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Two Hotels Polish Up the Midtown Manhattan Scene

April 21, 2002|Jane Engle; Times staff and wires

New York's post-Sept. 11 recovery is getting a glitzy boost from the opening of two upscale hotels in midtown Manhattan.

On April 29, three months after New York's first Ritz-Carlton opened, a second will make its debut on Central Park. The 33-story hotel, at 50 Central Park South, is the former St. Moritz, designed by Emery Roth in the 1930s. It was operated briefly by boutique hotelier Ian Schrager, and now by Millennium Partners, which downsized it from 700 to 277 rooms that average 450 square feet. Services include free Bentley limousine service at night in midtown.

The building also houses 11 multimillion-dollar condominiums on its upper floors, a spa operated by Switzerland's La Prairie (a first in the U.S., the hotel says) and the Atelier restaurant. The restaurant, run by Frenchman Gabriel Kreuther, former chef de cuisine at the city's highly rated Jean Georges, will serve what's described as "innovative French cuisine with a nod to America's rich regional roots."

The first Ritz opened in Battery Park, four blocks from the former World Trade Center site, in January. It has 298 rooms and 113 private condominiums.

Introductory room rates at the newest Ritz, from its opening through Sept. 8, start at $425 per night; after Sept. 8, prices will increase to $650. Top suites go for $12,000 to $13,000. (800) 241-3333, www.ritzcarlton.com.

The 65-room City Club Hotel at 55 W. 44th St., located in a 1904-vintage gentlemen's club that was later used as offices, has been gradually opening rooms as they are finished; the last of them, three duplex suites and three penthouses, are expected to open in the summer.

It's the first hotel venture for 31-year-old Jeff Klein, scion of New York entrepreneurs and a fixture in high society. He says he is going for a "stylish, not trendy" style, somewhere between what he calls the "sedate aesthetic" of Ritz-Carlton and the "outlandish" take of some boutique hotels. The eclectic design, by Jeffrey Bilhuber, whose clients include entertainers David Bowie and Michael Douglas, combines traditional with '50s furnishings.

The hotel restaurant, DB Bistro Moderne, made a hit with its gourmet $27 hamburger when it opened last year, reports Zagat Survey. The chef is Daniel Boulud of New York's Daniel and Cafe Boulud restaurants.

Hotel rooms start at about $225 per night; the duplexes will start at about $795, Klein says. (212) 921-5500, www.cityclubhotel.com.

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