Can't get a room at the Waldorf after Feb 28

Updated: 2016-08-25 22:52

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Can't get a room at the Waldorf after Feb 28

The Waldorf Astoria New York will stop accepting hotel reservations after February next year to begin converting approximately 1,000 roofs into condo units. AMY HE / CHINA DAILY

The Waldorf Astoria New York will not take reservations after Feb 28, and the last checkout will be March 1, after which the storied hotel will convert 1,000 rooms into luxury condominium units.

The hotel's booking website has blocked reservations after next spring and confirmed to Crain's New York last week that the building will close for renovations at that time.

"We have not finalized any plans in terms of the scope, nature and details of the renovation project or the exact timing and duration of the hotel's closure," said a US spokesperson for Anbang Insurance Group, which owns the Waldorf, wrote in an email.

"We are currently developing conceptual plans and will share additional details once those plans are finalized," the spokesperson said.

It was reported in June that the hotel will reopen three years later with 300 to 500 hotel rooms remaining, which will be upgraded to luxury standards.

Anbang Insurance purchased the Waldorf in October 2014 for $1.95 billion, the highest price ever paid for a US hotel. The hotel, which has served as a temporary residence for American presidents and celebrities, has 1,413 rooms and will continue to be managed by Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

The hotel's condo conversion comes at a time when the New York City condo market is cooling — developers are seeing a letup after years of activity propelled by rich foreign buyers, many from China and Russia.

Jonathan Miller, president of appraiser Miller Samuel Inc, said that in order for the Waldorf units to remain competitive in such a market, Anbang needs to consider selling smaller units priced under $5 million, because the market is saturated with higher-end products.

"They really have to skew lower in price points, which means smaller units, because that's where the demand is. I don't think that's going to change in the next several years, because we have five-and-a-half years of excess high-end overhang for supply," he said.

"By the time they're coming to market, (there will) still be surplus inventory at the top," he said.

Miller said that Anbang's timing for entering the condo market "doesn't appear to be good", but by the time the Waldorf's converted units are done, they could be positioned for the next market cycle.

Gregory Heym, chief economist at Terra Holdings LLC, told Bloomberg that the mid- to low-end market in New York is still "incredibly strong".

"While we keep hearing about too many apartments on Billionaires' Row [57th Street in Midtown Manhattan], most developers aren't making studios. It has this built-in limited supply," he said.