One of the most iconic New York City landmarks, the Waldorf Astoria is deeply woven into the fabric and history of the city. The story begins with a friendly rivalry between cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV. William built the original Waldorf Hotel, igniting John to construct a taller hotel next door. Agreeing to put their rivalry to rest, the cousins connected the two hotels and so came to be the Waldorf-Astoria.
With an illustrious history of guests, the Waldorf Astoria has hosted some of the most storied galas and events with guest lists a veritable who’s who of some of the most famed cultural luminaries, world leaders and royalty of the last century.
Today, the Waldorf Astoria is being artfully restored to its original Art Deco grandeur, marrying the classic with the modern. The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria are being offered as condominium residences for the very first time. We met with Dan Tubb, Senior Director of Sales for The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria to hear the stories of its legendary halls, and about the exciting and opulent new residences.
Historic objects, such as Cole Porter’s 1907 Steinway piano, are featured in the 3D tour alongside relevant video content. Click here to launch the Matterport experience.
Q: What inspired the 3D capture of The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria?
We are honored to represent The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, the luxury residences offering the first opportunity in nearly 100 years to own a home in the iconic building, living within the same walls as Hollywood elite, every US President from Hoover to Obama, and international royalty and heads of state. The landmark is currently undergoing an extensive restoration to introduce 375 condominium residences at The Towers, as well as reopen the globally renowned Waldorf Astoria New York as a 375-key hotel which will provide their renowned True Waldorf Service to guests and residents.
With the worldwide name recognition of Waldorf Astoria New York, we were confident that a significant number of buyers would be internationally based; even before the official launch of sales, we had several international buyers purchase sight-unseen.
So how do you bring the magic of the Waldorf to a buyer in Sydney or Dubai? We use Matterport within a broader array of virtual sales tools to showcase the incredible history and exciting future of Waldorf Astoria New York.
While the restoration of the Waldorf Astoria progresses, we have created an opulently appointed 14,000 square-foot residential gallery to pre-sell the condominiums. For those not able to visit in person, the extensive virtual tour transports buyers from anywhere in the world to an in-depth automated or self-guided tour through the magnificent space. This interactive virtual tour provides buyers with a rich multimedia experience, including video interludes of myself speaking as if the guest was at the gallery in person; at certain points on the tour, buyers are able to view videos giving commentary and introductions on the history of The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, the residential interior design by Jean-Louis Deniot, the 50,000 square-feet of private residential amenities, and services from the famed Waldorf Astoria New York hotel that residents will have access to.
Virtual tours are sometimes seen as a compromise, a far cry from the visceral experience of seeing a home in real life (IRL). But we have created a virtual experience which is completely complementary; many buyers will use the virtual tour after their in-person appointment to revisit their favorite aspects of the building.
Click here to launch a Matterport model that fully explores a two-bedroom residence with multimedia tags throughout.
Q: What are key elements you want to highlight about the restoration of the hotel and residences? What are the “must-sees” as visitors explore the digital tour of the Waldorf Astoria?
Our virtual tour by Matterport offers a look into the legendary history of the hotel, with its famous residents and celebrated Art Deco architecture. You’ll be able to see our larger than life building model, where we look at the layout of the property, which will feature both a 375-key hotel as well as the residences in The Towers above.
We demonstrate the privacy and security, with a discrete residential experience separate from the hotel, two fully staffed entry lobbies, and two porte cochères with 24-hour valet service, one for hotel guests and one for residents.
Be sure to check out the overview of the amenities. Residents will have access to over 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) of private residential amenities, ranging from health and wellness to entertaining and business spaces including a stunning 25-meter pool with skylight, state-of-the-art fitness center, opulent private spas for men and women, and numerous spaces to host private events. At the residential gallery, our amenities are showcased through an impressive motorized scale model, where you can still see in our virtual tour, supplemented with a narrated video tour.
And of course the pièce de résistance–our opulent model residence, designed by world-renowned interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot. Each residence has a perfect balance of aesthetic and practical considerations to provide a contemporary residence within the building’s historic framework. There are numerous video tours throughout the space that offer even more information than an in-person tour. Are you an aspiring chef? Make sure to explore the kitchen and check out the specifics on our full suite of Gaggenau appliances. Zoom in on the custom Molteni&C cabinetry and watch a separate clip on how they are custom made in Italy.
At the entrance of the model residence, watch for a new element for The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria residences that is inspired by the legendary service of the historic hotel. Every residence has its own “Concierge Closet” seamlessly integrated into the entryway for the secure and private delivery of packages, laundry, and room service. In this age of social distancing, it’s the ultimate amenity – items will appear in the concierge closet with a notification from a dedicated team of 24/7 porters. There’s a little video of me demonstrating how it works—which I love to do, it never gets old.
Q: Do you have special stories you’d like to share about historical moments at the Waldorf Astoria, including fun facts about well-known cultural icons who have stayed there?
The Waldorf Astoria has a very rich history, both architecturally and culturally. The Waldorf Astoria name has been a part of New York City culture since the late 1800s, when The Waldorf hotel and The Astoria hotel, built by two warring Astor family cousins, were combined to become the Waldorf-Astoria on Fifth Avenue. That site is now occupied by another NYC building you may have heard of— the Empire State Building.
When the Waldorf Astoria opened on Park Avenue on October 1, 1931, it was the world’s first Art Deco skyscraper hotel, and it very quickly became known as “the unofficial palace of New York.” The building hosted countless historical figures and cultural events.
I’ve always thought it was fascinating that the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue was built in just a year to become the tallest and largest hotel in the world. 1931 was a banner year for New York City – the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Waldorf Astoria, all Art Deco icons, opened within months of each other that year.
Some of the twentieth century’s most notable names stayed or lived at the Waldorf Astoria – from stars Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, to royalty Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to heads of state like General Douglas MacArthur and Winston Churchill. Composer Cole Porter lived in suite 33A for nearly 30 years and wrote some of his most famous songs on a 1907 Steinway grand piano that he nicknamed “High Society.” Frank Sinatra later lived in that same suite, reportedly paying nearly $1 million a year. Today, Porter’s piano – which was recently completely restored by Steinway & Sons – now sits in the gallery for the residences, awaiting its return to the hotel when it reopens. Watch the Matterport tour for a feature on the piano!
Q: Many have a deep connection with the Waldorf Astoria. Any anecdotes you’d like to share?
Whenever we welcome someone into the residential gallery, it never fails to surprise me the deep passion that the building inspires among our prospective buyers. It seems like everyone has a personal connection to the Waldorf Astoria, whether they spent their honeymoon at the hotel, celebrated a life milestone in one of the many restaurants, or even just passed through the building every day on their way to work.
We even had a buyer who was a fan of General Douglas MacArthur, a well-known resident in The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria for many years; the desk that he used in his suite is one of the artifacts that was displayed in the Presidential Suite in The Towers, along with JFK’s rocking chair. This buyer was interested in purchasing a residence located in exactly the same location where MacArthur had lived.
Q: Have you been able to continue to sell residences thanks to the 3D capture? Any stories from prospective residents that have stood out to you?
We were contacted directly by an interested buyer living in Australia who had fond memories of his stays at Waldorf Astoria New York.
We were able to show him the development and identify a residence for him completely virtually using digital marketing materials created in anticipation of sales launch, and he signed a contract to purchase a residence.
We fully appreciate the social and health imperative for people to stay home at this time, and we encourage interested buyers to remain at home while we virtually bring the sales presentation to them.
Q: How has the Matterport digital tour of the property been helpful or beneficial, especially with the hotel being closed for restoration and limited travel in general?
Technology provides a window to connect with our interested buyers across the globe. Each buyer is different, so we are able to use the Matterport tour and the variety of virtual materials we have on hand to customize the presentation as needed.
Just like with a sales gallery, you want to be able to get a sense of what interests them the most, what aspects you can see they want to learn more about. In a sales gallery you would prioritize certain areas, have the conversation focus on certain details you feel would appeal to them. We do that with our virtual tours and this virtual residential gallery by Matterport.
Q: Is there any advice you would like to offer your colleagues in travel and hospitality during this challenging time?
Right now, we are living in unprecedented times and it’s important to stay informed, be prepared, and stay safe! However, this doesn’t mean we need to put a stop to our lives, we just need to alter the way we operate. We are seeing ten years of virtual acclimation compressed into six months.
Whether people like it or not, virtual meetings, classes, and even home sales are here to stay. Some people will always need that tactile, in-person experience, but we have already seen several buyers purchase through virtual experiences alone.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
We would invite anyone who is interested in purchasing a residence at The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria and becoming a part of the building’s legendary history to reach out to us. The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria will offer 375 condominium residences starting from USD $1,700,000, represented exclusively by Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. The residences range from gracious studios to opulent four-bedrooms and penthouses, many with unique floor plans and private outdoor spaces. Please visit waldorftowers.nyc, follow the building’s Instagram @WaldorfNYC, or call +1 212.872.1200 for a private appointment at the residential gallery.
As we like to say, living at The Towers will be the fulfillment of the dream that returning home doesn’t mean your vacation has to end!