How a Hotel is Having Cake and Eating It, Too

By Kai Speth | On Apr. 15, 2015

Now that I’ve turned 50 years old, I envy the bloom of youth all around me. In my wife, who looks to have aged only by increments, not years, since our wedding. In my kids, who are still on to me for Legos and dolls. And in my hotel, which opened 25 years ago in 1990.


But I am now going to talk out of both sides of my mouth. This hotel is really not 25 years old. Not if you walk into our baths, clad in gleaming half-metre squares of marble. Or plop down on the goose down duvets in our suites. Or slip into our deep soaking tubs. Or luxuriate in the ambiance of rooms softened by warm colors and sophisticated lighting.


All of this work has been done over the past four years. We shut down half of the hotel and stripped more than 400 rooms to their concrete bones, and then fleshed them all out. Then, we closed the other half of the hotel, stripped those rooms and worked up the same magic.


Not only that, we rewired the entire hotel. The plumbing is new. The air conditioning is new. All the mechanical systems you can’t see, they’re new. And on April 23, we’re going to cut the cake on a property that is as new as any hotel you can name across this fair city.


Now, I have to talk to you about that cake, and the English. Year ago in New York, though I can’t quite remember the circumstances, someone once told me that you cannot have your cake and eat it, too. And I have believed in that idea for decades. You can’t enjoy the beauty of something as wondrous as a beautifully decorated cake, and also enjoy the taste of that cake without destroying the beauty. In my native Germany, we say something similar: Man kann nicht auf zwei Hochzeiten tanzen — you can’t dance at two weddings (at the same time).


But when I think of this hotel, and the seasoned staff who make this place tick like a fine Swiss watch — when I think of how long it takes for the people who work in a hotel to grow into that hotel as they figure out how to provide superior service as effortlessly as Wei-Yin Chen pitches inside, then I understand that you can have your cake and eat it, too.


You can showcase gleaming new rooms and baths. You can spring completely new dining concepts on people, as we are in Yun Jin and in the Steakhouse (to come!), and you can be the most seasoned hotel in the city — at the same time.


There’s something to be said about a seasoned approach to doing business. I’m 50 years old, and I know this to be true. But there’s something absolutely marvelous about the bloom of youth, and a new box of Legos. Let’s cut some cake!

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