Plaza Athénee Hotel | New York

The rather confusing Plaza Athenee X Nobu mash up

Asset World Corp Public Company Limited (that’s a mouth full) is a Thai company which calls itself a “leading integrated lifestyle real estate group” (another mouth full). What they basically do: they invest in hospitality assets – managed by various international hotel companies – and retail and wholesale business real estate. Last year they announced an agreement to open a Nobu restaurant in 2023 on the top floor of The Empire, AWC’s flagship lifestyle mixed-use office complex in Bangkok.

AWC also owns the Plaza Athénée Hotel in New York, an iconic hotel originally opened in 1927 as The Alrae apartment hotel. The hotel was sold to Trusthouse Forte – then a famous British hotel and restaurant chain – in 1981 and reopened in 1984 as the Plaza Athénée. It was named after the famous Parisian hotel of the same name which opened in 1913 and was purchased by Forte in 1968. In 1996 the Forte group faced a hostile take-over by Granada, the new ownership lasting only 5 years and its (sub)chains sold indepently to various owners. The Parisian hotel was acquired by the Sultan of Brunei (more controversy) and is operated by the British Dorchester Group.

Now AWC has partnered with Nobu to develop the New York Plaza Athénée (which has been shuttered since March 2020 due to the Pandemic) into the Plaza Athenee Nobu & Spa New York (there is the mouthful again), which is schedule to re-open in 2026 after a major renovation. The luxury hotel will feature 145 rooms with “a soothing visual style and uncluttered comfort”. The suites will be unique with indoor and outdoor glassed terraces and gazebos, along with a traditional Japanese Onsen, spa, and wellness center. The hotel will offer a Nobu omakase experience as well as a bar and lounge plus a rooftop area for private parties with a panoramic view of New York City. I definitely get the 1920s New York meets minimal Nobu style vibe.

At the same time AWC will develop the Plaza Athenee Nobu Hotel and Spa Bangkok (do we need to mention the mouthful thing again?) in its home town. This hotel will be set in the East Asiatic Building, opened as a trading house for a Danish entrepreneur in 1884. Built in Renaissance Revival or Venetian style, of which few such buildings remain in Bangkok. It is located on the Chao Phraya River beside the world famous Oriental Hotel, which opened only a few years prior. Nowadays it is used as event space.

AWC also owns The Athenee Hotel, Bangkok which is operated under Marriott’s Luxury Collection. This hotel was previously named Plaza Athénée Bangkok, and opened in 2000. It traded as a Méridien Hotel, which used to be one of the Forte Group’s brand after being purchased from Air France. And AWC owns the Le Méridien Bangkok, which again is totally another hotel.

Confusing? Hold on. There is also an Athénée Palace Hotel in Bucharest, Romania. That hotel opened in 1914. Its French architect, Théophile Bradeau, was definitely inspired by its Parisian counterpart. During the communist era it fas famous for being completely bugged by the State Security Office. The hotel is now being run by InterContinental, after years being a Hilton.

AWC: I would stick to Nobu Hotel New York and Nobu Hotel Bangkok. Rename The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok (mouthful??) The Valaya, after Princess Valaya Alongkorn, whose home once stood on the property and of which a shrine to her daughter can be found in the rooftop garden.

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