The world’s most iconic hotel, Waldorf-Astoria, has been taken over by Chinese investors and turned into luxurious apartments. The Chinese company in charge, Anbang Insurance Group Co, bought it for $1.95billion in 2014 and plans to refurbish the whole building. The hotel is expected to close in 2017 and reopen three years later in 2020. Parts of the hotel will still be the same but investors are changing the look of 300-500 luxury condos.
The building was opened in 1931 in the Park Avenue location, which had residents such as Winston Churchill, Grace Kelly and the iconic American actress Marilyn Monroe. John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy even spent part of their honeymoon at the Waldorf. The hotel has also been featured in big Hollywood movies such as The Great Gatsby, Serendipity, Alfie and The Godfather III. The Waldorf was known for its lavish parties and almost every president has stayed there since Herbert Hoover in 1964. However, Barack Obama announced to the nation he would no longer stay because of the new Chinese owners, reported by Wall Street Journal. This was because of China’s previous history of privacy and phone tapping issues.
The Anbang Insurance Group plans to close down 1,413 rooms of the hotel in spring, eliminating over one thousand hotel jobs such as housekeeper, room-service and hospitality jobs. However, severance packages that were paid out to the hotel employees who lost their jobs was reportedly $100 million. “We continue to explore all options, we have no definitive plans at this time,” an Anbang spokesman said to Wall Street Journal.
The refurbishment is expected to be over $1 billion on top of the offer to acquire the property, which is supposedly the highest price ever for a U.S hotel. The changes will fundamentally transform the 85-year old institution.