From then on, the Pierre became a symbol of hope, not for more recent apartment owners like cosmetics mogul Charles Revson, movie producer Irwin Winkler, fashion executive Pierre Bergé, Viacom’s Sumner Redstone, and former Disney head Michael Eisner, who were already on top of the world when they arrived, but for foreign hotel-management firms eager to carve out a piece of the high-end American market for themselves by running a New York showplace. Though the cooperative owns the 189 hotel rooms and banquet facilities, professionals have managed them since 1967. Trusthouse Forte, a British chain, ran the Pierre from 1973 to 1980, followed by the then relatively unknown Four Seasons Hotels Ltd. of Toronto, which began an aggressive U.S. expansion soon after taking over.
Now it’s Taj’s turn. Born in 1903 at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, Taj grew over the next century into India’s largest hotel group, and then stretched its arms around the world. “The Pierre put Four Seasons on the map in America,” says a longtime hotel executive. “It will clearly do the same for Taj.” Doubles from $894.
Michael Gross is the author of the new book, Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum.