. Marshall / Stanley Turkel / December 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 20 / Turnabout Is Fairplay, Secret Underground Shelter, By the Numbers, Genuine Fair Franchising/ Stanley Turkel / November 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 19 / International Society of Hospitality Consultants, Great Miami Hotels, Reduce Carbon Monoxide Emissions, Turn Gray Into Gold / Stanley Turkel / November 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 18 / John Q. Hammons, Save the Belleview Biltmore, Chinese Tourism, CFLs, Ernie Byfield, Guestroom Entertainment in 1905 / Stanley Turkel / October 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 17 - AAHOA's 12 Points of Fair Franchising, Protected Territories, / Stanley Turkel / September 2006
The Newest Independent (and Oldest Partially Independent) Franchise Association in the Hotel Industry / Stanley Turkel / September 2006
In Hotel Franchising, Reality Trumps Wishful Thinking / Stanley Turkel / August 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 14; Impact Studies, Stretching Segments, Short-Stay Rentals, Smoke-free Marriotts, Franchising in China, Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel / August 2006
The U.S. Population Age 65 and Over is Expected to Double in the Next 25 Years; What Does this Mean for the Hotel Industry? / Stanley Turkel / July 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 12; Portman, Women Homeowners, Minimum Wage, Tipping, Brooklyn Bridge, Chinese Tourism, Impact Studies / Stanley Turkel / July 2006
Do Hotel Franchisees Need Independent Franchise Associations? / Stanley Turkel / June 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 10 / Chinese Tourists, Gasoline Prices and Alternatives, GLBT Segment, Travel Agents, FAC's, Manhattan's Record Breaking Year, Impertinent Questions / Stanley Turkel / June 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 9 / Blang, Bathtubs, Best Green, Arbitration, Best Western, AAHOA, State Franchising Laws, VFR / Stanley Turkel / May 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 8; Bathtubs, Smokefree Hotels, Maps, Saving Water, Nevada Revenues, H.P. Rama, Ritz-Carlton, Statler Service Code, Mother’s Day / Stanley Turkel / April 2006
Nobody Asked Me, But….No. 7 / Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC / March 2006
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