Trump Hotels’ flagship property adopts modern aesthetic

NEW YORK—How does an iconic property keep things fresh and enticing for guests to come back year after year? Never do the same thing twice. It’s advice taken to heart for the team at Trump Hotels and Trump International Hotel & Tower New York, which completed a full-scale renovation of its guestrooms, suites and common spaces in September.

“The current trend in hotel design is definitely moving toward a more sophisticated, contemporary look,” said Kathleen Flores, EVP, Trump Hotels. “While Trump International Hotel & Tower New York has maintained its status as one of the elite luxury hotels in New York since its opening 20 years ago, we felt it was the opportune time to introduce an elegant yet modern aesthetic to the hotel’s interiors, blending architectural integrity with creative design, while showcasing the hotel’s famed Central Park views.”

Overlooking the lush greenery of Central Park, the towering 52-story building at 1 Central Park West was clinging to the traditional look of yesteryear—dark marble and gilded trim throughout.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How are we going to give that thing they’re looking for that will really make it special to keep people coming here?’” said Prince A. Sanders, GM, Trump International Hotel & Tower New York. “We’re known for our iconic views, we’re known for incredible service, but now it’s time to make sure that the product is elevated to meet the level of service and facilities that we have here on property.”

With guests craving a new look and feel—along with technology upgrades—it was time to release some of the old design and usher in a sense of currency and modernity.

“The overall goal was to reflect a contemporary aesthetic while embracing the refined desires of our guests. The cooler, crisper interiors, the soft gray color palette and sleek, state-of-the art-upgrades to the hotel’s guestrooms, suites and common spaces are modern,” said Flores. “Every element has been placed with a purpose. The lighting, new furnishings and color palette evoke an understated yet authentic vibrancy of the city, keeping the rooms alive, and highlighting the hotel’s iconic location. The new finishes and materials have been designed to infuse every aspect of the guest experience with the refined aesthetic that envelops guests when they arrive at the luxury hotel in Manhattan. Our story is well-defined and timeless.”

The hotel’s redesign was a true collaboration between several parties, including Eric Trump, the teams at Trump Hotels, Trump Construction and Total Resource Associates Inc.

“As designers, we know that a collaboration with the hotel team is critical for the design to be successful,” said Linda Willis, founding principal, Total Resource Associates. “We met with Prince and the rest of the Trump team, and we decided that this was a collaboration that would really work. We were on the same page as far as the design of the renovation, and we took it from there.”

Sanders added, “We got together and looked to phase out the look of the gold and the very traditional look of the hotel. The hotel is currently run by The Trump Organization’s Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. The hotel is fun and youthful, and we really wanted to show that. This is not the old that you are used to, but this is the new.”

Among the property updates included a complete transformation of the hallways, including new carpeting, a new color palette and lighting. LED chandeliers and custom wall sconces introduce a contemporary flair. Deep wood crown molding and base frame the new design. Upgrades to the carpeting, fixtures and fittings, upholstery and bedding provide a new level of refinement. In the bathrooms, there’s polished chrome Kohler fixtures, glass-enclosed shower partitions, new comfort-height toilets and custom wood vanities with marble tops.

“Interior design is not static. It’s about creativity, it’s constantly evolving and moving,” said Willis. “This approach to renovating, refreshing and bringing a new youthful palette into play here was the driving force for this design. We decided that gray—especially a cool gray—would be a great envelope for these suites.

“Then, we looked at the architecture because we were keeping the bones of the building,” she continued. “This wasn’t a total demo. We have these fabulous high ceilings and decided to accent them—let’s not just let them disappear into the walls. We came up with this deep crown molding that really sets the room apart. I think it’s probably one of the first things that you notice when you come in. You see the view, then it’s an envelope and then you’re seeing the room.”

Flores added, “The design aesthetic of the hotel’s spaces reflect an ultra-sophisticated, modern ambiance. The redesign is innovative, crisply contemporary, while embodying the brand’s key design pillars.”

What also made this project distinctive was the ability for many voices to collaborate and brainstorm ideas for what the new look should be.

“I’ve worked for several other large companies in hospitality, and when you’re going through the process of opening a hotel or renovating a hotel, corporate typically picks a designer, they plop them there and they create the design,” Sanders said. “You, as the operator, have to work within that scope. It doesn’t always fit what the property needs, and it doesn’t always respond to the needs of the guest. The unique thing about our company and our brand is that they allow us to have this collaboration.”

For this project, hotel leadership was able to work directly with the designer so that the right elements were selected. The overall goal for the property was to partner functionality with high style and high design.

“We couldn’t just have something pretty. It wouldn’t respond to what the guest was looking for. We needed something that they were going to enjoy,” said Sanders. “The sofas are lush and comfortable. You’ll look at some of the new technology that we incorporated into the rooms, lifting up light sockets and adding USBs to make sure that they’re flush within the walls, but giving the guests what they want in the look and feel.”

Willis added, “We went through several different schemes together, sat over design drawings and realized we had to incorporate what is already a given. We had a tight time frame, which we needed to stick to, and a generous budget, but it was conservative. We knew what we had to accomplish, and I think we were successful.”

“I know we were,” quipped Sanders.

The redesign of Trump International Hotel & Tower New York also served as an opportunity to respond to the needs of guests and its hotel partners. Since 2011, the hotel has received the AAA Five Diamond Award. It is also a Forbes Five-Star property, among other accolades. It was important to keep that standing intact.

“It was our opportunity to listen to not just our customers, but listen to what the industry leaders who are charged with evaluating experiences were telling us,” concluded Sanders. HB

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